Coastal and Tropical South

July, 2012
Regional Report

Use the Rain

Much of our area has escaped the drought that is plaguing large sections of the rest of the nation. Whether we are facing floods or dry skies, it makes sense to put rainwater to use in our gardens. You can hook up your gutters and downspouts to empty into a rain barrel, but a recycled cattle feed tub can also make a good cistern. Raise it on cinderblocks or something so the water can be siphoned out when you need it. Keep a screen on top to keep to prevent mosquitoes from making a home there and debris out, and cover in dry weather .

Fertilize Now

July is a good time to catch up on fertilizing your plants to spur their growth and fall flowers. Maybe you are following the traditional palm program and have already fertilized in this quarter, but perhaps it slipped your mind. Do it now and again in mid-October. Roses can be pruned and fertilized now for the fall bloom season. Cut hybrid teas down to 2 feet and take a third off of shrub roses. Annual flowers can be cut back as much as necessary to expose a few healthy leaves, then fertilized now and again in a month to ensure they will put on enough leaves to bloom again. And most will.

Dump Those Saucers

If you use saucers under container plants outdoors, be sure water does not stand in them. Full saucers keep the soil in the container saturated and rotted roots can be the result. Pop the saucers off of hanging baskets, too, so they can drain properly. If your containers sit on bare ground, it is time to pick them up even if you hear roots tearing as you do. That means the plant has rooted out of its pot and can be a signal to repot.

Get Greener

Some believe that specialty formula fertilizers are no better than general purpose products. While it is true that most plants simply need nutrients in some form, lawns can require extra iron. Even a well manicured lawn can develop yellowing despite having plenty of nitrogen and no pests. That is the time to apply iron, which is available in elemental form prepared for use in a spreader. If the problem persists, do a soil test before applying any more fertilizer.

Move Some Plants

It goes without saying that one advantage of container plants is their portability. Make use of that quality and move plants like bougainvillea out of the way of heavy rain. Such plants need to dry out between waterings, and lately some are not getting that chance. Flowers will be few and the plants may rot entirely. Rearrange, rehang, or get them under cover to protect cacti and succulents like jade plants.

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