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Southern Gardening

Sun coleuses (left) thrive in the Deep South but require constant moisture during summer months. —- A 2010 Mississippi Medallion winner, the Electric Lime coleus (middle) is durable and pairs well with spring and fall foliage. —- Henna coleus (right) has chartreuse and copper colors on the tops of its leaves and shades of burgundy underneath. (Photos by Gary Bachman/MSU Extension)
March 28, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

I have to admit most of my gardening life can be summed up by this saying that someone shared with me on social media: “Real gardeners buy at least 10,000 plants in the course of a lifetime without having the least idea where they’ll put any of them when they get home.”

I guess I’m a real gardener. To tell you the truth, I can’t help it when I go to the garden and see all the annual color each season, along with the perennials promising to return to the landscape.

The yellow shrimp plant is easy to grow and will bloom all summer long. Plant and grow the plants where they can receive full morning sun but get some shade for protection from afternoon sunlight. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
March 21, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

This past weekend the Garden Extravaganza was held in Jackson, and I have to say I’m feeling really inspired.

There were literally thousands of brightly colored flowering plants all begging to be taken home. Of course, I bought a few flats of calibrachoas (mainly Holy Moly!, which I described in last week’s column) and some new Supertunias.

Pomegranate Punch is a variety of Calibrachoa Superbells that is heat tolerant all summer long and adds color to any flowerbed. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
March 14, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Now is the time to start planning for the color punch that most gardeners want in the upcoming warm summer season.

This weekend will be the first big opportunity to look at the newest and brightest of the summer color when the Garden Extravaganza garden show kicks off March 18-20 at the Trade Mart in Jackson. Shows like this give home gardeners the opportunity to look at a lot of plants in one convenient location. More and more summer color is starting to show up in the garden centers, so don’t get left behind and having to choose from the leftovers.

Supertunias are big, bold and free-flowering plants ideal for summer blooms. They come in a variety of colors, including this Picasso in Pink Supertunia. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
March 7, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

As I walked around my landscape this weekend, I was really impressed with how my three winter staples -- pansies, violas and Telstar dianthuses -- are enjoying the lengthening days and a little bit of warmer weather.

They are blooming like crazy, almost in response to what I’ve been thinking: It’s time to start planning and planting the warm-season annuals.

Pericallis is a cool-season flowering plant that absolutely loves the brisk temperatures of late winter and early spring. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
February 29, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

What does a warm, early-spring weekend and home gardeners itching to get out and plant something add up to? You’re correct if you answered all kinds of plants ready to go on the racks at your local garden center.

Now, I wasn’t out plant shopping this weekend, but that’s exactly what I saw during my trip to pick up new fence pickets to make some repairs.

Heirloom tomatoes, such as this Black Sea variety, are generally lumpy and bumpy, and they split and crack easily, but their reward is in increased taste and flavor. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
February 22, 2016 - Filed Under: Vegetable Gardens

It’s that time of year when gardeners across the state start planning their vegetable gardens.

After I wrote last week about the heirloom tomato Cherokee Purple being chosen as a Mississippi Medallion winner, I’ve dreamed about the heirloom tomatoes destined to become my tasty chili and spaghetti sauce next winter.

Drift roses, such as these pink and red selections, are lower-growing landscape roses that work great in small spaces, borders and even containers. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
February 15, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

As gardeners across the state are starting spring planting, I want to urge everyone to consider the plants selected as Mississippi Medallion winners for 2016: Serenita Angelonia, muscadine, rosemary, Drift roses and Cherokee Purple tomato.

Hard pruning of crape myrtles produces what appears to be lusher growth, but this results in a decrease in overall flowering. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
February 1, 2016 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

Every gardener I know is asking the same question: When’s spring going to get here?

No doubt we are getting close as we wait breathlessly this week for the prognostication of Punxsutawney Phil seeing his shadow and whether or not we can look forward to six more weeks of winter weather.

The flowers of the native azalea piedmont, or honeysuckle azalea, are very fragrant and pleasant on a calm, early-morning garden stroll. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
January 25, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

One of the grandest and maybe gaudiest garden and landscape shows is the blooming of the Southern indica azaleas, especially in south Mississippi.

For most of the year, these shrubs play a supporting role in the landscape, which they do well, providing a great background for the warmer-season flowering plants. But in the spring when really nothing else is blooming, we can enjoy the Southern indica flower show.

SONNET -- Sonnet snapdragons produce multiple large, colorful flower stalks that make excellent cuts. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
January 15, 2016 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

Just as it seems I’m finally settling into the winter color season and noticing how good all the pansies and violas are looking, it’s time to start planning for spring.

Recently I’ve written about the diascia and nemesia, but now is the time to get excited about their more well-known cousin, the snapdragon.

