Lower South

May, 2007
Regional Report

Watch for Squash Fruit Rots

Rainy weather and overhead sprinkling brings on attacks from Choanophora fungus, a fruit rot that begins at the "belly button" where the bloom was attached and progresses through the fruit. Fungicides can help prevent it but are usually not needed unless weather stays rainy for extended periods. Pick and discard affected fruit promptly as a sanitary practice to discourage its spread.

Rejuvenate Roses

Repeat-blooming roses have completed their big spring show and will benefit from a light shearing and an application of fertilizer that is watered in well. This boost will invigorate the plants to create fresh new growth to support the next bloom cycle.

Prevent 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.

Inspect Plants for Spider Mites

Spider mites love hot weather and a dry, dusty leaf surface. A weekly blast of water directed upward from beneath the plants can dislodge them from the undersides of the leaves. This is often enough to keep them in control. When this is not enough, insecticidal soap and other spray options are available to help control these summer pests.

Keep New Transplants Well Watered

Be extra careful to keep newly planted shrubs and trees well watered as their roots are still very confined and they dry out FAST in our southern summer heat. It is a bit of a challenge to keep summer transplants moist without waterlogging them. Too much or too little moisture are both deadly during hot weather.

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