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Southern Gardening

Canna lilies are easy landscape plants for Mississippi gardens. This South Pacific Scarlet is a dwarf selection that can reach 4 feet tall. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
July 1, 2016 - Filed Under: Lawn and Garden

Lately, I’ve been telling you about some of my favorite go-to plants for Mississippi gardens. The canna lily is another easy landscape plant that I think everyone should have in his or her garden.

Cannas are valued for their large tropical foliage and showy, brilliantly colored flowers.

The bloom of the Titan arum is an inflorescence, a collection of many individual flowers. This inflorescence is composed of a petal-like structure called a spathe that has a ruffled edge. The spathe surrounds a fleshy central spike called a spadix. Male and female flowers are produced in rings at the base of the spadix. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
June 27, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Most of the time, I write about what I think are great landscape plants for gardeners in Mississippi to try in their landscapes. But this column is a bit different as I’m writing about a plant I don’t recommend for the home gardener.

So I ask your pardon while I turn to my alter ego as a plant nerd.

At the South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station in Poplarville, a very unusual plant is going to bloom shortly. Called a titan arum, this plant originates a long way from Mississippi -- in Indonesia.

Hardy hibiscuses can withstand Mississippi winters and have massive flowers. Many bright and beautiful colors are available, such as this Summerific Cherry Cheesecake. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
June 20, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Hibiscus has to be one of the best groups of plants you can have in your garden and landscape. Here’s several reasons why.

The deep purple of a Sweet Caroline Bewitched sweet potato vine grows alongside the Bright Ideas Rusty Red and Bright Ideas Lime varieties, with Diamond Frost Euphorbia providing a pop of tiny white flowers. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
June 13, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

The Old Farmer’s Almanac says the official start of summer is June 20 at 6:34 p.m., but after this past weekend, I’m convinced we’re already into summer.

Vitex flower spikes can reach 18 inches long. During the initial flush, the show of flowers may resemble a hazy blue or purplish cloud. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
June 6, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

The first week of June is one of my favorite times in Mississippi landscapes and gardens. This is the time of the year when the vitex begins to bloom with the regularity of Old Faithful.

Cuphea Vermillionaire is a heat-loving plant that flowers from spring to frost in the fall and can reach 3 feet in height by summer’s end. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Gary Bachman)
May 31, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Like almost every gardener I know, I want a gorgeous looking garden and landscape that is drought tolerant and requires little maintenance.

I know I should know better, but I want what I want.

Dragon’s Breath celosias grow equally well in the landscape bed or in a patio container. Its unique red-green foliage is topped with blazing red, feathery flowers. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
May 16, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Choosing flowering annuals at the garden center is always an easy task if you have celosias on your shopping list.

Blue Daze evolvulus spreads rapidly and makes a good ground cover. Its funnel-shaped flowers are sky blue and only open for one day. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
May 9, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

One of the fun things about being the Southern Gardener is having the opportunity to share new and colorful plants with gardeners all across Mississippi and beyond.

American marigolds are often called African marigolds. The Antigua series is popular, such as this orange-and-yellow variety. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
May 2, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

A popular question I get when talking to home gardeners is, “If you could have only one flowering annual for the summer, what would it be?”

Siam Queen is a Thai basil with purple flowers and a licorice aroma and flavor (Photo by Gary Bachman/MSU Extension Service)
April 25, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

If there is an herb that my wife and I love to grow, it has to be basil.

There is nothing better for the hot months because it is gorgeous in any landscape and really delicious for fresh summer meals.

Echinacea Bravado is a popular coneflower that makes for a sturdy landscape plant. (Photo by Gary Bachman/MSU Extension Service)
April 18, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

One of the most fun parts of serving as the Southern Gardener is getting to share so many great plants with gardeners all across Mississippi and beyond. Some plants are new introductions, some are old reliable choices, and all get to be called my favorite from time to time.

With rich soil and consistent moisture, Purple Knight Alternanthera can grow as tall as 36 inches, making it a landscape-worthy plant. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
April 11, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Purple Knight Alternanthera’s designation as Mississippi Medallion winner. That’s a reason to celebrate in our Mississippi gardens and landscapes.

