Holly Springs Garden Club  Holly Springs, North Carolina  



Time to plant pansies. Add time-release fertilizer to the soil when planting. Buy spring flowering bulbs now for good selection,but don't plant until late October into November. Store in a cool place. Carefully rake any fallen leaves off newly seeded lawns so as not to smother grass. Use shredded leaves as mulch. Visit the state fair garden displays.
AMERICAN BEAUTYBERRY (Callicarpa americana)  American Beautyberry is used as an ornamental shrub in mass plantings, borders, and container planting. It is a fast growing native perennial shrub. In late spring to early summer, inconspicuous white to pink flowers appear on the stems between the leaves. In August or September, clusters of glossy purple berries encircle the woody stems. The berries attract more than forty species of songbirds. For best berry production, cut back each year about 2 feet less than the desired size. This deciduous shrub can grow to 6 feet or more and sometimes as wide. It likes sun to partial shade, dry to moist soil, and tolerates clay soil. Early 20th century farmers rubbed the crushed leaves on themselves to repel mosquitoes and bugs.  

AUGUST  Plant of the Month


There's still time to divide iris and daylilies. Add a fresh layer of mulch to beds Cut back summer annuals and then fertilize; they will bounce back and last until frost. Stop fertilizing roses by the middle of the month. Start planting cool weather veggies. Remove diseased, damaged, or dead branches from trees and shrubs, but don't do any severe pruning Start planning for reseeding of fescue lawn in September, including having your soil tested thru the North Carolina Dept. of Agriculture Agronomic Division.
PASSIFLORA INCARNATA (aka Passionflower or Maypop)  Passiflora Incarnata is a native perennial vine growing up to 25 feet long, climbing by tendrils. lt grows in every county in the state.   It has been described as having one of the most intricate blooms of any native plant. The lavender flower is 2-3 inches with a fringed crown and is said to resemble aspects of the Christian crucifixion story; hence its name. The seed pods do make a "popping" sound when stepped on or squished. Blooms appear in summer, followed by pods in the fall. It provides food for the native gulf fritillary butterfly. Native Americans ate the fruit and used the roots in an infusion to treat boils, earaches and liver problems..  

SEPTEMBER  Plant of the Month

SWAMP SUNFLOWER (Helianthus angustifolius)  Swamp Sunflower is a native perennial with masses of vivid yellow daisy-like flowers. Blooms in fall, typically October and November and does  best in full sun. The plant will tolerate clay and moist soil, along with  coastal salt marshes and swamps. It  can grow 6' tall or higher, but can be cut back 1/3 in early summer for bushier plants later in the season. They spread rapidly from underground rhizomes.  

OCTOBER  Plant of the Month


Leave finished flower heads on roses to enjoy the rose hips. Plant perennials, trees and shrubs now so they'll develop strong root system over winter. Plant pansies, violas, snapdragons and ornamental cabbage. Divide summer perennials. Summer annuals cuttings can be potted and enjoyed thru the winter. Bring in houseplants when temps dip below 50. Overseed warm season grass in late September with rye. Renovate and reseed fescue lawns. Remember the birds with water and seed.
SWEETSHRUB (Calycanthus floridus)  Goes by many common names - Sweetshrub, Carolina Allspice, Sweet Betsy. This native, old- fashioned deciduous shrub is very fragrant with the aroma of strawberries, bananas and pineapple. The twigs have a scent of camphor when broken. It is often planted near a window or path so the aroma can be enjoyed. In the spring the flowers are red to maroon, with drooping fruit in summer, followed by bright yellow foliage in the fall. Sweetshrub is adaptable to most soil and light conditions and is very disease and insect resistant.  

