Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Lower South
May, 2003
Regional Report

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?We can do a lot to help our landscape plants thrive even in hot summer weather.?

?Summerize? Your Garden And Landscape

You just can't beat the wonderful weather and moderate temperatures we have had this spring. Yet anyone who has spent more than a year in the south knows that this glorious gardening season will be brief. Soon the full brunt of summer will arrive, broiling everything in its path. But there is much we can do to prepare our plants for summer heat.

We have many heat-tolerant annual and perennial flowers, vines, shrubs, and trees. Even though these plants are tough, we need to take appropriate steps to help them out.

Give Plants Good Soil
Plants need a good deep soil that holds moisture and nutrients but drains well too. It doesn't make sense to spend money on plants without first spending some money on the soil they grow in. Starting with a good soil mix will be less expensive in the long run. So mix in some compost prior to planting to improve the soil and help new plants develop a strong, extensive root system.

Water Deeply
Proper watering is an important step in helping plants through the hot weather to come. Deep, infrequent soakings provide plants with a good supply of moisture, yet allow for a drying out period to keep the soil well aerated. This also encourages an extensive root system -- important insurance for the summer days ahead.

Spread Mulch
Mulch is important insurance for plants. About 2 to 3 inches of organic materials around bedding plants or 4 to 5 inches around trees and shrubs will keep the soil cooler, improve infiltration of rain or irrigation, and slowly decompose to help build the soil. Mulch also can help prevent most types of weeds from germinating in your garden beds.

Location, Location, Location
If you are planting new plants, make sure and place them in their preferred exposure. Give the sun-lovers their place in the sun. Locate those wimpy specimens that need a break from the brunt of the summer sun in a bright shade or morning sun location. I have learned the hard way that you may get away with putting a marginal plant in full sun in spring, but when summer arrives it will be "toast"!

So take a little time to "summerize" your landscape and it will provide beauty and enjoyment all summer long.

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