Gardening This Weekend: July 4, 2019

We’re sending e-gardens out a couple of days early just in case you find a little extra time to tend to your plantings. Here are the most critical things to accomplish.

Fall tomatoes. This weekend is pretty much prime time for getting them in the ground (unless you’re in Deep South Texas, where first freezes don’t happen until December. See last week’s story for more details.
Crape myrtles while 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.
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.

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.
Errant branches off elaeagnus, abelias, Lady Banksia roses and other rampant growers to maintain an attractive and natural growth form.
Crape myrtles to remove sprouts that are coming up from their bases. On the other hand, if your plants have suffered freeze dieback, prune out the dead wood and train these shoots as the new trunks.

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.
Iron-deficient plants that show yellowing leaves with dark green vines 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.
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).

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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 insecticide next year. Remember to apply it earlier than this next year.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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