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Soil Preparation

Soil preparation is the most crucial step in success with annuals. Roots of annuals have to penetrate soils quickly, anchor plants, and absorb water and nutrients in one season, often under adverse conditions. Most Mississippi soils can be improved with cultivation and the addition of other ingredients.

Cultivating wet soils may cause lumping and shallow "pans," which resist air, water, and root penetration. Soil that is ready for cultivation holds its shape when squeezed, but crumbles easily. Power tillers are useful for preparing large areas, but may create a compacted zone in the soil directly under the tilled area. Use a digging fork to help avoid soil compaction.

The first step in preparing a bed for annual plants is to remove any unwanted plants with a hoe and rake or with a nonselective contact herbicide. After weeds have been removed or killed, dig the soil a shovel's depth; deeper soil preparation is normally not necessary. To prevent resprouting, remove grass and weed roots while turning the soil. Break clods and lumps into smaller pieces.

Add 3 to 4 inches of organic material, such as composted leaf and yard litter, pine bark, peat moss, or composted manure. Then add an inch or two of sharp sand if the soil is heavy. Also, if the soil test indicates a need for lime or fertilizer supplements, spread them at the recommended rate over the top at this time. Mix amendments together, blending the organic matter, sand, and fertilizers. Rake the prepared bed smooth when finished.

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Publication Number: IS0204
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News

Orange vine flowers resembling black-eyed Susans straddle the top of a wooden gray fence.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens December 11, 2017

Most folks have poinsettias and entertaining on the agenda during the holidays, but for this week’s column, I want to highlight a plant that has been an outstanding performer for me all year.

It took this past weekend’s hard freeze to finally shut down my black-eyed Susan vine (I’m going to use the abbreviation BES for this flower), known botanically as Thunbergia alata. For many gardeners, in their experience this is traditionally a basket plant that deserves to be grown more often.

red poinsettias
Filed Under: Flower Gardens December 4, 2017

It seems like I've seen Christmas decorations in stores for at least a couple of months. They really accelerated after Halloween, completely ignoring Thanksgiving, which was when I noticed early poinsettias out in force.

Along with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, the appearance of these poinsettias means we are in the full swing of the Christmas season.

In my opinion, the poinsettia is the quintessential Christmas plant. With its brightly colored bracts, it is a plant truly full of holiday cheer. I think most people will agree that the poinsettia is second only to the Christmas tree in essential Christmas season decor.

Four stone statues are seen representing ancient Greek goddesses.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens November 27, 2017

Celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends got me thinking about traditions and beliefs, some popular in the distant past but gone by the wayside today.

In agriculture, some of the most popular myths revolve around the changing seasons.

Purple viola flowers grow in a container.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens November 20, 2017

The last two weeks, I've told you about two of my top three cool-season flowering bedding plants. Today, I'm going to complete the trifecta with another plant everyone should have in their landscape: the viola.

Violas may have smaller flowers than their cousin, the pansy, but they're maybe even tougher and more tolerant of cold, winter weather than pansies. These plants are beautiful massed in landscape beds, and they can be great performers all the way to Easter.

A close-up of white and pink dianthus blooms.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens November 13, 2017

Even though the air is still warm in many parts of Mississippi, it’s time to plant annual winter color. Last week, I wrote about pansies being a great color choice. Another sure-fire pick is dianthus.

Watch

Christmas Color
Southern Gardening

Christmas Color

Sunday, December 10, 2017 - 2:15am
Confederate Rose
Southern Gardening

Confederate Rose

Sunday, December 3, 2017 - 2:15am
Climbing Plants
Southern Gardening

Climbing Plants

Sunday, November 26, 2017 - 2:00am
Pansy and Viola
Southern Gardening

Pansy and Viola

Sunday, November 19, 2017 - 2:00am
Toucan Canna
Southern Gardening

Toucan Canna

Sunday, November 12, 2017 - 2:45am

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Monday, December 11, 2017 - 2:00am
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Thursday, December 7, 2017 - 2:00am
Wednesday, December 6, 2017 - 2:00am
Tuesday, December 5, 2017 - 2:00am

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