Alabama Home Gardening

Gardening enthusiasts in Alabama are blessed with a diverse climate and rich soil that offer unique opportunities for home gardening. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner, the combination of Alabama’s natural beauty and its supportive gardening community makes it an ideal place to grow your own garden oasis.

The Allure of Home Gardening in Alabama

Home gardening in Alabama is more than just a leisure activity; it’s a lifestyle that brings families and communities together. The state’s mild winters and hot summers provide a varied growing season that allows for a wide range of plants, vegetables, and flowers to thrive. The impact of home gardening extends beyond personal satisfaction, contributing positively to local communities by promoting sustainability and self-reliance.

Seasonal Gardening Tips

Understanding the seasonal nuances of Alabama’s climate is key to successful gardening. Here’s a comprehensive guide on what to plant and when:

Spring

Spring in Alabama is a season of renewal and growth. Ideal for planting:

  • Vegetables: Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and squash.
  • Flowers: Marigolds, petunias, and zinnias.
  • Herbs: Basil, cilantro, and parsley.

Summer

Summer gardening can be challenging due to the intense heat, but it’s also the time for harvesting:

  • Vegetables: Okra, eggplant, and sweet potatoes.
  • Flowers: Sunflowers, hibiscus, and periwinkle.
  • Herbs: Oregano, thyme, and rosemary.

Fall

Fall offers a second chance for planting cool-season crops:

  • Vegetables: Broccoli, kale, radishes, and lettuce.
  • Flowers: Mums, pansies, and asters.
  • Herbs: Chives and sage.

Winter

While winter is milder in Alabama, it’s still a good time for certain activities:

  • Vegetables: Garlic and onions.
  • Flowers: Camellias and hellebores.
  • Herbs: Indoor herb gardens flourish well during this time.

Sustainable Practices in Alabama Gardening

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important in the gardening community. Here are some eco-friendly practices that are gaining traction in Alabama:

  • Composting: Creating nutrient-rich compost from kitchen waste helps improve soil fertility.
  • Rainwater Harvesting: Collecting rainwater reduces dependence on municipal water supplies and is excellent for plants.
  • Native Plants: Growing native plants like Alabama azaleas and oakleaf hydrangeas conserves water and supports local wildlife.
  • Organic Methods: Using organic fertilizers and pesticides reduces chemical runoff and promotes a healthier garden ecosystem.

Community Spotlight: Alabama Gardening Groups and Events

Alabama is home to a vibrant gardening community with numerous groups and events that bring people together:

  • Alabama Master Gardeners Association: Offers training programs and volunteer opportunities for gardening enthusiasts.
  • Local Farmers’ Markets: Places like the Pepper Place Market in Birmingham provide a venue for gardeners to sell their produce and connect with others.
  • Gardening Workshops: Held throughout the state, these workshops offer practical advice and hands-on experience.
  • Garden Tours: Events like the Alabama Garden Tour showcase beautiful home gardens and provide inspiration.

Benefits of Gardening for Mental and Physical Health

Gardening is not only a fulfilling hobby but also has numerous health benefits:

  • Mental Health: Gardening reduces stress, anxiety, and depression by promoting mindfulness and offering a sense of accomplishment.
  • Physical Health: Activities like digging, planting, and weeding provide moderate physical exercise, improving cardiovascular health and flexibility.
  • Nutritional Benefits: Growing your own fruits and vegetables ensures access to fresh and organic produce, contributing to a healthier diet.

Practical Advice for Beginners

Starting a garden from scratch can be daunting, especially in Alabama’s unique climate and soil conditions. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Soil Testing: Conduct a soil test to determine its pH and nutrient levels, which will guide your fertilization strategy.
  • Raised Beds: Consider using raised beds to better control soil quality and drainage.
  • Crop Rotation: Practice crop rotation to prevent soil depletion and reduce pest problems.
  • Watering: Water deeply and infrequently to encourage strong root growth. Early morning watering reduces evaporation.
  • Mulching: Use mulch to retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.

Home gardening in Alabama offers a rewarding experience that combines beauty, sustainability, and community spirit. By following seasonal tips, practicing sustainable methods, and engaging with local gardening groups, you can create a thriving garden that brings joy and health benefits to your life. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned pro, the unique climate and rich culture of Alabama provide the perfect backdrop for your gardening journey.

Echinacea Coneflowers in Alabama

Echinacea Coneflowers in Alabama

Echinacea, commonly known as coneflower, is a genus of herbaceous flowering plants in the daisy family. It is native to eastern and central North America, where it is found growing in moist to dry prairies and open wooded areas. They have large, showy heads of composite flowers, blooming from early to late summer. The genus Echinacea derives from the Greek word ‘echino,’ meaning sea urchin or hedgehog, referring to the spiky appearance and feel of the flower heads.

