Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Lower South

February, 2001
Regional Report

Prune Crape Myrtles

Crape myrtles bloom for several months in our summer heat and offer an amazing array of bloom colors, plant sizes, and trunk colors. However, they also top the list of improperly pruned shrubs and trees. Before heading out to prune your crapes, check out Web sites and local nurseries for proper pruning techniques.

Plant Fruit Trees

Late winter is prime time for planting fruit trees, vines, and bushes. The three keys to success with fruit are variety selection, proper sun exposure, and healthy soil. Check with your local extension office for a list of proven varieties. Virtually all fruit plants want a full-sun location. When it comes to soil, good drainage is a must.

Check Indoor Plants for Pests

Over the winter, pests such as scales, mealybugs, mites, and aphids can build up on houseplants. Give plants a periodic look-over, checking the undersides of leaves and leaf crotches. The earlier you detect a pest problem, the easier it is to control by hand or by spraying insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.

Stockpile Leaves

Gardeners can hardly get too many leaves. I use literally hundreds of bags a year in composting and mulching the garden. In order to have enough to last through the long season ahead, I scour the neighborhood in search of bags and piles of leaves to stockpile behind the garage. They\'re a great source of organic matter when tilled into garden soil.

Spray Fruit Trees

The best time to spray dormant oil on fruit trees is late winter prior to the emergence of new growth. Scale, mites, and other pests it helps control are most active and susceptible to the spray as the weather begins to warm, but dormant oil spray will burn new leaf and flower growth that has already pushed out of the bud. Also, don't apply oil spray within 24 hours of a freeze. When you do spray, remember that complete coverage is important.


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