Monday, June 24, 2019

Myths and More

Horticulture Hotline 06/24/19
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

With the rain came the mosquitoes. Most of us that work outside like to get out early in the morning or late in the evening; unfortunately, that is when the mosquitoes are the most active. Cover up and protect yourself! Fleas have become a leaped into full swing. Big Palmetto Bugs (roaches) have moved into the house where the air conditioning is. Lace Bugs have shut down the blooming on the Lantana in several cases I have seen. Chinch bugs and gray leaf spot are making their perennial attack on St. Augustine (Charleston) grass. MOLES are very active as mole crickets just had babies, so there is plenty of sweet little baby mole crickets to feast on in your yard.

Something else that the rain ‘brings’ takes me straight to the first myth:

1.      Myth – “the rain brought fire ants to my yard. After the rain, I now have fire ant mounds everywhere.”

The fire ants have always been in your yard. In a super drought like we had there is not enough moisture in the soil for the ant to build the above ground mound that we are all use to seeing. Did you feel how dusty dry our soils were getting before the rain?  Ants are still below ground and they are still foraging for food above ground. Many people get stung when there is not a mound formed because the mound indicates there are ants in the area.

2.      Myth – “I’m not going to feed (fertilize) my shrubs because I don’t want to have to prune them.”

This is not a good idea. It would have been like my mother saying when I was 16 that she wasn’t going to feed me anymore because I was 6’4”, and she was tired of buying clothes and tennis shoes!
Plants need food to recover from insect damage, prevent disease, and to stay healthy. If you don’t want to prune, look into growth regulators that will help you manage the height of your shrubs. Also when designing your landscape, try to put plants in areas so they do not require much pruning. For example use a dwarf gardenia if you want a plant to mature at 3 feet instead of a regular gardenia that you will need to prune regularly.