(compiled by MG Brian D. Townsend)
Law of Gardening I:
When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed
and not a valuable plant is to pull on it.
If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.
Watch for insect pests. Spray for specific pests as needed ONLY. Avoid general "wipe-out" sprays. Please remember, when you kill beneficial insects, you inherit their job!. - me
Inspect Crepe Myrtles weekly for APHIDS or mildew.
SPIDER MITES can be controlled with insecticidal soap or kelthane (or a strong spray of water) applied under the leaves. The first signs of damage from spider mites will be tiny tan mottling on the leaves. Eventually, the leaves will turn entirely tan, then brown and dead. You may even see webbing, but only once the pests are out of control (they multiple rapidly in the heat). To know if spider mites are plaguing your garden, thump a suspected twig over a sheet of white paper. If you see tiny paprika-colored specks that move, you've discovered spider mites! Spray both top and bottom leaf surfaces with the miticide Kelthane. - AJW
Pull up squash vines if SQUASH VINE BORERS have bored into the stems. Pitch them in the compost pile.
If BIRDS are attacking your tomatoes, try harvesting them when they turn from green to white. They will be nearly as good as vine ripened in a day or two.
Remove spent flower spikes from all Salvias.
Feed roses and other hungry individuals (according to their needs and water availability).
Oaks, magnolias and other trees will drop their leaves if we experience drought and hot weather conditions. No treatment is necessary, but a deep watering on the drip line once a month will help minimize the stress.
Control fungal problems in veggies and other susceptible plants with Daconil, if we have had an abundance of wet weather.
Blue salvias, zinnias, vinca and esperanza are good summer blooming plants that the deer do not eat.
Consider Mexican dwarf petunia (Ruellia brittoniana “Katie”) as a ground cover for the shade. The flowers are violet-blue. "Bonita" is a pink version of the mounding plant with dark green foliage. - CF
Plant iris, spider lilies, gloriosa lilies and caladiums.
Divide and replant Mexican mint marigold (Tagetes lucida) and chrysanthemums so you will have more flowers in fall.
Prune actively growing shrubs, such as elaeagnus and pyracantha, frequently.
Sun-loving flowers such as portulaca (moss rose) and purslane still can be planted. - EO
Mulch around trees and shrubs to save water and protect plants roots from the drying sun. Replenish as needed to conserve moisture and reduce weed growth.
Consider raising mower height before cutting your turfgrass. Taller grass will shade the soil and protect the root system.
There's still time to plant okra. This vegetable loves the heat and will do well planted even into June. – TAE
Plant summer annuals for color. Good candidates for sunny areas are moss rose, firebush, copper plant, celosia and lantana.
Remove flower buds from caladiums, coleus, mums and santolina to keep the plants growing vigorously.
Keep tomatoes evenly moist to prevent blossom-end rot. Mulch with 2 to 3 inches of organic material, being careful not to put mulch against the stem of the plant.
Frequently prune actively growing shrubs such as elaeagnus and pyracantha.
Sun-loving flowers such as portulaca and purslane still can be planted.
Fertilize container plants and hanging baskets regularly with water-soluble fertilizer. - LR
FIREFLIES lighting up the night! Fireflies in San Antonio are not something that's real common anymore, mainly because of "urban sprawl", insecticides and fire ants. Good weather, the use of pesticides down and fire ants having a bad year, these are perfect conditions for Fireflies (and insects in general). Lightning bugs show up in South Texas in May and June, primarily in open areas adjacent to woods. - THL
In Our Rose Garden: We're approaching our second cycle of spring bloom, and the (hopefully) timely May rains will have really helped.
A) Mulching - Keep your beds covered with at least a 2-3" layer of your favorite mulching material of choice (keep in mind mulch material grown in acid soil regions will break down acidic, material in alkaline regions will tend to break down more alkaline). Mulch helps keep moisture levels constant and soil temperatures cooler. Keep your container grown roses well mulched and maybe some afternoon shade for the containers. Avoid using anything raw or uncomposted.
B) Watering - Continue to keep your rose beds (in the top 6-8" where the important feeder roots are located) moist, not wet, and be sure to check your container roses because they will dry out quicker.
C) Bush Grooming - As old blooms fade (you determine when it's time), cut off to a five leaflet pointing outward away from the center of the bush, to encourage new growth. Remove any inner, spindly growth to open up your bush as much as possible for air circulation and expose hiding places for pests.
