Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

September, 2008
Regional Report

Create a Birdbath

Provide a source of water for birds in your garden. You will be amazed at how many insects a hungry sparrow can devour. Think of it as your reward for setting out a birdbath. Keep the water clean and fresh, and place a rock in the center so that smaller birds can enjoy a bath, too.

Patrol for Tomato Hornworm

Tomato hornworm can munch an amazing amount of foliage overnight. Unfortunately, although 4 to 6 inches in length, these voracious creatures are very difficult to spot amidst the foliage. Look for signs of droppings on the leaves, then look up to the next set of leaves. You will usually find the hornworm munching away contentedly. Hand-pick or spray with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).

Control Budworm

Geraniums and petunias are susceptible to attack from budworms. These little demons will ruin a perfectly good bloom before it ever opens. Treat with an application of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) when you notice damage or signs of worm poop on the leaves. Make sure to mix only the amount of Bt necessary to spray the affected plants.

Groom Agapanthus

Remove faded flowers from agapanthus now. If you hurry, you may get another bloom from these hardy plants. Cut the flower stems at the base near the foliage to give plants a tidy appearance. Remove yellow foliage from the base of the plants. Dig and divide large clumps if you desire.

Apply Mulch Under Japanese Maples

Mulch around the base of ornamental maple trees. Acer japonica varieties, such as 'Burgundy Lace', will lose foliage color if reflected heat from nearby driveways and sidewalks is too hot. Mulching the surface of the soil under the plants keeps the ground cool and prevents colors from fading. Keep the mulch a few inches from the base of the trunk to avoid fungus problems.

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