Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Lower South

April, 2005
Regional Report

Prune Spring-Blooming Shrubs

Spring-blooming shrubs will set buds in mid to late summer for next year's bloom. Prune spirea, flowering quince, "once blooming" roses, azaleas, Chinese witch hazel, Virginia sweetspire, and Pieris soon after flowering. This way their new growth will have time to mature and be ready to set buds for next year. Keep the natural shape of the plant in mind as you prune, and avoid excessive cutting except where necessary to control size.

Don't Let Weeds Get Ahead of You

Start weeding early in the flower and vegetable garden. Young weeds are easier to pull and it's less disruptive to the roots of garden plants. Weed competition with small plants can delay flowering and reduce production. Now that the weather has warmed, go ahead and add a few inches of mulch to shade out weed seeds.

Fertilize Tomatoes

The new hybrid types of tomatoes can really set heavy fruit loads. They need extra nutrition to do their best. When they start to set fruit, increase fertilizing to give them an extra boost. A liquid feed applied weekly or a slow-release product applied once can carry them through from spring to early summer.

Prevent Blossom End Rot

Blossom end rot is caused by a lack of calcium at the growing tip of tomatoes and watermelon fruit. A lack of calcium in the soil, or moistures levels that fluctuate from dry to wet, can lead to blossom end rot. Keep soil evenly moist, especially early in the season when the first fruits are developing. Plants growing in sandy soil are especially prone to this problem. Calcium sprays are available to help prevent the problem but must be applied as young fruits are growing but before symptoms appear.

Plant Heat-Tolerant Veggies

Okra, sweet potatoes, southern peas (black-eye, crowder, purple hull, zipper cream), malabar spinach, vegetable amaranth, and other hot-weather veggies will thrive in the heat of our southern summers. Plant them now in a sunny garden spot and mulch the area well to deter weeds. Keep them well watered as the hot weather increases their need for moisture.


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