Timely Tips: April 2014
Plant: After a strange and cold winter, it’s finally time to plant warm-season vegetables in all but the northernmost parts of the state. That list includes tomatoes, peppers, beans, corn, squash, melons, cucumbers, eggplant and, later, okra, southern peas and sweet potatoes. Warm-season annuals as cool-season types decline. Perennials from 6-inch and 1-gallon pots into well-prepared garden beds. Warm-season lawngrasses, including bermuda, St. Augustine, zoysia and buffalograss. Herbs of the dozens of different types. Container plants for the patio and entryway. Use high-quality potting soil and long-lasting plants. Overgrown houseplants can be repotted into larger containers. Plant container-grown roses into raised beds of well-prepared garden soil.
Prune: Azaleas, quince, bridal wreath, forsythia, wisteria and Carolina jessamine immediately after they finish blooming. Reshape the plants so they can retain compact forms. Remove errant branches from elaeagnus, Lady Banksia roses, abelias and other plants that send out vigorous shoots. Low limbs that cast excessive shade on turf areas can be removed now. Seal cut ends of oaks to prevent entry of diseases. “Pinch” growing tips out of plants that get lanky, to keep them more compact (e.g., mums, fall asters, copper plants, coleus, salvias).
Fertilize: Apply high-nitrogen or all-nitrogen fertilizer for burst of growth in lawn. Same food will work well with crape myrtles, althaeas, also spring-flowering shrubs and vines that have finished blooming. Container plants with timed-release product, also with water-soluble product. Add iron and sulfur supplements to correct chlorosis (yellowed leaves with dark green veins, most prominent on newest growth). Keep all iron products off surfaces that could be stained.
On the Lookout: Apply “broadleafed” weedkiller spray to control any weed that isn’t a grass, notably bur clover, dandelions, thistles, dichondra and poison ivy. Caterpillars can quickly devour garden plants’ foliage. Use Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.) for looping types, and either Sevin or B.t. for types that do not arch their backs as they move. Continue weekly rose sprays for blackspot and powdery mildew. Remove rose plants that show the dramatically thorny, strong bull cane growth that indicates presence of Rose Rosette Virus. There is no control. You must dig and remove affected roses, roots and all. Continue fruit sprays for insect and disease prevention. Fungal leaf spots can be controlled with a broad-spectrum fungicide. Control snails, slugs and pillbugs with Sevin dust or baits.