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Southern Gardening from 2011

Amazon dianthus Rose Magic's multicolor flower display lives up to its name. These flowers start out white and transition to pink and then rose. (Photo by Gary Bachman)
May 24, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

Summer’s heat has descended suddenly, so you may not be considering planting dianthus, a group of flowering plants that typically thrive during the cooler months of the year.

They are called by many names, but the common name pink really is a good description. Colors include pink and red, and there are also attractive white and lavender selections.

The bright purple leaves of Amethyst basil resemble the broad, flat leaves of common basil, and they have the same taste.
May 31, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

For fresh summer recipes, nothing beats the taste of basil. Gardeners who want to grow basil for cooking can choose from a variety of colors, textures and flavors, making this herb a garden showpiece.

Basil is one of the easiest herbs to grow during the hot summer months. Most gardeners start with common, or sweet, basil, which comes in a wide range of leaf sizes and textures. Lettuce leaf basil has leaves as big as a man’s hand, and they are textured like lettuce. Try replacing traditional lettuce with a single leaf of it on a sandwich.

The tough, native Oakleaf hydrangea thrives in partial shade. Its gray-green summer foliage puts on a fall color show, then the leaves drop, exposing beautiful, exfoliating branches.
June 9, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

Hydrangeas are old-fashioned, rounded-form shrubs that put on flamboyant flower displays in the summer and fall. And every year, great new selections are introduced, so gardeners should watch out for these terrific new options.

The three types of hydrangea commonly found in Mississippi gardens are the French, the PeeGee and the Oakleaf.

French hydrangea has two types of flowers: mopheads and lacecaps. Mopheads resemble pom-poms and are big, round and showy. Lacecaps are fern-like.

Micro-irrigation systems, such as this sprinkler watering Telstar dianthus, supply water directly to the soil around the plants. (Photo by Gary Bachman)
June 15, 2011 - Filed Under: Irrigation, Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens, Vegetable Gardens

To combat the dry conditions creating problems for home gardens and landscapes, many Mississippi gardeners need to water their plants a lot more than usual.

Generally, applying 1 to 1 1/2 inches of water per week using overhead sprinklers will leave the root zones of your plants moist enough to encourage optimum growth. This method of watering works for annuals and groundcovers, as well as perennials, shrubs, trees and lawns.

Using organic soil amendments can produce beautiful flowering displays, such as these Vista Bubblegum Petunia Supertunias. (Photo by Gary Bachman)
June 21, 2011 - Filed Under: Organic Fruit and Vegetables, Flower Gardens

As we enter the hot part of the summer, I’m reminded of how much the cold of winter and the heat of summer have in common.

Before you dismiss me as crazy, let me explain how summer and winter can be similar. Due to the current heat and humidity, most Mississippi gardeners – including me -- are spending time indoors trying to avoid sunburn and heat stroke. This gives us a lot of time to think about what to plant and new gardening projects to accomplish when cooler temperatures return.

The Cascade Pink Blush flowering Vinca has pastel pink petals and a dark eye. It looks great planted in a wall sconce or even in an old shoe, as pictured here. (Photo by Gary Bachman)
June 28, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

One of the most important factors in choosing flowering annuals is finding one that tolerates the hot Mississippi summers. Many annuals cannot maintain their color in the high temperatures, but the flowering Vinca is one that can.

Flowering Vinca is a versatile, full-sun plant. Known botanically as Catharanthus roseus, flowering Vinca originated in the hot and dry regions of southern Africa. It looks great mass-planted in the landscape or as a flowering ground cover.

Butter Cream lantana's flowers start out as a bright golden yellow; the edges turn creamy white and eventually, the entire flower is white. (Photo by Gary Bachman)
July 5, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

With the temperatures heating up, many landscapers and gardeners are looking for plants that can stand up to the Mississippi summer. Luckily, they don’t have to look any farther than hot summer lantana.

The landscape performance of Coreopsis verticillata, such as this Route 66 selection, makes these plants outstanding choices for season-long color. (Photo by Gary Bachman)
July 12, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

When the heat makes gardeners want to stay indoors, it’s nice to have reliable, flowering plants that keep on looking good even when they don’t get a lot of attention.

The landscape performance of thread-leaf coreopsis, or Coreopsis verticillata, has made these plants outstanding choices for season-long color. And since it is an easy-to-grow, flowering perennial, beginner gardeners can have success almost immediately.

Agastache Color Spires Pink is a dramatic thriller plant in combination plantings in the landscape or containers. (Photo by Gary Bachman)
July 19, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

If I told you about a flowering plant that likes full sun, needs little water and thrives on neglect, wouldn’t you want to go out and buy one? Or several?

A plant with these requirements sounds perfect for our hot Mississippi gardens. Agastache (pronounced ag-ah-STAK-ee) may just be that plant. More commonly known as licorice mint, Mexican hyssop or hummingbird mint, this member of the mint family has -- as you may have already guessed -- a pleasing licorice aroma.

The golden yellow petals and dark red halo of Denver Daisy rudbeckia make a bright statement in the summer landscape. (Photo by Gary Bachman)
July 26, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

A favorite flower with almost every Southern gardener is the black-eyed Susan, known botanically as rudbeckia. These plants produce an abundance of bright yellow flowers, each with a dark button-shaped cone in the center.

