Lower South

July, 2008
Regional Report

Give Crape Myrtles a Summer Tune-Up

Keep crape myrtles vigorous and productive with a good soaking every week or two, and light fertilizer applications every four to six weeks during early to midsummer. Remove spent blooms before they set seed. This will improve the appearance of the plant and direct energy into more blooms.

Back Off On Lawn Fertilizing

Hold back on lawn fertilizing during the summer months. The clippings will decompose rapidly in our hot southern summers to feed the turf. Extra nitrogen can result in rapid growth and the need for extra water to keep the grass going. Lush, succulent lawn growth is more susceptible to some insect and disease problems, too.

Water Wisely in Summer

Keep plants well watered to help them cope with the heat. Infrequent soakings are better than light, frequent sprinklings, which barely wet the surface of the soil and promote disease problems. Give the soil a good soaking and then allow it to dry out for a while before watering again. This encourages a deep, extensive root system and helps build drought-resistant plants.

Trim Interior of Fruit Trees

Some fruit trees are growing rapidly this time of year. Vigorous, upright shoots in the center of the tree need to be trimmed back to allow light into the canopy of leaves. Otherwise the young shoots on the inside of the tree, which would carry much of next year's fruit, will be shaded and die back (or at least become much less productive).

Hold the Shears on Spring Bloomers

Spring-blooming shrubs, vines, and trees, including azalea, dogwood, redbud, spirea, forsythia, flowering quince, wisteria, and "once-blooming" roses, shouldn't be heavily pruned for the remainder of this year. Excessive pruning from midsummer on will reduce next year's bloom. It's okay to trim a gangly shoot here and there to maintain shape.

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