NOVEMBER  Plant of the Month


There is still time to dig, divide, and replant crowded perennials. Do not be in a hurry to prune trees. Wait until next year after the coldest part of winter has passed. Clean up the garden. Remove spent plants, chop them up, and compost them. Cover the garden with mulch to prevent soil loss. Protect your investment in garden tools; clean them up and repair or replace broken ones.
BEE BALM (genus Monarda)  Bee Balm is a summer blooming perennial growing from 2 to 4 ft high with flowers described as looking like fireworks in various shades of red, pink, violet and white. Another common name is Oswego Tea, based on the leaves being used as a tea alternative after the Boston Tea Party. The plant is native to the NC mountains. Nectar seeking hummingbirds, butterflies and bees are all attracted to this flower. Most varieties are susceptible to powdery mildew and need good air circulation, however mildew resistant varieties such as Jacob Cline are available. Bee Balm was traditionally used by American Indians as a seasoning for wild game.  

DECEMBER  Plant of the Month


Enjoy winter blooming perennials such as hellebores, rosemary and camellias. Water just before a cold snap to help plants survive bitter temperatures. Browse garden catalogs for coming season and make plans for future outdoor projects. Get a head start of getting soil tested through the NC Extension Service. Most house plants are semi dormant in short days of winter, and should not be fertilized. Remember to  feed the birds.
PINK MUHLY GRASS (Muhlenbergia capillaris)  Pink Muhly Grass is a native perennial grass that grows to 3 feet' with a showy fall bloom of feathery, pink, cloudlike clusters. Tan seed plumes remain attractive in winter. This is  considered a great garden plant as it has low maintenance and is disease resistant. The clumping habit makes it excellent for use as wildlife cover. It was voted 2012 plant of the year by the Garden Club of America.  

JANUARY  Plant of the Month


Plan ahead by taking soil samples for testing. Fescue can still be fertilized if ground is not yet frozen. Prune evergreeens to use for holiday decorations in and outside the house (save major pruning for late winter). Keep plants and shrubs watered during dry spells. Gardening books and accessories make great Christmas gifts. Lay cut Xmas tree branches over perennials to protect from cold. Build raised beds now. Remember to feed the birds, and give feeders a monthly cleaning.
CARDINAL FLOWER (Lobelia cardinalis)  The Cardinal Flower is a native perennial growing 3-4 feet tall with brilliant crimson red flower spikes. It got its name not from the cardinal bird, but from the color of the robes worn by Catholic cardinals. This late summer blooming plant is a big attraction for hummingbirds. It will take full sun if the soil is kept moist, but prefers moist partial shade. It has twice been named Wildflower of the Year.  

MARCH  Plant of the Month

MARCH To-Do List

Take photos of spring flowering bulbs so you know where to plant next year. Plant cool weather crops like lettuce, spinach, radishes carrots this month. Now's a good time to do lawn mower maintenance. Prune summer blooming plants such as crepe myrtle and butterfly bush that bloom on new wood. Prune early bloomers like spirea, forsythia and flowering quince Clean out old bird nest in birdhouses and clean birdbaths and feeders.
GAYFEATHER (Liatris spicata)  The Gayfeather (also known as Dense Blazing Stars) is a native perennial with erect spikes of feathery lavender blooms from 3-4' tall. It blooms from the top to the bottom of the spikes, flowering in July and August. The plant does well in average soil with full sun and is drought tolerant. It attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.

APRIL  Plant of the Month

APRIL To-Do List

Last frost is usually around mid April. Let spring bulb foliage die down naturally, but remove flower heads. Prune and fertilize azaleas, camellias and rhododendron after they bloom. Deadhead pansy blooms and lightly fertilize. Divide summer perennials such as daisies, asters & phlox. Scatter cutup pieces of strings for the birds to use as nesting material.
AMERICAN WISTERIA (Wisteria frutescens)  American wisteria is a high- climbing, deciduous, 25-30 ft. long vine that requires support in the form of a sturdy trellis or fence. It flowers best when planted in well- drained soil in full sun. The vine has shiny, dark-green leaves, with large, drooping clusters of pale lilac-purple flowers that appear after the plant has leafed out. This North American native vine is not as fragrant as Asian wisterias, but it is easier to control. Since it doesn't send out long root suckers, American wisterias are much less rampant than Asian wisterias and much more likely to bloom. Blooms appear over the course of 2-4 weeks, a longer bloom period than that of Asian Wisterias. The first wave of flowers begins in May, followed by another wave in mid-June, and another in August. Because the buds form on new growth, heavy pruning in winter is encouraged.