There are around nine species of Echinacea, but the most commonly known and used are Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower), Echinacea angustifolia (Narrow-leaf Coneflower), and Echinacea pallida (Pale Purple Coneflower).

Echinacea plants are well known for their medicinal properties, and they have been used for centuries by Native Americans for treating various ailments. Echinacea is believed to boost the immune system, and today, it is commonly used to prevent and treat colds, flu, and other infections. However, scientific studies on the effectiveness of Echinacea as a treatment for colds, flu, or other infections have produced mixed results. Some studies show some benefits, while others show no effect. Therefore, it’s recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before using Echinacea or any other herbal supplement.

pink and white flower in tilt shift lens

How to Grow

Growing Echinacea (Coneflowers) is relatively easy as they are hardy and drought-tolerant. Here are some steps and tips for growing Echinacea:

  1. Choose the Right Variety: There are several species and varieties of Echinacea, each with unique characteristics. The most commonly grown is Echinacea purpurea, but there are many other beautiful and valuable varieties to consider.
  2.  Planting Seeds or Seedlings: You can start Echinacea from seeds or purchase young plants from a nursery. If starting from seeds, you can sow them indoors 8-10 weeks before the last expected frost or directly outdoors in spring or fall. If you are planting seedlings, it’s best to plant them in the spring or fall.
  3.  Select the Right Spot: Echinacea prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade. Ensure the planting site receives at least 4-6 hours of sunlight daily.
  4.  Prepare the Soil: Echinacea prefers well-draining soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. It’s not very particular about soil fertility, but adding some compost to the planting hole can help get the plants off to a good start.
  5.  Planting: Plant the seeds or seedlings about 1-3 feet apart, depending on the variety. Cover the seeds with about 1/4 inch of soil and water them well. If planting seedlings, dig a hole large enough to accommodate the root ball and plant at the same depth it grew in its container.
  6.  Watering: Water the plants regularly until they are established. Once established, Echinacea is relatively drought-tolerant, so you only need to water during prolonged dry spells.
  7.  Maintenance: Echinacea requires very little maintenance. You can deadhead the flowers to encourage more blooms, but it’s unnecessary. Leaving the flowers on the plant can provide food for birds during the winter.
  8.  Fertilizing: Echinacea only requires a little fertilizer. You can apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in the spring if desired.
  9.  Mulching: Applying a layer of mulch around the base of the plants can help retain moisture and suppress weeds.
  10.  Dividing: Echinacea plants can be divided every 3-4 years in the spring or fall if they become overcrowded.

Remember, Echinacea is a perennial that will come back year after year. It’s also an excellent plant for attracting butterflies and bees to your garden!

Medicinal Uses

Echinacea has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties, and it is one of the most popular herbal supplements in the United States and Europe. Here are some common medical uses of Echinacea:

  1. Immune System Support: Echinacea is most commonly used to boost the immune system. It is believed to stimulate the body’s immune response by increasing the production of white blood cells and activating macrophages and natural killer cells.
  2.  Cold and Flu: Many people take Echinacea at the first sign of a cold or flu to reduce the severity and duration of symptoms. However, research on the effectiveness of Echinacea for preventing or treating colds and flu has produced mixed results. Some studies have found that it can reduce the risk of catching a cold or may help reduce the duration and severity of cold symptoms, while others have found no benefit.
  3.  Respiratory Infections: Echinacea is also used to treat other respiratory infections, such as bronchitis and sinusitis.
  4.  Wound Healing: Echinacea has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, and it has been used topically to help heal wounds, skin infections, and other skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis.
  5.  Urinary Tract Infections: Echinacea is sometimes a natural remedy for urinary tract infections (UTIs).
  6.  Pain Relief: Echinacea has been used traditionally to relieve pain associated with headaches, toothaches, and sore throat.
  7.  Anti-inflammatory: Echinacea has anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce inflammation and swelling.
  8.  Antioxidant Properties: Echinacea contains compounds with antioxidant properties, which may help protect the body’s cells from damage caused by free radicals.
  9.  Antiviral and Antibacterial Properties: Echinacea has antiviral and antibacterial properties, which may help fight off infections.

It’s important to note that while Echinacea is generally considered safe for short-term use, it can cause side effects in some people, such as nausea, dizziness, and rash. It may also interact with certain medications or other herbal supplements. Therefore, it’s always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before using Echinacea or any other herbal supplement, especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have an autoimmune disorder, or are taking other medications or supplements.

