The Taproot Magazine of the Clemson Extension Tri-County Master Gardeners.
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 Quote of the Quarter



1. Native Plant Highlight: Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
Christopher Burtt
2. Kiawah River Farms: The Lowcountry's First 'Agrihood'
Deborah Duerr

3. Master Gardener - Eagle Scout Project  
Karen Duffy

4. Book Reviews: Rhapsody in Green  
Yvette Richardson Guy

5. How to Clean and Care for Gardening Tools
Joanne Sch

6. A Review: Botannical Art Techniques  
Judy Dunbar

7. A Ginger by so Many Names 
8. What to do in the Garden in the Fall   
Christopher Burtt 


CARDINAL FLOWER (Lobelia cardinalis)

by Christopher Burtt Clemson Extension Horticulture Agent


A herbaceous perennial in the Bellflower family, Campanulaceae, Cardinal flower is a wonder in the fall garden. It can grow up to four feet tall and has few major issues. Native to the Southeast, this is a wonderful plant to include in pollinator gardens as well as bog gardens. The Cardinal Flower blooms in the late part of the summer and is popular with Hummingbirds due to the color and shape of the flower. Plant these in areas wit damp soils, even wet soils, and best grown in part shade but can tolerate full sun if water is sufficient. While this plant has few pest and disease concerns, it is slightly toxic and should not be ingested.



by Deborah Duerr MG 2020


In 1995 The Beach Company bought 2,200 acres on Johns Island from Sidi Limehouse.  If that name is familiar, he was named the Clemson Swisher Farmer of the year in 2019.  A dedicated environmentalist whose family had owned the land since 1938, Mr Limehouse retained the rights to farm a portion of the land, and has embraced the Beach Company vision of incorporating working farms that use sustainable practices and a 1,000 house residential component built out slowly over ten years.  The houses are being built one “neighborhood” cluster per year, keeping the construction impact in only one zone at a time.  The development will eventually also include a swim and fitness center, a wedding chapel, a riverfront restaurant and more than twenty miles of bike and walking trails.

John Snyder is the Chief Environmental Officer for the Beach Company.  A hands on biologist, he and his family have lived-in and managed the property for twenty years, stewarding the long term sustainability the company envisioned when they purchased it twenty six years ago.  Using an adaptation of “rice trunks” - a low country mechanical system brought from Africa by Gullah slaves, Snyder has managed the flow of water through the marshes.  Additionally he has planted nurseries of hardwood trees, pines and magnolias, and he and his family hunt and fish the land.

Most importantly to the “Agrihood”, Snyder has brought in a collection of like-minded farmers who combine productivity with respect for the health of the land.  They “lease” the land free of charge in exchange for agreement to adhere to sustainable farming practices.

Sidi Limehouse, of Rosebank Farms cultivates 100 acres of beans, corn, tomatoes, peppers, kale, greens and okra, many of which are heirloom varieties.

Freeman Farms is a fourth generation family farm harvesting kale, collards, potatoes and tomatoes on fifty acres.

Kiawah River Beehives maintains five beehives with more than 50,000 bees in each hive. They realize more than 50 pounds of honey.

Three Gates Cattle hold about twenty acres of grassland pasture for heirloom Belted Galloway Beef Cattle graze.

Bohicket Blooms raises specialty cut flowers.

The Goatery is a sanctuary of sorts.  A herd of more than 90 Nubian, Alpine and Lamancha goats are joined by several miniature donkeys who protect the herd and a new addition of small Kune Kune pig who “clean up “ after the goats.  The Goatery’s artisan cheese now supplies 90% of the goat cheese for downtown Charleston restaurants.  Additionally they host Goat Yoga!

Storey Farms’s  Jeremy Storey has about 3,000 free range egg laying hens and 1,500 meat chickens (who are uniquely feed goat milk) from the Goatery and are prized by the local restaurants.

The symbiotic relationship of the farms:  donkeys protect the goats; the pigs clean up after the goats - the goats help feed the hens and clear brush for the farm.   The bees pollinate the grasses, flowers and crops, and their honey goes into the goat cheese.

The farms all participate in the Kiawah CSA - Community Supported Agriculture where property owners purchase shares and are delivered weekly seasonal harvests of produce, eggs, honey and cut flowers.  The farmers are also free to sell to outside markets.