The compact family of SunPatiens has a high heat tolerance and requires little pruning. (Photo by Gary Bachman/MSU Extension)
April 5, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

New Guinea impatiens and SunPatiens are similar in appearance and impressive with their ability to brighten any landscape, but SunPatiens have a much higher tolerance for Mississippi’s summer heat.

Sun coleuses (left) thrive in the Deep South but require constant moisture during summer months. —- A 2010 Mississippi Medallion winner, the Electric Lime coleus (middle) is durable and pairs well with spring and fall foliage. —- Henna coleus (right) has chartreuse and copper colors on the tops of its leaves and shades of burgundy underneath. (Photos by Gary Bachman/MSU Extension)
March 28, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

I have to admit most of my gardening life can be summed up by this saying that someone shared with me on social media: “Real gardeners buy at least 10,000 plants in the course of a lifetime without having the least idea where they’ll put any of them when they get home.”

I guess I’m a real gardener. To tell you the truth, I can’t help it when I go to the garden and see all the annual color each season, along with the perennials promising to return to the landscape.

The yellow shrimp plant is easy to grow and will bloom all summer long. Plant and grow the plants where they can receive full morning sun but get some shade for protection from afternoon sunlight. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
March 21, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

This past weekend the Garden Extravaganza was held in Jackson, and I have to say I’m feeling really inspired.

There were literally thousands of brightly colored flowering plants all begging to be taken home. Of course, I bought a few flats of calibrachoas (mainly Holy Moly!, which I described in last week’s column) and some new Supertunias.

Pomegranate Punch is a variety of Calibrachoa Superbells that is heat tolerant all summer long and adds color to any flowerbed. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
March 14, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

Now is the time to start planning for the color punch that most gardeners want in the upcoming warm summer season.

This weekend will be the first big opportunity to look at the newest and brightest of the summer color when the Garden Extravaganza garden show kicks off March 18-20 at the Trade Mart in Jackson. Shows like this give home gardeners the opportunity to look at a lot of plants in one convenient location. More and more summer color is starting to show up in the garden centers, so don’t get left behind and having to choose from the leftovers.

Supertunias are big, bold and free-flowering plants ideal for summer blooms. They come in a variety of colors, including this Picasso in Pink Supertunia. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
March 7, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

As I walked around my landscape this weekend, I was really impressed with how my three winter staples -- pansies, violas and Telstar dianthuses -- are enjoying the lengthening days and a little bit of warmer weather.

They are blooming like crazy, almost in response to what I’ve been thinking: It’s time to start planning and planting the warm-season annuals.

Pericallis is a cool-season flowering plant that absolutely loves the brisk temperatures of late winter and early spring. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
February 29, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

What does a warm, early-spring weekend and home gardeners itching to get out and plant something add up to? You’re correct if you answered all kinds of plants ready to go on the racks at your local garden center.

Now, I wasn’t out plant shopping this weekend, but that’s exactly what I saw during my trip to pick up new fence pickets to make some repairs.

Heirloom tomatoes, such as this Black Sea variety, are generally lumpy and bumpy, and they split and crack easily, but their reward is in increased taste and flavor. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
February 22, 2016 - Filed Under: Vegetable Gardens

It’s that time of year when gardeners across the state start planning their vegetable gardens.

After I wrote last week about the heirloom tomato Cherokee Purple being chosen as a Mississippi Medallion winner, I’ve dreamed about the heirloom tomatoes destined to become my tasty chili and spaghetti sauce next winter.

Drift roses, such as these pink and red selections, are lower-growing landscape roses that work great in small spaces, borders and even containers. (Photo by MSU Extension/Gary Bachman)
February 15, 2016 - Filed Under: Flower Gardens

As gardeners across the state are starting spring planting, I want to urge everyone to consider the plants selected as Mississippi Medallion winners for 2016: Serenita Angelonia, muscadine, rosemary, Drift roses and Cherokee Purple tomato.

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