Tropical South

January, 2004
Regional Report

Mulch Properly

All mulch is helpful for retaining moisture and suppressing weeds. It is very important to keep mulch 1 to 2 inches away from stems and leaves so the plant can breathe properly. Plants can rot and die with mulch heaped against them.

Test Well Water

Well water can be a danger if you live near the coast. Salt water intrusion can occur and is particularly noticeable during April and May at the end of the dry season. Salt-sensitive plants will be killed and you may not know why. Some Cooperative Extension offices can test the water for soluble salts.

Using Planter Boxes

If your house was built in the 1950s or 60s, you may have planter boxes. Either remove the boxes or cover the soil with decorative rock and plant in front of the boxes. The boxes often leak water into the house, and plants under eaves are prone to spider mite attack and can be killed if the house is tented for termites.

Locating Acid-Loving Plants

Keep all acid-loving plants away from cement. The alkalinity of the cement moves out into the surrounding soil as the cement weathers. Plant all acid-loving plants at least 5 to 6 feet away from cement surfaces and house foundations. Acid-loving plants include: allamanda, gardenia, pinwheel jasmine, ligustrum, hibiscus, ixora, and many others.

Appreciating Cloud Cover

It seems that we have had a lot of cloudy weather lately. I have had to use the electric backup on my solar water heater, and the days remind one of the north. Clouds are not all bad however. They can act as a blanket to hold warmer air in and prevent radiational cooling. This helps to prevent freeze damage.

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