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JAMES HODGES


With the arrival of warm weather, large numbers of woody plants grown in containers arrive at local greenhouses, nurseries and chain stores. Fall planting provides more time for plants to adjust to conditions before hot weather occurs, but quality container stock planted in spring can also adjust well, if correct planting and aftercare practices are followed.

Getting the right plants for your location is critical. During the selection process, it is easy to get distracted by colorful flowers, foliage or shapes of plants. But plant selection should be based on where and how trees or shrubs will be used and placed into your landscape. I know while shopping everyone is afraid that all the unique plants will be gone quickly. Before you buy, check out your home landscape conditions, then decide what and how many plants are needed for your conditions.

Actually, doing a little plant window shopping, tag reading and information collection at a local nursery is a good start before purchasing and planting new woody plants. Take a pen and paper along with you to collect information on new cultivars arriving this spring. Tags often supply information on sun or shade requirements, mature height and width, flowering time and color, and USDA cold hardy zones for planting. The Lakelands area is generally within zones 7B-8A.

Additionally, use the detailed bulletins on 25 trees and 35 shrubs adapted to most areas of South Carolina found on Clemson University’s Home and Garden website, clemson.edu/extension/hgic/.

Use bulletin HGIC 1050, Choosing a Planting Location, as a way to assess your property conditions. It helps you assess above-ground and below-ground conditions, get an idea of sun and shade conditions and avoid planting too close to buildings and utility wires and lines.

Part of your assessment will involve drainage of water on your site. Since most of our area contains clay soils, wet areas are often created during home construction or additions. Look for problem areas and correct if possible before adding new plants. These areas will require plants adapted to wet conditions or you will need to correct drainage problems before planting.

When you consider sun and shade conditions, remember that some areas are part sun and part shade. Morning shade and afternoon sun is nearly as hot as full sun. Deep shade nearly all day can be tough for many shrubs as well as most grasses. You might look at pruning lower limbs of trees to allow more light into the area for shrubs.

You might want to consider drawing a map. It doesn’t have to be exact, but a long tape measure can be useful to set up a planting map and get spacing correct. Small planting stock is much easier to handle and establish in the landscape. But make sure you allow the correct spacing because plants with small stock take time to fill the space.

4-H chicken project

If your child loves chickens, sign them up for the Greenwood-Saluda 4-H Pullet Project, which is designed for youth who were ages 5-19 as of Jan. 1. Youth get a choice of a large flock (30 chicks) or a small flock (15 chicks). Cost is $10 for non-4-H members and free to those who sign up with 4-H. Chicks will be available in early April. Youth will show their chickens at the Saluda Livestock show Sept. 14. For information or to sign up, contact 4-H agent Lucy Charping at 864-223-3264, 864-993-5317 or lucyw@clemson.edu. Register youth at the Greenwood County or Saluda County Clemson Extension office.

James Hodges is a Clemson Extension agent in Greenwood County. He can be reached at 864-223-3264.