Coastal and Tropical South

April, 2009
Regional Report

Fruit to Thin

No matter whether it's lemons, satsumas, plums, pomegranates, "thin is in" if plants become stressed by overload. Stress has occurred if fruit drop just before ripening has happened to you in the past, or if branches fell and broke with the weight of the fruit last year. Take off half the fruit to keep the rest. Here's a secret: champion tomato growers thin their fruit, too, so the plant can ripen just the biggest tomato for competition.

Dethatching Clues

Turfgrass that seems to be in decline, despite your best care regimes, might need to be dethatched. Test for thatch buildup: Part the grass with your hands and look at the green blades and the tan thatch below. If the thatch is deeper than an inch, consider dethatching. Thatch buildup is common in zoysia and Bermuda grass lawns, but can even happen to centipede that has been overfertilized or mowed too high for several years.

Organic Surge

With the recent planting at the White House garden, growing vegetables and fruit organically has gotten a boost. If you're going organic in our regions, make a plan to exclude insects that will inevitably bug your tomatoes. Add screen to tomato cages, or build hoops over smaller plants like squash and cover them with floating row cover. Don't forget -- the organic gardener's best friend is the daily garden walk. You'll enjoy each new leaf, and catch the first pests in action so they can be dealt with using organic pesticides.

Gardenia Issues

Gardenias, both standard cape jasmine and narrow leafed dwarf types, may fail to bloom for at least three reasons. Gardenias need at least a half day of sun to bloom; if there's not enough sun, move the plant. Both coast and tropic regions have areas of sandy soil that may need acid-forming fertilizer to stimulate flower buds. Last but not least, gardenias can be dehydrated by insects. Control the whitefly or aphid, get more flowers.

Rose Care After Bloom

Some roses need pruning this month. Once shrub roses finish the first flush, or when once-blooming roses have finished for the year, it is time to give them a haircut. Stimulate new growth and more flowers where possible by taking a couple of inches off all over the rosebush. Make cuts on flowering stems, just above a five-fingered leaflet that faces away from the center of the plant. Plan now for summer watering -- soaker hoses water the roots and keep leaves dry to help prevent black spot disease.

Donate Today

The Garden in Every School Initiative

Special Report - Garden to Table

— ADVERTISEMENTS —