Lower South

June, 2006
Regional Report

Combat Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew has been especially prevalent on our southern roses, crape myrtles, rock rose (Pavonia), squash, and melons this season. Regular sprays with a preventative product are required for effective control. Some low-toxicity options are sprays containing sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), potassium bicarbonate, and neem oil. Read and follow label directions carefully to prevent injury to plants.

Watch for Webworms

Keep an eye out for webworms in landscape trees. Take a long bamboo pole and tear up their webs. Wasps will arrive soon after that to haul away the spoils. If wasps do not take over, a spray containing Bt works well if you can direct it to the leaves where they are feeding. These webworms will have another generation in late summer or fall that can be much more of a problem.

Mow Regularly For a Beautiful Lawn

The single most important part of building a beautiful lawn is to mow it frequently. Infrequent mowing is stressful to the turf and leaves the lawn unsightly after mowing. Mow every 5 to 7 days for a dense, attractive lawn. During the hot summer months, don't push turf with too much fertilizer or it will be more prone to drought stress and attack from chinch bugs.

Keep an Eye Out for Scale

Watch for scale on fruit trees and many woody ornamental plants. These pests are difficult to control and often require both dormant season treatment and periodic summer sprays with an appropriate product to prevent outbreaks. Plants that had scale in the winter should be watched and retreated as needed with carefully directed summer or horticultural oil sprays, not dormant oil.

Don't Overwater

Unless a plant is designed to grow in a bog, be careful not to over-water. Many of our southern plants are able to take the saunas of summer as long as their roots are moist but well aerated. Soggy soil plus hot weather is the kiss of death for many plants. Give them a good soaking and then allow the soil to dry a bit before watering them again. As the soil dries and water moves out, air is pulled into the soil to replace it.

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