By Darrell Blackwelder
For Farm Carolina
SALISBURY- The rain has offered us a short reprieve from the drought and many people have resumed working outdoors. However, the fall drought and colder temperatures spark questions as to what should be done to maintain landscapes. Below are a few questions received over the past few days.
Q: I was by the Agricultural Center recently and the perennial flowers were in full bloom. There was a pink flower in full bloom. What is that flower?
A: Gaura, also known as beeblossom, is a drought-tolerant plant and is also deer proof. Pink is the most common color, but there are other colors available. Many of the perennial plants were fooled by unseasonably warm weather earlier in the month.
Q: My blackberries produced a great crop of berries this summer, but the part of the plant that produced the berries looks like it's dead. What should I do now?
A: Blackberry plants are sort of unusual in that their roots are perennial, but the tops are biennial. The plant will produce shoots for one season and then the next season the shoots produce berries. After the berries are borne, the cane dies. Growers can prune back the dead cane (the one that bore the berries) in late summer. Removing spent canes allows younger fruit-producing canes to grow and develop for next years' crop. Continue to tie, tip or train the new canes that have not produced fruit to the trellis until growth stops in the fall. Go to http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-8206.html for more detailed information.
Q: My lantana did very well this summer, but the frost has killed it back. Is now a good time to prune the parts killed by frost?
A: No, wait until spring. Prune perennial lantanas back hard in spring to remove old growth and prevent woodiness. Cut back to about 6 to 12 inches from ground level. Avoid hard pruning in fall as this can cause reduced cold hardiness and the open stems tend to rot with rainy weather.
Q: Since we had the rain a few days ago, can I still plant spring flowering bulbs?
A: Yes, there is still plenty of time to plant spring flowering bulbs. Be sure to plant tulips, daffodils and other bulbs at the correct depth. Include a bit of bone meal or bulb food within the planting area to stimulate both bloom and root growth. Keep them irrigated during periods of drought.