What to Plant in March in Alabama

What to Plant in March in Alabama

What to Plant in March in Alabama

If you’re like me, you’re anxiously waiting for spring to arrive. The daffodils are starting to peek up through the soil, and the trees are beginning to bud. But even though it’s still chilly outside, that doesn’t mean you can’t start planting in your garden! In this blog post, we will discuss what plants do well in March in Alabama. We’ll also give you a few tips on how to care for them. So if you’re ready to get your hands dirty, keep reading!

One of the most important things to remember when planting in Alabama is that it is still possible for frost to occur. So, you’ll want to wait to plant anything that is sensitive to cold until the danger of frost has passed. That being said, there are still plenty of plants that will do well in cooler weather. Here are a few of our favorites:

Vegetables

Lettuce: Lettuce is a cool weather crop that does well in Alabama. It can be planted as early as February and will continue to produce until the weather gets too hot. Just be sure to keep an eye on the temperatures and protect your plants if there is a chance of frost.

Spinach: Spinach is another cool weather crop that can be planted in February or March. It will continue to produce until the weather gets too hot. Just like lettuce, you’ll want to keep an eye on the temperatures and protect your plants if there is a chance of frost.

Radishes: Radishes are a great crop to plant in March. They do well in cool weather and can be harvested just a few weeks after planting.

Carrots: Carrots are another great option for March planting. They take a little longer to mature than other cool weather crops, but they are well worth the wait!

Flowers

Petunia: Petunias will tolerate cold weather and a light frost. They should be kept dry and avoid water sitting on the foliage.

Calibrachoa: Calibrachoa (ka·luh·bruh·kow·uh) will tolerate cold weather and a light frost. They should be kept dry and avoid water sitting on the foliage.

Now that you know what to plant in March, let’s talk about how to care for your new plants. One of the most important things to remember is to not over water during cold periods. Alabama can be quite wet in early Spring, so make sure to give your plants enough water to stay healthy but not too much. Also, be sure to fertilize them every few weeks. This will help them grow strong and produce lots of flowers or vegetables!

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start planting! Your garden will thank you for it.

Gardening with Spring Annuals in Alabama

Gardening with Spring Annuals in Alabama

Planting annual plants is a great way to bring color and vibrancy to your garden. But heading to the garden center can be a daunting experience. With so many types of plants, it takes time to know which ones are right for you and your needs. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced gardener, here is a guide to help you choose the best plants at your garden center.

The first step in choosing the best plants is knowing what climate zone your home is located in. Northern Alabama is zone 7, and Southern Alabama is zone 8, with parts of Mobile and Baldwin counties in zone 9. Different climates have different temperatures and moisture levels that affect how well certain plants will grow.

Gardening with Spring Annuals in Alabama

Shopping for the Right Plant

Once you know which type of plants are suitable for your climate, it’s time to start looking for healthy specimens at the garden center. When selecting a plant, check if it has healthy white roots and robust foliage growth; avoid plants with yellowing leaves or wilting stems, as they may already be diseased or stressed. Also, look for signs that pests may be infesting the plant.

Before bringing any plant home, it’s essential to understand its specific requirements to provide proper care once planted in your garden. For example, some plants require full sun while others prefer shade; some need more water than others while some tolerate drought better than most; some need regular fertilizing while others don’t require any additional nutrients at all—these are all factors that should be taken into consideration when selecting a plant from the garden center. Researching or talking with garden center staff will ensure you choose only those plants that fit your existing landscape and match your gardening style and skill level.

To Bloom or Not to Bloom is the Question

If you’ve ever gone to the nursery or garden center and seen the lush, vibrant blooms of plants that have already begun flowering, you may be tempted to buy those immediately. After all, who wouldn’t want a beautiful garden full of color? However, marketing has created a myth that blooming plants are better than plants that still need to bloom. And it couldn’t be further from the truth! Plants that have yet to begin blooming are better able to handle the stress of transplanting.

When you transplant a plant, it experiences physiological stress—it essentially goes into shock as it adjusts to its new environment. When a plant is experiencing stress, it takes energy away from processes like rooting, foliage growth, flowering, or fruit production. That means if you transplant a blooming plant, less energy will be available for root and foliage growth because so much was used to produce flowers. On the other hand, if you transplant a non-blooming plant, more of its energy can go into rooting and foliage growth before producing flowers.

Plants not yet in bloom offer numerous advantages over blooming plants when it comes to successful gardens—from less stress due to an abundance of energy available for root and foliage growth after transplanting to improved success rates due to reduced disease issues from stress. So next time you head out shopping for your garden or landscaping project, remember that although those beautiful blooms may look enticing, non-blooming plants can provide even greater success and blooming rewards down the road!