Reversing the trend of a traditional major development, The Beach Company is slowly building South Carolina’s first, and most intriguing “Arigrihood” - where a working, environmentally responsible farms are integrated with a residential development.  As Mr Limehouse frequently says;  “I am against development, but what they are doing at Kiawah River Farm is as good as it can get.  I’m glad to help”.




by Karen Duffy MG 2020


This year, I had the honor of working with a young man on a project that would help him attain the rank of Eagle Scout within the Boy Scouts.  After reviewing many options provided by the Boy Scouts, the candidate, Trenton, decided to complete a beautification project at the Hiram E. Mann Chapter of the Tuskegee Airman Chapter, Inc. located in Walterboro, SC.  When Jan Litton initially sent the volunteer request to the Tri-County Master Gardeners, I knew immediately that I wanted to help with this project. As the MG volunteer, I was to assist Trenton with garden design, plant selection, layout and installation of plants.   To pay for supplies, Trenton was required to obtain funding.  He initially set a goal of $2,000 – His GoFundMe page quickly surpassed that and he raised just over $3,000 for the project!  Trenton also had to organize volunteers, purchase supplies and arrange delivery.  Additionally, he had to provide lunch, water and shade for the volunteers on the day of installation and basically act like the president of a small company to get the project completed.   

I first met with Trenton and his parents at the site in Walterboro to discuss his goals and the project in general.  I was slightly disheartened; the site could not have had worse growing conditions for any type of plant.  The soil is very sandy and because of a slight hill, subject to erosion.  During the summer, the site would be subjected to hot sun from about 11 a.m. until sunset, as well as reflected light and heat from a brick school building and asphalt parking lot that was located next to the Chapter.   

As you see in the pictures, there are two signs in front of the Chapter building; one is a historical marker placed by the State of South Carolina, the other is a brown sign with the chapter name, and slightly behind that, an American flag.  Trenton had already used pinecones to layout 2 small garden beds that would be planted around the 2 signs.   After standing back and looking at the area, I suggested the installation of a single, raised garden bed using retaining wall block or landscape timbers, that would encompass both signs.   I collected soil for analysis, took measurements to help estimate the number of wall block that would be needed.   Over the next 2 months, as Trenton solicited for donations and volunteers, I spoke with him and his parents in person, by text and by email on numerous occasions.  I provided a detailed list of supplies needed for the wall construction, drew a simple raised garden bed design and placement of plants, as well as a suggested list of perennials to use that would grow well in full sun and need minimal water once established.   The garden installation was scheduled for May 29.   The two weeks prior saw a flurry of purchasing plants, purchasing and arranging delivery of compost, top soil and wood mulch.  May 29 turned out to be a beautiful day, about 20 degrees cooler than the previous 2 weeks.  Trenton and I used a hose to lay out the design to his satisfaction; he then got his workforce together and began to install the retaining wall.  There were about 30 volunteers who took turns doing the heavy manual labor.  Once the wall was completed, the enclosure was filled with top soil, compost, and lime (per soil analysis) and tilled in using shovels and rakes.  (It was a blessing to have all these volunteers, mostly young men, to help!)   The garden was then leveled using a tamper.  At that point, I worked with Trenton to determine the placement of the plants and made sure he was satisfied prior to planting.  While I was focused on that, Trenton had his volunteers dig a small trench about 12 inches deep from a faucet at the building to the garden for an irrigation system.  Once both were completed, Trenton and I finished the install of the irrigation line and emitters, added a deep layer of wood chips and we were DONE!  About 10.5 hours of work!    The difference in the before and after was amazing!  The Club President stopped by and was thrilled at the final result!  The site was definitely enhanced by the garden!  It was also very low maintenance for the Club, requiring little more than occasional weeding. 

