Successful gardening tips

CONSERVATION: April is usually the beginning of our drought period. Conserve water by using mulches around plants and in annual or vegetable beds. Weeds use a lot of water, so pull or hoe them out. This is also a good time to consider putting in a drip irrigation system. Studies prove that less water is used with drip irrigation, and less is lost to evaporation.

AZALEAS: Established plants should be pruned after blooming. Several light prunings early in the spring and up until July will encourage numerous branches and produce a more compact shrub.

BROMELIADS: Have you tried Bromeliads? They adapt to conditions found in the home, require little care and therefore make excellent house plants.

Bromeliads are members of the pineapple family, native to the American tropics. Two very familiar members of this family are the common pineapple and Spanish moss.

Most bromeliads are air plants or epiphytes. In the wild they grow on trees, attaching themselves by special roots. But they’re not a parasite, like mistletoe, because they use the host plant only as a support; all their nutrition comes from rain and air.

The nearly two thousand species of bromeliads provide plant lovers with an unbelievable selection of form, color, size and blooming characteristics.

Normal temperatures found inside homes are very acceptable for bromeliad culture. Homes with and without air conditioning are fine.

Plant trees and shrubs to give a garden structure. Accessorize with annuals, perennials and wine grape vines.

Know the characteristics of a plant before you buy it.

Pick up dead leaves and discarded matter to keep insects under control.

Don’t space plants too closely. Proper air circulation and spacing will keep pests from transferring from one plant to another.

Take weeds out by the roots.

If a plant is infested with insects and you can’t remove them with soapy water, rubbing alcohol or a pressure hose, get rid of the plant.

To attract butterflies, plant lots of flowering plants, including plants that bloom late and early in the season, because the New Orleans area has butterflies almost all year long. If possible, include milkweed, lantana, butterfly bush and globe amaranth.

To attract hummingbirds, plant flowers that are red or yellow, have a tubular shape and strong scent. Good choices are plants that produce lots of flowers over an extended period of time.

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