Dr. Andy Pulte

Andy grew up in the nursery industry in Grand Island, Nebraska. He received his Ph.D. in plant sciences from the University of Tennessee, where he is now on the faculty in the same department. His current responsibilities include teaching and advising, and he also coordinates UT’s plant sciences undergraduate program. Additionally, he speaks regularly to diverse groups and travels extensively to feed his passion for people and plants. Over his career, he has contributed to a variety of gardening publications and hosted a gardening radio show. He is also an internationally certified arborist. Andy gardens in a residential community north of Knoxville. He seeks out unusual plants for his home garden that inspire questions from those who visit. He and his wife, Beccy, have two outdoor-loving young boys who are always looking for their next adventure.

 

1. What do you like most about gardening in your region?

One of the best parts about living and gardening in the Southeast is that most of us experience some seasonality. I love the ebbs and flows of the changes we go through in every gardening year.

 

2.What’s the biggest challenge to gardening in your region?

Understanding microclimates is by far one of the biggest challenges for gardeners in the Southeast. It takes years in some cases for home gardeners to understand how weather and different exposures in their garden play a role in what they are growing. And it is always changing!

 

3. What plant are you jazzed about in your garden right now?

Conifers are always one of my favorite categories of plants. However, I feel I get more and more enthusiastic about different broadleaf evergreen tea olives (Osmanthus spp. and cvs., Zones 6–11) every year. New cultivars are emerging, and people are starting to think more broadly about other species we utilize in the landscape. If you don’t know this plant, many are sweetly fragrant bloomers in the fall and are a great alternative to common holly (Ilex spp. and cvs., Zones 5–9).

Orange-flowering tea olive
Orange-flowering tea olive (Osmanthus fragrans f. aurantiacus, Zones 7–11) is bursting with apricot-scented light orange blooms in fall. Photo: Paula Gross

 

4. What was the last plant you killed?

I am prone to not listening to other gardeners when they tell me things won’t grow. This has led to many misadventures in growing things such as giant gunnera (Gunnera manicata, Zones 7–10) or blue Himalayan poppies (Meconopsis betonicifolia, Zones 6–8). My latest miss was an attempt at growing red feathers (Echium amoenum, Zones 3–9), which I successfully germinated and planted in my spring garden. It didn’t last long once it fainted in the garden at the first sign of summer humidity.


 

  • plants for late spring
    Southeast Regional Reports

    Plants That Bloom in Late Spring for the Southeast

    There is a sweet spot in the Southeast between the end of spring and the beginning of summer. The ephemeral spring blooms have faded, and summer annuals and perennials are…

  • hydrangeas
    Southeast Regional Reports

    Mastering the Art of Pruning Hydrangeas in the Southeast

    Hydrangeas (Hydrangea spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9) of all kinds are currently among the most popular shrubs with gardeners in the Southeast. Why? First, a flood of improved cultivars has…

  • ‘Walker’s Low’ catmint has periwinkle-colored flowers that absolutely cover the plant in spring. Photo: Andy Pulte
    Southeast Regional Reports

    Perennials With Purple Flowers for the Southeast

    Purple is my number-one flower color. If I’m asked to design a perennial-focused garden, there is very little chance purple doesn’t make an appearance. When I saw the Pantone color…

  • Summer snowflake
    Southeast Regional Reports

    Summer Snowflake Is a Star in the Southeast

    Everyone, not just new gardeners, is enamored by the seasonal display of spring-flowering bulbs. In the Southeast, daffodils (Narcissus spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9) are without a doubt the queens…

  • South Regional Reports

    March Garden To-Do List for the South

    This month has many things to get excited about. Forget all of that “in like a lion” stuff: March in the South is full of gardening tasks and surprises. It’s…

  • Edgeworthia flowers
    Southeast Regional Reports

    Edgeworthia Is a Winter Star for the Southeast

    Edgeworthia (Edgeworthia chrysantha, Zones 7–10) is truly a four-season plant. In summer, it’s covered in beautiful, elongated, 5-inch-long leaves that hold droplets of water on their finely pubescent surfaces. In…

  • South Regional Reports

    South: February Garden To-Do List

    Don’t let any mild days pass by this month. There is plenty to do in the garden. Spring ephemerals are starting their show, and some of the earliest-blooming landscape plants…

  • pruning crape myrtles
    Southeast Regional Reports

    Pruning Crape Myrtles in the Southeast

    Crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia spp. and cvs., Zones 6–9) is one of the most popular and beloved shrubs in the Southeast. But knowing how and when to prune is crucial for…

  • South Regional Reports

    South: January Garden To-Do List

    Don’t tell the folks in the other regions, but gardening doesn’t really grind to a halt for us Southerners in January. We know there will be a few good days…

  • Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
    Southeast Regional Reports

    Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden Is a Southeastern Standout

    Visiting a public garden is one of the best ways to find inspiration. One of the best public gardens in our region is Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia.…