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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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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

Listen

Thursday, December 14, 2017 - 2:00am
Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 2:00am
Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 2:00am
Monday, December 11, 2017 - 2:00am
Friday, December 8, 2017 - 2:00am

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