Monday, June 25, 2018

The Hot Days of Summer

Horticulture Hotline 06/25/18
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

Flies are out and they are gross! With all the outdoor (and sometimes dog friendly) sitting areas to restaurants now days the flies seem to be coming in more contact with humans and humans’ food. Flies spread disease. Flies walk around on some spoiled food in the dumpster, then fly over to some dog poop, land on it, and the next thing you know they are on your food. Gross! Not to mention the nuisance of “shooing” the flies away from your food.

Gray Leaf Spot on St. Augustine grass was something I mentioned earlier this month. If you missed the article and would like to read it, go to and look under the Horticulture Hotline tab for archived articles. When writing about the cultural practices to minimize Gray Leaf Spot, I failed to mention that you should mow with a sharp mower blade. Some of the mower blades that started the year off sharp are not so sharp anymore. You want a clean cut on the grass blade. No blunt force trauma on your leaf blades. If you were getting surgery, you would want the doctor to use a sharp knife, right?

At the radio show John Quincy (producer of “The Garden Clinic”) brought to Paul (Super Garden Hero) Mulkey and my attention that mosquitoes kill over 1,000,000 people a year. The deadliest insect in the world. Protect yourself! Reduce breeding sites when you can especially around your yard. Mosquitoes can breed in something as small as a bottle cap.  

Indian Hawthorn (AKA Raphs) have long finished blooming and can be pruned as needed. Watch out for the leaf spot disease that attacks these plants. If your plant’s foliage is thinning and it has spots on its leaves, there is a good chance your plant is under attack.  Honor Guard does a good job of keeping this fungus in check; however, this disease will always be out there so regular spraying is a must. Also, when spraying fungicides, it is important to switch chemical classes to avoid resistance. If they do not need pruning, hold off, because pruning encourages new growth and the disease likes new leaves.  

If you are taking a vacation this summer and have St. Augustine grass, be sure to put out an insecticide to protect your lawn from ‘the nasty rascal, the chinch bug’. Chinch bugs can do serious damage in a very short period of time. They love and multiple greatly in hot, dry weather, so this year has been a very bountiful year for them. Bug Blaster, ECO VIA (National Organics Program compliant), or Allectus (a newer product with some long-term control) should help you manage this lawn terrorist.

Azaleas are getting ready to set their flower buds for next year, so it is very important to do any pruning on these plants right away. Even if you pruned them hard right after they bloomed, you can still do any touch up pruning to manage any growth that might have occurred since the last pruning. An application of KeyPlex or Mighty Plant should help them set more blooms for next year. Watch out for lace bugs sucking on your plants.

Any of the repeat blooming azaleas (Encore, Red Slipper) should be pruned right after they flower. If you prune fairly hard, you will likely lose some of the next flush of blooms; however, they should get back in sync fairly quickly, providing you multiple blooms.

A general rule of thumb is to be sure all your spring blooming plants have been pruned. Gardenias (unless they repeat in August), Camellias, Spirea, Forsythia, flowering quince …

If you haven’t fertilized your lawn, shrubs and trees, a midsummer feeding is a good idea. With the heavy rains we had earlier and all the growing plants and lawn have been doing, some food would be a great idea. I’m seeing a lot of yellow grass in my travels. A soil test is always the best guide for fertilization.

Dry spots (aka mystery fungus), snakes, Japanese Beetles, baby mole crickets killing, ants, aphids, chiggers, fleas, roaches, rats and high temperatures are all hot topics at Possum’s.

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.