Adding Compost and Fertilizer to Improve Soil Quality

Have you ever noticed that some gardens are lush and vibrant while others look like barren wastelands? The difference is often due to the soil quality. Poor soil can lead to unhealthy plants, low yields, and discolored foliage. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix: composting or adding fertilizer. Let’s explore how these two methods can help improve your soil!

Composting breaks down organic matter, such as leaves and kitchen scraps, into a nutrient-rich soil amendment. It’s easy to add beneficial bacteria and nutrients to your garden without spending money on costly fertilizers or additives. Compost also helps improve the structure of your soil by increasing its water-holding capacity. Not only will this make your plants healthier, but it will also help reduce water waste! Additionally, composting is incredibly easy—all you need is a large container (or even just a pile) and some kitchen scraps or yard clippings.

Fertilizer is another excellent way to amend your soil. Unlike composting, which relies on bacteria and fungi to break down materials over time, fertilizer directly adds nutrients to the soil through nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and other micronutrients. Applying fertilizer regularly can provide a quick boost of nutrition for your plants and encourage growth. However, it’s important not to overdo it; too much fertilizer can burn plants or cause them to become leggy due to excessive phosphorus levels.

Whether you choose composting or fertilizing (or both!), improving the quality of your soil with either method will result in healthier plants that yield greater harvests than before. By taking the time to amend your soil now with either compost or fertilizer, you’ll enjoy a more bountiful garden for years to come! Whether you’re a beginner gardener looking for tips on getting started or an experienced green thumb looking for ways to optimize your current gardening efforts, adding compost or fertilizer should be high on the list of things you do!

Deadhead Flowers for Continuous Blooms

Did you know deadheading flowers can help keep your garden healthy and vibrant? Deadheading is the process of removing spent blooms from plants to encourage new growth. It’s an essential yet simple gardening task that can significantly impact your garden’s appearance.

Deadheading flowers can help promote new growth, create fuller plants with more blooms, and improve overall plant health. When you deadhead a flower, it redirects nutrients back into the plant instead of allowing them to be used in the development of seeds. This means that energy is directed towards creating more blooms and foliage. Additionally, by removing spent flowers, you are reducing the chances of disease.

Start by snipping off any wilted or brown flowers near the base of the flower with sharp scissors or pruners. Be sure to cut only a little into unopened buds, or plant stems. Once all the old flowers have been removed, take a few steps back and check if any more faded blooms need removing before moving on to another plant in your garden!

Deadheading spent flowers is essential for keeping your garden looking vibrant and healthy throughout the growing season. By removing spent blossoms from plants as soon as they begin to fade, you can promote new growth and enjoy longer-lasting blooms in your garden!

Following these tips can help ensure your spring annuals have the best chance for survival and can put on a show all season long!

Planting and Growing Potatoes in Alabama

Planting and Growing Potatoes in Alabama

If you’re an Alabamian looking to plant potatoes, the timing of your planting is essential. Plant too soon, and the cold temperatures may cause damage to the crop; plant too late, and there may need to be more time for a successful harvest before Summer temperatures. Fortunately, with some knowledge and planning, you can ensure that your potato-planting project will yield a bountiful harvest.

When To Plant Potatoes In Alabama

The best time to plant potatoes in Alabama is typically between early February and early March. This gives them plenty of time to fully develop before the hot summer months arrive. It’s essential to remember that each variety of potato has its own needs regarding planting times, so be sure to check the instructions on your seed potato for specifics.

Before you start planting, make sure that your soil is ready. The ideal soil temperature should be between 55°F and 65°F (12-18°C). You can check this by taking a six or eight inch-deep soil sample from several different points in your garden area and measuring the temperature with a thermometer. Once the soil has reached this temperature range, you can begin planting.

One important thing to remember when planting potatoes in Alabama is that there are two main types—early and late varieties—and each requires different timing for optimal success. Early varieties are best planted early, while late varieties should wait until mid-March or later. Additionally, certain areas within Alabama may require different planting times due to differences in climate or terrain; talk to local gardeners or specialists at your local garden center for advice specific to your area if needed.

In conclusion, timing is critical if you’re an Alabamian looking to plant potatoes this year! Aim for February through March as an optimal time frame for most potato varieties. However, always double-check the instructions on your seed potato before getting started, and remember that certain areas within Alabama may require different planting times due to differences in climate or terrain. With some knowledge and planning, you can ensure that your potato-planting project yields a delicious harvest!

Planting and Growing Potatoes in Alabama

Planting Potatoes in the Right Soil

Potatoes are a hardy crop that grows well in various soils and climates. However, growing them successfully means understanding which type of soil is best for planting potatoes. Let’s look at what makes the perfect soil for planting your potatoes.