D) Spraying for diseases - Keep up a 5-7 day interval as long as conditions remain moist. Later in the summer if conditions dry, you could lengthen out the spray interval to 10-12 days. Spray the top and bottom of the foliage using Funginex at one Tbsp. per gallon (2 tsp. of Mancozeb can be added if fungus problems already present) or other material listed for blackspot (mildew should not be a problem at this time).
E) Spraying for Pests - As our weather warms and becomes dry, check for these unwanted garden gremlins. 1) Symptoms of Spider mites include a brown and bronze edging of the foliage while the bottom side of the foliage (lower leaves first) will have a fine, white webbing with a kind of salt-n-pepper background. Use either a bottomside foliage water-wash over a nine day period (washing every 3rd day) to break the mite cycle (they lose their sex drive after a long march up the plant), or spray with listed miticide, such as Green Light using 2 tsp. per gal. of spray. Target the bottomside of the foliage. * Note: A good practice to follow is to remove the first two sets of foliage at the bottom of the bush. This will help open up the bush for good air circulation and make it difficult for mites to get started. 2) Thrips – These cycle in and out of our gardens, and there may be times when your flowers will be “thrip-free”. When you do have an infestation and you want to keep your flowers clean, mist the buds and flowers using either Orthene liquid, 2 Tbsp, (or powder, 1 Tbsp.) or Cygon, 2 tsps. per gallon of mix. Do this every 3 to 4 days.
F) Feeding - 1) Dry Feed - One cup (your favorite synthetic or organic fertilizer, does not have to be "rose food") a month spread around the dripline. Mini's get a half cup. *When feeding container grown roses with a dry feed, cut down on the amount used per plant to prevent root burning. Remember to water container grown plants more frequently during the hot weather, and keep container grown plants well mulched. 2) Liquid or Soluble Feed - Feed every 2 weeks giving each bush 1 gal. poured around the drip line. Mini's get 1 qt. each.
G) Odds & Ends - Usually after the completion of the first or second cycle of blooms, some iron chlorosis problems may appear. Symptoms include foliage that turns yellow while the inner veins of the leaf stay dark green. Many times the iron is in the soil, but just locked up and not available to the plant. A quick tonic would be to use Sprint 330 (an iron chelate), 1 Tbsp. per gal. of water. Just pour it around the drip line of the affected bush. A slower correction to this problem can be made by using 1 cup of Ironite (or Ironate) spread around the drip line of the bush and watered in.
* Please remember to water your bushes thoroughly before doing any type of feeding or spraying. (Visit the San Antonio Rose Society’s web site @ www.sarosesociety.org)
Organic Rose Program - HG (see Feb2do list for complete program)
Watering: If possible, save and use rainwater. If not, add 1 tbsp. of natural apple cider vinegar per gal. of water. If all else fails, just use tap water but, in any case don't over water. Avoid salty well water.
Fertilizing Program Round #2: June 1-15 - organic fertilizer @ 20 lbs./1,000 sq.ft., Texas greensand @ 40 lbs./1,000 sq.ft. or soft rock phosphate instead at 30 lbs./1,000 sq.ft.
For best results foliar feed with Garrett Juice every 2 weeks, but at least once a month. When soil is healthy, nothing but Garrett Juice is needed in the spray. During our hot Texas months, try watering and spraying in the morning.
Pest Control Program: Add the following to Garrett Juice and spray as needed.
Garlic tea - 1/4 cup/gal. or label directions for minor insect or disease infestations.
Citrus oil, orange oil, or d-limonene - 1 oz./gal. of water as a spray, 2 oz./gal. of water as a drench.
Potassium bicarbonate - 1 rounded tbsp./gal. for minor diseases.
Liquid biostimulants - Use per label - Agrispon, AgriGro, Medina, Bio-Innoculant or similar product.
Neem - Use per label directions (should not be used when temps. are 85-90 or above) for more serious insect and disease infestations.
Fish emulsion - 2 oz./gal. for additional nutrients (may not be needed when using compost tea).
A YEAR IN THE ROSE GARDEN: by A.J."Pop" Warner
It is the same song, only let us slow down the tempo a bit. It is time now to relax a bit; the days are long and there is no hurry to get through before dark.
Some things never change, however. Roses need lots of water in hot, windy weather. Unsprayed roses get blackspot. Light colored roses turn brown with thrips if not misted with Orthene or Cygon. Winter damage continued to show up all through May. Weeds love warm weather and are a problem in unmulched or lightly mulched beds. Some things that make for easier growing are:
A WATERING SYSTEM. The system can be as simple or as elaborate as we wish; soaker hoses, drip emitters, dram nozzles and automatic sprinklers. Each have their advocates. The key word is "system". We each need a method of watering that is routine and easy for us.
