June 2013 To-Do List: Coastal & Tropical South

Susan Wells

rose arborJune is when everything begins to heat up in the garden, from temperatures to color. To cool things down, plant cool colored annuals and perennials that bloom in the heat of summer: pale pink cosmos, blue bell flowers and Stokes asters, white roses and deep purple May Night salvia.  Or just go with it and plant red hot pokers, deep red zinnias, bright red monarda and hot orange marigolds. Then take a cool drink out to the garden bench and admire what you and nature have brought about.

Vegetables

•    If your tomato leaves turn yellow and new leaves that emerge are pale, fertilize with nitrogen. Cottonseed meal, alfalfa meal or compost work well, or use a commercial fertilizer with a high first number in the NPK sequence, like 12-6-6.

•    If tomato leaves have spots that look like bulls-eyes (brown centers with yellow halos), or if the entire plant suddenly wilts, blight may have developed. Remove damaged leaves and destroy them away from the garden. Be prepared to replace the entire plant, if it does not recover.

•    Tomato hornworms are very large, bright green worms that blend in easily with the foliage. Pluck them off and drop them into a bucket of soapy water if you’re not the “stomp and squish” type. (If you notice something on the hornworms that looks like rice, it is the larvae of a parasitic wasp, eating the hornworm. This is a good thing. Leave that worm alone and new wasps will hatch and kill more hornworms.)

•    Uneven watering and a lack of calcium trigger blossom end rot. Water tomatoes deeply no more than once a week and side dress with lime.

•    Plant second crops of corn and beans. Beans do great when they follow corn in the same area, and vice versa.

•    Plant squash late in the month. You have waited out the dreaded borer, which is most active in June.

Flowers

•    Annuals are the easiest flowers in the garden. Just water regularly, feed once a month, mulch and keep everybody dead-headed to keep them blooming.

•    Clerodendrums, or glory bowers, with their alluring fragrance and wide range of flower types, can be great landscape plants in most of our region. However, they can quickly overrun a property with aggressive suckers, often reaching 30 feet from the host plant. There are some well-behaved types. A cross between C. thomsonae and C. speciosum called the “bleeding heart” produces colorful, small vines that only grow to 15 feet.

•    The Acanthacae family offers dependable, shade-tolerant flowers. Typical plants in this family include the Brazilian red cloak, firespike and shrimp plant. This plant family will continue to bloom most of the year and can range in size from about 2 feet to more than 10 feet, and many have dense, large foliage that can serve as a privacy screen or border plant. The bright yellow or orange flowers are good for brightening a darkly shaded area.

•    A wonderful attribute of white flowers is their visibility in low light. Plant peace lily in a shady location at the beginning of rainy season through midsummer in a well drained location. Tree fern growing behind them makes a lovely bed.

Trees/Shrubs

•    Brazilian red cloak  can grow to 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide, making it a perfect screening shrub. The colorful white, yellow, gold, red, purple, or salmon flowers are quite exotic.

•    Another excellent shrub for use as a screen and in a xeriscape or native landscape is the Wax Myrtle. (Do not plant next to the house, though.) The Wax Myrtle requires little care, other than removal of suckers.

•    In partial shade, consider the “wild coffee”shrub. It blooms white flowers during the spring and summer that are relatively insignificant to us but loved by butterflies. The flowers are followed by red berries in the fall and winter, which are favorites of birds.

•    June is a good time for mango picking. Have the correct tool with a metal basket and telescoping handle. This will keep from bruising the fruit and allow you to extend your reach safely.

•    A perfect fruit tree for the lazy gardener may be the “strawberry tree.” It produces large amounts of small, sweet fruits (twice a year) that are easily removed by shaking the tree. The tree grows well in poor soils and only requires extra watering during periods of extended drought. It can grow to 40 feet and is a favorite of wildlife.

•    The fringed hibiscus is an exotic, fast growing shrub, native to Africa.The entire flower hangs downward, creating a unique effect. Loved by visiting hummingbirds, it will thrive in partial sun, blooming throughout the warmer months.  Although they may reach 10′ high, and 5′ wide, hibiscus can also be grown in containers.

Lawns

•    Golden Rule:  Never cut off more than 1/3 of your lawn’s height at any one time.

•    Raise the height of your mower for cool season grasses, to let the grass blades shade the roots in the heat.

•    Mow your warm season grasses to 1 inch.

•    When the turf color declines, it is time to feed. 

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