The ideal soil for growing potatoes is loamy soil with good drainage. Loam is a combination of sand, silt, and clay particles that help structure the soil and enable it to hold both water and nutrients. This soil also has plenty of organic matter, which helps create an environment that encourages healthy potato growth.

If your soil is less loamy than you would like, there are ways to improve it before planting your potatoes. You can do this by adding compost or manure to the soil, which will help add more organic material and improve its texture over time. You should also ensure your soil has plenty of drainage by testing it with a shovel or spade and providing it doesn’t become saturated when watering it.

The pH level of your soil is another important factor when it comes to growing potatoes successfully. The optimal pH level for potato plants is between 4.8 and 5.4, but they will still grow if the pH level is slightly higher or lower than this range as long as other environmental factors are favorable for their growth. To test the pH level of your soil, use an inexpensive testing kit from your local gardening store or nursery.

The Basics of Planting and Harvesting Potatoes

When planting potatoes, you want to ensure they are buried deep enough in the soil so their stems have plenty of room to grow and develop. Generally, you want your potatoes planted 4-6 inches into the soil. However, this may vary depending on your climate and the type of soil you’re working with. If your soil is heavy and moist, you may need to plant it closer to six inches down; if it is light and sandy, closer to four inches will do.

You also want to ensure you leave about 12-18 inches between each potato when planting them in a row. This gives each potato ample space for its roots and stem growth. This spacing also applies when planting multiple rows of potatoes—it’s important not to overcrowd them! Potato plants will yield more abundantly when given plenty of space.

It usually takes about 70-80 days from planting for your potatoes to be ready for harvest! Digging only a little deep when harvesting potatoes is essential, as this can harm or damage the tubers while growing underground. The best way is to use a garden fork or hoe around the base of the plant, gently pushing away some dirt until you see a few tubers near the surface, which can then be easily pulled up from the ground by hand. Be sure not to wait too long, though – once potato tops turn yellow and begin dying off, and it means that they are done growing, and any remaining tubers left in the ground won’t mature enough before winter sets in, so they must be harvested quickly!

Planting potatoes can be simple and easy. If you know what depth you should bury them at and give them adequate spacing between plants, you’ll have no problem achieving a bountiful harvest come harvest time! Just remember: Plant your potatoes 4-6 inches down into the soil with 12-18 inches between each potato when planting in rows or beds, wait until 70-80 days from planting time has passed before harvesting, and use a garden fork or hoe around the base of your plants when harvesting instead of digging deeply so as not disturb any still-growing tubers underground! With these tips in mind, happy gardening!

The Truth About Fertilizer: Debunking the Myths

The Truth About Fertilizer: Debunking the Myths

There are a lot of myths created by marketing companies about fertilizer. Marketing has convinced people that it is some kind of magical substance that will make their plants grow big and strong overnight. The truth is, however, that fertilizer is just like any other tool- it can be used effectively or it can be misused. In this blog post, we will debunk the marketing myths about fertilizer and discuss how you can use it to improve your garden!

What do the fertilizer numbers really mean?

All growing plants need essential elements to grow to their full genetic potential. The NPK, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, makes up the primary nutrients plants need. The other elements needed by plants are called minor elements, micronutrients or secondary nutrients. These include: sulfur, magnesium, calcium, iron, manganese, copper, zinc, boron, molybdenum and chlorine.

Fertilizer comes in different NPK ratios. The number on the bag or bottle is the percentage of how much of each kind of nutrient is in it. For example, 10-10-10 has 10% of Nitrogen, 10% of Phosphorus, and 10% of Potassium.

  • Nitrogen is the most important nutrient and helps with leaf growth.
  • Phosphorus helps plants to use and store energy.
  • Potassium helps with overall plant health and plants’ abilities to resist disease.

Nitrogen comes in many forms, but can only be used by plants in ammonium or nitrate form. Urea, the cheapest form, must first be broken down to ammonium before plants can utilize it. Ammonium is fast-acting and can burn plants if not used correctly. Nitrate is the safest and most effective form of nitrogen for plants. Excessive amounts of urea can build up over colder months and burn plants once the weather warms up due to increased break down to ammonium form.

Phosphorus is essential for plant growth and is found in every cell of a plant. Marketing Myth: High levels of phosphorus make plants bloom more aka bloom booster. Fact: Phosphorus helps plants to use and store energy, but too much phosphorus can make plants weak and unhealthy. Excess phosphorus easily combines with minor elements and prevents their uptake by plants, leading to minor element deficiencies.

Potassium is found in all plant tissues and is important for overall plant health and the plant’s ability to resist disease. It is associated with the movement of water, nutrients and carbohydrates in plant tissue.