MULCH. The initial effort in establishing a good mulch pays off all summer long. It lessens the need for watering, cuts out most of the weeding, keeps the bed cool and provides a continuing source of organic matter. In addition it prevents splashing on to the leaves, minimizes water run-off and helps distribute fertilizer evenly. We recently read in a bulletin from another state, where the writer hated mulches and did not use them. No doubt he had good roses because roses are tolerant plants, but we wager they would be 100% better with a good mulch. Besides, he wouldn't have to work nearly as hard.
SPRAY early or late in the day. It is easier on the roses and on the rosarian. Wait to spray until the sun is low and the temperature is below 90 degrees to minimize leaf burn for the roses and avoid heat stroke for the rosarian.
CONTINUE TO FEED after each bloom cycle begins to wane. Granular fertilizer, such as 12-24-12 sprinkled on the mulch is slowly dissolved by rains and watering and is longer lasting and less likely to burn than the fertilizers applied in solution. (Opinions vary on fertilizers and fertilizing methods and no doubt most are good; but this method has worked fine for the writer for the last twenty years.)
IF YOU NEED CLEAN BLOOMS for cutting, mist (buds only) with Orthene, Cygon or Mavrik every three days to control bloom-damaging thrips. If cucumber beetles show up, a light application of 10%Sevin dust on dry beds will usually control. For heavy infestations, spraying just the tops of the plants with Marvik will control them well. Do not spray any insecticide until insects appear. Most insecticides approved for use nowadays have a very short residual, so wait until the guests arrive to feed them.
WATCH FOR MITES. These are not insects but are related to spiders and are as adaptable as a politician. Vendex did not work in most gardens this year and Plictran, for the first time, gave less than good results. Avid cleaned them up, this time at least. If one has only a few bushes or does not mind the monotony, washing every third day with water gives more or less satisfactory control. In hot weather the spider mite life cycle speeds up to as little as five days, so a minor infestation can quickly become an explosion.
REVIEW YOUR SPRAY CHART every time you spray. Memory plays tricks, even on the young and the young-at-heart. It is suggested you do not vary from the specified dilution. Leaves are more susceptible to spray burn in hot weather, but there is no reason to believe the pests are.
In Our Herb Garden: Shape plants by pruning gently, pinch back blossoms to save plants from going to seed and cross-pollinating, and mulch. * Maintaining 2" of mulch is the key to saving water, discouraging weeds, and cooling the soil. * Check watering system(s). Drip irrigation is ideal. Water early in the morning and deeply, check on a regular basis. Caution: do not over-water, keep water-thirsty plants separate from more tolerant plants (this makes watering chores much easier). It is easy to kill sage or rosemary by being too kind with water. * During periods of high heat and humidity, check and apply "earth-kind" treatments for pests, such as spider mites, white flies, aphids, and mealy bugs. - HERBS: A Resource Guide for San Antonio (visit the San Antonio Herb Society’s web site @ http://www.saherbs.org)
Garden Maintenance Tips: 1) Planning a new bed? For this fall, pile bags of leaves where you want your new bed. 2) Don't mound compost ingredients - layer them and mulch the top (There's no odor and you've got a compost pile AND a bed that's ready to plant). 3) Set strawberries in layered beds and you'll never have to cut back runners to keep rows open. Runners fill in the bed so there's no heavy weeding, and no watering except in times of drought. 4) Herbal growth booster! Most herbs thrive with frequent trimming. If you don't need the clippings for cooking or crafts, just let them drop around the plant to enrich the mulch. 5) Best summer squash! If you prefer tender to timber, pick summer squash when they're young. It keeps the plant producing and puts the best produce on your table. 6) Short on space? Cut a 30-gallon garbage can in half crossways to make two planters. Put soil and seed potatoes in the bottom and fill with mulch. Later, just dump the cans over and pick out your harvest! 7) Butterfly Seasoning! Nectar-seeking adult black swallowtails love flowers ... but their larvae love - parsley! Provide a little extra for them to chew on and enjoy a summer of flying flowers. 8) Don't put pine needles or wood chips in the compost pile unless you add lime (here in S.A. you can with no problem). Better to use them just as they are - a perfect mulch for blueberries, azaleas, and other acid-loving plants. 9) Spice up your Roses! To protect roses from black spot fungus, flank them with garlic and parsley. 10) Preventing "Takeovers". Flowers like feverfew are pretty - but they can take over your garden if you allow them to set seed. It's best to cut off most of the flowers as they fade, leaving just a few to self-sow. Keep mints and others from "Takeovers", by keeping them containerized or cutting them back to avoid layering. - NS
It is time to compost squash, brussels sprouts and other vegetable plants that are at the end of their productive life and infected with powdery mildew.
