Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Lower South

July, 2001
Regional Report

Keep Hydrated

Our summers are scorchers. Don't forget to drink plenty of water when out in the heat. Heat stress can sneak up on you if you're not careful. It can also cause significant skin damage over the years. Wearing a wide sombrero and some good sunscreen lotion will go a long way to avoiding major skin problems later in life.

Plant Heat Tolerant Flowers

There's still time to plant colorful, heat-tolerant summer annuals such as zinnia, portulaca, periwinkle, salvia, impatiens, and hyacinth bean. Heat tolerant perennials for the south include canna, esparanza (Tecoma stans), firebush (Hamelia patens), various gingers, and Salvia 'Indigo Spires', Salvia gauranitica, Salvia leucantha, and Salvia greggii.

Raise Mower Blades

Set the lawnmower a little higher for summer mowing. If mowed higher, turfgrass will develop deeper roots and be a more resilient. St. Augustine can be mowed at a 2 to 3 inches tall while zoysia and standard types of Bermuda grass will grow fine at 1 to 2 inches tall.

Plant More Veggies

There's still time to plant one more crop of heat loving vegetables such as southern peas, okra, sweet potatoes, amaranth, Malabar spinach, and watermelons. Give them plenty of water as the heat really increases their water use. Tender seedlings may benefit from a scattering of pine needles around the plants to partly shade the soil and help retain moisture.

Prune Fruit Trees

Most fruit trees are growing rapidly this time of the year. Vigorous upright shoots (water sprouts) in the center of the tree should be trimmed to allow light to reach the leaves in the tree\'s interior. Otherwise the shoots in the interior will be shaded and die back or at least become less productive. Fruit set for next year occurs in mid to late summer so removing these branches that shade the interior now is important.


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