When to apply fertilizer?

plant nutrition deficiency

The best time to apply fertilizer is when plants are actively growing. This is typically in the spring and summer, but can also be in the fall for certain plants. Applying fertilizer to late in the growing cycle can make plants more susceptible to cold damage and disease. Fertilizer applied to dormant plants can actually do more harm than good because the plant cannot utilize the nutrients and the excess nutrients build up in the soil. The excess nutrients can also leach through the soil and contaminate groundwater.

Plants can tell you when and what type of fertilizer to use. The location of yellowing leaves can indicate a lack of several types of nutrients, iron deficiency will show in newer leaves while nitrogen and magnesium deficiency will show in older leaves first. Older leaves turning purple can be a sign of low phosphorus.

Other factors that affect fertilizer

Soil pH plays a big part in the availability of nutrient up take by plants. Most nutrients are available to plants with a soil pH range of 5.6-6.2. Some plants grow better in the lower range and other prefer the higher range. Petunia and calibrachoa are two types of annuals that prefer the lower range and will quickly show iron deficiency above 5.8 pH. Geraniums and marigolds prefer the higher range and show iron toxicity below 5.8 pH.

How to Grow and Care for Hardy Hibiscus in Alabama

Hardy Hibiscus, Rose Mallow, Swamp Mallow, Hibiscus moscheutos

If you’re looking for a beautiful, long-blooming flower to add to your Alabama garden, look no further than the hardy hibiscus! These magnificent blooms come in a variety of colors, and can be grown in almost anywhere in Alabama. In this blog post, we will discuss how to grow and care for these flowers. We’ll also provide tips on choosing the right variety for your needs. So read on to learn more about these amazing plants!

What are Hardy Hibiscus?

Hardy Hibiscus, distinguished from their tropical counterparts, are a group of perennial plants known for their ability to withstand colder temperatures and large, showy blossoms. Here’s an in-depth look into these resilient and captivating plants:

  • Scientific Classification and Varieties:
    • The term “Hardy Hibiscus” encompasses a variety of Hibiscus species native to Alabama, with the most common being Hibiscus moscheutos.
    • Other species within the Hardy Hibiscus label include H. coccineus (scarlet rose mallow), H. dasycalyx (Neches River rose mallow), H. grandiflorus (swamp rose mallow), H. lasiocarpos (hairy or wooly rose mallow), and H. laevis (halberd-leaf rose mallow).
  • Physical Characteristics:
    • They are known for their large, eye-catching blossoms, often compared to the size of a dinner plate, that they flaunt from midsummer to early fall.
    • These plants can grow to a height of 3-6 feet, adding a dramatic visual element to gardens.
  • Climate Adaptability:
    • Hardy Hibiscus can endure cold winter temperatures as low as -30°F (-34°C). In regions with harsh winters and snow, they die back to the ground, rejuvenating in the spring.
    • They are well-suited for colder climates, and their resilience in chilly weather makes them stand out, especially when compared to tropical hibiscus varieties which thrive in warmer climates.
  • Cultivation and Care:
    • These plants require minimal care and are known to attract hummingbirds and pollinating bees, while generally deterring deer.
  • Garden Appeal:
    • The Hardy Hibiscus is not only a symbol of endurance but also of aesthetic appeal. The vibrant, large blossoms can transform gardens, bringing a tropical ambiance to temperate landscapes. They are often grown for their color, disease tolerance, and cold hardiness, with numerous cultivars bred for these traits.

Hardy Hibiscus offers a blend of robustness and beauty, embodying a perfect choice for those looking to add a touch of the tropics to their gardens while not compromising on hardiness.

Where to Plant Hardy Hibiscus?

Planting Hardy Hibiscus in the right spot and providing them with the conditions they love can ensure healthy growth and a long, beautiful display of blossoms. Here are some guidelines on where to plant Hardy Hibiscus:

  • Planting Location:
    • Hardy Hibiscus plants thrive in full sun locations; they require at least 6 or more hours of direct sunlight per day.
    • Consider planting them near a south-facing wall or building as they enjoy heat.
    • They can be planted along or in the back of perennial flower beds, in borders, mixed perennial beds, or used as a standalone specimen plant.
  • Spacing:
    • When planting multiple Hardy Hibiscus, ensure to space the plants 2 to 3 feet apart in the garden to avoid overcrowding and to allow for ample growth.
  • Soil Conditions:
    • Hardy Hibiscus plants prefer well-draining soil with a pH range that is slightly acidic to neutral.
    • They are quite tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions, from drier to even moist or boggy, but best flowering is achieved when there is ample moisture.
  • Additional Tips:
    • For gardeners in North Alabama, ensuring the planting area is well-draining will prevent water logging in the soil which could potentially harm the plants during winter months.