MAY  Plant of the Month

MAY To-Do List

Plant warm-season annuals for summer color. For sunny areas: plant African daisy, ageratum, celosia, cockscomb, marigold, pentas, vinca, petunia, salvia and zinnia. For afternoon shade: plant geraniums and New Guinea Impatiens. For shady areas: plant begonias, coleus, and Impatiens. Avoid leaf spot diseases by watering your annuals and perennials from below, keeping the leaves dry. Plant tender summer bulbs such as cannas, dahlias, and ginger lilies. Handpull weeds when they’re young. When the flowers fade on your Mother’s Day hydrangeas, plant them where they’ll get morning sun and afternoon shade.
SWEET PEPPERBUSH (Clethra alnifolia)  Sweet pepperbush, also called summersweet, is a native, deciduous shrub that grows from 5- 10 ft. tall and spreads about 5 ft. It grows well in damp and wet areas and will tolerate clay and shade. In late summer it produces spike-like clusters of white fragrant flowers, then gets brown capsules resembling dried peppercorns which stay through winter(hence its name). The plant has a nice yellow foliage in the fall. A popular cultivar is Ruby Spice which has pink flowers and a dwarf variety called Hummingbird.

JUNE  Plant of the Month

JUNE To-Do List

Prune climbing roses after they bloom. Divide daffodils and iris as soon as foliage dies down. Replant immediately or store in cool, dry place until fall Remove faded flowers and pinch back to encourage fullness. Raise mowers to about 3" for fescue lawns.   Do any watering of plants in morning. Watering late in the day encourages plant disease growth..
FALSE INDIGO (Baptisia australis)  False Indigo is a native plant that has striking bluish/purple pea shaped flower spikes in springtime and grows 4-5' tall.  Seed pods, which turn black, follow after blooming.  A member of the pea family, there is a resemblance in the flowers and foliage, and it also prefers cooler weather.  It is drought tolerant, but needs full sun and space to prevent fungal diseases. It makes a great cut flower for arrangements. Europeans would pay Americans to grow it for the dye made from the blue flowers; therefore the name False Indigo.  

FEBRUARY  Plant of the Month


Hand pull winter annual weeds and suppress them with a shallow layer of mulch. Cut back ornamental grass, avoiding any new growth. Sow indoors: basil, chives, parsley, sage, summer savory, and sweet marjoram. Sow outdoors: mustard, garden peas, radishes, spinach and turnips. Do not overwater seedlings or transplants; only water when the surface of the medium feels dry. Feed indoor started transplants with a water-soluable fertilizer such as 20-20- 20 at half strength every other week.

JULY To-Do List

Deadhead perennials and annuals so they continue blooming, and also cut back leggy plants. Divide crowded iris and daylillies after they are done blooming. Pinch back crepe myrtle faded blooms. Make sure to drain all sources (big and small) of stagnant water where mosquitoes can breed. Harvest herbs in early morning for best flavor. Keep a bird bath filled with fresh water.
BUTTERFLY WEED (Asclepias tuberosa)  Butterfly Weed is a sun loving, drought tolerant native perennial that can grow to 3 feet with a very deep root when established.  Blooming from May thru August, it has clusters of bright orange flowers, but can vary from bright yellow to red. For the Monarch Butterfly, it's an adult nectar source as well as a larval food source. Butterfly Weed is good as a cut flower. In the fall, upright pods crack open releasing seeds with silky hairs, and the dried pods are often used in floral arrangements. American Indians used to chew its tough roots to cure pleurisy and other pulmonary ailments.  

JULY  Plant of the Month