Coastal and Tropical South

August, 2009
Regional Report

Popped Pot

It happens. At the height of summer, in full bloom or even with branches heavy with fruit, your favorite container plant splits its pot. Disturbing the roots might damage the top of the plant, yet so will leaving its roots exposed. A broken pot seldom sits upright, so further damage is also likely from a lopsided pot. Go ahead with emergency repotting, but remember to remove the broken pot from the outside of the rootball even if you have to break it further. The roots and soil will stay intact and transplant with less shock than if you try to pull the plant out of what remains of the pot.

Canna Leaf Roller

When a canna leaf fails to unfurl, the most likely culprit is hidden deep inside the twisted mess of plant material. Canna leaf roller eggs laid in the leaf base hatch and begin feeding voraciously. Once full, they spin the shredded leaf around their bodies, create a safe place to pupate, and in the process destroy the leaf and/or flower you were awaiting. Cut the damaged stalks down, destroy (don't compost) them, and dust the cannas with diatomaceous earth.

Time to Watch

While Southern coasts gardeners are liming a space to plant spinach next month, tropics gardeners are planting nearly everything you like to eat now. Both regions have tomatoes in the ground (or pots) and some places the peppers and eggplant are most plentiful now. It's also the time for most plentiful pests, and although random insecticide/fungicide sprays are more harm than good, consistent monitoring of the plants is the reverse. Especially when vegetables of differing growth stages occupy the garden together, every common pest can find a meal. Set up a sticky trap (yellow for aphids and whiteflies, for example) and count every other day. When the bugs build up, and before they can dehydrate your future food, spray or dust with a product made to control them such as pyrethrin or neem.

Besides Spider Lilies

What bulbs can we enjoy in the fall in our regions? Add rain lilies to your garden beds and grow them in containers, too. If you need a housewarming gift, an attractive pot already planted is sure to succeed. With only the exhortation to water in the summer and stop in the winter, these Southern favorites (Zephranthes spp.) will bloom for years. Also called fairy lilies, they are among the bulbs we can grow that have been sadly out of vogue for too long. Traditional pinky-rose flowers are a favorite, but white and apricot tones are gaining popularity again now.

Weed Watch

While some people swear by glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, others have less success. Still others don't like the brown line it can leave along the driveway. A few just don't want to use it and seek alternatives for their own sake. While I am not a weed expert, if hours spent on a subject count for anything, I am an experienced weedist. I have learned to live with some, like the dichondra that grows where little else will, and to respect others, like the Johnson grass that sprouts a foot overnight. I have used herbicides to greater and lesser effect, but frequent close mowing or clipping does more.

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