With the year at its midpoint, we need to make the final light pruning on azaleas now, if you haven’t done so already, as the plants will start setting blooms over the next couple of months.
With the hot temperatures we have been having, watering is very important. If we don’t get rain showers, you will need to water at least twice a week – making applications of one-half inch per watering.
Make sure you water in the early morning hours or the middle of the night. We do not want to tuck plants in wet at night, as this starts disease problems on lawns and flowers.
Insect problems on ornamental plants and trees are also present at this time. Aphids attack Crape Myrtles and cause the leaves to turn black, while lace bugs attack lantana and keep them from blooming. Watch for scale, mealy bugs and while flies as well. Apply an insecticide to correct these problems.
One disease on grass is Brown Patch, which starts out as a dinner plate-sized spot and spreads outward. This must be treated with a fungicide.
St. Augustine can get a disease called gray leaf spot and it has areas on the leaf blade that is gray in color and needs a fungicide to correct it.
Both problems start due to late watering or evening rains.
Another problem we have at this time is mole crickets hatching and eating the fine root hairs of the grass and weakening the lawn. Then, disease can affect the lawn due to its weakened state of not being able to take up water or nutrients.
We are also seeing chinch bugs, which attack St. Augustine lawns. Chinch bug damage usually starts in the sunniest and hottest parts of the lawn near the road and driveway. It will start out turning yellow, then brown. This damage can be devastating, as chinch bugs inject a toxin that kills the grass.
At this time, we need to make our last fertilization to our shrubs for the year. Apply one tablespoonful per foot height of plant and apply it at the drip line of the plant – the end of the limbs. You do not have to remove the mulch to fertilize; just scatter it on the surface of the mulch and water in.
Keep fertilizing your roses each month through September. Fertilize your annuals and perennials this month and again in August. Keep dead-heading flowers that need to be removed after they bloom so the plant does not put energy into seed production but into seed growth and flowers instead.
If you do not dead-head annuals, they will die soon after, as the plant thinks it has done its job of growing from seed and making seeds for next year.
Edward Poenicke is a retired Chatham County extension agent. This article is provided in collaboration with Lawn Doctor of Beaufort County.