Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Tropical South

April, 2004
Regional Report

Refurbish Containers As Needed

If you haven't redone your container plantings for a few years, take everything out and put in new soil. Otherwise, replace some of the soil with compost. Take out dead or fading annuals, and cut back perennials to shape and encourage bushy new growth. Flush the pots with water to remove excess salts, then add slow-release fertilizer.

Planting Bougainvilleas

Because the root system is sparse and brittle and does not hold soil well, these are difficult to transplant. You may want to keep them in plastic containers and sink these into the ground. Or cut off the container bottom, set pot and plant in the hole, and then slide the pot up over the plant, filling in with soil as you go.

Taking Bougainvilleas North

Snowbirds might want to take a bougainvillea home, for these will bloom all summer in northern gardens, and can then be cut back to 6 inches and stored in a cool (40 to 45 degrees F), dark place
for the winter. They put out rapid growth when set outside in spring after danger of frost is past.

Seeking the Shade

As the days get longer and hotter, work in the shade as much as possible. Sometimes you can even stand in the shade and aim that hose into the sunny spots. Also, move even sun-loving potted plants gradually into a little more shade. Full sun is considered to be 8 hours a day, and we'll soon have double that. Most plants appreciate afternoon shade.

Planting Summer Annuals

Get summer annuals in and settled as soon as you can, and you'll use less water in transplanting. I always buy the first blue torenias or wishbone flowers that I find on sale. You can take cuttings from these. Though they'll never catch up with their parents for spread, they'll do very well. Replace the calendulas, alyssum, and pansies as needed with globe amaranths, cleome, melampodium, portulaca, and salvias.


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