I am happy to report that Trenton successfully passed his Eagle Scout Board of Review in July and has attained the Eagle Scout rank! 
** The Tuskegee Airmen Memorial is located at
1370 Tuskegee Airmen Drive, Walterboro, SC **


by Yvette Richardson Guy MG 2003


Rhapsody in Green, A Writer, An Obsession, A Laughably Small Excuse for a Vegetable Garden (London: Kyle Books, 2016) by Charlotte Mendelson is a delightful, witty book about the particular madness that afflicts committed (no pun intended) gardeners.  As Mendelson notes in the first few pages, “Gardening is not a hobby but a passion: a mess of excitement and compulsion and urgency and desire.” (p. 7) The book is very personal; it is helpful to know a bit about the author before you dive into it.
Charlotte Mendelson was born in 1972 in London but spent much of her childhood in Oxford where her father was a professor of international law.  Her Jewish grandparents and extended family fled Prague (they called themselves Hungarian speaking Czechs) in 1939 to settle in London.  Despite (or perhaps because of) earning a degree in history, Charlotte Mendelson blossomed into a prominent novelist winning all sorts of impressive awards.  She also is a contributing essayist to New Yorker magazine and other publications such as The Guardian. Mendelson frequently shows up as a television commentator in England.  She continues to live and struggle to garden in London with the loving company of her wife novelist Joanna Briscoe and their two children.

Charlotte Mendelson on her roof terrace. Photograph: Liz Seabrook/The Guardian

When the novelist moved house, she left her beloved garden behind. But over lockdown, she discovered the joy of starting over.

Just like so many garden books before it, Rhapsody in Green organized itself around one year with a garden, beginning in winter and ending in winter.  Mendelson looked into her cold dilapidated brick-wall-enclosed back garden measuring about 11 by 8 meters, full of problems, and wrote, “But gardening had me in its silken grip, just as it has you.” (p. 6)  With that, the gardening went into obsessive overdrive—and not just any gardening, edible gardening.  Mendelson also had a passion for cooking.  In her tiny garden, that meant for a plant to earn its space, she had to be able to eat it as well as grow it.  During the winter, most flat surfaces in her kitchen held trays or other containers of seeds being sprouted early anticipating a dizzying rush at the first sign of spring to fill out the dreary back garden.  Referring to the flood of baby plants, Mendelson noted, “No longer am I confined to garden-centre jalapeños:  soon we will feast on Black Tongued Scorpions, Bulgarian Carrots, Carolina Reapers, Friar’s Hats…...” (p.33)

Mendelson’s single-minded pursuit of a courtyard packed with lush edible plants was entertaining, informative and a little disturbing.  Do not get in that woman’s way because she will go right through you.  Her doggedness was enviable, especially when it came to apples, a fruit she adored.  Growing even a dwarf apple tree that was productive inside a small walled urban garden seemed a fool’s errand, but Mendelson tried repeatedly armed with tons of research into varieties and techniques (espalier defeated her).  Beyond apples, the range of plants and herbs she gave a try was amazing, and I made notes often about the ones that sparked my curiosity.  While I am not as driven as Mendelson, many elements of her book were familiar to me.  For example, “Will I never halt the annual cycle of needing more pots, buying more compost to fill the pots, buying more plants to use up the compost and then needing more pots for those plants and on and on to the last syllable of recorded time or bankruptcy, whichever comes first?” (p. 110)
Adding to Rhapsody in Green’s many charms was its full index.  Honestly, I made little use of the index because I so enjoyed reading each page that there was no need to skip around in search of any subject.  However, in the future the index would be a handy tool to guide me back to some plant or subject in particular.  Being a writer and lover of literature, Mendelson also included a reference or further reading list which she called “The Blacklist.”  These were books that she referred to in the text, some repeatedly such as Joy Larkcom’s Creative Vegetable Gardening.  It is a good guide to English books on the practicalities of gardening, and a few of the books came from people who were professional writers in other fields.  Like Rhapsody in Green, nearly all of the listed books are British so expect some cultural translation to be required.
I do recommend you read Rhapsody in Green.  The writer is smart, witty, enthusiastic and aware of her own lunacy.  It is entertaining, full of information and somehow soothing.  With that in mind, I give Mendelson the last word, “If you can find the perfect armchair garden-reading, it will soothe you better than almost anything other than really desolate Icelandic crime fiction.”  (p. 208)




by Joanne Schleich 2020


End of Season:

Use a stiff brush or hose to get the dirt off. If there is sap on your tools, use a paint scraper being careful not to gouge the tool. If there is rust on it, use sandpaper, starting with a light grit. Then wipe it down with alcohol, with at least 25%content, this will kill most virus’. DO NOT use bleach as it will corrode the metal. When it is all cleaned, wipe down any wooden parts with mineral oil.

