You are here

Irrigation, Mulches, Fertilizers & Weed Control

Mississippi summers are typically dry for weeks. Therefore, be prepared to water annual plantings as needed. To promote deep root growth, water thoroughly and deeply, then let soils get nearly dry before soaking again. Gently water annuals, using the fine spray setting of an adjustable nozzle or a breaker specially designed for watering. Soaker or sprinkler hoses are more convenient than hand watering because they provide a gentle flow of water that seeps into the soil. Trickle or drip irrigation kits conserve water by putting it only at the base of plants, a little at a time, and are best used frequently to keep soil moist. Soakers and drip systems also help keep foliage dry, which can reduce the spread of leaf diseases.

Decorative mulches such as pine straw, shredded bark, composted leaves, or other porous materials that allow air and water exchange help to conserve water and keep the soil cooler. Mulches also prevent many weed seeds from sprouting, but they can hinder reseeding annuals for the same reason. Soaker hoses can be hidden beneath the mulch.

Annual plants often require extra doses of fertilizer during the growing season. Whether a granular or a water-soluble fertilizer is used, follow label directions for use. Water-soluble fertilizers give fast, but temporary, effects. Slow-release fertilizers are the most expensive; however, they provide the appropriate amount of fertilizer to the plants throughout the growing season with little effort and waste, which makes them more economical and environmentally safe. Most annuals benefit from an all-purpose fertilizer having an even or nearly even balance between nitrogen, phosphorous, and potash, as indicated by the three numbers on the container. Flowering plants may perform better when you use a fertilizer with a higher middle number (more phosphorous); green or colorful foliage plants such as amaranth, caladium, and basil benefit from higher nitrogen (first number). Remember that fertilizers, like salt, go a long way; a little is better than too much.

The ideal soil pH is between 6.0 and 7.5 for most flower species. A soil test will indicate the need for lime, if any, and the amount for your particular soil type. For soil testing information, contact your county Extension office or use an inexpensive test kit available from a garden center or mail order catalog. Agricultural lime often lasts in Mississippi soils for three or more years; for this reason, it is best to not add lime unless a soil test indicates a need and quantity.

Few things can dampen enthusiasm faster than weeds. To reduce the need for hand-pulling or chopping weeds, there are herbicides that prevent weed seed germination and others that eliminate existing weeds on contact. Some may be used to control grasses without harming flowers. There are precautions and guidelines on the uses of herbicides, making none completely foolproof. Consult with your county Extension agent or local garden center on the selection and use of weed control chemicals, and carefully follow label directions. Mulches shade weed seeds and prevent their germination, thereby eliminating or reducing the need for hand or chemical weed control.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Publications

News

Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens, Herb Gardens, Vegetable Gardens September 16, 2019

RAYMOND, Miss. -- Home gardeners and professional landscapers can tour display gardens and attend educational seminars during an upcoming horticultural show.

The Fall Flower & Garden Fest is set for Oct. 11 and 12 at the Mississippi State University Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station in Crystal Springs. The fest runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day. Admission and parking are free. The station is located at 2024 Experiment Station Road.

White spots line all sides of a narrow branch seen in the foreground of a tree beside the road.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens September 9, 2019

This weekend while driving in my hometown of Ocean Springs, I looked at the crape myrtles planted in the median all along Highway 90. I noticed that most of the trees had a dark cast to them, even on a bright, sunny morning.

A round cluster of red, tubular flowers rises above a sea of lime green leaves.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens September 3, 2019

About 10 years ago while attending a meeting in Miami, I had the opportunity to tour around south Florida, sightseeing and enjoying the horticulture.

Dark brown soil in a small white box.
Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens, Soil Testing, Vegetable Gardens September 3, 2019

You’ve spent all summer planting and maintaining your garden or mowing your lawn and are ready for a break. But before you put your landscape to bed for a long winter’s nap, consider applying lime.

A group of yellow, orange and red flowers.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Smart Landscapes, Vegetable Gardens August 27, 2019

How is it already September? I know I’m not the only one in disbelief that fall is right around the corner! Now’s a good time to prep your garden for the upcoming cooler temps.

Watch

Red and Purple Foliage
Southern Gardening

Red and Purple Foliage

Monday, September 16, 2019 - 8:30am
Hot Ornamental Peppers
Southern Gardening

Hot Ornamental Peppers

Sunday, September 8, 2019 - 7:30am
Whopper Begonias
Southern Gardening

Whopper Begonias

Sunday, September 1, 2019 - 7:00am
Rudbeckia
Southern Gardening

Rudbeckia

Sunday, August 25, 2019 - 7:00am
Southern Gardening APPROVED
Southern Gardening

Southern Gardening APPROVED

Sunday, August 18, 2019 - 7:00am

Listen

Thursday, September 19, 2019 - 7:00am
Wednesday, September 18, 2019 - 7:00am
Tuesday, September 17, 2019 - 7:00am
Monday, September 16, 2019 - 7:00am
Friday, September 13, 2019 - 7:00am

Contact Your County Office

Upcoming Events

Your Extension Experts

Extension/Research Professor
Ornamental Horticulture Host of Southern Gardening