How to Care for Hardy Hibiscus in Alabama?

Caring for Hardy Hibiscus plants is a relatively straightforward process but requires attention to a few key factors to ensure healthy growth and blooming. Here are some steps and tips on how to care for Hardy Hibiscus:

  • Watering:
    • Water enough to keep the soil evenly moist, especially as the plant is getting established for the first six months. Water regularly during dry spells to maintain a healthy plant.
  • Fertilization:
    • While Hardy Hibiscus doesn’t absolutely require fertilizer, applying a general-purpose fertilizer will promote vigorous growth.
  • Mulching:
    • Mulching around the base of the plant can help retain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and improve soil quality.
  • Pruning:
    • Pruning can be done to maintain shape and encourage bushiness. It’s also important to remove dead or damaged branches to promote healthy growth.
  • Pest and Disease Management:
    • Keep an eye out for common pests like aphids and whiteflies, and diseases such as rust or powdery mildew. Employ cultural, biological, or chemical controls as necessary to manage these issues.

By following these care guidelines, gardeners can foster a conducive environment for Hardy Hibiscus to flourish, ensuring a vibrant and attractive display in the garden season after season.

What do you do with hardy hibiscus in the winter?

Hardy Hibiscus, unlike tropical hibiscus, are capable of withstanding colder temperatures to a certain extent, which makes winter care for them a bit easier. North Alabama, you may need to provide additional protection, such as wrapping the plant in burlap or placing it in a protected area. Central and South Alabama should need no protection. However, there are some steps you can take to ensure they thrive and return with robust growth in the spring:

  • Mulching:
    • Apply a thick layer of mulch (8 to 12 inches) around the base of the plant to help protect the root ball from cold temperatures. Chopped leaves or pine needles are great choices for mulching material.
    • This mulch acts as an insulating sheet that keeps the soil warm and prevents early new growth until the warmer seasons.
  • Pruning:
    • In the fall, before applying mulch, prune dead stems or branches down to about 8 to 12 inches. This helps to tidy up the plant and prepare it for winter.
    • Once spring arrives and you are certain that there’s no danger of hard freezes, remove the mulch. If any branches have been damaged over winter, cut these to the ground. As new growth appears, you can trim and shape the plant as desired.
  • Winter Hardiness:
    • Hardy Hibiscus are root hardy to about zone 5 with no protection and they die back to the ground each year. This natural die-back helps the plant conserve energy and withstand colder temperatures.
  • Patience:
    • Hardy Hibiscus are known to be slow starters in the spring, so patience is key. Once the warmer temperatures settle in, you’ll see your Hardy Hibiscus beginning to grow and prepare for a new season of blooming.
  • Indoor Overwintering (for Potted Plants):
    • If your Hardy Hibiscus is potted, it’s easier to bring it indoors to protect it from freezing temperatures. Ensure it is placed in a well-lit area and keep the soil moist, not wet.

These measures will help ensure the survival and vigor of your Hardy Hibiscus through the winter, and set the stage for beautiful blooms in the following growing season.

With a little care, hardy hibiscus can provide you with beautiful blooms for many years to come! So don’t hesitate to add these plants to your garden today.

Peach Trees in Alabama

When to Plant Peach Trees in Alabama

When selecting a peach tree to grow in your garden, it is important to choose the variety that is best suited for your area and purpose. Peach trees are originally from China and can be temperamental with their blossoms. Some peach trees are more suitable for fresh eating, while others are better for canning and making preserves. There are hundreds of peach varieties, each one adapted to a particular region or purpose. Peach trees are best planted November until March in Alabama.

Choosing the Right Peach Tree

Don’t bother with a tree that does not grow well in our Alabama climate. If possible, buy peach trees that were grown locally instead of mail-ordering peach trees for your garden. If you purchase peach tress through the mail, they are likely to have trouble adjusting to the climate changes upon arrival. They may also not do well in our hot or humid climate.

You’ll want a peach tree that produces flavorful fruit with a pleasing texture and color. You will also need fruits large enough to be worth picking and processing. Peaches should not fall from the tree before you have a chance to pick them either. Sugar content will vary between peach varieties as well as harvesting time.

Select peach trees that have low susceptibility for peach leaf curl. The peach leaf curl pathogen will damage peach leaves and stunt peach tree growth. Peach leaf curl is a disease that is very common in most peach-producing regions of the world . It’s caused by a fungus. Some peach varieties are resistant or less susceptible for peach leaf curl, but all peach trees can become infected eventually if conditions are right.

Avoid peach trees that are susceptible to peach tree borer. The peach tree borer is an insect pest of peach trees that can kill the peach tree if left untreated.

