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Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

Gardening time is now

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Marissa Mayberry tends to flowers Friday afternoon.
SIKESTON -- Now that the gardening season has arrived, many residents are busy picking and planting their flowers and vegetables.

"The gardening people are still coming in and now the flower people are starting to come in," noted Shirley McCall, owner of Garden Lane Nursery in Sikeston.

With the weather going back and forth lately, one of the most frequently asked question McCall gets is if there will be another frost.

"Obviously I'm not God or a weatherman, but in my opinion I'd say it's pretty safe," McCall said. "If you put something out and a frost is forecasted, then all you have to do is put a frost cloth over them."

March and April usually start with gardening customers, and now since the weather's finally taking a turn, it's getting to a point where gardeners are buying flowers, McCall explained.

"People are looking for more container gardens than ever before, said Marissa Mayberry, manager at Mueller's Greenhouses in Bertrand. "And besides the container gardening, people are looking for something different and trying to get out of what they did last year."

One of the ways people are doing that is by focusing on water gardens, Mayberry said.

"More and more people are doing the water gardens. We have at several water plants and we do a 'Grow Native' program with plants native to Missouri. They're already acclimated to environment, and they're perennials," Mayberry said.

Common water plants include water lilies, horse tails, water irises and water forget-me-nots and a corkscrew and others. Some are marginal and others grow in the water, Mayberry said.

Sales of perennials, plants that come back each year, have picked up, and a lot are putting perennials on landscaping, McCall said. Annuals are good to put in pots and planters on a patio and deck, she added.

Some of this year's popular plants include cone flowers and Dianthus, which has really pretty blooms, McCall said, adding hostas and ferns are also favorites.

"We've got a really nice selection for sun and shade, and that seems to be the growing trend because a lot of them multiply and spread out the following," McCall said.

Another popular plant this year is the Endless Summer hydrangea. Last year it was a new variety and Garden Lane has doubled its stock of the plant.

"The Endless Summer Hydrangea will bloom off the old or the new wood so you don't have to worry about when you trim it and it pretty much blooms.

With Charleston's annual Dogwood-Azalea Festival around the corner, many residents are planting azaleas, Mayberry said.

Encore Azaleas are pretty, but they're not as popular for people at the festival because they don't bloom in April. Instead they bloom in May and again in September.

"The Encore Azalea is nice to have because it can be planted in a more sunny area. Usually azaleas have to be planted in a more shaded spot, and these can tolerate more sun," McCall explained.

Standard bedding plants and plants to put in containers and hanging baskets remain favorites like the begonias and impatiens, McCall said.

Also in the spring a lot of people looking for flowering trees like the red buds and dogwoods.

According to the University of Missouri Extension, now is the time to examine shrubs for winter injury and to prune all dead and weakened wood. When crabapples are in bloom, hardy annuals may be transplanted outdoors. About the last week of April, begin planning out summer bulbs such as caladiums, gladioulus and acidanthera at two-week intervals.

McCall pointed out there's plenty of time to start a garden if someone hasn't already.

Mayberry agreed.

"Everyone's planting their vegetable gardens, and of course tomatoes and peppers are the most popular," Mayberry said.

For vegetables, the Extension recommended the following for April:

-- From now through the end of the month trying an early sowing of warm-

season crops such as green beans, summer squash, sweet corn, New Zealand spinach and cucumbers.

-- Also around the last two weeks of April, begin planting lima beans, cucumbers, melons, okra and watermelons. Begin setting out transplants of tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and sweet potatoes.