A good saw can make limb removal an easy chore. This model has a handle that can change positions. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
January 4, 2016 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

With cooler weather finally showing up over the Christmas holidays, I’m going to share a few thoughts and ideas to start in on the garden this first week of 2016.

It was 50 degrees and cloudy on the coast the first weekend of the year, and I thought it felt too cold to actually get out and take care of a few chores. Instead, I walked around the house and garden and made a list of things I need to do.

Flatten old spoons to use as plant markers, and use letter punches to stencil in the plant name. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
December 28, 2015 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

Like many home gardeners, I believe I’ll always remember the name of every plant I bring home from the garden center.

Sadly, I found out early in my horticulture career that I was terribly mistaken. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood in my landscape scratching my head, racking my brain and wondering just what the name of that plant is.

At the beginning of a new year, perhaps the best resolution any home gardener can make is to finally use plant tags and markers.

Use plastic pipe and plastic sheeting to make easy, small greenhouse structures to provide winter cold protection. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
December 21, 2015 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

We’ve been lucky so far to enjoy a fairly mild beginning to the cool season in the landscape.

In my coastal garden, my Rio Pink dipladenia continues to brighten my garden, growing in its half-barrel container. Other absolute stellar performers are my two large firecracker plants. They have provided nonstop bumblebee action, and the plants are actually humming as I walk by.

Southern Gardening TV recently featured the Savannah holly, which is outdoing itself across the state this year. Its colorful fruit load can weigh down branches. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
December 7, 2015 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Trees

Driving around Mississippi’s coastal counties has reminded me that we are in the middle of the red berry season. Yaupon hollies have translucent red berries that sparkle like landscape jewels, and Nellie R. Stevens have dark, glossy-green foliage that provides the perfect background for bright-red berries.

Citrus trees such as this Meyer lemon perform well in Mississippi, but they need protection from cold weather. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
November 30, 2015 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I had the chance to get back into my garden and landscape after what seemed like a horticultural marathon that began in mid-July. While I hadn’t totally neglected my chores, there was still plenty to do.I harvested the remaining fall crop of heirloom tomatoes and removed the plants growing in my self-watering patio containers. I then proceeded to my citrus grove; understand that I use the term “grove” lightly, as it consists of two Satsuma oranges, two Meyer lemons and a kumquat.

The hundreds of tiny, white flowers of Diamond Frost provide the perfect contrast to a favorite poinsettia color grouped together in one container. (File Photo/ MSU Extension)
November 16, 2015 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

This week, I’ve been taking what I’d like to think is a well-earned vacation. But even though I’m technically “off the clock,” I’m still finding interesting ideas to try in our Mississippi gardens and landscapes.

Since we’re heading into the much cooler winter months, I’ve come across several clever uses of unusual planting combinations we can enjoy indoors.

Yaupon holly bushes are either male or female, and only the females produce the red berries that the plants are known for. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
November 9, 2015 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

Let’s face it: Gardeners like to talk about their gardens, and I’m no different. We all like to brag about our garden successes and ask questions about how to improve. Through email and social media, I get many gardening questions throughout the year.

These questions concern landscape issues, plant care and plant identification. I enjoy answering questions and helping home gardeners to be successful in their gardening endeavors in Mississippi and beyond.

Traditional, bright-red poinsettias are a popular holiday decorative plant. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
November 2, 2015 - Filed Under: Cut Flowers and Houseplants

We all knew it was going to happen sometime.

That change in the seasons is an inevitable event as we move into the later months of the year. But I’m not referring to the time of year when we start planting all of the gorgeous cool-season bedding plants like pansies, violas and dianthus. The change I’m talking about is from Halloween to Christmas; it seems like it happened overnight. Maybe it had something to do with the time change, that whole falling back that also occurred this past weekend.

Violas come in a wide variety of colors and produce flowers in prolific numbers. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
October 26, 2015 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

I talked last week about how pansies are perfect bedding plants for the cool season in our Mississippi landscapes and gardens. This week, I want to draw attention to the viola, another favorite cool-season bedding plant that is closely related to the pansy.

Most gardeners I know call violas by their common name, Johnny jump ups. They get this name because they are prolific seed producers. It seems wherever I have planted them in my yard, they continue to reappear for at least a couple more years.

The Matrix Ocean Breeze mix with varying shades of blues to dark purples. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
October 19, 2015 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

The weather could not have better for the Fall Flower and Garden Fest in Crystal Springs this year. Thousands of people attending the Oct. 16-17 event enjoyed clear, blue skies and bright sunshine. The fall-like temperature felt great as I talked with fellow gardeners.

Many people asked me about pansies. Most of the plant vendors had gorgeous pansies for sale, and home gardeners wondered if it was a good time to plant pansies. My answer to every one of them was a resounding, YES! Mid-October is the perfect time to plant pansies in your Mississippi landscape.

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