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Growin’ Green

Plant Container-Grown Roses Now – April

By Brent Gray

Gardeners should continue to plant bare-root roses.  Before planting, trim long or broken roots and cut stems back to a healthy bud. Try new varieties but keep old favorites as major plantings until new ones have proven themselves in your garden. Container-grown roses can be planted now through April.
Do not fertilize established roses until after you have pruned. Keep roses well mulched but do not pile mulch against the crown or lower stems. Many problems like stem canker and botrytis occur when mulch covers the lower stems.
Roses are multi-functional landscape plants. They can be combined with other plants in the landscape to add beauty, fragrance, color, and function.  Roses can be used as ground covers, hedges, screens, and, of course, climbers can be used to cover trellises, walls, arbors, etc.
Roses combine nicely with perennials such as catmint, chives, alliums, poppies, salvias and daylilies. Inter-planting roses with perennials and other shrubs lessens the incidence of disease like blackspot as compared with plantings comprised of nothing but roses. Planting a single rose in a flower garden can act as an anchor. Roses can also stand alone as a specimen plant and dress up a foundation planting as well. Growing roses in containers is a nice way to have roses if your garden space is small.
Pruning techniques vary somewhat among the classes of roses. Hybrid teas are pruned differently than shrub or antique roses. Climbers are pruned based on their bloom period.  For detailed information on pruning and deadheading visit the MSU Extension Service website:
Successful Lawn
As spring weather improves many of us will be out on our lawns correcting bare or damaged areas created over the winter months.  The first step in fixing these problems is to assess what has caused the problem to occur.  Whether it is drainage, soil pH or fertility, traffic, heavy shade, etc. these need to be corrected before you can expect any new turf to survive. I receive several dozen requests each spring for information on selecting the best turf species to correct such problems.  The first criteria and most importantly are to select a turf species that is adaptable to your area.  It always amazes me to walk through the garden center sections of particularly the larger chain stores and see what is being offered for purchase to establish or repair Southern lawns.  Many of the seed on the shelves are just not suitable for permanent Mississippi lawns. Unless you live in the extreme northern counties most cool-season turf species (ryegrass, bluegrass, and many fescues) will be poor permanent lawn choices as the heat of summer will be their demise and should not be planted even as temporary lawns once our warm season turf species begin to green-up.  If seeding is your only option centipede, bermudagrass, carpetgrass, zoysia, and bahia are your warm-season choices. All previously mentioned warm season species along with St. Augustine can also be established vegetatively (sprigs, plugs, sod).  Each species has specific characteristics that make them most suitable for different locations, fertility levels, shade, uses, etc.
To better understand the advantages and disadvantages of these different warm-season turf species and how to best establish them obtain a copy of Extension Publication #1322 “Establish and Manage Your Home Lawn” from your local Extension office or from the internet web at
Cold fronts keep rolling through bringing rain and freezing temperatures.  Watch for signs of fungal or bacterial growth on the cool season vegetables currently in the garden. Sometimes just removing the diseased  leaves in contact with the soil can help slow the spread of the disease to upper leaves. Be very careful to not touch the upper leaves with your hands or gloves while removing the lower leaves. Touching the clean leaves with dirty hands can cause the spread of disease rather than preventing it.
Home And Garden Shows
Garden and Patio shows, Everything Gardening, Home and Garden show and other gardening events signal the beginning of the gardening “season.” These events are designed to bring gardeners together for information and products. Check you local media for times and places. Garden centers are also stocking up on plants and seeds. Be sure to know which varieties and vegetables are adapted to your area. Bartlett pears, Blue Lake beans and Thompson seedless grapes are workhorses in the produce industry, but they seldom produce well in Mississippi. Buying plants of long day onion varieties are a sure way to produce nothing but scallions. Do a little thinking before you buy.
Short day onions should be forming bulbs now. An application of nitrogen will help maintain the leaves, but don’t put large amounts down now since a surge in growth may lead to bulb splitting and delayed maturity. It is better to apply  about a pound of
N per 100 feet of row now and watch the leaves for yellowing in mid March. Pale leaves in mid to late March may respond to some additional fertilizer.
 Dr. David Nagel, Dr.Lelia Kelly
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