Gardening This Weekend: July 6, 2017
There is a pretty good chance the 4th of July wasn’t a prime gardening day at your place. Nor was last weekend. So here are things you need to do between now and next Monday to get you caught up.
• Fall tomatoes. This weekend is your final call for getting them in the ground (unless you’re in Deep South Texas, where first freezes don’t happen until December. See story from two weeks ago for critical information.
• Summer and fall annuals, but stick with types that can handle the hottest of weather. Lantana, cleome, amaranthus, purslane, moss rose, copper plant, Cora periwinkles, purple fountaingrass, pentas, angelonias, fanflower, purpleheart and others.
• Crape myrtles while still in full flower in nurseries so you can get exact shade that you want. Check nursery label carefully to be sure variety you’re choosing will fit space you have available for it.
• Crape myrtles to remove sprouts that are coming up from their bases. That presumes your plants did not suffer freeze damage in January. If their tops are thinned with weak or dead branches, you probably need to train those strong basal shoots into new trunks to replace the frozen ones.
• Errant branches off elaeagnus, abelias, Lady Banksia roses and other rampant growers to maintain an attractive and natural growth form.
• Pinch growing tips out of coleus, basil, lambs ear and santolina plants that have tried to bloom. Flowers stop production of new leaves. Pinch the “Jack-in-the-pulpit” flowers out of caladiums and elephant ears for the same reason.
• Bermudagrass to keep it low, dense and dark green. It’s best not to feed St. Augustine until early September due to likelihood of gray leaf spot development (see below).
• Iron-deficient plants that show yellowing leaves with dark green veins most prominently on the newest growth first. Use iron combined with sulfur, but keep all iron products away from masonry and painted surfaces that could be stained.
• Container plants regularly. Their soil reservoirs are limited, so nutrients drain away quickly. Use water-soluble, high-nitrogen type food every third or fourth time that you water. Supplement it with a timed-release product as well.
ON THE LOOKOUT
• Gray leaf spot is showing up in St. Augustine lawns. It is a by-product of excessive water and nitrogen in the presence of hot summer weather. Affected St. Augustine turns yellow in large washes across the lawn. Your quick instinct is to apply nitrogen, but that makes it all worse. Actually, do just the opposite. Withhold nitrogen between mid-June and early September. Apply a labeled turf fungicide to stop the current problem, but the change in feeding should be all that you need to do long-term.
• Chinch bugs, by comparison, show up in the hottest, sunniest parts of your St. Augustine lawn. The grass will appear dry, but watering won’t bring it around. You can see the BB-sized black insects with white diamonds on their backs on the soil surface if you look at the boundaries of the dying and healthy grass. Turf insecticides kill chinch bugs quickly.
• Lacebugs are taking color out of the foliage of azaleas, sycamores, bur oaks, pyracanthas, Boston ivy, cotoneasters, ceniza, loropetalums and several other plants currently. Spray with a contact insecticide to eliminate them instantly, but consider a systemic next year. Remember to apply it earlier than this next year.