Gardening This Weekend: July 11, 2024

Things move in fast forward when it gets hot. Here are things to check off your list this weekend.

Last call for planting fall tomatoes for most of the state. (South Texas still has a couple of weeks.) Choose small and mid-sized varieties.
Last call for planting pumpkins for Halloween. Plant small and mid-sized varieties. (Not enough time for the giant jack-o-lanterns.)
Late summer and fall annual color for patio pots and entryway beds. Some of the best include copper plants, firebush, purple fountaingrass, Cora XDR vincas, pentas, angelonias, fanflowers.
Fall perennials, including Mexican bush salvias, Mexican mint marigolds, fall asters and the various fall-flowering bulbs: spider lilies, autumn crocus (lilies of the field), naked lady lilies, oxblood lilies.
New sod. Have it delivered early in the morning and plant it immediately. Water it as soon as you finish each area and morning and evening daily for 10-12 minutes per time for the first week. Gradually water less often but longer. Use same process for starting new bermuda from seed but be even more careful not to let it dry out. Its roots will be very shallow initially.

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Dead flower and seed stalks on perennials to keep garden tidy.
Erratic spring growth on shrubs, vines. Whenever possible use lopping shears to maintain plants’ natural growth forms rather than trimming into globes or cubes.
Dead limbs left over from winter cold. Broken branches following May winds. Leave no stubs. Seal all cuts made to oaks with pruning paint.

Patio pots and hanging baskets every week or two with diluted water-soluble or liquid plant food. They have limited soil reservoirs for nutrients and frequent waterings leach minerals out of their soils.
Iron additive and sulfur soil acidifier to correct chlorosis (yellowed leaves with dark green veins most prominent on newest growth).
Liquid, high-phosphate root stimulator for newly planted annuals and landscape plants to help them become established.

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Crape myrtle bark scale shows up as white spots along stems and on leaves. They exude sticky honeydew onto leaves and stems, also onto surfaces below. A black sooty mold fungus often grows in the honeydew. None of it does permanent harm to the crape myrtles, but it is unattractive. Imidacloprid is the best control, especially when used as a soil drench around the plants in mid-May. By mid-summer it’s best to take a bucket of soapy water and two sponges and pull the wet sponges down the trunks to wipe off the scales and honeydew. After it dries, spray with the insecticide.
Spider mites cause leaves of many types of plants to turn tan in fine mottled pattern. Thump a small sample over white paper and you’ll see the extremely small mites. Control with a broad-spectrum insecticide that includes mites on its label.
Lace bugs also cause tan mottling, but you’ll see waxy black globs on the backs of the leaves. Prime hosts: pyracanthas, Boston ivy, azaleas, cotoneasters, Texas sage, sycamores, bur oaks and other species. Control with systemic insecticide.
Chinch bugs attack St. Augustine. Hot, sunny parts of lawn appear dry but do not respond to irrigation. The bugs are visible on close inspection down on the surface of the soil. They are BB-sized, black with irregular white diamonds on their backs. Control quickly with a labeled turf insecticide before they kill the grass.
Leafrollers tie leaves of sweetgums, redbuds, trailing vinca groundcover, pyracanthas, cannas, and other landscape plants together. Apply systemic insecticide to control, but next year apply it earlier.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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