The South is a fantastic place for growing crops such as fruits and vegetables. The summer days are hot, long and the humid weather is perfect for a variety of plants, and the growing season is longer. All it takes is understanding the growing conditions and what works best for the area in order for your southern garden idea to really bloom.
It’s Hot There!
For a Southern garden to do well you need to pick plants which are local to your locale, or from somewhere with similar growing conditions. You need plants that can stand up to the heat for long periods of time. Ask local gardeners who have been at it for awhile or the local nurseries.
Know Your Zone
The hardiness zone for much of the South is between Zone 8 – 9 – 10. Here summers are hot and the winter weather is typically mild. Plants like kale, lettuce, cabbage, and spinach are cool weather crops and need to be planted very early. January and February are when you would be planting these. Even then, be sure and choose heat-resistant varieties.
Flower Garden Choices
If you prefer flower gardening choose varieties that are heat resistant such as Yarrow, Candytuft, and Plumbago. Look for the words drought resistant when buying seeds or plants. These can include Shasta daisies, Bluestar, Daylilies, and Sundrops are all good choices.
Know When to Plant
Knowing when to plant is crucial. Visit your local nursery or agriculture extension office to find the right time to plant. Cool weather crops, as mentioned above, must be planted very early. Warm weather crops, like peppers, tomatoes, and corn, are planted much earlier in the South than many other places. March and April is the time for planting these crops along with spring flowers.
Know Your Pests & Bugs
The high humidity and heat can bring out lots of pesky critters that can destroy a garden in no time. Leafhoppers, beetles, hornworms, and aphids can chop their way right through a Southern garden. If you choose to use insecticides then do your research and go for the best organic one. Worms, caterpillars, and beetles can be picked off by hand. Have a jar of soapy water on hand for just that purpose.
If your problem is tiny insects try a floating net cover. Understanding what you may be up against is half the battle so know what to expect in your area when it comes to things that can wipe out your garden in a day. Again, your local nursery or extension office can help you choose plants that are resistant to local pests and fungus.
Expect Heavy Rain
While it’s true the South experiences drought conditions, however, when it does rain it can pour. You need well-drained soil to make sure the plants can handle the amount of water. Plant tomatoes deep to make sure they develop a solid root system. Flower beds should be well drained too. If you are growing anything in containers in your garden make sure the container has drain holes or you will drown the plants.
Success is At Hand
Gardening is a wonderful way to relax, enjoy fresh food and save money. It doesn’t have to be stressful and you can succeed with southern gardening. If you follow these basic tips your garden will be off to a good start and you can prevent problems before they start. Learn to read package labels for seeds to find out if they are good for your area. Buy your plants from local nurseries or start your own seed indoors. Start simple, take notes of what you do and expand as time goes. You will have a beautiful, luscious garden before you know it.