Planting Cool Season
a frugal gardener, I like to get as much value out of the
money I spend on plants as I can. One of the most costly
items is seasonal color. This refers to those plants we
install for a season and then remove Typically, these are
annuals that spend their entire life flowering. In fact,
typically, they completely exhaust themselves by the end
of the season. We're all familiar with our warm season annuals
we set out in the spring but fortunately here in the South,
there is another season that is equally important and its
just about to begin. Really get more for your money when
you plant cool season annuals than warm season ones. Let
me explain. By planting cool season annuals in September
and enjoying them at the end of May, you get 9 months of
color. Compare that with putting begonias in the ground
in April and removing them in September. You only get 6
months of color. That's 1/3 more months of color during
with cool season plants than warm season flowers. Think
how much money your saving!
If you want to put pansies out this time of year, understand
that it's still a little early and the plants have been
grown during the hot summer months, so they're probably
a bit stressed. When pansies get stressed, they stretch.
It is a natural reaction and it tends to make them a bit
top heavy and lanky. Pansy ancestors naturally acted like
a vine, and our modern varieties revert back to that when
they encounter conditions that aren't favorable. So, the
best thing you can do if you buy pansies early in the season,
is to give them a hard pinch. By the way there is a difference
between a soft pinch and a hard pinch. A soft pinch is one
that removes just the top of the plant. Remember, pruning
is localized so the effect will be at the top of the plant.
Instead, we want to give our pansies a hard pinch. That
means we go in and remove ½ to 2/3 of the plant. This can
be very painful as you've got these nice sized plants and
all of a sudden they're half their size. Consider pinching
half of them back when they are installed and as soon as
they fill out a bit, go back and pinch the other half.
It may be a bit early to install pansies but as long as
you take care of them they should be fine. This time of
year you can install smaller plants and they will quickly
establish themselves in the landscape. If you wait until
temperatures cool off, especially when soil temperatures
cool, you really need to use larger plants with a more established
root system if you want them to produce flowers all winter
long. Most of us use the same planting bed we used for our
warm season plants for our cool season ones. Just make sure
that there is at least a half day of full sun and adequate
moisture. Here's how to prep the bed for your cool season
1. Remove all the remaining plant debris. Do not till it
into the ground as it could harbor diseases and take a while
to break down. If there is any remaining mulch, as long
as it is a small amount, it can be tilled in.
2. Tilling can be done by hand or with the aid of a small
tiller. I love this one, very easy to operate, lightweight
and does an incredible job. But before I till I want to
3. topdress with a top quality compost or manure, about
1" or so. Till the compost and remaining decomposed mulch
in, and you're ready to plant. Some folks like to fertilize
and lime as well. According to our soil test, this bed is
at 5.5. That's a little low. We'd like it up between 6.0
and 6.5. So we will be adding 10-12lbs. of lime per 100
square feet. (For clay soil, that's about what it takes
to move the pH up a point. If this was a sandy soil, it
would be about ¼ of that. A soil test will help determine
exactly what is needed. When you get a soil test, you're
being a scientist and in the long run your plants will show
it. Adding fertilizer when it isn't needed or not liming
when you should will certainly negatively affect your plants.
4. I like to start by digging a shallow trench around the
bed. This allows us to define the bed and during installation,
if soil particles start to fall out of the bed, they'll
get caught in the little trench. It makes clean up a lot
5. As far as planting, I like to put the plants on 6" centers.
I've seen them put on 4" and 8" centers and here's how to
calculate how many plants you'll need based on your spacing.
For 4" spacing multiply the number of square feet of planting
bed by 9 If you plant on 6" centers, multiply the square
footage by 4 and if you plant on 8" centers, multiply by
2.25 . I like to use a planting stick to keep my distances
the same as I go.
6. Start your planting around the edge of the bed. This
way you can create a very organized edge of your planting.
I place the first row and then alternate the second row,
making sure that the distance is the same between every
plant. You'll need fewer plants if you stagger them like
so rather than lining up the second row directly behind
7. Once we're finished planting, it is time to mulch. The
professionals use a quick throw to spread the mulch like
Year Round Use of Color With Helen Phillips
By selecting unique, yet eye-catching plants
you can have an interesting garden even in the Fall and
Winter. It's not always
necessary to have blooms for a garden to be attractive.
mainly Conifers (cone bearing plants) are excellent selections.