During the Gardening Season:

After each use, wipe down the tools used with an alcohol wipe. If you cut a rose, wipe it down before you cut the echinacea. This prevents spreading diseases between plants. Long handled tools such as shovels, rakes etc., can be plunged into a 5gal bucket of sand. NOT soil! Some gardeners will add a qt. of oil to a filled bucket and dip the tools up and down to clean, sharpen and oil them. Wipe them with a dry towel after, to get the excess off.

Two Blade Cutting Tools:

Check to see if they are dull or out of alignment. Disassemble them, you may have to use a lubricating oil the first time (WD-40). Reassemble them using a light machine oil (3in1). To sharpen them, use a hand file, grinding stone or drill attachment, whatever you feel comfortable with. There is no right or wrong tool.


Tools with wooden parts shouldn’t be stored in contact with soil or concrete. The moisture causes rot, and dulls the tool. This would be the most important time to oil down the wooden parts. Hanging them on a wall or in gardening bucket is fine, as long as it’s clean.

Clean gardening tools help stop plant diseases from spreading. Sharp tools cause less damage to plants, roots, stems and branches. All this encourages quicker healing, which means less chance for disease. Check regularly for rust to keep ahead of it. When buying new tools, get stainless steel, they are easier to clean.






by Judy Dunbar 2016

A Comprehensive Guide to 
watercolor, graphite, colored pencil,
vellum, pen and ink, egg tempera, oils, printmaking, and more.


The Woodin side of my family tree provided the artistic gene and you either inherited it, or you didn’t; I was not one of the fortunate ones. So, when the book, Botanical Art Techniques, edited by Carol Woodin and Robin A. Jess was recently published, I felt drawn to take a look. Seeing the name Woodin again, particularly connected to botanical illustration, looked like a good omen for me to try my hand at this illusive art. I would dearly love to draw a decent flower!

I have no idea if Carol Woodin and I are related or not, but her surname isn’t common. Plus, I’ll admit this comprehensive guide wasn’t my first introduction to her work. Back in the 1990s, I had bought a couple of reproductions of her orchid monographs at the Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew) and today, the two prints continue to hang on my living room wall. Her finely detailed watercolors even attracted the attention of my cousin, who scratched his head about the coincidence, too.

With this unusual connection, it’s nice to see that Carol has won many awards, received international recognition and has been included in many well-respected publications for her own art work.  As well as producing floral images herself, she shares her hard-earned skills by teaching, organizing and curating country-wide exhibits.  

Not to ignore the other editor, Robin A. Jess is well-versed in this field, too. She began as an illustrator at the New York Botanical Gardens, and later became its coordinator for their Botanical Art and Illustration Certificate program. Together, Carol and Robin make a good team in which their integrated experiences contribute to developing a comprehensive guide of botanical art techniques that address the needs of neophytes like me, yet, provides inspiration and hints to more experienced artists.
The guide is primarily divided into 3 main parts – drawing botanical subjects in black and white, including graphite, pen and ink skills; botanical subjects in colored pencil and watercolor and specialized techniques and composition. In the tutorials, other artists provide applied and advanced instruction. Each of their images includes documentation about the medium, the size, and the number of hours for completion, making the publication a friendly and collaborative affair. The variety of illustrations, diagrams, and drawings along with clear text allow for easy viewing and instruction. Aside from the general techniques, further discussions include: caring for cut flowers, working with plants in nature, understanding basic botany, setting up a studio, and hints for organizing a sketchbook or journal. Carol and Robin were meticulous about including everything one needs to experiment with botanical illustration. 

The two editors deserve much credit for this well-organized, comprehensive guide, Botanical Art Techniques, but its beauty also lies in its collaboration.  As a project, The American Society of Botanical Artists (ASBA), as well as a multitude of other botanical illustrators have worked together to share their skills and passion for art and flowers.  For anyone who loves plants and wants to try their hand at illustration, this is the book to buy; you won’t be sorry. With so much information, perhaps even I can learn to draw a decent flower. 

