Gardening This Weekend: June 29, 2023

Here are the mid-summer assignments for the first weekend of July. If it’s too hot in the daytime, do them by the light of your 4th of July sparklers.


  • Fall tomatoes from transplants immediately. See related story this issuel
  • New turfgrass from sod, or bermuda from seed. Water morning and evening for the first couple of weeks until roots are established.
  • Fall annual color. Copper plants, firebush, purple fountaingrass, fanflower, periwinkles, pentas, angelonias, marigolds, zinnias, celosias. It’s especially easy to pot these up into decorative patio containers for a quick splash of color.
  • Fall perennials as they appear in nurseries (or order by mail very soon): fall asters, Mexican bush salvias, Mexican mint marigold, spider lilies, autumn crocus, naked lady lilies, oxblood lilies.

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  • Dead and broken branches from shade trees and shrubs. Leave no stubs by making all cuts flush with remaining trunks, limbs.
  • Flowerbuds as they form on coleus, basil, caladiums and lamb’s ear. Flowers stop further production of the desirable foliage.
  • To be on the ultra-safe side, wait another week or two to prune oaks. Plant pathologists tell us we need to wait to resume pruning until summer’s heat sends the oak wilt fungus into complete dormancy for the rest of this year. Seal all cuts with black pruning paint.


  • Patio pots and hanging baskets each time that you water them with a soluble, high-nitrogen fertilizer in a diluted mix. Every fourth or fifth time that you water, soak the plants thoroughly to redissolve excess mineral salts and leach them out the drain holes so they won’t burn the plants’ roots.
  • Apply iron amendment to chlorotic plants in alkaline conditions. Telltale symptoms of iron deficiency: yellowed leaves with dark green veins, most prominently displayed on the newest growth at the ends of the branches. Keep all iron products off concrete and other masonry surfaces that could be stained, also painted surfaces.
  • Bermuda lawns with a lawn food containing all nitrogen (no phosphorus). Avoid nitrogen on St. Augustine lawns until early September if gray leaf spot has been a problem.

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  • Webworms forming large, draping webs over ends of pecan, walnut, and persimmon branches, among others. They won’t kill the trees, but they certainly will make them unsightly. Use long-handled pruning loppers to clip them off when they’re just getting started. Spraying is very difficult when they’re more than 12 or 15 feet high. It’s quite impractical.
  • Bagworms, so far, have not been the big threat they normally are to junipers and other conifers across Texas. When you first see them moving around on your plants, stripping needles as they pull their small bags behind them, that’s the time to apply almost any general-purpose organic or inorganic insecticide to control them.
  • Grasshoppers devouring foliage of vegetables, ornamentals. Sprays should be applied in a downward sweep to coat the pests as they try to fly away. Let your Texas Certified Nursery Professional show you the products available for their control.
  • Large, striped, and low-flying wasps are probably predatory cicada killers (beneficial). They build nests in the ground. Their encounters with cicadas are very noisy, after which they take the paralyzed insects back to serve as food for their larvae. They are harmless to humans unless provoked, at which point their stings can be quite painful.
  • Lace bugs will also cause tan mottling of leaves of Chinquapin and bur oaks, azaleas, Boston ivy, pyracanthas, sycamores, cotoneasters and ceniza (Texas sage). However, with lace bugs you’ll see their black droppings on the backs of the leaves. General-purpose insecticides will stop them, but the leaves will not green back up again.
  • Spider mites, by comparison, cause very tiny mottling on the leaves of marigolds, beans, tomatoes, junipers, and scores of other plant species. You’ll have a hard time seeing the mites on the plants with the naked eye, but if you thump a suspect twig over white paper, you’ll see them trotting around like little red specks of dust. General-purpose insecticides generally offer some degree of control. Read and follow label directions.
  • Leafrollers will attack trailing periwinkle groundcover, sweetgums, redbuds, cotoneasters, pyracanthas, and other landscape plants. Apply systemic insecticide Imidacloprid to prevent them 2-3 weeks prior to normal time of infestations.
Posted by Neil Sperry
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