With temperatures getting hotter and the weather getting drier, we have to realize watering is very important. But it’s best to do it in the morning or after midnight, so we do not extend the wet period on the foliage of our plants.
If we water late in the day, we increase the chance of causing disease problems. But late at night or early in the morning, the plants are already wet from dew falling on the foliage.
Our plants need about an inch of water per week, so consider two applications of water each week – unless we get good rain showers (you know, the slow, all-day type).
Good mulching helps conserve moisture and reduces weeds in garden beds so they cannot steal away vital water from the plants we want to grow.
Proper mowing height also helps to make the most from our water applications.
One problem we have seen on our St. Augustine lawns this year is that chinch bugs are starting earlier this year. This is due to the high temperatures and dry conditions we have been having.
Chinch bugs suck the plant juices from the runners of the St. Augustine grass and turn it yellow at first, then brown. They will not bother other grasses or weeds, just the St. Augustine grass.
When they start to attack a lawn, they begin in a small area and then spread outward quickly.
Remember these insects are one-eighth inch long and are black with a white triangle on the back. They live right at the soil line of the grass in the decomposing leaf residue. Use an insecticide to control these pests as soon as you start to see yellowing appearing on your St. Augustine grass.
Another problem we have seen are spider mites attacking some of our flowering plants, such as roses, marigolds, impatiens, lantana and verbena. This too can be attributed to our hot and dry weather.
The mites make the leaves look stippled, like somebody poked the leaves with a needle. At the same time, they reduce the flowering of the plants, because they suck the plant juices from the leaves of the plant.
To correct this problem, use a miticide for control of this problem if you see it happening.
Edward Poenicke is a retired Chatham County extension agent. This article is provided in collaboration with Lawn Doctor of Beaufort County.