P.S.      Guess it’s time to drop Carol Woodin a line and check out the genealogy thing.         



by Jan Hillis 2020 


Gingers were confusing me. Why are such an assortment of plants that have so little in common, called gingers? I needed to know more, and hope you do too.
In Zone 6 my only experience with ginger was in small bottles in the spice aisle. I now know that is Zingiber officianale. One of my favorites, North Carolina State Extension’s site says this is often confused with “common ginger” that is Asarum canadense, which is nothing whatsoever like it. This is why I sometimes prefer binomial nomenclature. There are almost 2,000 types of ginger. We’re going to stick with the ones I know personally. I’ll start at the bottom and work my way up. 

In the spring there is Curcuma elata, which I consider a bottom bloomer. Often the stunning pink blossoms appear before the leaves, as pictured below. 
All curcumas which are native to Southeast Asia, are called hidden gingers according to the smart people at Texas’ Aggie Horticulture. BUT - Tim Chapman, a leading authority and grower writes:  “A recent study showed that every time someone refers to all Curcuma as ‘Hidden Ginger’ an angel falls from heaven and lands on a cute puppy. – internet source. Don’t be an angel/puppy killer!” As a result, we won’t be following the Aggie advice here.

There are both spring and summer blooming species. Curcuma elata appreciate well drained soil and light filtered shade. They can grow to be eight feet tall, reputedly, the tallest of all the curcumas and are one of the hardiest. Southern Living has a blurb about ginger online that says these grow to be 67 feet tall. I think they dashed past a dash. This photo was taken on Johns Island, May 2016.

Another lowdown ginger, i.e. next to the soil bloomer is the old Zingiber rubens, common name cardamon. I say old because when I first started researching this plant, NC State Extension had zing-ee-ber as the pronunciation key for Amomum subulatum. Huh? Yep, they had the genus as the A thing and the phonetic as the Z thing, I promise. But you’ll have to trust me on this because they have currently fixed it to be Amomum subulatum consistently. The Smithsonian Institute had both names as published, with Amomum as a comparable and the flower pictured there is also simply comparable to rubens.  When searching in the Missouri Botanical Garden site for Amomum(!), it returned Elettaria cardamomum, common name Cardamom. I have had this pretty arching, foliage plant survive in my garden through two winters, the most recent of which was brutal by Lowcountry standards. I wish I could find a definitive reference to the genus change on this plant, but I have not. The Cardamon spice is made from the seeds produced. Flowers are said to be edible - I wouldn’t.
Shampoo Ginger is not a bottom bloomer, note the stem pictured below. It is, by all references I find, now in the genus Zingiber, but NC State says it was previously Amomum. Yep, just backward from the previous plant discussed. This is noted as invasive in North Carolina. It’s not on the Southeast Early Detection Network application that I use. 
Zingiber zerumbet, aka pinecone ginger, aka shampoo, is really a cool plant. The plant’s cone is like a cup that you can tip over and the shampoo just pours out. The liquid has a slippery, soapy feel and a ginger scent. The plant is said to like a wet environment unlike most other “gingers” and is hardy from Climate Zone 8a to 10b. Deep shade to part shade, grow this and you could forgo the pricey Awapuhi, store bought shampoos. In the plants that I have observed, Zz’s foliage is not as tall as the Amomum subulatum, yet I find them similar and very attractive, both are great looking tropical plants. But then there is that invasive plant warning...
So that brings me to middle bloomers. Let’s look at the often called Tricolor Ginger, currently from multiple educational institutions,  Stromanthe sanguinea ‘Triostar’ although some Stomanthes have moved.  The information provided is from observation and another favorite source, the University of Florida.  Triostar’s blossoms make me practically giddy with happiness. However, that is not even close to the reason to grow this in your garden, it’s the foliage, y’all.   

