Lower South

April, 2007
Regional Report

Prune Spring-Blooming Shrubs

Spring-blooming shrubs will set buds in mid to late summer for next year's bloom. Prune them soon after flowering. This way their new growth will have time to mature and be ready to set buds for next year. Keep the natural shape of the plant in mind as you prune, and avoid excessive cutting except where necessary to control size.

Prevent Blossom End Rot

Blossom end rot is caused by a lack of calcium at the growing tip of tomatoes and watermelon fruit. A lack of calcium in the soil, or moistures levels that fluctuate from dry to wet can lead to this condition. Keep soil evenly moist, especially early in the season when the first fruits are developing. Plants growing in sandy soil are especially prone to this problem.

Plant Heat-Tolerant Veggies

Okra, sweet potatoes, southern peas (black-eye, crowder, purple hull, zipper cream), malabar spinach, vegetable amaranth, and other hot-weather veggies thrive in the heat of our southern summers. Plant them now in a sunny garden spot and mulch the area well to deter weeds. Keep them well watered as the hot weather increases their need for moisture.

Watch for Arrival of Squash Borers

When squash vine borers attack plants, they cause entire sections to wilt and die almost overnight. Look for the orange and black moths that appear, wasp-like, sitting on the leaves. Swat or capture the moths early in the day. Check plants for the pinhead-sized amber eggs. Rub off any you find. If you see greenish brown, gooey material coming from a hole in the vine, split it lengthwise and destroy the larva inside.

Avoid Using Turf Herbicides in the Heat

Some broadleaf weed killers designed to kill weeds after they emerge, rather than prevent weed germination, can weaken and damage St. Augustine and some other turfgrasses when used in warm weather. Now that temperatures are rising into the upper 80s and above, these products should be avoided or used only as a spot treatment if the label allows.

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