Dwellings 2012: Home & Garden – Gardens – Charlotte

Tips for spring time sprucing up in the Carolinas with your garden

by QNotes Staff  Staff Reports  editor@goqnotes.com
Published: March 31, 2012 in A&E / Life&Style

Clean out all landscape beds of old Winter debris, leaves, fallen camellia flowers that could promote disease, and all weeds.

Spring is always the time to cut back any perennials that you didn’t get to in the fall so that the new growth can push right through for a new Spring showing.

Hand prune all of your Southern camellias right after they bloom which is late Winter for your Sasanqua’s and early Spring for your Japonica’s. This will keep them nice and dense and also control the size of some of the larger varieties.

Late Winter and very early Spring is the best time to hand prune your boxwoods, just before the new flush of growth. Also, this is the time to hand break internal branches to encourage deep dense growth. After the pruning, you need to also feed your boxwoods with a wonderful organic fertilizer name Holly Tone which will keep your boxwoods happy and a bit on the acidic side, which they prefer. I also like adding lime to my boxwoods four times a year, with Spring starting off the season. Place a cup of lime around the base of the plant and work into the soil. This will help keep your boxwoods maintain that wonderful dark green color through the season. Note: Do not keep an over-abundant amount of mulch around your boxwoods; they have very shallow root systems and need to breathe!

Apply a three-inch layer of mulch to your beds to help preserve moisture in the ground and retard weed germination. Be careful not to overdo it and suffocate tender perennials showing their heads for the new season.

Apply a slow release fertilizer after the danger of frost has past. Apply something similar to Osmocote around the base of each plant for Spring and Summer benefit.

Spring is also a great time to take inventory of any garden plants that did not make it through the season and think about plant replacements.

I always do light pruning to shape shrubs and remove any damaged branches that might have occurred during a brutal winter wind or ice storm (yeah, right, not this year in Charlotte!).

Great Options for Southern Gardens

I always love using native plant materials and those tried and true to our region as opposed to plants that have been over hybridized (not really bashing the “Knock Out” Roses, but just noting).

Clethra “Crystalina” is a fabulous new dwarf variety of our native deciduous shrub that produces fragrant white panicles in the late Summer when everything else in the garden seems tired after a hard hot Summer. This works great in our soils in full sun or some shade; yellow Fall color on the leaves is a plus, too.

Itea “Little Henry” is my favorite dwarf variety of our native sweet-spire. Early white flowers hang like a strand of pearls on this plant that slowly spreads to colonize an area without invasiveness in our clay soils, sun or semi shade. The Fall brings about fantastic ruby color!

Callicarpa “Early Amethyst” is probably one of my favorite native ornamental shrubs which produce light pinky fuzzy flowers in the Spring and wonderful fuchsia colored berries adorn all of its branches in the late Summer, providing a late season garden pop and a smorgasbord for wildlife!

Native grasses are ones to have a love affair with! Any Miscanthus (maiden hair grass) or Panicum (switch grass) is worth trying in your garden for a wonderful moving piece there. My all time favorite, Panicum “North Wind,” is a narrow tall bluish-green native grass that stands four to five feet tall and just moves with the wind and produces airy flower heads in the Summer that are still around in the Fall of the year. They do not falter at all in dry or wet clay and can stand some shade. What a wonderful vertical accent for the garden! : :

— Myron Greer, myrongreer.com