Having visited my old garden in Mt. P. recently, I was surprised to see this plant where I’d planted it in 2015 or 2016. It had survived the huge (by local standards) snow of the winter of 2017-2018 and its sister plants have been in our new gardens since 2018. The winter of 20-21, brought unusually cold temperatures and a really late frost here in southwest Charleston County. Routinely, I simply trim off the ugly leaves, this year that was everything and while they aren’t large my plants are really, really pretty now. Although I tried to find some sun for the Mt. P. Stromanthe, now I’m growing them in the dappled shade of mature live oaks. University of Florida says the sun will burn the leaves and also that with the right conditions they will grow to three feet tall. I’ve never seen them that tall, but I have seen big ones bloom, and bloom well, in full shade. They like humidity. I don’t.
For the middle bloomers, what the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension calls exclusively the hidden gingers, So in kindness to puppies, the Bulldogs beat the Aggies, as seems appropriate. UGA says they are Curcuma petiolata. Tim Chapman disagrees on the species and says the common hidden gingers are probably more closely related to Curcuma longa (Turmeric) than the petiolata species. Whatevs, I have gorgeous pink and white ones a friend gave me and so naturally, I bought more similar plants in bright colors at a big box store this year. The big box stores market those as Torch gingers which may actually be Curcuma alimanda, or their hybrids, judging from info from the Aggies again. There are 100 species of Curcuma.

Timothy Chapman says the way you decide how much sun that gingers can take is by the width of the leaves, the wider the leaves the more shade they require.  I had some of the pink Curcuma whatsit , hidden type, growing effectively in the dark.They thrived and were blooming in the gloom. I’ve been taught that you can divide gingers anytime and I have seemingly had success with transplanting these in the scorching heat of July and August. 
While we’re blooming in the middle let’s talk Dancing Girls, Globba globulifera, a purple and Globba sherwoodiana ‘White Dragon’, a white offering also called a Dancing Girl. The first time I saw these strange flowers I thought perhaps they were gingers from the foliage, but the unique flowers perplexed me. If you are lucky enough to find some, they can be propagated from their bulbils. Timothy Chapman, the really smart guy, says, “Globba winitii – The “Mauve Dancing Girl” is one of the most beautiful of all the gingers. It is also one of the longest lasting cut flowers, of any plants. The elegant pendant blooms will last up to a month in a vase without showing any damage.   In the garden the last even longer and prefer a well drained shady spot.”
Shell ginger, the plant I know as Alpinia zerumbet ‘Variegata’ is a great plant for lighting up a shady spot. A search on the NC Extension site currently has the phonetic spelling “al -PIN-ee-ah” and the spoken pronunciation the same, but where the binomial should be it says Renealmia. So, I think we’re moving again. The chartreuse in this plant’s foliage is grand, just lop off any foliage that’s not to your taste. 

A local tropicals expert says they too can be divided in the ground, anytime, by simply using a shovel to slice off a cluster. I’ve had dramatic winter damage, but the plants have always bounded back for me. Mine that reside in more shade seem to bloom more frequently than the morning sun guys do. Even after a rough winter and the resulting pruning my guys are now approximately 4-5 feet tall. In his book The Tropical Look, Robert Lee Riffle says that the blossoms on the species Alpinia zerumbet, that is the ones that are not variegated, are even prettier. His photograph shows a stunning cascading lavender flower. 
I really, really love the spirals, what I thought were Costus - may be not. Copied from the UFL Extension site: “Crepe ginger, over which there's considerable disagreement on its true botanical name: Cheilcostus speciosus, Hellenia speciosus, Costus speciosus?”  

This recent addition has been doing really well for me, I simply pluck off the droopy blossoms and more appear as the cone extends upward - it’s really cool and pretty. Hoping they will replicate as I expect and there will be so many that I’ll tire of the maintenance.
My new Cheiclostus speciosus is pictured.


This gorgeous plant is in New Orleans, but I’ve seen it in Mt. Pleasant as well. The label says: Costus speciosus ‘Variegata’ and as I recall the leaves have a fuzzy texture.