Growing a Peach Tree

Plant peach trees in full sun for maximum peach tree growth. Peach trees require well-draining soil that is neither too acidic or alkaline, but they also do great in any type of soil as long as it drains well. Add decomposed organic peach tree mulch around peach tree roots to maintain moisture levels during dry seasons and to help your peach tree survive the summer heat. Look for water-stressed peach trees by observing drooping leaves or wilting branches.

Pruning peach trees correctly is important in order to get the best harvest from your tree. Pruning also helps maintain the shape of the tree and keeps it healthy. In general, prune peach trees in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Remove any dead or damaged branches and thin out the tree to allow light and air to circulate. Cut back inward-growing branches and remove any suckers (branches that grow from the rootstock). If your peach tree is not producing fruit, you may need to do more drastic pruning, including removing the entire top of the tree.

When planting a peach tree, be sure to use a high-quality, balanced fertilizer. A 10-10-10 fertilizer is a good option and should be applied at planting and then again every six weeks. In addition, you can also apply a layer of compost around the base of the tree each year. This will help to keep the soil healthy and promote strong growth.

When to Plant Peach Trees in Alabama

When to Plant Okra in Alabama

When to Plant Okra in Alabama

Okra or Lady’s finger is a popular vegetable that is widely grown in tropical and sub-tropical regions across the world. It has been a staple food for many people in African, Asian and Indian communities for centuries. With regular care and right growing conditions, okra plants can be productive throughout the Alabama growing season, even during summer months.

The key to growing okra successfully in your garden is selecting the right variety that suits the climatic conditions of your area. We’ve selected Clemson Spineless & Okinawa Pink for Alabama. The plant thrives in warm and moist weather and does not tolerate frost. Unlike many other vegetables, it does not need well-drained soil and grows well in heavy clay or sandy soils. However, you should make sure that the soil is not water-logged as this can lead to root rot.

Okra seeds can be direct sown in the garden or started indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost date. Sow the seeds 1/2 inch deep in moist, well-drained soil and keep them warm (70-80 degrees F). Once the seedlings emerge, thin them to 12-18 inches apart. Alabama garden centers can have seeds and plants available from Alabama Grown.

The plants will start bearing flowers and fruits 60-90 days after planting. The fruits are best harvested when they are 3-4 inches long and still tender. You can pick them every 2-3 days to encourage more fruiting.

What are the Crystals on Okra Plants?

While okra are self-pollinating with both male and female parts on the same flower. The plant secrets sugary sap that forms crystals to draw ants for pollination.

Why are Ants on Okra Plants?

The ants are there to help pollinate the flowers. The plants secret a sugary sap to draw the ants to the plants.

When to Plant Strawberries in Alabama

When to Plant Strawberries in Alabama

Before you start planting strawberry plants, it’s important to check their hardiness zone. Strawberries are a perennial plant that can be grown year round in zones 5-9. For zones 4 & 10, strawberries are considered an annual plant which means they must be replanted each year. Check out this list of states with their corresponding strawberry hardiness zone! Alabama is Zone 7.

In this blog post, we’ll look at the strawberry planting zone and how to successfully plant strawberries. We will also discuss what causes frost and why it is important to protect your plants from frost.

What type of soil should I use when planting my berries?

Strawberries grow best in deep, well-drained soil with lots of extra organic matter mixed in. When planting them, stagger the plants so there is equal ground between plants for better air circulation around the berries themselves. They also work well with trellising for increased sunlight and ventilation. If you need to keep them inside over the winter months, choose pots with at least 10 inches of depth (with plenty of drainage holes) and fill them about two thirds full; then stop watering when it gets cold outside around October or November.

How to Plant Strawberry Plants?

Depending on the variety, strawberries need to be planted 6-12 inches apart; however, they should still be pruned back when they get too leggy. Cut them back by 30% of their overall size for best results. The runners (branch that grow outwards) can also be trimmed at this time.

When and how should I water my strawberries?

Water strawberries regularly, especially if they’re planted in spring or summer. During periods of heavy rain, you may need to stop watering every day, but after a few weeks it should be back to normal. Too much water can lessen the berry flavor and cause the berries to burst.

The most obvious way to protect strawberry plants from frost is to choose varieties that are able to withstand these frosty conditions. Some exceptions include “Chandler” (zone 5-9), “Midnight” (zone 4-7) and “Arctic Choice” (5). Planting strawberries in raised beds or containers helps with aeration of roots which aids their systems, like circulation, that work together with colder weather protection. Growing strawberries in organic mulch also helps with this because it protects the soil from temperatures that are too low, thus creating a warmer microclimate for the roots. This is especially helpful during winter or hard freezes when temperatures can drop quickly.

Theme: Overlay by Kaira