Thursday, April 5, 2012

April Gardening Tips for the South

Spring is well underway in the South. Here are some gardening tips to make the most of the season's cooler days in your yard.

Plant container grown perennials: Remember to prepare your planting area by adding compost to enhance nutrition and improve moisture holding ability. Once planted don't forget to water while plants settle into their new homes.

Choose perennials that will give a strong performance in late summer, when Southern gardens tend to fade. Great selections include salvias.

Scarlet or Texas Sage (Salvia coccinea)
Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans)
Mealycup Sage (Salvia farinacea):
Mexican Bush Sage
Bedding Sage (Salvia splendens)
Azure Sage (Salvia azurea var. grandiflora)
Cleveland Blue Sage (Salvia clevelandii)
Peruvian Sage (Salvia discolor)
Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii)
Brazilian Blue Sage (Salvia guaranitica)
Salvia 'Indigo Spires'
Silver Sage (also known as silver clary or silver clary sage)
Common sage (Salvia officinalis)

Vegetable gardening

Keep sowing seeds of lettuces and garden greens weekly to ensure a long harvest season. Sow seeds of heat-tolerant greens to extend the harvest window. Give greens afternoon shade for best growth. Some heat tollerent choices include 'Jericho' (romaine), 'Buttercrunch' (butterhead), 'Lolla Rossa' (looseleaf red), 'Black-Seeded Simpson' (looseleaf green), and oakleaf types. Malabar spinach also thrives in summer heat.

Continue direct sowing seeds of beans, squash, melons and okra. If cutworms are a problem, put collars around seedlings using recycled household items: canned food tins with bottom lids removed or toil tissue tubes cut in half.

Garden tasks

If needed, prune azaleas immediately after flowering. Make cuts to shape shrubs or remove any damaged branches.

Replace mulch around azaleas, camellias, and roses. If you suspected or battled diseases and insects with these crops last season, remove and replace mulch to eliminate any hibernating insects or spores. If disease and insects haven't been an issue, simply replenish the mulch. Refresh mulch on planting beds. If you have pine trees, gather free mulch: pine straw. It looks great around shrubs and on flowerbeds.

Tropical Plants
Move over wintered tropicals outdoors when night temperatures remain above 50F. Tuck tropicals into a shady spot and fertilize with an all-purpose fertilizer to jump-start growth. You can also remove the top inch or two of soil and add a layer of compost to boost growth

It's Time for Tubers
Over wintered caladium tubers emerge this month in the warmest parts of the South. In areas where caladiums are annuals, tuck new or stored tubers into the ground. Plant 2-3 inches deep.
Add cannas to your garden for a striking foliage show. They look great with under-plantings of asparagus fern or sweet potato vine.

Lawn care
Grass is growing in earnest now. Time mowings so you're removing only one-third of total blade growth. Follow this guide to mowing height.
Zoysia: 1/2 inch
Bermudagrass: 1/2 inch
St. Augustinegrass: 2 inches
Tall fescue: 2-1/2 inches
Sharpen your mower blade frequently. A sharp blade makes clean cuts, while a dull one tears grass blades. A torn blade provides an entry point for disease.

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