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Growin’ Green

Azaleas Are Now Strutting Their Stuff

By Brent Gray

When dogwoods bloom, someone always asks can I successfully dig a young dogwood tree from the wild and transplant it in my yard.  The answer is yes, but why would you want to? Trees growing in the woods are seedling trees that take much longer to flower than named selections such as “Cloud 9” and “Cherokee Princess.” Bloom size and quantity is typically less on a seedling tree also.  
Your wild tree is certainly more likely to harbor disease and insect problems than one cared for by a reputable nurseryman.  So go ahead and dig up that tree, but don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t turn out to be the asset to your landscape that you had envisioned.     
Azaleas are strutting their stuff this month.  These plants when in flower are the glory of the Southern garden. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to have one of every color.  There’s a difference between having mass of color in the landscape and having mess of color. If you insist on having competing bloom colors separate them with white-blooming varieties and plant in mass.  Shop for new plants now when they are in flower, so you can match the colors to what you have.
Fertilize spring-flowering trees like dogwood, redbud, ornamental cherry, crabapple and others as the petals fall. Use one pound of 5-10-15 fertilizer per inch circumference of the tree measured three feet above the ground.
Many shrubs will be finishing up their bloom this month. This is the time to encourage new growth by fertilizing. Summer flowering shrubs can also be fertilized now.  A general fertilizer recommendation for shrubs is one-half pound of 13-13-13 per three feet of the shrub’s height.
Several areas of Mississippi experienced hail this past week. If your garden was damaged by hail you need to prune away the damaged part of the plant. An application of fungicide will help prevent disease organisms from finding their way into the plant through the wounds.
It is time for the second planting of tomatoes. Growers in southern parts of the state may want to plant heat tolerant varieties like Bella Rosa, Solar Set, Heat Wave, Florida 91, and others now since the critical temperature of ninety two degrees may have been reached by flowering time in late May. Bella Rosa is also tomato spotted wilt tolerant. Volante is difficult to find, but is another hot set tomato with tomato spotted wilt tolerance.
Gardeners in other parts of the state can plant normal varieties now and save the heat tolerant ones for the next planting in June.
Eggplant fanciers can broaden their color choices with pink varieties like Machiaw, Orient Charm, Pink Tung Long, Dancer, Italian Pink Bicolor and others. Most of these are Oriental slender types. Eggplants are good container plants since they do not require staking and have attractive purple blooms as well as colorful fruit.
Lawns should be greening now. Do not panic if your lawn is not growing quickly enough to require mowing every week. Many lawn grasses were damaged by the intense cold this winter and will take time to recover.
Make sure the green you see is the grass you want and just enjoy the time off.

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