If you had a good season with flowering sweet pea, inspect and pull dried seed pods and save for sharing and fall sowing.
Plant Southern peas (black eye, purple hull, crowder, etc.) for a summer harvest and soil improvement.
Be careful near brush piles, weedy or overgrown areas and junk accumulations; the AFRICANIZED BEES might lurk there. Check in the early morning when temperatures are cooler. If in doubt, call for professional service.
Water young (less than two years old) trees and shrubs deeply every two weeks during summer (if there hasn't been at least 1" rain per week).
Bermuda grass or St. Augustine growing in flower beds can be controlled with contact herbicides such as Grass-Be-Gone, Vantage, Poast Fusilade or Ornamec 170 .
If your looking for a different summer plant, consider basil for the summer garden. Many colors, shapes and fragrances (& flavors) are available.
Bougainvillea don't like to be pampered. Let them get rootbound and let them dry out to 1 inch below the soil line between waterings. Fertilize every 4 weeks with hibiscus food for bountiful bloom.
As temperatures rise, tomatoes are susceptible to blossom-end rot. It occurs when soils dry out. Use mulch and water regularly to reduce the problem. Tomatoes may not bloom or set fruit with excessive heat. Once temperatures exceed 85 degrees, don't expect new fruit. - CF
Check for insects and diseases and destroy badly infested plants. SPIDER MITES can be especially troublesome if it's hot and dry.
Soak coleus, caladiums and geraniums to a depth of 8" to help them cope with summer heat.
Maintain mulches at a depth of 2 to 6 inches, depending on the material used. - EO
Rotate houseplants so each side receives adequate light for even growth and balanced shape.
Pinching back the tips of vigorously growing foliage plants will stimulate new growth and make plants fuller.
If weather conditions were favorable, CHIGGERS can be found in abundance. To protect yourself from chigger bites, spray pants, legs and shoes with insect repellants containing DEET. – TAE
Plant crape myrtles while they are in bloom so you can be sure of the color you want.
Look for small white LEAF HOPPERS, which form cottony masses on plants. Use insecticidal soap or neem oil for control. - LR
* “Summer is when the weather if often too nice for doing chores put off earlier because of bad weather.” Honestly, try to finish off all those projects such as weeding (including those cute little flowering vines that "aren't" a headache now!), mulching and setting up or repairing those irrigation setups. - me
Apply the first of two treatments (dursban granule or organic treatment for the pests) for GRUBWORM control in lawns and beds.
The white, frothy material that's showing up on stems and foliage could be WOOLLY APHIDS, but it probably is the eggs and protective covering of LEAFHOPPERS. It is not necessary to treat the eggs.
SPIDER MITES are hitting tomatoes hard, but also marigolds, beans, violets, junipers and verbenas (these are primary hosts but, there may be others). Spray with Kelthane or soap solution (follow label instructions) if there is still hope for the plant. In most cases, the crop is almost complete and no spray is required. Harvest the fruit and remove the plants. (*Keep in mind that companion planting can help enhance kitchen flavorings while at the same time discouraging pesky insect population. Plant garlic to deter red spider mites. - AS)
Fall WEBWORMS are making their homes in pecan and mulberry trees. Open the webs with a cane pole so wasps can feed on the worms. Other options are to spray Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), carbaryl or Malathion on the foliage where they are feeding or to let them run their course without treatment.
Solarize your vegetable garden for the next three to four weeks.
Start tomato and pepper seeds now so you can be ready for fall planting.
If container plants such as geraniums are declining despite regular watering, move them to a less sunny spot. Be careful to gradually decrease the amount of light they receive.
For dry, sunny beds now is the time to plant vinca for summer bloom. Water in the mornings or use drip irrigation (sprinkling over the top causes fungal dieback). Mulch beds.
If your trees are raining sticky sap onto the patio, driveway and your car, the trees are filled with APHIDS. They're small, pear-shaped insects that create sticky messes on all surfaces beneath pecans, oaks, crape myrtles and others. You'll see the varnish-like residue on leaves initially. Spray at that point to stop their quick population surges. Left unchecked, a black sooty mold will grow in the sticky honeydew.
The white, frothy material deposited along stems and leaves may be caused by SPITTLEBUGS. Spittlebugs suck the juices from plants but do not usually require spraying
Spread baits for long-term control of FIRE ANTS.
