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Perennial planting, care and maintenance

Set perennial plants in their permanent places so their roots are completely covered with prepared soil, but avoid burying the stem or crown. Place container-grown plants the same depth that they were grown; place dormant plants at the depth at which they grew the previous season. To encourage side root growth, make a planting hole twice as wide as deep. With bare-root perennials, spread the roots outward as well as downward. For container-grown plants, loosen encircled roots and shake some of the potting soil into the planting hole. Remember to crumble away the top edges of a peat pot to prevent water loss through wicking. Do not let roots dry out, especially during transplanting.

Water the plants thoroughly to force out any air pockets and to settle the soil. Mark and label the plantings. Mulch the bed surface with pine straw or bark to keep soil from drying, crusting, and overheating in the summer, and to prevent many weed seeds from germinating.

Care and Maintenance

If you do not mulch your plants, use shallow cultivation in the spring and early summer to break and aerate compacted soils. This also aids in water penetration and makes it easier to incorporate fertilizer. Summer cultivation can damage shallow roots and is more difficult because the plants will be larger. Early in the season, stake tall plants with wire stands or bamboo canes. Use care to avoid root damage.

Apply fertilizers sparingly to plants early in their growing season, after new growth begins to show. If plants are growing well, no additional fertilizer may be needed; otherwise, a second light feeding will be helpful several weeks into the season.

In the fall, cut the old plant stalks to the ground after the leaves have fallen and mulch to protect crowns and roots from the harsh extremes of our mild weather followed by sudden cold spells. Remove any winter annual weeds that may have germinated before applying mulch. Fall is also a good time to divide many plants that may be encroaching on one another.

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Dozens of blue flowers bloom above an uninterrupted sea of green leaves
Filed Under: Flower Gardens January 14, 2019

Many home gardeners look forward to this time of year to browse catalogs in search of great new plants to enjoy in their 2019 landscapes.

One cluster of pink, crinkled flowers and some seed-heads are visible with dark-green foliage in the background.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens January 7, 2019

This January’s temperatures have been drastically different from what we saw during last year’s first month.

The colorful covers of about 20 gardening catalogs are fanned out on display.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens December 31, 2018

As I'm writing this last Southern Gardening column of 2018, I'm trying to take one more look back before plunging headlong into the 2019 gardening season that's just around the corner. But I'm having trouble concentrating because the mail carrier is distracting me.

Two-tone, yellow flowers bloom on green foliage at the base of a small tree planted in a container.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens December 24, 2018

2018 was quite a year in our Mississippi gardens and landscapes: hot and dry, humid and rainy. Every year, there are winners and losers when we garden, and such is the nature of the gardening game. 

A small pink stocking with a white fuzzy top hangs from a Christmas tree inside a house.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens December 17, 2018

With the Christmas celebration approaching, I’ve been thinking about favorite traditions, past and present. It probably comes as no surprise that many of these traditions are food related.

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