Tropical South

December, 2003
Regional Report

Choose Fragrant Plants

Lots of shrubs and trees add fragrance to the air, especially at night. Look for fragrance from orange jasmine, angel's trumpet, lady of the night, snake plant, corn plant, tea olive, and others over the winter.

Adjust Irrigation

I just adjusted my sprinklers to cover an area that had not been covered. The well water hits the house and will stain it, but I have lost plants in this location due to lack of water. I hope to plant in front of the white wall to absorb most of the stain. The location is one of my few sunny spots left so I have to make adjustments so I can use the space.

Sharpen Tools

The increased garden activity includes checking out your tools. My lawn mower blades need sharpening and adjusting. It cuts too low and has scraped some tree roots, which is an invitation for disease. Shovels and lopping shears also need attention. They are dull and do not dig or cut as before.

Choose Easy-Care Plants for Sunny Spots

Low-care potted plants are always in high demand. Try these three plants that require minimal care and tolerate sunny locations. Bulbine is a desert-type plant with spikes of yellow blooms. Desert rose is a bigger plant -- to 5 feet -- with pink, white, or red flowers. Dwarf crown of thorn has red blooms. They all need clay pots with a good draining, cactus-type soil. Minimal watering is needed.

Watch for Pests on Hibiscus

Thrips seem to be the biggest pest of hibiscus. They cause bud drop and distorted blooms. A gall midge also causes similiar damage. These pests are inside the flower so contact sprays will not work. A repellent like Garlic Guard or neem oil would be worth trying.

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