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Southern Gardening - Potpourri for January

With the waning days of December, we should look back at all the good things we were given over the last 12 months...good health, love from family and friends, finally a hard enough freeze to kill even the most stubborn of insect eggs. The bitter cold did damage to my Sago palms, but after I prune all the fronds back, new growth will emerge and it will live on bigger and better. It is best to totally cut back all of these to the trunk and not just those that look damaged. The same goes for the aspidistra or iron weed since it too will shoot forth new growth in the spring. Remember if you do not cut back now, but wait until late spring, the opportunity for full regrowth may be lost.

Since tulips have been in the crisper for 6 weeks, these can be planted now. But be sure that you have chilled them for a full 6 weeks before planting, so that means if you started say after Thanksgiving, then tulips need another couple of weeks before planting. If they are planted before fully chilled you risk a bloom which is very short stemmed and a complete waste of your hard earned money. If you cannot remember the exact date they entered the refrigerator, leave them in for a couple of weeks. We do not plant tulips in Montgomery until after January 1st because they may rot in the ground since our soil holds so much moisture and the squirrels eat them. One tip I have found helpful is when I plant any bulbs, I hide the existence of this act from bulb predators with leaves or other mulch. All of my knock-out roses appear to have survived and I will prune them in February. It most probably helped that I had heavily mulched them with pine straw in November. As to dusty miller and pansies, which I left outside during this brutal cold, both are alive and well. It appears that the lantana has survived. I did not risk sudden death for my satsuma and lemons trees, plumbago, peace lily, geraniums and dragon wing begonias, thus my back bedroom resembles a greenhouse.

The herbs that I kept outside in the ground with heavy mulch have survived this extreme cold. These include cilantro, marjoram, mint, parsley, rosemary, and verbena. The jury is out for basil. And so much for the post-mortem of the flowers and herbs at my home.


(Veronia species)

Sometimes Aspidistra is known as ironweed, but not to be confused with this plant. This is a beautiful flowering tall perennial that is a great butterfly attractor in the garden. It grows from five to seven feet, has emerald green leaves and has a umbrella like clumps of dark purple blooms in late summer and early fall.

Ironweed dies back in the winter and is not an invasive plant. These flowers hold up well in a flower arrangement and once you grow these, they live on. It is native to the United States and will thrive in wet or dry soils.



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