Gardening This Weekend: June 8, 2023

When you get some rainfall, as much of Texas has over the past couple of weeks, the humidity makes climbing temperatures all the more uncomfortable. It’s the start of the summer, and here are the most important tasks to tackle over the weekend.

Crape myrtles while in bloom to ensure you get the colors you want. Be sure each variety’s mature height matches the space you have for it. We have a list of the best types arranged by size and color at our website of The Crape Myrtle Trails of McKinney.
Summer annuals that can handle the heat, including copper plants, firebush, purple fountaingrass, Gold Star esperanza, fanflower, lantanas, purslane, moss rose, angelonias, pentas and Profusion zinnias.
Tropicals, including caladiums, bougainvilleas, crotons, mandevillas, plumbagos, hibiscus, bananas and others.
Turfgrass from sod, plugs or seed soon. It becomes more challenging to start new grass as it turns hotter.

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Prune to remove dead or damaged branches from shrubs. There is still a good bit of winter-killed growth from the cold of February 2021 as well as the Christmas cold spell from 2022.
Erratic new shoots on abelias, Lady Banksia roses and other plants as needed.
Pinch growing tips out of coleus, copper plants, Mexican bush salvias, mums and fall asters to keep plants shorter and to remove flowers that tend to cause new growth to stall out.
Blackberries to remove canes that just bore fruit completely to the ground. (They will never bear fruit again.)

Patio pots, hanging baskets with water-soluble, high-nitrogen food weekly. Keep them growing vigorously for best results. Keep them moist at the same time.
St. Augustine. Since it’s hot already, and since nitrogen promotes development of gray leaf spot, my recommendation is to feed at half the recommended rate, then wait until September to feed again.
Iron and sulfur soil acidifier to correct chlorosis (yellowed leaves with dark green veins that show first on leaves at tip ends of branches).

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Reminder for second application of pre-emergent granules (Dimension, Balan or Halts) to prevent germination of crabgrass and grassburs. First application should have been in late February in South Texas or early March in North Texas. If you did not make that application, there is no point in making this one.
Early blight causes lower leaves of tomatoes to turn bright yellow in rather large blotches. They quickly turn brown and die, making it essential that you apply a labeled fungicide at first signs of infection.
Spider mites on tomatoes, beans and other flowers and vegetables. They cause very fine tan mottling that you soon learn to recognize. If you want to check for their presence, thump a suspect leaf over a sheet of white paper. The mites will be visible on close observation as they begin to move about. How small are the mites? You could fit 20 of them on the head of a pin. Ask your nurseryman to show you insecticides labeled for their control and be sure to spray both top and bottom leaf surfaces. Recheck after 7-10 days and retreat if you find live mite activity.
Insect galls on leaves and twigs of shade and pecan trees cause warty growths on the leaf surfaces, also small twigs. Eggs have been deposited in the plant tissues and the galls are produced as protection for the developing larvae. Most galls are relatively harmless, and sprays are ineffective at preventing or curing them anyway.
Chiggers are generating lots of “activity” currently. People want to know what to spray on their lawns and landscapes, and honestly, I suggest simply applying DEET to ankles, feet, shoes, and cuffs. It’s easier to protect ourselves than to clean up the entire environment from these “invisible” critters. They will run their course by mid-summer when it turns hot and dry.
While you’re spraying DEET to stop chiggers, apply it to you head, arms and torso to discourage mosquitos from feasting on your tender flesh.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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