Phillips from Callaway Gardens shows us some great examples.
Some of the plants shown are: Contorted Hazel "Sir
Harry Lauders Walking Stick," Weeping White Pine, Chamaecyparis
"Green Fern Spray," Dwarf Blueberry, Dwarf Mondo
Grass, Junipers, Mazus Reptans, Creeping Blue Star and Lettuce
Fall Bag Worms
In the spring it's Tent Caterpillars, in the Fall it's
the Web Worm.
What could or should be done with this unsightly critter?
inside this cocoon is a Caterpillar, it came from a Moth.
It built this
web to protect itself from predators such as birds. We could
insecticide or an organic spray but the only thing that
will happen is
that the tree will lose its' leaves and they're going to
come off in the
Fall anyway. It's not really a problem. If it bothers you
and you can
reach the unsightly mess take it off with a stick, once
the bag is
opened birds and others will finish the job, otherwise let
Dr. Rick Shows Us
Some Pollen Free Plants
it's sneeze season again. Pollen counts have been extremely
high in many parts of the south this time of year. For all
the trouble pollen brings us, it is an amazing substance.
Every species of flowering plant can be identified by the
distinctive shape of its pollen and the elaborate sculpturing
of its outer walls. Did you know that the pollen wall is
so resistant to decay that fossil pollen, retreived after
being buried for thousands of year, have provided an accurate
record of early-day floras throughout the world. Pollen
is microscopic and looks like a stickery burr under a microscope.
That's why it bothers our respiratory systems so much. It
is like inhaling thousands of tiny stickers that irritate
and annoy our throat, nose and eyes. As a gardener, is there
anything we can do to reduce our exposure to the problems
Absolutely! First understand that the highest levels of
pollen occur in the morning between 5 AM and 10 AM. So try
to do your gardening in the afternoon and early evening.
A small mask is very beneficial and as you come in from
outdoors, make sure you remove your clothing and shower
immediately Otherwise, you bring in a lot of the pollen
on your clothes and hair and can suffer the effects for
hours, even days afterwards. Be careful about bringing pets
in from outside and especially keep them away from sleeping
quarters. Also, keep tuned into the pollen count. By the
way, if the pollen count for ragweed is 76, that means that
the researchers found 76 pollen grains of ragweed per cubic
meter of air. You can find out what the pollen count is
any time of the year by dialing the national pollen hotline.
Just call 1-800 9 POLLEN.
Unfortunately, pollen can travel hundreds of miles, so even
if your yard is filled with low allergen plants pollen can
get you. However, if you surround your garden with plants
that do not produce the bad type of pollen, your chances
of itchy eyes and nose are definitely reduced. Also, if
you like to bring plants indoors, certain plants are better
than others. Here's the key: The smaller and lighter the
pollen, the more likely it will cause problems. To reduce
allergens, look for plants with large, waxy flowers, which
often have pollen that is too heavy and sticky to enter
the air. Begonias are a perfect example of a flower with
waxy flowers tha has pollen that is heavy and sticky. According
to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology,
here are some of the best plants to have in your garden
to reduce your exposure to unpleasant pollen problems.
Good Trees and shrub choices - Apple, Azalea, Boxwood, Cherry,
Dogwood, Hibiscus, Magnolia, Pears and Plums.
Good Bulbs, flowering plants and grass choices - Alyssum
Begonia, Clematis, Columbine, Crocus, Daffodil, Dahlia,
Daisy, Dusty miller, Geranium, Hosta, Hyacinth, Hydrangea,
Impatiens, Iris, Lily, Pansy, Petunia, Phlox, Roses, Salvia,
Snapdragon, Sunflower, Tulips, Verbena, Viburnum and Zinnia.
Best Lawn Grass - St. Augustine
Plants to avoid - Ash, Beech, Birch, Cedar, Cypress, Elm,
Hickory, Juniper, Maple, Oak, Pecan, Pine, Poplar, Sycamore,
Walnut and Willow.
to avoid - Bermuda, Fescue and Perennial Rye.
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