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Searcy, Ark. –
Big leaf hydrangeas, oak leaf hydrangeas, and gardenias will begin to bloom if they have
not been winter damaged. These are three plants that bloom in the summer but set flower
buds in the fall. If you grow any of these three plants and they need pruning, make
sure it gets done as soon as the flowers fade. The single-flowered gardenias (Daisy
and Kleim’s Hardy) tend to bloom all at once and are done quickly. They can be pruned
as needed once all the flowers are gone. Many of the newer gardenias do re-bloom later
in the season, so later blooms may be delayed or non-existent, depending on how much
pruning is done. For big leaf hydrangeas and oak leaf hydrangeas that need to be pruned,
remove older, thicker canes at the soil line after the blooms have faded.
By now, most cool season vegetables are likely beginning to bolt or stop producing
as the heat increases ("bolting" is the term used for the flower stalk that appears
on lettuce, greens, and onions). As cool season vegetables play out, replant with
warm-season crops. Now is a great time to begin planting winter squash, pumpkins and
gourds, okra, and southern peas. You can also still plant tomatoes, peppers, eggplants
Pay attention to your gardens and monitor for insects and diseases. If you find something
you are unsure of, take a good picture and send it to your county agent, or take a
sample in. Early detection coupled with proper identification of a problem can lead
to a fast solution.
Fertilize your tomato plants lightly about every two weeks once they start setting
fruit, and make sure you water them evenly. Fluctuations in moisture can lead to quite
a few issues, including blossom end rot. We typically get our first calls about blossom
end rot when we have a dry spell followed by a heavy downpour. Blossom end rot starts
as a water-soaked spot on the bottom of the tomato, which quickly turns black. Most
gardeners think they have a disease, but it is a physiological problem—a calcium deficiency
typically caused by fluctuations in moisture levels. Mulch your plants, and try to
keep the moisture levels even.
Perennial plants are those that come back for at least two seasons. Right now, many
are in full bloom, including purple coneflower, daylilies, gaillardia, hardy hibiscus,
and lilies. One that continues to gain in popularity is the milkweed. The showiest
of them is the bright orange butterfly weed, but all members of the Asclepias genus
are great host plants for the monarch butterfly. As flowers end on many perennials,
they begin to form a seed pod. But, allowing them to set seed delays more flowers.
Deadheading (or removing the spent flowers) will direct energy back into flower production
much quicker. Know the fertilizer needs of your perennials. Some like fertility such
as hosta, while others require very little, such as Artemisia and lambs ear.
Annual and tropical color choices abound at local nurseries and garden centers. No
garden should be without color, so if yours is, start planting. Most annuals and tropical
flowers like fertility. Frequent watering also leaches out nutrition, so fertilize
every two to three weeks to keep them flowering. As with vegetables and shrubs, monitor
your flowers weekly to scout for insects or diseases.
By Sherri Sanders County Extension Agent - AgricultureThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Sherri Sanders County Extension Agent - Agriculture
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
2400 Old Searcy Landing Road Searcy AR 72143
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal
access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to
participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension
office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.
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or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity