Coastal and Tropical South

July, 2007
Regional Report

Prepare Plants for Your Vacation

When you go away, don't abandon your plants. Be sure inground irrigation is working, especially rain shutoffs. Otherwise, skip every other time for two weeks before leaving if no one can water for you. Fill a child's pool with water and set pots around the outside of it, connecting them with strips of wicking.

Keeping the Figs Happy

Many fig trees ripen once in late summer, while others set an early crop and another in fall. Either way, summer is prime time for the fruit to swell with pride and natural sugars. Water deeply once each week if it doesn't rain. Wrap trees in netting to keep out birds.

Caring for Shrubs

July is a good time to nourish evergreen and deciduous shrubs. To thicken evergreens, clip or shear about 2 inches off the tops and sides before fertilizing. Deadhead hydrangeas and gardenias to stimulate new growth and perhaps flowers.

Dealing With Lawn Mushrooms

The sudden appearance of mushrooms in the lawn isn't usually a serious problem. Tree roots left in the ground long ago rot slowly and sometimes provide a perfect proving ground for mushrooms. After plenty of rain, conditions are optimal for their emergence. Pluck out the fungi and spread garden lime if they persist.

Controlling Azalea Pests

The bright orange-headed azalea caterpillars have been troublesome this year. If you've been plagued, rake out the mulch now and replace it. Spray with neem to control them and the dreaded lacebugs now dehydrating azaleas across the region. Their damage looks like stippling on the leaves, and they can cause leaf drop, too.

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