Tips for June
- Buy and plant crape myrtles in bloom to be sure you are getting the desired color. Know the variety’s mature size to avoid future pruning. Ask for varieties that are resistant to powdery mildew.
- This is the best time to plant vinca (periwinkle) in full sun. Look for the variety ‘Cora’ since it is resistant to soil-borne diseases. Water with drip irrigation or soaker hose to keep water off foliage.
- Plant these tropical annuals for their flowers: tropical hibiscus, ‘Gold Star’ esperanza, mandevilla and Mexican heather. Use croton, bougainvillea and variegated tapioca for their foliage color.
- June is the time to select day lily varieties as they reach peak bloom.
Fertilizing and Pruning
- It is time for the second application of an all-nitrogen, slow- release fertilizer on turf grasses. Cut the amount by half to prevent excessive growth which means more water and mowing!
- Fertilize container plants and hanging baskets with a water- soluble fertilizer every week or two.
- Prune back autumn sage and mealy cup sage by one-third their size. Deadhead salvias, as well as annuals and perennials, to stimulate new growth to allow the plant to continue re- blooming until late fall.
- Continue to prune as necessary, fall-blooming plants such as Mexican bush sage, mountain sage, Mexican mint marigold, copper canyon daises, asters and mums to keep them compact and to prevent buds from forming prematurely. Don’t prune after September 1 when buds begin to form.
- Remove flower stalks on coleus, caladiums, lamb’s ear and basil before buds open. This will promote new leaf growth.
- Take a critical look at your landscape while at the height of summer development. Make notes on how the landscape can be better arranged; plants that need replacement, overgrown plants that need to be removed; or possibly, areas that can be converted to more family-friendly activities. Save this information for implementation later in the year or next spring.
Control aphids on crape myrtles with a strong spray of water.
- Spider mites can be troublesome, especially on tomatoes. Treat with an appropriate organic or synthetic pesticide.
Control webworms in pecan and other trees using a pole pruner. Remove while webs are small.
- Wrap the trunks of newly-planted shumard oak and Chinese pistache trees to prevent sunscald and borers.
Tips for July
- Plant tomatoes and peppers from 4-inch pots. Visit http:// aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/vegetable for recommended varieties.
- Early July is the time to plant small and medium pumpkins for a Halloween harvest.
- Plant heat-tolerant annuals that have been acclimated to hot, sunny conditions. This includes moss rose, purslane, trailing lantana, purple fountain grass, firebush and copper plants.
- Lawn grasses can be planted this month, but you will need to water twice daily for short intervals to keep soil surface moist until the grass has established good roots, usually in two to three weeks.
Fertilizing and Pruning
- Fertilize plants that bloom on new growth, such as crape myrtles, tropical hibiscus and roses, with a high-nitrogen fertilizer to promote late-summer growth and fall blooms. Apply same fertilizer to boost summer annuals and fall- flowering perennials.
- Light pruning of erratic spring growth may be done to maintain the natural form. Dead and diseased wood from trees and shrubs should be removed. Major pruning should be postponed until mid-winter.
- Deadhead all blooming plants. Remove dead leaves and spent blooms from container plants.
- Be a “plant health” detective! Plants respond in various ways to heat and drought stress. These symptoms are often misdiagnosed as an insect or disease problem. Correctly identify the problem before turning to a pesticide.
- Galls on leaves of oaks, hackberries and other trees are caused by many species of gall-forming insects, and are result of the female stinging the leaf tissues as she lays her eggs. Galls are harmless since the insect doesn’t feed on plant tissues.
- Watch for lawn pests. Dry, light-colored areas in sunny parts of St. Augustine are probably the result of chinch bugs (small black insects with a white diamond on their backs). Apply Merit (imidacloprid) or other labeled insecticide. Grub worms are the culprits if the turf turns brown and easily comes up when pulled on. Treat with a granular insecticide.
- Rapid death of established landscape plants and orchard trees during the summer may signify the presence of cotton root rot, a soil-borne fungal disease common in our calcareous clay soils. Since there is no effective control, verification by the Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab at Texas A&M (http://plantclinic.tamu.edu) will help you know what plants can be used as replacements.