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Southern Gardening

Red poinsettias are the traditional choice for many holiday gardeners, but other possibilities include these Jingle Bells poinsettias. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
November 21, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

I've noticed over the last couple of weeks that a few early-season poinsettias are showing up on garden center shelves. And while we're celebrating Thanksgiving this week, the appearance of the poinsettia means we are in the full swing of the Christmas season.

Traditionally, the red poinsettia is the first choice of many holiday gardeners.

Cool Wave pansies are more vigorous than standard pansy varieties and have a trailing growth habit that makes them ideal for filling landscape beds or spilling from hanging baskets. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
November 14, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Like many other home gardeners in Mississippi, I'm in the full swing of planting cool-season annual color. And like everyone else, I've been planting my favorites, which are Matrix pansies and Sorbet violas. You really can't go wrong with these easy-to-grow landscape plants.

But the last couple of years, I've been kicking the pansy planting up a notch, to borrow the catch phrase of a famous New Orleans chef. I've been using Cool Wave pansies more and more in some nontraditional settings.

Dianthus is a great choice for fall garden color. This bicolor Telstar Pink picottee selection is perfect for mass planting in the landscape. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
November 7, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Even though outside temperatures are still quite balmy, we are moving into winter. Maybe this year we will actually have a winter. That makes now the perfect time to start planting dianthus.

In fact, the perfect time to plant dianthus is when you plant your pansies. Dianthus and pansies are wonderful fall and winter companion plants.

Confederate Rose is an old-fashioned heirloom plant that is actually a hibiscus, not a rose. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
October 31, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Heirloom vegetables get their fair share of gardening attention, but many homeowners don't realize that some ornamental plants are considered heirlooms as well. We often call heirloom ornamentals "pass-along plants."

Kumquats perform well in Mississippi when given winter protection. Gardeners eat just the peel of this beautiful fruit. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
October 24, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

I like the changing of the seasons, as it means we get to plant a new set of color annuals like pansies, violas and dianthuses. The cooler weather draws us back out to enjoy gardening activities, many of which were put on hold in the heat of the summer.

The Sorbet series of violas, such as this Midnight Glow selection, resist stretching and stay compact through winter and even as temperatures rise in the spring. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
October 17, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

An important step in keeping year-round color in the garden and landscape is planting and transitioning the annual color plants.

Within the last month, I’ve planted my favorite fall French marigolds, also called Mari-mums. My Telstar dianthuses and snapdragons are also in and starting to show off. At the beginning of September, I pulled my Blue Daze evolvuluses from the front walk bed and replaced them with some beautiful, tight-budded mini chrysanthemums.

King Tut papyrus, growing here at the Mississippi State University South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station in Poplarville, make a good addition to Mississippi landscapes either as an annual or a perennial. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
October 10, 2016 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

At the 43rd annual Ornamental Field Day this weekend at the South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station in Poplarville, one plant that drew a lot of attention was the exotic-looking King Tut papyrus.

This grass-like plant growing in Mississippi State University's trial garden can easily grow to 6 feet tall, and it has a striking presence in the landscape. King Tut is a member of the same papyrus family of plants that the ancient Egyptians used to make paper. Its dramatic appearance makes for a great conversation about its connection to the distant past.

The Rose Wing Matrix pansy lets Mississippi State University Bulldog fans show off their school colors. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
October 3, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

When I woke up Saturday morning, the cool air felt like getting a visit from an old friend. After our latest long and hot summer, it has been way too long since we saw each other.

Fall mums are a useful bridge crop between summer and fall. They can be treated as seasonal annuals to provide an easy and reliable display of color for the in-between period. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
September 26, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

I always enjoy the shift from summer to fall, but determining when the seasons actually change can be a bit confusing.

