to Dec 31

December in the Garden

December's Plant of the Month

Danae racemosa, commonly called Poet's Laurel, is a graceful foliage plant for floral arrangements. Poets Laurel is used for its glossy emerald green color and long-lasting vase life.


It grows well in our amended garden clay soils, though it prefers being well-drained. The foliage discolors in sun, so plant it in dappled shade.  It takes a while to get its root system in place, but then makes a dramatic, arching shrub in the garden.  The stems brown and die in late winter, so cut it freely for the winter holidays and use it indoors. New shoots will appear in Spring.






December To-Do's in the Garden

  • Keep plants and shrubs watered during dry spells.
  • Plant deciduous trees and shrubs now in their dormant season.
  • Lay cut Xmas tree branches over tender perennials to protect from cold.
  • Remember to feed the birds.
  • Prepare new beds when the soil is dry enough and let rest through the winter for spring planting. 
  • Apply lime now if you need it (get a soil test. see www. Lime takes a long time to react with the soil, so winter applications help the spring garden. 
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to Nov 30

November in the Garden

November's Plant of the Month

Chasmanthium latifolium, commonly called Sea Oats, is  one of the ornamental grasses. It adds a graceful “harvest” effect to fall arrangements. They dry easily and last all season.

Sea Oats are a useful plant in the garden too. Shamrock green foliage all summer, and their graceful seed heads add movement in fall and interest all winter.  Best of all, Sea Oats do fine in dry part-shade – a difficult place to plant. They do naturalize by seeding in.  If you cut the seed heads for your Thanksgiving floral designs, however, this won't be a problem.

November To-Dos in the Garden

  • November is the time of leaves! Be sure to keep them off lawns and moss gardens. Leave them on perennial beds where possible to protect as winter mulch and also provide habitat for wildlife.
  •  Divide and replant crowded perennials (hostas, day lilies, etc)
  •  Mulch tender plants for winter protection
  • Also mulch (1 inch thick ) over winter bulbs to help maintain consistent temperatures below ground as our Southern weather chills and then warms up.
  • Detach watering hoses from spigots and drain.
  • Plant winter bulbs – daffodils, tulips, lilies, etc – and pansies for winter color.   A favorite Southern tip is to layer .. plant early flowering bulbs deep in the soil (6”) and then layer the pansies on top. In spring the pansies will get the addition of the tulips (or daffodils) to add a new dimension of color and form.

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to Oct 31

October in the Garden

October's Plant of the Month

A very popular plant for late season color is the fall mum, also called “Garden mums” or “Hardy mums”. Fall mums were once known as Chrysanthemums, but taxonomists have recently changed their botanical name to Dendranthema grandiflora. They are available in a wide selection of colors, flower types, shapes and sizes. 

Fall mums.jpg

Fall mums should be planted in the spring. but most are sold  at our area garden centers in October. If planted in the fall, many of these plants won’t make it through the winter here because they are near or at their flowering stage, and won't grow roots to sustain themselves through the winter. However, since they are so inexpensive, after they have served their decorative purposes for you, plop them into the ground, mulch well, and see how they do. If they make it through the winter, they will please you for years to come as low maintenance, easy to grow plants that are drought resistant and generally free of insect and disease pests.

October To-Dos in the Garden

  • October is a great month for planting in our area.
  • Plant or transplant peonies this month.
  •  Plant pansies and decorative kale now for winter color.
  • You can still seed fescue and bluegrass in early October.
  • Dig and store summer bulbs like gladioli, dahlia and caladium before frost
  • In late October, plant spring flowering bulbs like daffodil, tulip, crocus and hyacinth, but keep in mind that in our climate, many of the bulbs planted in fall will only make it through one or two seasons and  are best treated as annuals. Crocus tommasinianus or "Tommies" are said to be the best crocus for the South and the most rodent-resistant.
  • Plant lettuce, green onions, carrots, radishes, and most leafy greens inside a cold frame. If you don't have a fall vegetable garden, plant cover crops like annual rye, barley and wheat; or till in organic matter like tree leaves now.
  • Take soil samples from your plant beds and vegetable garden for testing.
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