Now we come to Butterfly gingers. All are fragrant, and although each individual blossom lasts only a day or two in cut flower arrangements, the new ones continue to open, so they make a great display. Hedychium coronarium, is the common white butterfly ginger. In our gardens, they have attracted hummingbird moths at night, which I think is extraordinary. They reproduce rapidly and are vigorous. I had a patch bloom from July 5th, (the donor’s birthday) through Thanksgiving one year. July 5th is pretty darn early for them though. You will be  amazed by the Butterfly Gingers’ longevity and fragrance. I deadhead the spent cones only.
It is said that these must be divided periodically to sustain continuing blooms, but a case could be made, well, otherwise. This photo is of a patch that in the last six years has simply been tidied in dormancy, usually January or February. These, pictured at left, are in the first public garden in the United States, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
Hedychium coccineum ‘Disney’ is a widely planted orange, I’d call it peachy. I was given this great peachy one that is a little darker than the kind that seems most common, ‘Elizabeth’. One shoot has exceeded six feet tall. (Take that, Curcuma elata!) It has a reddish color in the stems, differentiating it from its white neighbors. I also have a great yellow H. coccineum. They lack the fragrance of the Hedychium coronarium and have, to me, very different, longer flowers.
At right is Hedychium hybrid  ‘Tahitian Flame’ growing in the New Orleans Botanical Garden. I observed that all the gingers grown there were in dappled shade. 

Mr. Chapman opines, “Curcuma taxonomy is up there with rocket science.” That said, what I would call the Siam Tulips, are among my favorites. These are Curcuma hybrids that are seasonally available at the big box stores. If you want matchy, matchy mates, to grow together, even the color of the blossoms at the stores can be deceiving. The red stripe or lack thereof in the leaf can be helpful in determining identification and kindred spirits for your garden. These may be the cultivar 'Shadow'.

Remember where you plant all your gingers, the ones that are deciduous are pretty late to sprout, since they need really warm soil temps to emerge. They are exotics and are accustomed to a rainy season; they bloom and grow between the heavy rains, in their natural habitat.
Kaempferia rotunda -  Said to be a hosta replacement for the deep south - Timothy Chapman’s favorite - and that says it all.
Photo taken at the New Orleans Botanical Garden: 
Kaempferia species ‘Raven’



by Christopher Burtt Clemson Extension Horticulture Agent


Cooler weather and shorter days may portend the inevitable start of winter, but that period in between where the leaves are falling is the ideal time in the garden. Much like Spring, the Autumn is a busy time harvesting, pruning and planting all needing to be done. 
For Vegetable Planting Calendar, visit  
September: Summer is winding down and Fall is beginning. Summer Annuals and Perennials are beginning to fade. Turf grass should be slowing growth as nighttime temperatures decrease. And Summer vegetables are either ready to harvest or coming to an end which means its time to start vegetables for the fall.

Continue mowing the turf at a normal height until the nighttime temperatures begin to cool. Once it begins to cool, raise the mower height to allow more foliar growth in preparation for the first frost and dormancy. Avoid applying fertilizer, especially any Nitrogen, as this could increase disease pressure. If concerned about winter weeds, an application of Preemergent herbicide should be applied at the middle of September in preparation.

Pruning, Propagation and Fertilizing: 
Dead heading of perennials and Annuals can be continued, and some perennials should be cut back after blooming. Cut back any overgrown perennials or herbs in preparation for overwintering. Propagation of some non-hardy perennials should be down now. Dividing and replanting of overcrowded perennials should be done at this time: such as Beebalm, Daylilies, Coreopsis.

Many Spring and Summer Vegetables should still be harvested based on the individual species and the time in which they were planted. Sweet potatoes should be ready to dig and certain fruits such as Fig should be ready to harvest.
Planting of Annuals and Vegetables: 
Follow the HGIC planting calendar to find the appropriate date to plant certain vegetables. Sow Hardy annual seeds such as Calendula, Sweet Alyssum and Larkspur. Planting of a second set of warm season crops should be done, such as Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplants, Squash, Cucumber and Beans. Some Fall Crops are ready to be planted such as Broccoli, Cauliflower and Kale.

Planting of Perennials, Shrubs and Trees:
Patience is still needed for many plants, but garden planning and soil preparation should be done soon to help when it is time to plant. Soil preparation should include the addition of compost and organic matter.

Insect and Disease Issues:
The Fall, unfortunately, is also the time in which many disease and insect issues become prevalent. Watch for Fall Webworms and Armyworms as they become an issue quickly. Apply fungicide to Camellias if Flower Blight has been an issue in the past. Clean up diseased leaves from Hydrangeas and others to help with control of leaf spots.
Turf issues will include large patch and gray leaf spot. Be sure to only apply irrigation once a week (if needed) and do so in the morning. Irrigating too often is the biggest cause of disease pressure within most turf grass.
Avoid adding any Nitrogen fertilizers on certain plants as this can exacerbate disease and insect issues, as well as create tender growth too close to a frost.
October: Fall is officially here and with that, planting and winterizing of plants is to be done now. It is also the ideal time to plant many of our ornamental shrubs and trees.

