MOULTRIE — “It is the month of June, the month of leaves and roses, when pleasant sights salute the eyes, and pleasant scents the noses.” Nathaniel Parker Willis.
June is here and with it comes temperatures in the 90’s; a sample of what the summer will bring. However, the evenings continue to be rather comfortable, especially with the few rain showers this past week. Such conditions have encouraged our landscapes to continue to green-up and invite us into them for timely maintenance activities and improved curb appeal. Here are some activities which should be a part of your landscape checklist this month.
Annuals: Remove all faded blooms to prevent annuals from going to seed and consuming needed food reserves thus encouraging continued flowering. Remove all weeds which compete with annuals for space, light, air, moisture and nutrients. Inspect all beds and plants for any insect and disease activity. If detected, spray appropriate chemicals per label directions.
Chrysanthemums (mums): Prune your mums to prevent legginess and elongated growth. Pinch these plants back about four-inches, and continue to prune the new growth as it reaches three-inches in length. Stop pinching when flower buds begin to form and develop.
Fire ants: Fire ants are very obvious because of their mounding activities and fiery bite. Select appropriate chemicals of choice from local garden centers and follow label directions for use. Treatment may be mound applied or broadcast pending specific insecticide and severity of problem.
Gardenias: Inspect your gardenias for yellowing in the leaves, especially between the veins. This is usually a deficiency in iron which is termed iron chlorosis. Correct this issue by applying Epsom salt to the soil or iron chelate as a foliar spray.
Geraniums: When outdoor geraniums become leggy, make cuttings to root in pots for your patio, deck or terrace. Insert three six-inch cuttings in an eight-inch pot of peaty, well-drained soil or promix (or similar product). Keep moist, but not wet, until roots are formed and new growth is evident. Then, reduce watering to the amount needed only to prevent wilting. Continue to grow these plants into well-developed specimens for your curb appeal enjoyment.
Kudzu bugs: Be on look out for these pesty little creatures which are becoming a major issue for us. This is a fairly new pest to this country. The adults will move to a host legume to lay eggs and die. They reproduce on such plants as kudzu, soybeans and wisteria. This time of year they will congregate in groups or communities on almost anything, but are not feeding (only a nuisance). They will overwinter in the home (like the ladybugs) and then emerge in the spring. Spray them with pyrethroids to discourage their presence. You can smell them also.
Lawn repair: Don’t postpone lawn repairs. If you re-seed, plug or lay new sod on eroded or damaged areas now, the new turf will have sufficient time to establish by the end of the growing season. Prepare the soil in the bare areas before seeding, plugging or sodding. Consider using sod to repair most areas of any significant size, and seed or plugs in smaller situations. The establishment rate with sod is rapid, thus restricting the opportunity for most weeds to establish and invade. Be sure to keep these areas moist to encourage survival and rapid establishment. Do not waste water but keep moist until established.
Mole crickets: The mole crickets are becoming very active at this time. Chemicals are most effective during this part of the season because of the susceptibility of the young to pesticides. The mole cricket kills by eating the roots of turfgrasses and tunneling through the soil causing dessication and death. Choose a recommended chemical based upon identification and advisement.
Mulching: This is one of the most important steps in getting the landscape through the summer. Mulch creates curb appeal, discourages weeds, conserves moisture, and insulates the soil against excessive heat. The most readily available organic mulches are pine straw, wood chips, bark nuggets, peanut hulls, pecan hulls, grass clippings, shredded leaves, among others. To be most effective mulch should be distributed at a depth of 3 to 4 inches.
Perennials: Remove faded flowers for curb appeal, plant health, and aesthetically-pleasing landscape with new showy flowers. Be sure to prune those perennials that will grow too large for their site. Remove approximately one-third of the plant (leaving two-thirds) and the resulting plants will be more compact and floriferous. Remove all weeds which compete with perennials for space, light, air, moisture and nutrients. Inspect all beds and plants for any insect and disease activity. If detected, spray appropriate chemicals per label directions.
Shrubs: Many container-grown shrubs can be planted now including gardenias and azaleas, provided you water them faithfully during the hot, dry weather of July and August. Another approach is to purchase plants now at reduced prices and plant them in decorative pots for use around the home. These potted plants will dry-out more frequently, so remember to adjust your watering program accordingly. Prune arborvitaes and junipers now for good structure since they have completed their main growth for the season.
Summer bulbs: There’s still time to plant cannas, gladiolus, dahlias, and other summer and fall flowering bulbs. Roots of caladium and elephant’s ear may also be available at garden supply centers. Prepare soil by tilling it at least 10-inches deep and working organic matter into it. Erect stakes for dahlias and gladiolus at planting time to avoid damaging roots during any later insertion. Begin planning your fall bulb shopping list now.
As you continue your sustainable plantscaping this spring and commit to this cost and effort, please also commit to providing the necessary care to keep your plants healthy and attractive. And, as always, remember to feed and water the birds!
Many thanks to all who read this column which is an effort to provide each reader with timely and useful information which is a small contribution on my part in “paying it forward” to my readers. We are planning a mission trip to the Amazon Jungle in Peru this summer and accepting donations to assist in its funding. If you would like to donate to this cause, please make a check payable to Heritage Church and mail to Eddie Seagle, Peru Mission Team, 108 Tallokas Circle, Moultrie, GA 31788. We thank you and would appreciate your prayers for a safe journey for our team.
“I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given to me — the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.” Acts 20:24.