Lower South

May, 2004
Regional Report

Provide Good Nutrition for Good Blooms

Keep bedding plants well fed now that warm weather has pushed them into vigorous growth and blooming. Productive plants need periodic fertilizing in light doses to keep them healthy and blooming up a storm.

Use Mulch to Help Plants Beat the Heat

Mulch planting beds as well as new shrubs and trees to protect the soil from crusting, discourage weed seeds, and reduce soil temperatures. Think of time spent mulching as paying off many times over in time saved weeding and watering over the course of the summer.

Keep Containers Well Watered

Container plants tend to dry out rapidly in hot weather. They may need daily watering, depending on plant species, type of growing mix, exposure (sun or shade), type of container (soil in a terra cotta pot dries out faster), and plant size in relation to container size. Make sure drainage holes are not plugged because soggy conditions are as deadly as dry soil.

Be Alert to Creepy Crawlies

Keep an eye out for caterpillars, mites, aphids, and other pests on garden plants. They are easier to control and can do less damage when you catch the problem early. Low-toxicity options include Bacillus thuringiensis for caterpillars and insecticidal soap for mites and aphids. A strong blast of water directed upward can help keep mites under control.

Catch Scale Infestations Early

Watch for scale on fruit trees and many woody ornamental plants. If you catch them early you can prevent a small group of scale from becoming a serious infestation by the end of the season. These pests are difficult to control and often require both dormant-season treatment and periodic summer sprays of a lightweight summer or horticultural oil. In summer, direct spray to the areas of infestation rather than trying to cover the entire tree or shrub.

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