Gardening This Weekend: June 20, 2024

I know this is the go-to first read for many of you in e-gardens, and I take it seriously for that reason. I weigh the recent and future weather (even including Alberto and its path across South and Southwest Texas), current pest outbreaks, what our plants have been through, and other factors to assign priorities. Here are this week’s assignments.

Crape myrtles. There is a size for every landscaping space. Everybody chooses their favorite color. That’s logical. But right behind that decision, read the label to see how tall each variety grows. Choose accordingly so you won’t have to prune to keep it in bounds.
New lawngrass from sod, seed or plugs. Water mornings and evenings for 5 minutes each for first two weeks, then gradually water less often but more at each time to encourage deeper rooting.
Tomato transplants will need to be planted around July 1 for your fall garden (except in South Texas). Start asking at your favorite nurseries if they’ll be offering them. If not, try rooting cuttings from your spring crop. They’re amazingly fast and easy.
Patio pots. Use hanging baskets from nurseries and repot them into large containers for instant color. Let your Texas Certified Nursery Professional show you the types best able to hold up to summertime conditions.

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Perennials to remove browned foliage and spent flower stalks.
Dead branches killed by winter cold from crape myrtles, live oaks and other shrubs and trees.
Erratic growth on landscape shrubs. Included: abelias, elaeagnus, and Sunshine ligustrums.

Iron-deficient landscape plants (yellowed leaves with dark green veins, most prominent on newest growth at ends of branches). Apply iron product in tandem with sulfur soil acidifier. Keep iron products off masonry and painted surfaces to prevent staining.
Potted plants and hanging baskets weekly with a liquid or water-soluble high-nitrogen fertilizer.
Annual color beds monthly with all-nitrogen or high-nitrogen fertilizer with 30 to 40 percent of that nitrogen in slow-release form to keep them growing actively. Keep soil uniformly moist to avoid slow-down of growth.
Bermuda turf with that same all-N food every 8 weeks into early October. Do not feed St. Augustine until early September to lessen chance of outbreak of gray leaf spot.

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Spider mites will turn bottom leaves of many species mottled tan, then crisp and dry. Prime hosts: tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, marigolds, junipers and cypresses, among dozens of others. Thump suspect twig or leaf over white paper. If mites are there, you’ll see almost-microscopic specks (the mites) start to move about freely. Many general-purpose insecticides are labeled for control of spider mites, although most will require repeated treatment on weekly intervals.
Lace bug damage to pyracanths, azaleas, sycamores, elms, Chinquapin and bur oaks, and Boston ivy will look very similar to spider mites, but you’ll see black, waxy specks on the backs of the leaves. General-purpose insecticides definitely will control them.
Leafrollers are beginning to show up on trailing periwinkle groundcover beds, also on redbuds, sweetgums, cannas and other plants. Apply Imidacloprid systemic insecticide immediately.
Gray leaf spot appears in washes of yellowed St. Augustine, both in sun and shade. On closer inspection you’ll see diamond-shaped lesions on the grass blades. Do not apply nitrogen until September. (It exacerbates the problem.) Slow the fungus with a labeled turf fungicide such as Azoxystrobin.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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