Tour your property to look for new BEE colonies. Leave them be if they aren't aggressive but note where they are so you can avoid them (many are not aggressive and are very important for the production processes of a wide variety of plants). - CF
Fertilize flowerbeds lightly every 4 to 6 weeks.
To encourage more flowers on annuals and perennials, remove faded flowers before plants set seed (a light application of fertilizer will help also, be sure to water in). - EO
Pull or hoe weeds before they mature and produce seed.
Pinch back chrysanthemums, Mexican mint marigold, autumn asters and other late summer and fall-blooming annuals to increase their flowering capability.
Plant heat-loving shade plants such as coleus, caladiums and begonias.
Watch for BAGWORMS on junipers, arborvitae and other conifers. Remove by hand or use Bacillus thuringiensis or an approved insecticide.
June is the month to select daylily varieties as they peak bloom.
Dig and divide crowded spring bulbs. Once bulbs have matured and the foliage has turned brown, it is time to spade them up and thin out the stand. Crowded bulbs produce fewer and smaller blooms. They usually need thinning every 3 to 4 years. Replant immediately in prepared soil. - LR
Check lawn condition, repair/replace. Apply a foliar iron spray to chlorotic St. Augustine grass (and other plants) showing signs of chlorosis - yellow leaves with green veins.
Remove faded flowers from zinnias and roses for a longer bloom season. Get the same effect on verbena and lantana by skimming the plants with a string mower every four weeks.
Place firebush in a container to attract hummingbirds to the patio. The plant needs full sun. If you have a shady patio, use firespike instead.
CHINCH BUGS. If your St. Augustine turf looks dry and yellowed, suspect these small black insects with white diamonds on their wings. Look in the interface grass; that is, between dead grass and healthy turf. If you see the insects there, treat with Oftanol, or another listed insecticide. Chinch bugs will be active only in hot, sunny locations.
GRASSHOPPERS are difficult to control. Consider Malathion, carbaryl (Sevin) or one of the new baits if the insects attack your garden.
If you can reach them and it is practical, remove Crepe Myrtle blooms when half their flowers have lost their color.
Collect seeds from the rain lilies that bloom after a thunderstorm. Plant them in flats or containers to transplant into full sun areas.
Mulch all beds two to four inches deep to keep soil cool, roots healthier, conserve moisture and minimize weed germination. - CF
Periodically prune reblooming salvias, such as cherry sage (Salvia greggii) and mealy blue sage (Salvia farinacea), for continued blooms.
Fall-blooming perennials such as Mexican mint marigold, chrysanthemums and Mexican bush sage should be pruned during summer to keep them compact and reduce the need for staking. - EO
Remove faded flowers from plants before they set seed to encourage plant growth and produce more flowers. A "light" application of fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks also will help.
Select day lily varieties this month as the plants reach their peak bloom.
Now is the time to plan for next spring. Consider digging and dividing any crowded spring bulbs. Once bulbs have matured and the foliage has turned brown, it is time to spade them up and thin out the stand. Crowded bulbs produce fewer and smaller blooms. They usually need thinning every 3 to 4 years ( taller ones need support from each other to stand, so use discretion when dividing). Replant immediately in prepared soils. – TAE
Finish pruning spring-flowering shrubs, vines and climbing roses. - LR
Many thanks to my contributors:
AJW - A.J. "Pop" Warner (see above)
CF - Calvin Finch, Bexar Co. extension agent for horticulture, Texas Agricultural Extension Service (courtesy S.A. Express-News)
EO - Edna Ortiz, Bexar Co. extension agent for horticulture, Texas Agricultural Extension Service (courtesy S.A. Express-News)
TAE - Texas Agricultural Extension Service, Bexar County (courtesy S.A. Express-News)
LR – Bexar Co. extension agent for horticulture, (visit their website @ bexar-tx.tamu.edu), Texas Cooperative Extension Service (courtesy S.A. Express-News)
THL - Tracy Hobson Lehmann, Garden editor, S.A. Express-News
HG - John Howard Garrett, aka the "Dirt Doctor", (visit his web site @ www.dirtdoctor.com)
AJW - A.J. "Pop" Warner, from his book “A Year In The Rose Garden”
NS - Neil Sperry, Texas horticulturalist, Publisher "Neil Sperry's GARDENS", visit his web site @ www.neilsperry.com
AS - Amanda Spalten with "Schulz Nursery"
(compiled by MG Brian D. Townsend)