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.
This past weekend, I had the great pleasure of speaking at the Jackson Garden Extravaganza. They had a huge selection of colorful plants on display and for sale, and I left with quite a number of colorful annuals to plant before I hit the road again this weekend.
One of my favorite spring flowering trees is our native redbud.
This small tree flowers early in the spring before most other trees have started to leaf out after their winter naps. It’s good that redbuds blooms so early because they are usually found as understory trees. While driving around the state, it’s common to see a redbud framed or silhouetted by leafless hardwoods.
Horticulture students will host their spring plant sale at the Mississippi Horse Park during the Everything Garden Expo on March 24 and 25.
We're finally emerging from the "freezemageddon" we experienced earlier this year, and the garden and landscape are emerging with a vengeance.
Spring has sprung, at least in my Ocean Springs landscape, and gardeners once again are venturing out and taking an inventory of plant damage from this winter’s cold. Performing this yearly garden task is easier when many plants haven’t started their new growth yet.