Playing in the dirt: Gardeners who brave the heat will reap rewards


Sharon Carrigan

Sharon Carrigan



Sharon Carrigan



July Fourth, AKA Independence Day, is arguably the most iconic non-religious holiday in the USA. Traditional celebratory activities include grilling (barbecuing) ribs, hamburgers and hot dogs along with eating coleslaw, potato salad and watermelon. And the most popular activity of all is watching fireworks. But if you are a gardener, it might have been a day for getting outside for weeding or watering. Not in this heat, you say? You might be surprised at what gardeners will do.


If you already have this mentality or wish you did, you might be a Master Gardener wannabe. Come garden with us beginning in February and going through March for the classes. When you "graduate," you will have much more knowledge and will have a whole host of new friends. Watch this column as the year progresses for more details.


n Planting -- Plant pumpkin seeds for a Halloween harvest. Use portulaca or marigolds to fill in bare spots of flower beds. Plant root cuttings of azalea, boxwood, camellia, gardenia, holly and poinsettia in coarse sand. Cuttings should be 4-6 inches from new growth with lower leaves removed.



Plant marigold, zinnia, celosia and Joseph's coat now for color in the fall. Daylilies may still be planted.


Start cuttings for house plants: ivy, Wandering Jew, philodendron and begonias.


Plant fall vegetables: cabbage, parsley and collards.


  • Fertilizing -- Do not fertilize camellias after July 1. Fertilize chrysanthemums around July 15. Fertilize all the garden as you did in March. Fertilize lawns with well balanced fertilizer.


  • Pruning -- Remove faded flowers from crape myrtle to encourage a second blooming. Pinch back mums before July 15. Cut back broken or withered fern fronds. New growth will appear for the fall garden.


    All vegetables must be picked regularly to ensure continued bearing. When cutting boxwood into a hedge, make sure the base is wider than the top to allow sunlight to reach base of plants. Remove dead limbs from trees and shrubs.


    Roses should be pruned to encourage fall blooms. Remove flowers from basil and cut mint to encourage new shoots.


  • Mulch -- Check mulch on azaleas and camellias; mulch should be at least 2 inches thick. Zinnias and mums must be kept mulched to reduce cultivation necessary and conserve moisture.


  • Miscellaneous -- Water azaleas well because they are setting flower buds now. Cut grass at 2.5-3 inches during hot weather. Water the whole garden deeply once a week.


    Never leave house plants in a closed home over a vacation. Either water and place under a shady tree or have a friend or neighbor come in and water them for you.


    Sharon Carrigan of Columbus shares monthly tips for gardeners on behalf of the Lowndes County Master Gardeners.




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