Even in the south hotbeds and coldframes have become more popular every year now that they can be operated so easily with thermostats and electric heating cables. These eliminate all the mess and the uncertainty of maintaining an even temperature. The steady temperature is ideal for seed germination and produces strong seedlings.
Prune trees and shrubs any time this month and through February. A general rule to follow is: prune in winter all shrubs that flower after late June; prune after flowering all shrubs that bloom in the spring. Of course, this does not apply to fruit trees, berries and grapes. It is now too late to prune Scuppernongs but bunch grapes such as Niagara, Fredonia and Concord can still be pruned.
Camellias are extremely popular in southern gardens. For the next six weeks there will be camellia shows throughout the Southeast. Be sure to visit one or more of these to acquaint yourself with the many different varieties that can be grown in your area. Once the camellia bug gets you there is no hope. You are a camellia enthusiast for life. Plants, by the way, are available through January and February. You can buy a bush and transplant it successfully in full bloom.
Shallow planting is of prime importance with camellias. Always set the plants so that the tops of the balls of earth are about two inches above the surface of the soil. Deep planting invariably results in loss of the plants.
Dormant sprays should be given fruit trees. Lime-sulfur is the most popular for apples, pears, peaches, plums, persimmons and citrus fruits. In the citrus belt a second application can be made in another 30 days provided the buds have not started to swell. If the “buttons” or white buds are showing don’t spray the trees!
Mulching is very important in the South. Be sure to save all leaves of deciduous trees and pine straw, too. Use them as mulches on shrub borders, around camellias and azaleas, in the rose garden – everywhere that plants are widely spaced. To keep oak leaves from blowing off, cover with a layer of pine straw. Use some of the leaves for making a compost pile, too. All of our southern soils need humus.
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