Adding hardscape materials such as treated lumber to build sides keeps raised-bed gardens looking tidy. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
September 19, 2016 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

Many people are interested in having home vegetable and flower gardens, but many urban homes have small lots. Home gardeners in this situation may not think they have enough room. Others, especially inexperienced gardeners, may be discouraged by the amount of time and work required to build a new garden bed.

A good solution to this problem is to grow vegetables and flowers in compact, raised beds. By using an intensively cultivated area, you need less time and space to produce vegetables that taste great and flowers that feed the soul.

“Detective Bachman” examines a struggling plant to figure out how to fix a problem it faced in the landscape. (Photo by MSU Extension Service)
September 12, 2016 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

The story you are about to read is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent gardener. This is south Mississippi. My name is Bachman. I’m an Extension horticulture specialist.

Aside from my duties as the Southern Gardener for the Mississippi State University Extension Service, I also serve as a crime fighter. I fight crimes against the garden and landscape.

Mississippi State University Extension Service’s own Gary Bachman discovered the variegated beautyberry called Duet in 2000. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
September 6, 2016 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

Now that we’re finally into September, I think many of our landscape plants are rejoicing in anticipation of the (hopefully) coming milder temperatures as much as I am. The colorful annuals that survived the hot summer will start to recover, while other landscape plants have been waiting for this season to begin their show.

Stake or brace leaning trees to restore them to an upright position and accelerate their recovery from weather damage. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
August 29, 2016 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

The current tropical systems swirling around are causing more homeowners to wonder about how to deal with weather-related damage in the landscape.

This Red-Bellied Tree Frog caladium comes from a family of caladiums that performs well in both partial and full sun. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
August 22, 2016 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

I make a point every week to walk around our plant trial beds at the Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi to see how everything is growing. Lately, I’ve been impressed by some of the landscape plants with tropical-looking foliage that are putting on a late summer show right now.

Microgreens such as the mix pictured are rich in phytonutrients and grow quickly indoors with minimal effort on a windowsill or under lights. (Photo by Gary Bachman/MSU Extension Service)
August 15, 2016 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

Since this is August, we are now officially in the dog days of summer.

Extreme heat and humidity cause lots of problems for both garden plants and gardeners. For those gardeners who enjoy the vegetable garden bounty, this time can be especially troubling, as many of our vegetable plants tend to shut down for a while.

Ornamental peppers are available in an ever-increasing array of colors and styles, such as these NuMex April’s Fools peppers. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
August 8, 2016 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

In the past, I’ve expressed my love for chili peppers -- the hotter the better. But there are only so many ghost, Trinidad Moruga and Carolina Reaper peppers I can eat. Lately, my gastrointestinal tolerance for their heat is waning.

Succulents, plants with soft, juicy leaves and stems, are good choices for low-water-use gardening. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
August 1, 2016 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

Because this is the first week of August, we can rest assured that it’s going to be hot in our Mississippi gardens and landscapes.

Cherokee Sunset produces large flowers that are a mix of single and doubles. The warm, autumnal colors on sturdy stems make them a good choice for use in fall indoor arrangements. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
July 25, 2016 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

When the summer season heats up starting in July, I really like seeing Rudbeckias in our Mississippi landscapes. Who can argue how the brightly colored flowers bring needed freshness when some of our other flowering plants may be showing wear and tear?

Ping Pong is a new gomphrena series that delivers a blast of color in any landscape bed. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
July 18, 2016 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

If you’re looking for a tough plant that will tolerate the combination of summer heat and humidity and keep right on blooming, take a look at gomphrena.

Artemisia Quicksilver forms a tight groundcover in the trial beds of the Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station in Crystal Springs, Miss., on July 11, 2016. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
July 11, 2016 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

Gardeners are always looking for landscape plants that provide interest, and they primarily concentrate on the colorful flowers. But in my experience, even the most floriferous garden plant will need some help to maintain garden beauty.

This is where foliage plants come to save the day, and coleus is usually the first choice. But Artemisia is an alternative landscape plant that doesn’t get enough attention.

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