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Growin’ Green

Annuals Can Grow Here During The Winter

By Brent Gray

There will be a private applicators training on Tues-day, Jan. 15 at 9 a.m. Train-ing is in the Yalobusha County Multi-Purpose Build-ing. The training will last approximately two hours and there is a $10 charge.
Remember, to buy re-stricted chemicals you must have this license. If you need additional information on this, please contact me at our office at (662) 675-2730.

When you mention flowering annuals most people think of marigolds, zinnias, petunias and other summer annuals, but we in the South can also grow annuals during the winter months.
Garden centers and nurseries usually have a selection of winter annuals available in the fall. Selections would include pansies, dianthus, English daisy, stock, snapdragon, wallflower, and forget-me-nots. Some cold tolerant annuals you can easily grow from seed sown in the fall would be rocket larkspur (Consolida ambigua), poppies, Johnny-jump-ups, and bachelor’s buttons (cornflowers).
Many gardeners do not know that these cold tolerant plants can often go right through winter with little or no protection. Most of these can withstand temperatures in the teens. Single digit temperatures would kill some without protection. Those most cold hardy are English daisy, Johnny-jump-up and pansies. Remember that susceptibility to cold damage is not based solely on the degree of temperature but the duration and how fast the drop in temperature occurs. A gradual cooling is easier to take than an overnight plunge from 60 degrees to 5 degrees.

Now is the time to plant spring flowering bulbs. The soil has sufficiently cooled so that root development will occur without premature emergence of foliage. Daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, tulips and many others can be planted throughout November. Try to have all these planted by the middle of December to provide adequate time for roots to develop before foliage emerges in early spring.
Select a location that gets preferably full sun and is well drained. Although they will live and flower in partial shade the most abundant flowering occurs in full sun for those bulbs mentioned. Plant at the depth recommended on the package for each type bulb you are planting.
You can incorporate some fertilizer formulated for bulbs into the planting hole under the bulb. Fertilize the bulb bed again after flowering in the spring.

Container Gardens
Now that you have moved all the tender “porch plants” indoors, have you thought about what you are going to do to fill the void? To add some plant interest for the winter months to those barren areas vacated by your tender container plants on the porch, en-tranceway, deck or patio, how about considering planting an evergreen in a container? Evergreen shrubs are without question the most versatile and frequently used plants in the landscape, so it’s a little surprising you don’t see them in containers more often.
Choosing the right evergreen for a container is a matter of personal taste and the plant’s requirements. The top evergreens for containers are yew, junipers, boxwood, arborvitae, dwarf Alberta spruce, camellia, hollies and cherry laurel. Don’t forget to consider the plant’s ultimate size and shape. For plants that will receive full sun, use a heavier soil mix for the container so it won’t dry out as quickly. Adding water-absorbing gels to potting soil can help retain moisture. Good drain-age is critical so make sure the container has adequate drainage holes. Elevate the pot with pot feet if the bottom is not concave enough to allow a space for the water to drain easily from under the pot. Don’t let your outdoor living areas and entranceways be plant naked this winter. Dress them up with evergreens in containers.

Fruit bearing trees, vines, shrubs and brambles can be planted now. Balled and burlapped, bare-root and container-grown fruit trees to plant would include peaches, apples, cherries, pears, plums and nectarines. Grapes, muscadines, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries can also be planted during November and December. Be sure to plant two or more cultivars of blueberries for cross-pollination and fruit set. Check with your nurserymen if you are purchasing one muscadine plant to make sure it is a variety that will set fruit. Some muscadine varieties have only female flowers and would require another variety as a pollinator for fruit set. These muscadine varieties require a pollinator: Scuppernong, Summit, Fry and Jumbo. These muscadine varieties are self-pollinating and will pollinate the varieties listed above: Carlos, Magnolia, Roanoke, Doreen and Regale.

Trees and Shrubs
Need advice on how to pick out the freshest Christmas tree on the lot? Try this test recommended by the National Christmas Tree Association. Grasp a twig between your thumb and forefinger approximately six inches from the tip and pull your fingers toward the branch tip. If any needles come off in your hand, pass that tree by.
Do you like to use berry-laden holly branches for holiday decoration, but the birds always beat you to the berries? Clip branches before the thieving birds attack, place stem ends in a bucket of water and keep the holly in a cool basement or garage until decorating time. Foliage and berries should remain fresh as long as they are kept cool and supplied with water.
Vegetables and Herbs
Now through December is the time to plant garlic. Plant garlic cloves 2 to 3 inches deep in well-drained highly organic soil. The foliage will soon emerge and form somewhat of a rosette that will remain through the winter. More vigorous growth will resume in the spring with the onset of warmer weather. Tip: To remove skin easily from garlic cloves, soak cloves for five minutes in warm water.
If you are an herb gardener or if you are just interested in herbs you might want to check out the herb information on the Mississippi State University Extension Service website. This Web page provides links to other herb information about cooking with herbs (recipes included), growing herbs in the vegetable garden, and herbal gifts (directions for several projects included).
Lelia Scott Kelly, Ph.D., writes North Mississippi Gardening Tips monthly and is the state consumer horticulture specialist for Mississippi State University Extension Service. Her office is at the North Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Verona.

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