Coastal and Tropical South

May, 2010
Regional Report

Plugged planters

Planters with no drains can be turned into water gardens or used as sleeves for pots that do drain, if holes cannot be drilled into them. If the pots should drain, but don't, rework their potting soil to add bark or sand and bagged mixes. If the potting soil smells bad, dispose of it. Otherwise, compost any you aren't going to incorporate into the new mix.

Can cannas bloom?

Three common factors can ruin canna lilies appearance and bloom. Earworms chew huge chunks out of the leaves and leaf rollers twist them into a nest and prevent unfurling. Cut down the affected stems to the ground and dust with diatomaceous earth. No bugs? Canna leaves weakened by lack of fertilizer will rip apart, too. Use an organic nitrogen lsource like cottonseed meal for steady green up.

Out with the lawn

No time or energy to mow? Start a plan to reduce or eliminate lawn grass and its maintenance by creating a path that winds by existing beds and defines the new ones. In the largest areas to be de-sodded, mow to scalp the grass, then mulch to suppress regrowth. To add a vegetable patch, choose the sunniest area and put a picket fence around it, even if it's in the front yard.

Yellowed leaves

Sometimes one azalea goes wrong in an otherwise perfect planting. Yellow leaves on azaleas can mean one of two nutritional problems is present. Lower leaves turn solid yellow and fall off when the plants lack nitrogen. When leaves throughout the plant turn yellow except for green veins, this indicates an iron deficiency, which is called chlorosis. Cure both problems with applications of fertilizer made for these acid-loving plants, or use chelated iron for remedy chlorosis.

Bucket treatment

Ferns are a Southern favorite, but crispy brown ends just don't cut it. Soak Boston and other basket ferns weekly to keep them fresh all summer. Use a bucket larger than the container so it can be submerged in a solution of water and fertilizer (20-20-20 works well for this). Soak for at least two hours, then rehang to drain and enjoy for another week.

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