Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Coastal and Tropical South

November, 2010
Regional Report

Choose the right tree

It's sage advice to remember: right plant, right place. The wrong annual is only there for a few months, perennials and shrubs can be moved if necessary to rectify poor site choice. But trees are long-lived and not readily replanted once established. Tree planting time is November to February, because it is important to give roots time to get established before they need to support excessive leafy growth. In choosing the right tree, know its likely ultimate height: "small" means 15 feet tall; "medium" at least 30 feet; and "tall" can mean 50 feet and more.

Choosing containers

Because many areas typically have very cold spells in the winter, or long hot times in summer, choose containers that can take the changes. Larger sizes will hold heat longer in the root ball, thus risking less cold damage to roots. They won't dry out as fast, either, demanding less water than small pots. Plastic is often favored for its durability. In hot weather, however, plastic pots can heat up dramatically while clay breathes.

Amaryllis tips

Lots of people give and get amaryllis kits as gifts, and they do keep on giving, first in pots, then in the garden. Plant in the light soil mix provided, leaving the neck of the bulb above ground. Start in a cool room to control its height. Once the stem is 6 inches tall, move the pot to a sunny window. Water when dry and stake if necessary. After flowering, cut the stem down and continue growing indoors. Transplant to the garden in spring.

Bulb depth

A common complaint: I planted lots of bulbs, but only a few came up! The answer to this dilemma is proper planting depth. When the guide tells you to plant the bulbs 4"-6" deep, don't believe it. In our regions, if bulbs need to buried, put them no deeper than twice their height. If tulips or hyacinth bloom on short stems, it indicates they were not chilled long enough. Both need about 8 weeks in the refrigerator before planting.

Safe cuts

It's true in the kitchen and garden: sharp blades are safer than dull ones. That's because a dull blade makes you exert more pressure and use the tool inappropriately to make it work. Too often the result is, at best, a poor cut. Saw safety often comes down to that one thing: sharp blades. Whether you are working with a chainsaw or a folding saw, keep it in working order. Get in a routine of cleaning, oiling and, when needed, sharpening saws after each use.


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