Coastal and Tropical South

April, 2006
Regional Report

Thinning Fruit

No matter whether it's citrus, plums, peaches, pomegranates, or tomatoes, thin is in. That is, if you want bigger fruit. Or if fruit drop just before ripening has happened to you before, or if branches fell and broke with heavy fruit last year. Remove up to one half to nurture the rest.

Removing Lawn Thatch

Lawns sometimes seem to decline no matter how much water and fertilizer you use. Test to see if thatch buildup is trapping your good work before it can reach the lawn. Part the grass with your hands, and if the tan is more than an inch deep, think about dethatching with a specially made dethatching rake.

Choose Organic Options

Every year more gardeners decide to "go organic," and choosing fertilizers derived from natural sources is a good way to start. For ferns and other foliage plants summering outdoors, use fish emulsion fertilizer. Organic vegetable garden foods are widely available, and they contain the right proportions for also growing annual flowers and many perennials.

Solving Gardenia Problems

Gardenias may fail to bloom for three reasons: less than half a day of sun, sandy soil without proper fertilizer, and insect problems that dehydrate the plant. All three can be fixed by making sure the plant receives enough sun, using acid-formula fertilizer, and controlling the piercing and sucking insects. For the latter task, use insecticidal soap or pyrethrin sprays.

Tending Roses After Flowering

As soon as shrub roses finish their first flowering (or their only flowering in some cases), it's time to prune them lightly. Make cuts on flowering stems just above the next lower node containing five leaflets that face away from the center of the plant. Fertilize after pruning, but do not pile on the mulch.

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