To-Do List: Southern Coast

R. L. Rhodes
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With the arrival of summer and the rainy season, things are really starting to heat up out there. If you want to escape June’s sultry summer days, garden when it’s coolest: early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Here are some other ways to make the most of your time in the garden this month!

  • Plant water-loving perennials. If water collects and forms puddles in your garden, add perennials that tolerate “wet feet” such as pentas, butterfly ginger, butterfly weed and cannas.
  • Remove miserable-looking annuals and replace them. Many annuals thrive in the heat. Plant coleus, salvia, impatiens, celosia, rudbeckia and begonias. Add a slow-release fertilizer and water thoroughly until they are established in their new home.
  • Fertilize as soon as the rains begin. Use a product labeled for the plants you grow. There are fertilizers developed specifically for citrus, azaleas, roses and even palms! Follow the directions on the back of the container for best results.
  • Find heat-tolerant alternatives for your favorite plants. Most hostas tend to languish in the heat of the coastal South, so if your hostas are struggling by summer, you can blame our warm climate. Deciduous peacock gingers (Kaempferia spp.) and dancing ladies gingers (Globba spp.) are both excellent alternatives to hostas because they like the same shady conditions. They even go dormant in winter!
  • Plant a palm tree! Palms are one of the perks of living in the coastal South, and there’s a palm tree for every situation. Be sure to give palms plenty of room, and keep them well watered until they’re established. Most palms appreciate good drainage, but needle palm and paurotis palm both perform admirably in soggy soil.
  • Thin your perennial plantings if they’re getting crowded. Free up some elbow room by transplanting some of your perennials to other parts of the garden, or by pruning out excess growth. The risk of disease is drastically reduced when perennials have room to breathe.
  • Install edging to delineate between your garden and lawn. Edging can be made of many different materials, but complement your existing paving and architecture by choosing a similar material for your edging. For example, if you have a brick fireplace, visually connect your garden to the house by using brick edging. Ideally, edging will be wide enough to accommodate the wheels of your mower and low enough to clear the edge.

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