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From The Ground Up

Home Garden Program Set For Thursday, Apr. 7

By Pamela Redwine

On Thursday, April 7 the Yalobusha County Forestry Association will be meeting.  The program will be on Timber Insurance. A meal will be served, please call the Extension office by noon on Wednesday, April 6 to register.

Dr. Lelia Kelly will present a program titled “Making Your Home Garden Spectacular for Spring.” This program will be at noon on Thursday, April 14. Please call to let us know you will be attending.

If you are over 50 years old and interested in saving on Auto Insurance you should attend the AARP Safe Driver Program which will be at the Extension office on Friday, April 15 from 8:15  to 1 p.m. The cost is $12 for AARP Members (must bring card) and $14 for non-members. Please call in advance to register or show up at 8 a.m. on April 15.

Shrub Planting Time

Birds are singing, flowers are blooming, and the days are getting longer.  The sunshine and warmer weather are getting us excited about working in the landscape again.  With all of the colors in view, you may be thinking about putting a few new plants in your landscape this year. One plant you may consider using is an azalea.  Azaleas are a beautiful sight that can be found in most southern landscapes.  They brighten landscapes with beautiful flowers in the spring and dazzling leaf colors in the fall.  Here are a few tips to consider when selecting, installing, and maintaining your new plants.

When selecting plants, you must consider things such as bloom type, bloom color, plant height and width, sun/shade needs, and installation and maintenance requirements. Most azaleas prefer to grow in indirect or filtered sunlight.  They also need adequate drainage and usually look best when planted in groups or masses.

Azaleas Vary In Color

With azaleas and numerous other ornamental shrubs and trees, a wide range of colors and sizes are available. You can have plants ranging from six inches to ten feet high, with colors of red, white, pink, and purple.   With proper selection, flowering shrubs can provide blooms in the landscape for many months at a time. I have yet to find any month of the year that an ornamental shrub is not blooming.

When planting shrubs remember to leave the root-ball slightly above the soil line. Incorporate organic matter into the soil to improve drainage.  In heavy soils, raised beds do well to help accomplish this, since most ornamentals will not grow in wet soil.

Azaleas prefer an acidic soil with a pH of 4.5 to 6.5.  A soil test is the best method for determining soil pH (check with your local Extension office). Scout your landscape weekly to look for insect and disease problems, because they are much easier to control if found early.         

In my landscape, I have seven varieties of azaleas, three varieties of camellias, three varieties of crepe myrtle, sweet olives, and a weigelia that provide blooms for a great portion of the year. I like to fertilize these plants on March 1, June 1, and August 1 with a slow-release complete fertilizer. I also treat all of my shrubs with a drench insecticide, fungicide, and fertilizer treatment on April 1 and July 1.

June is a great time to prune azaleas, since the blooms are finished.  This allows for summer growth and bud set for next year’s blooms. Remember to never prune back more than one-third of the total plant. If you follow these few simple steps, you too can have beautiful flowering ornamentals in your landscape!      

For more information contact your local Extension office and pick up a copy of Growing Azaleas, Information Sheet 656.

Article provided by Dr. Jeff Wilson a horticulturist serving northeast Mississippi with Mississippi State University’s Extension Service.

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