Coastal and Tropical South

October, 2008
Regional Report

Fertilizing in the Tropics

Woody plants benefit from a balanced fertilizer right now, especially organic formulas applied to young shrubs. Young or established perennial vines like coral honeysuckle and Carolina jessamine that will bloom in winter can be fertilized now, as can climbing roses after they are pruned. Producing citrus trees should be fertilized again in the first half of this month. And don't forget ornamental grasses and ground covers like heuchera.

Promoting Holiday Flowers

Poinsettias, Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti, and even kalanchoes don't naturally bloom in December. Even if you didn't begin covering them last month to extend the night length and bring on the flowers, they'll come naturally just a few weeks later. Do fertilize the plants with a half-strength mixture now and keep the kalanchoes watered to swell the buds. Let the holiday cacti dry out a bit this month and keep them on the cool side. Water more once buds form.

Make Room for Persimmons

Both native and Japanese persimmons deserve a place in our gardens. If you have a woodland location or a wildlife focus, this native tree nourishes birds, raccoons, and deer. You, too, can eat the fruit, and leave a few to drop seeds and increase the thicket. For more cultivated taste, Japanese persimmons have been a favorite in our region for more than half a century. They make excellent companions to fig and other backyard fruits.

Plant Root Crops

If southern coast gardeners are ever to grow beets and carrots, now's the time to get them going. The lure of homegrown is never stronger than in these two root crops. Both taste notably different when their quality is not limited by the need for shipping cross-country. Heavy soils? Grow both beets and carrots in big pots.

Be Alert for Wasps

Red wasps get frisky now in preparation for cooler weather and less activity. Keep an eye peeled around eaves and in covered carports where soldiers protect the nest. Dangerous to those allergic to them, red wasps can best be controlled by distantly applied, aerosol sprays used at dusk. Target the nest by watching where they come and go, spray, and walk quickly back into the house. You can survey the damage tomorrow and see the renegades as they try to attack you. Repeat the treatment as needed.

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