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Site Selection and soil preparation for perennials

Consider the site before selecting your plants. Although many perennials, such as ferns, tolerate heavy shade, most perennial plants require abundant sunshine. Air circulation is important for avoiding diseases; stagnant, warm, and humid air creates ideal conditions for diseases. Perennial plants also require properly prepared soil, and a few have specific drainage and fertility requirements.

Soil preparation for perennials is similar to soil preparation for annuals. However, you should devote some special attention to perennial bed preparation, because plants may occupy the site for several years with little opportunity to correct any problems. When possible, add sand and organic matter such as bark, peat, or compost to soils well ahead of planting time.

A layer of organic matter 3 or 4 inches deep, worked into the soil a shovel's depth, is usually adequate. Since different types of organic matter work and decompose at different rates in the soil, it is best to use a little of two or three kinds of organic matter than a lot of just one.

Soil testing provides specific recommendations for fertilizer and lime needs. Since lime lasts for several years depending on the type used, never add lime without a soil test. Many fertilizers, such as phosphorus, are best applied and mixed into soils before planting. Perennials need a balance of several nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorous, and potash; most garden supply stores carry a wide variety of fertilizer mixes. Keep in mind that phosphorus, including that found in bone meal, lasts for several years and need not be applied regularly.

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These red and green leaves have ruffled edges.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens September 20, 2021

I took time to just enjoy my home landscape this last weekend. I put off chores just to take a look at some of my solid garden performers. Here’s what I observed. Coleus has become one of my go-to plants for looking great all summer and still going deep into the fall. Nobody can get bored with its kaleidoscope of colors and various leaf shapes.

Clumps of purple berries line a green branch.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens September 13, 2021

Lately, I’ve been browsing through gardening social media pages, and I’ve noticed lots of questions about this shrub that seems to have appeared out of nowhere with its beautiful purple berries. I love when people notice our native Callicarpa americana for the first time. Its common name,  American beautyberry, makes sense once you have seen the plant.

Rows of mums fill a flower bed.
Filed Under: Lawn and Garden, Cut Flowers and Houseplants, Flower Gardens, Herb Gardens, Vegetable Gardens September 13, 2021

The 2021 Fall Flower & Garden Fest will return to an in-person event but will be modified because of the persistently high number of COVID-19 cases. The fest will be held 9 a.m. to noon daily Oct. 4-8 at the Mississippi State University Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station in Crystal Springs.

Green leaves are decorated with yellow or pink splotches.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens September 3, 2021

My favorite plants for the fall season are crotons. These beauties have some of the boldest and brightest foliage found in garden centers. Their warm foliage colors of bright yellow, red and orange shades are perfect for autumnal decorations and displays

Round, yellow and green peppers grow on a bush.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens August 30, 2021

As I wrote this column, I also was watching the weather as Hurricane Ida aimed for the northern Gulf of Mexico. As such, I spent time in the garden picking and harvesting various crops that I don’t want to lose. One group of plants I harvested were my specialty peppers that I’ve been babying all through this hot and humid summer. I brought in both biquinho and aji charapita peppers.

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Portrait of Dr. Gary R. Bachman
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