Mowing should be slowing down so keep the mowers high to only mulch up leaves. Only fertilizer added to turf is Potassium (depending on soil test) in preparation for the winter. Planting of Ryegrass can be done now to cover thin areas or if just over seeding the dormant turf. Keep in mind, constant seeding of Ryegrass each year may lead to a buildup of thatch and does hinder warm season turf development.

Pruning, Propagation and Fertilizing: 
Fertilize only newly planted vegetables and annuals. Cutting back of certain perennials is done now in preparation for the winter. Collect Annual seeds of any plants you wish to save such as Marigolds, Zinnias and Cosmos. Harvest seeds of any annual herbs for replanting such as Basil. Continue to divide certain overcrowded perennials. Take Hardwood Cuttings from shrubs.
Harvest Pumpkins if planted at the right time in preparation for Halloween.

Planting of Annuals and Vegetables: 
Begin Planting many leafy green vegetables such as Lettuce (use succession planting), Spinach and Kale. Root Vegetables such as Turnips, Carrots and Radishes can be planted now. Plant Garlic Bulbs and Onion Seeds. Prepare and Plant Strawberry Crowns for better spring crops. Plant ornamental, hardy annual transplants such as Kale, Cabbage, Pansies and Snapdragons. Any area not planted be sure to plant a good winter cover crop or just heavily mulch. Plant Spring Blooming Bulbs now.

Planting of Perennials, Shrubs and Trees:
Trees and Shrubs can and should be planted now to allow proper root development and establishment before next Summer. Purchase healthy Plant stock from nurseries and be sure to plant appropriately. Most perennials should be planted now as well to allow for healthy roots by next spring.

Insect and Disease Issues:
Continue to monitor for disease in Turf grasses, especially large patch. Remove any diseased leaves that have fallen as well as prune out any diseased or dead branches from various plants.

Turf Grass should be entering Dormancy now. If concerned, continue to monitor and control any winter weeds. Clean Mowers and sharpen blades in preparation for next Spring.

Pruning, Propagation and Fertilizing: 
Prune certain Roses and Hydrangeas. Hold of on significant pruning of other shrubs until late winter. Cut back Asparagus is planted.

Planting of Annuals and Vegetables:
Continue Planting certain Hardy Annuals. Continue Planting Leafy Greens such as Lettuce. Continue Planting Garlic.

Planting of Perennials, Shrubs and Trees:
Slow down on the planting as Plant stock is harder to choose from for deciduous plants during dormancy.

Insect and Disease Issues:
Continue to monitor for disease in evergreen shrubs and trees. Insect issues should be slower with the cooler temperatures though can still be an issue for Brassicas and other vegetables. 

Submissions for the next Taproot Magazine!

Looking for Taproot Magazine articles!         

The Taproot Magazine  is a great opportunity for Master Gardeners to learn more about an area of gardening or horticulture that really interests him or her.  Pick a topic, research it if needed, and write a short article or do a photographic essay to share your knowledge with other Master Gardeners.   Some ideas to consider: gardening passions, a favorite plant, something new you have learned recently, an interesting gardening question from the MG office, problems with bugs and diseases, a gardening outing, a class, a book, your own garden or a garden you love.   ALL IDEAS ARE WELCOME.  

Please be sure to provide researched based information!

Please contact Robyn Bradley at 843-693-8719 or with your questions or thoughts, or just start writing.  The deadline for submissions to the next Taproot Magazine is  January 30th, 2022. 


The Taproot is published every quarter by the Tri-County Clemson Extension Service and its Master Gardener program including Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester Counties. 

The Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race,color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or marital or family status, and a equal opportunity employer. Clemson University cooperating with U.S. Department of Agriculture, South Carolina Counties, Extension Service, Clemson, S.C.
Issued in Furtherance of Cooperative Extension work in Agriculture and Home Economics, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914

Copyright © 2021 Clemson Extension, All rights reserved.

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