There are several species for gardeners to choose from. Rudbeckia hirta is a Mississippi native wildflower and is a staple plant in naturalized areas and meadows. Black-eyed Susans are also reliable garden and landscape performers for the butterfly garden.

The flowers of Mesa Bright Bicolor will not fade in summer’s heat and sunlight. Their color intensity depends on the local environment.
August 2, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

Gaillardia is a native plant with few pests that can liven up the summer landscape anywhere in Mississippi with its bright, warm colors.

Gaillardia makes a fantastic addition to the summer garden. Many gardeners know Gaillardia as blanket flower, a name that came from the early settlers’ comparing the colors of the flowers to those of the blankets of Native Americans. Gaillardia is named in honor of French botanist Gaillard de Charentonneau.

Brazilian Red Hot is a Joseph's Coat with wavy leaves that are variegated with purplish centers and fluorescent fuchsia margins. (Photo by Gary Bachman)
August 9, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

When gardeners want to add color to the landscape, they often reach for flowering annuals and perennials. While these colorful flowers always catch the eye, their selection is usually limited at this point of the summer.

Many gardeners never consider buying colorful foliage plants for anything but shady areas, but let me encourage you to reconsider their usefulness. These plants provide color, and you can still find good selections available in the local garden center that you can plant in the heat of summer.

Japanese fiber bananas planted around a large urn fountain and combined with Louisiana iris add a tropical flair to this outdoor patio. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
August 17, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

A lot of gardeners are interested in creating a tropical feeling around their homes, and one of the easiest ways to do this is to add banana plants either in the landscape or in large containers.

If you’re about to quit reading because you think bananas can only be grown in coastal Mississippi and you live elsewhere, stick with me. I hope I can change your mind by describing some of the selections that are hardy for all landscapes in Mississippi.

Fasciation is a mutation in plants that causes strange growth and development. This fasciated flower of Pow Wow Wild Berry coneflower displays contorted growth, while the flower on the right is normal. (Photo by Gary Bachman)
August 24, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

Sometimes the most interesting plants in our landscapes are the ones that can’t be predicted. Each year, there is a wonderful, random variety that presents itself in the garden through the mutations that occur in every plant species.

The secret to finding some of these botanical gems is taking a closer look at flowering and evergreen plants. Every once in a while, we are rewarded with garden treasure.

Katie Dwarf ruellia, a Mexican petunia perfect for containers, is paired with Henna sun coleus. (Photo by Gary Bachman)
August 30, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

A couple of years ago, I received a call in late summer from a new gardener asking about a plant he had seen at a local golf course. I was interested because he described it as a blue azalea. I visited the golf course and toured until I found the plant. It wasn’t a blue azalea after all, but the familiar Mexican petunia.

A sharp shovel can be used to divide some perennials, such as this daylily clump being split in half. (Photo by Gary Bachman)
September 7, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

You don’t have to be a gardener for long before you come across a situation that calls for some garden “surgery” called division. Division is cutting the plant into smaller pieces and replanting.

You see the need for division when you notice a perennial plant no longer looking good. Maybe it hasn't been flowering prolifically, the leaves are getting smaller or the center is opening up. You decide to divide the plant to remedy the situation. Dividing perennial plants is a great way to rejuvenate some of our ornamental garden treasures.

Amending the soil in the fall is key to maintaining a beautiful landscape. (Photo by Gary Bachman)
September 13, 2011 - Filed Under: Soils, Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

Fall is the perfect time to start on your garden and landscape for next year. Amending the soil with quality, organic material is one of the best gifts you can give your garden soil.

There are quite a few options for gardeners when it comes to soil amendments. In Mississippi, many gardeners use cottonseed meal as an organic source of nutrients. It has a nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium analysis of 6-2-1 and is a good source of trace nutrients.

Fall weather brings an abundance of color to Mississippi landscapes. (Photo by Gary Bachman)
September 20, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

Fall has always been one of my favorite times of the year, something that probably has a lot to do with my growing up in Michigan, where I enjoyed cooler temperatures and trees changing colors.

Here in Mississippi, I enjoy waking up in the morning and feeling that chill in the air. I guess I am finally becoming acclimated because even 70 degrees feels chilly after a hot and humid Mississippi summer.

Adding fall mums is a stress-free way to provide color to the fall landscape, and the selection of colors can seem limitless.
September 27, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

Just as the changing colors in nature signal the arrival of autumn, so do the appearance of beautiful, flowering mums at our local garden centers.

Adding fall mums, which is the short name for Chrysanthemums, is a stress-free way to provide color to the fall landscape. It’s easy to see why, as these plants will produce more flowers than you could possibly count. The selection of colors seems limitless, from rustic earth tones to bright and cheery pastels.

Available sizes range from 4-inch pots all the way up to 5-gallon containers and bigger.

Red Star cordyline is the thriller plant in this bright, fall combination container, which also features lantana and summer coleus.
October 4, 2011 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Flower Gardens

The gorgeous colors we are seeing in nature this fall can be repeated in our landscapes with fall combination containers. The warm colors of red, orange, and yellow all add excitement to the cool temperatures.

Creating your own fall combination containers is easy if you follow the thriller, filler and spiller formula. Don’t limit yourself on plant selection -- use annuals, perennials and even tropical houseplants. When cold temperatures are forecast, these combination containers will also look good inside.


Southern Gardening Archive