Timely Tips — May 2013
Plant: Warm-season annuals to replace winter color now that it’s wearing out. The best choices include trailing lantana, firebush, gomphrena, cosmos, Dahlberg daisy, moss rose, hybrid purslane, pentas, copper plant, purple fountaingrass. Use caladiums, coleus, impatiens, begonias in shadier spots. Tropical annuals hold up well to summer’s heat; they include tropical hibiscus, pentas, crotons, Mexican heather, bougainvilleas, dipladenia, African bush daisy and esperanza. Perennial selections in nurseries are still excellent. Select full and vigorous summer- and fall-flowering types. Start new St. Augustine, bermuda and other warm-season turfgrasses. Keep new grass moist until it has established deep roots.
Prune: “Pinch” fall asters, coleus, copper plants, chrysanthemums to keep plants compact. Remove only the terminal shoots to encourage side branching. Trim spring-flowering shrubs and vines now that they have finished flowering, to restore good shape prior to summer growth. Climbing roses, after major spring bloom. Trim major canes by 40 to 50 percent, and remove weak, non-productive growth. Errant growth from evergreen shrubs and vines, to maintain good shape. Avoid formal shearing.
Fertilize: Almost all plants that you’re growing need to be fed at this point. Turf requires quality all-nitrogen fertilizer (clay soils) or high-nitrogen fertilizer (sandy soils) unless recent soil test suggests otherwise. Apply when soil is moist and grass blades dry, then water into the soil thoroughly. Do not try to time the application in advance of spring rains — they are simply too variable. Use same type of high-nitrogen fertilizer for groundcovers, shrubs, trees and even flower and vegetable beds. Container plants with complete-and-balanced, water-soluble fertilizer with each watering.
On the Lookout: Apply Bacillus thuringiensis biological insecticide to control loopers, cankerworms, bagworms and other foliage-devouring larvae in landscape, vegetable garden. Powdery mildew on new growth, buds of crape myrtles, zinnias, euonymus resembles a dusting of flour. Keep foliage dry and apply labeled fungicide. Continue black spot protection program for roses with labeled fungicide. Include systemic insecticide to protect against thrips that cause buds to fail to open and to brown around edges of petals. Apply broadleafed weedkillers to eliminate non-grassy weeds in any turf. Follow label directions explicitly to avoid damage to desirable trees, shrubs. Use Image or Sedgehammer to eliminate nutsedge in St. Augustine or bermuda turf. Read and follow label directions for timing, technique and amounts.