Coastal and Tropical South

April, 2007
Regional Report

Feed Caladiums

Give caladiums TLC now and you'll be rewarded with bigger and more colorful leaves all season. Some areas are planting bulbs now, but further south it's time to fertilize the new growth. Put 1/2 inch of compost around each bulb whenever the first leaves appear, followed by a slow-release, balanced granular fertilizer two weeks later.

Repair the Lawn

Survey sod for bare spots or thinning and take steps to fix them. Rake out dead grass and work in sand or compost for better drainage as you turn the soil. Rake smooth and plant new sod squares or sprigs of St. Augustine and zoysia or centipede and bermudagrass.

Plant Southern Peas

Sow southern peas in tropical climes for shelling in 70 to 100 warm days. Like pole beans and limas going in now in the southern coasts area, legumes do not need additional fertilizer since they "fix" nitrogen from the air. Inoculant dusts are helpful, but warm soil is even more important.

Inspect Strawberry Plants

Warmer days and the stress of fruiting make strawberry plants a fine target for aphids and mites. Both pests dehydrate the leaves and fruit and can shorten the harvest, not to mention increase unwanted populations that can spread elsewhere. Harvest all fruit before spraying, then control with Neem or pyrethrin sprays.

Prune Shrubs

Both old hedges gone thin and young evergreen plantings that need encouragement can benefit from pruning of their new growth. Once four sets of new leaves have emerged, cut three off to spur new shoots along that branch. Deciduous shrubs like quince and abelia should be "thickety"; if not, shear them.

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