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Southern Gardening

A hand holding shears prepares to trim a branch.
January 30, 2023 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Exceptionally low temperatures this winter caused more cold damage than our typical, milder winters. But try not to panic and prune as soon as you see damage. It is best to let the plant heal and recover what healthy tissue it still has, and then prune the dead parts a little later.

Ten boxes in rows hold soil samples.
January 23, 2023 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

As you walk around the landscape in January and look forward to the joy of starting a flower or vegetable garden, don’t overlook what you are stepping on. Healthy, productive plants require healthy soil. While soil may not be as eye-catching as narcissus or redbud flowers, it does require your attention.

A shovel stands among soil from a wheelbarrow and a pot.
January 16, 2023 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

All of us gardeners are super eager to get things moving in our landscape. And who wouldn’t be, with sunny, 70-degree January days? Of course, everything looks horrible from the “freezemageddon” that we experienced just a few weeks ago. It is still too early to start pruning and cleaning up our plants, but I must confess that I don’t always follow the rules. There may be a few plants that I just could not look at anymore.

A handwritten list of plants lies on a wooden table.
January 9, 2023 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

I don’t know about you, but I have been bombarded with seed catalogs this winter. Since about age 12, one of my favorite hobbies has been looking through catalogs at all the new plants.

Some new plants have forever changed the horticulture industry, while others disappear after just one season.

A collage shows a man in three different garden settings.
January 2, 2023 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

I usually write the Southern Gardening column about how the different seasons change the look of our landscapes and gardens, what seasonal plants look great and when it’s time to transition with new plants for the next season. Just like in the garden, a career has a season for everything, and there comes a point when you realize it’s time for a change.

Small plants grow in black plastic trays.
December 26, 2022 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Most gardeners start planning their flower and vegetable gardens after the first of the year. This makes sense, as cabin fever from the winter months is compounded by a case of gardening fever due to the appearance of garden catalogs.

Masses of pink flowers border a flower bed.
December 19, 2022 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

At the end of each year, I like to look back at what were some of the better performers in my home landscape and in my travels with Southern Gardening. I obviously don’t have enough room here to mention all the great plants I’ve seen and grown in 2022, but I think these four were the cream of the crop.

A cluster of red berries is surrounded by green leaves.
December 12, 2022 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

One of the most common questions I get his time of year concerns how to have landscape color from plants that are not annuals, like pansies, violas and dianthuses. A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned one such plant -- winter cassia -- that adds winter color to landscapes. Now, I want to suggest a Southeastern native shrub that is attractive and has a surprise use.

Small, purple flowers bloom on a shrub.
December 5, 2022 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

This fall and winter, I’ve been going back to look at some of my really, really favorite plants that I’ve talked about over the years as host of Southern Gardening with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. I’ve enjoyed hearing reports from garden centers that a particular Southern Gardening column created a run on plants I mentioned. One in particular brings back some fun memories: the blue butterfly plant.

Two red flowers bloom on a stalk among holiday decorations.
November 28, 2022 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

My favorite definition of a horticulturist is paraphrased as “We make plants do what we want, when we want them to do it.” The holiday season is the perfect time to show off these skills, and a prime example is the poinsettia. This plant “blooms” in its native Mexico around Christmas. But using science and plant physiology, we have poinsettias colored up from late October through the Christmas holidays.

Massive clusters of yellow flowers cause stems to arch downward.
November 21, 2022 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

As we enter winter, many gardeners consider this a less interesting outdoor season compared to the warmer spring and summer seasons. To add color, we depend on cool-season annuals like dianthuses, pansies, violas, and the various kales and cabbages. Of course, we’re also entering camellia season, but that’s really about it.

A greenhouse is full of poinsettias in a variety of red, yellow, orange and pink colors.
November 11, 2022 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Although it’s only mid-November, poinsettias will be arriving very soon at garden centers -- some may have already arrived -- for the holiday and Christmas season. In many people’s minds, the traditional poinsettia color is red. And let’s face it: A red poinsettia is beautiful. My favorite continues to be the traditional red. But red is not the only color available.

A large, red flower is surrounded by smaller, red and white flowers.
November 7, 2022 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

I’ve always enjoyed the fall season in the landscape and garden. I find the moderating temperatures refreshing, which helps me get my second wind when taking care of gardening chores. Many of our summer annuals seem to feel the same way about the reinvigorating fall weather. In fact, I think these summer annuals actually look their best in the fall. There is no better example of this than zinnias grown in the fall.

A yellow bloom has a delicate blue edge.
October 31, 2022 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Now is the time to plant one of the great, classic cool-season annuals. While they have a dainty look, violas are tough plants that will perform through the fall, winter and into the spring landscape and garden seasons. Violas go by either of the botanical names Viola tricolor or Viola cornuta, but most gardeners I know call them by their common name, Johnny jump ups.

White ornamental grasses glow in the sunlight.
October 24, 2022 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

My wife, Katie, and I continued our travels in Florida after I was a keynote speaker for the Florida Master Gardener Volunteer Conference. We enjoyed collecting seashells on Cocoa Beach while watching the latest SpaceX launch. As children of the 60s who grew up watching the exploits of NASA, this was really cool!

Green leaves have white and gold variegated color.
October 17, 2022 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Recently in my role as a Mississippi State University Extension specialist, I had the opportunity to promote horticulture and bring back great tips from friends in Florida. On Saturday, I co-hosted Better Lawns and Gardens on WFLA-Orlando with my great friend Teresa Watkins.

White and green variegated foliage has pink blooms.
October 10, 2022 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

October is a great month to plant new shrubs in your home landscape. We’re passed the harsh summer heat, and the cooler fall weather is perfect for newly planted shrubs to produce new root growth. In fact, fall-planted shrubs get to grow through the moderate spring season

Pastel flowers bloom on green foliage
October 3, 2022 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

This year is almost like clockwork; we hit Oct. 1, and we’re suddenly enjoying night temperatures in the 50s and 60s all across Mississippi. This is a welcome change from previous years when it seemed that summer would never go away. For once, planting our cool-season annuals seems to be right on schedule.

Rows of yellow pumpkins and orange pumpkins.
September 26, 2022 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

As we move further into the fall season, I wonder if there is a more fitting and fun fruit than a pumpkin? Pumpkins have become a major part of any autumnal or Halloween decoration. And who can resist a fresh pumpkin pie? I know I can’t!

Tiny yellow blooms line arching branches.
September 19, 2022 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

One of the sights I look forward to each year is goldenrod in full bloom. Beginning in late August and peaking about the third week of September, goldenrods seem to be along the roadsides of every highway and in in every natural area and field. The masses of bright yellow are gorgeous, and it’s hard for me to consider the goldenrod as a weed.

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