Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Middle South

June, 2010
Regional Report

Delay Planting Trees and Shrubs

With year's hottest and driest weather just ahead, it is best to delay the planting of tress and shrubs until autumn, when the odds of successful establishment are more favorable. Meanwhile, keep a close watch on woody plants added to the garden in the last six months, and water when rainfall measures less than an inch a week.

Adopt Safe Gardening Practices

Nearly 40,000 gardeners visit the emergency room each year. To avoid injury and other dangers, be cautious with chemicals and natural products that carry potential risks; use a ground-fault-interrupter plug or adaptor with electrical tools; wear clothes that accommodate the weather as well as protective gear such as gloves; stretch before strenuous activity; be mindful of repetitive motions that strain muscles and joints; stay hydrated; and take frequent breaks. Be sure to keep your tetanus vaccination up to date too.

Propagate Shrubs With Cuttings

By late June, the new growth on shrubs should be perfect for taking cuttings. Propagate roses, spirea, hydrangea, azaleas, and any number of other woody plants by selecting semi-mature wood and taking a cutting about 3 inches long. Remove all but a few leaves, dip the cut end of the stem into a rooting hormone powder, and stick several cuttings in a large pot filled with growing medium. Place the container in a shady location and cover loosely with plastic to keep moist. When rooted, transplant cuttings to individual pots and gradually adapt plants to normal growing conditions.

Prevent Large Containers From Tipping

To prevent tall container-grown plants from tipping over on blustery days, use a length of rebar to secure the pot. In most cases a 3 or 4-foot long rod will suffice, with half its length driven into the ground and the other half above the soil level. If not yet planted, move the container where you want it and pound the rebar through the drainage hole and into the ground below. Otherwise, drive the rebar in place first, then have a friend help you lift the pot and push the metal stake up through the hole. Be careful not to obstruct drainage, however. (And be sure to locate any underground electrical or cable lines before you begin.)

Skip the Fence, Grow a Hedge

If you have more time than money, consider enclosing garden spaces with a hedge rather than a fence. For a formally pruned hedge, choose dense evergreens such as boxwood, yew, privet, or mid-size hollies. An informal space, on the other hand, is a prime opportunity for a mixed hedge that combines evergreens and a variety of deciduous shrubs and small trees, such as shrub rose, spirea, hydrangea, laurel, redbud, and serviceberry. In either case, be careful to avoid plants that grow so tall they shade out the sun, such as Leyland cypress.


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