Gardeners can celebrate love with colors, shapes
Valentine’s Day is a time for people around the world to profess their love for someone or, like most of us, our love for our gardens!
While everyone else is thinking about giving someone roses, gardeners are thinking about pruning our roses. Without an annual pruning, roses can become very tall and leggy. Depending on the variety, some roses even benefit from a late-summer pruning. Pruning roses creates a more compact and fuller bush.
Maybe this is the year that you plan to grow your own fresh-cut flowers. Since we’re talking about Valentine’s Day, some of my favorite red and pink roses are Chrysler Imperial, Ketchup & Mustard, Mister Lincoln, Queen Elizabeth, Chicago Peace and Perfume Delight, a selection that definitely lives up to its name.
I would be remiss if I didn’t give credit to all the breathtaking red and pink azaleas blooming right now. I have thoroughly enjoyed the overgrown azaleas in the back of my yard. We intentionally leave them large to provide extra privacy, but we also enjoy the show.
If you prefer to control the size of your azaleas, delay pruning them until after they are finished blooming.
If you don’t like pruning, there are several varieties of azaleas that stay much smaller. Conversation Piece is one of my favorites, as it grows to only 3 feet wide by 4 feet tall. As the names suggests, Conversation Piece has a feature that’s worth talking about: it provides pink, white and pink/white blooms all on the same plant.
Red Ruffle is another great compact azalea that grows to only 3 feet tall and wide.
While the information tag on many azaleas states that they can take full sun, I do not advise it for Mississippi. Full sun in other parts of the country is not the same as our full Mississippi sun. Azaleas perform best for us in dappled shade or morning sun. They can grow and thrive in full sun, but it requires regular watering and fertilization.
If you would like a touch of love in the garden without the color, the Hoya Kerrii, aka Hoya Heart, is perfect.
It is common at this time of year to see a single potted Hoya leaf. It will not grow into a vine and can survive for many years.
Another great plant is the Heart leaf fern, known botanically as Hemiontis arifolia. Heart leaf fern prefers low light, high humidity and moderate temperatures. Two out of the three make south Mississippi a perfect home for this plant.
While it feels very spring-like now, we all know that we may experience each of the seasons by the end of the week.
Several of us are desperate for a little color to brighten our porches, and I turn to geraniums and gerbera daisies this time of the year. Their color palette is endless, and they are easy enough to move inside when winter shows back up in a few days.
While the weather is playing tricks on us, go ahead and start pulling those winter weeds that preemergent herbicides didn’t take care of. Pulling winter weeds before they set seed will easily control many varieties.
Now is also a great time to apply a preemergent herbicide for the summer weeds so we aren’t pulling quite so many weeds when the temps are super high. These treatments provides a barrier to inhibit the weed seeds from germinating.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Paula Pettis is a Southern Gardening guest columnist and owner of The Island Garden Shop in Gulfport, Mississippi.]