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Around the Yard

May 25, 2000|ROBERT SMAUS

Things to do this week:

* Back off on bougainvillea. For the best blooms and brightest colors, water bougainvillea less often and do not fertilize. Established plants in the ground need virtually none while they are in bloom. Only plants that are still young and have not filled their spot in the garden or those growing in pots need fertilizer or regular irrigation.

* Prune hibiscus, princess flower. Now that it's warm you can prune as much as one-third of the growth from princess flowers (Tibouchina) or hibiscus, and they will bounce right back with more flowers and denser growth. On both plants, flowers form only on vigorous new growth.

* Continue planting summer color. Spring's bedding plants should be completely finished by now, so you can replace them with summer's--ageratum, celosia, bedding dahlia, gloriosa daisy, marigold, petunia, portulaca, verbena, zinnia and the like. Verbenas have become so colorful and reliable that they are now one of the best summer choices--right up there with petunias--particularly the new strains such as the Tapien and Babylon.

In the shade, try bedding begonias, browallia, impatiens, mimulus and forget-me-not. Or for a change, grow coleus and caladiums for their foliage.

* Renew mulch. To keep the soil from cracking and drying this summer, keep it covered with a light mulch of tree chips or shredded bark (not chunky bark). Mulches also save some water and moderate soil temperatures. They keep down dust and prevent mud.

Next best to a mulch is to make sure you lightly cultivate the soil surface between irrigations, which makes it easier for water to soak in and helps keep soil from cracking. Old-timers call this a "dust mulch."

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