Coastal and Tropical South

February, 2009
Regional Report

Shape Evergreens

As new growth begins each year, give your evergreens a light pruning. Shape the shrub or tree to establish or maintain its profile. Prune a bit more to stimulate buds to break down low on the stems and keep the plants thick. Prune severely to rejuvenate a sickly shrub.

Renew Hibiscus

Hibiscus sawfly gets started this month, so stay alert. Adults are small, black, and jumpy. Sawdust-colored larvae hatch on the tops of leaves and soon migrate to the bottom. They will eat all but the largest veins of every leaf if left unchecked. Use the biological control Bacillus thuringiensis at the first sign of sawfly larvae.

Harden Off Seedlings

Plenty of tomatoes and peppers are sitting under lights and on windowsills, ready (or nearly so) for planting in the spring garden. If yours are ready, harden them off before planting. Take them outside, still in their pots, about four days before transplanting. Don't let them wilt!

Control Aphids

These tiny insects are a spring menace to greens, young tomatoes, roses, and the new growth on trees. Watch for new leaves to look dry or look for the pinhead-sized soft bodies on plants. Hit them with a stream of water or use insecticidal soap or pyrethrin spray to control serious infestations.

Help Lawns Outcompete Weeds

If the winter weeds never stopped, and spring's invaders are sprouting, take action. But know that weed-covered lawns cannot be sprayed into submission without important follow-up. A healthy lawn, watered and fertilized at nominal levels, will outgrow the majority of weeds. The rest can be dug or pulled out as needed.

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