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Weekly Gardening Tips for Your Area


Sept. 2013 To-Do List: Coastal & Tropical South

Susan Wells

garden tools and watering canThink about plants to accent the entrance to your home or garden. Climbing vines on a structure draw the viewer’s eye upward. If you are planning to grow vines up a trellis next to the side of a house, install the trellis a foot from the structure. This allows breathing room for both the structure and the vines, plus allows the overhanging roof’s runoff to water the vines. To accent an entrance, windmill palms or sagos deliver palm power.


  • Autumn is the time to plant parsley, cilantro, dill, fennel, chives, and garlic.
  • Acting as a host plant for swallowtail butterflies, parsley grows easily from seed. Plant plenty so you get some and so do the larvae. Typically, they’ll eat parsley to the ground. It’ll flush back out once they have moved on.
  • A 1-inch, deeply turned-in blanket of compost will prepare an old tomato row for new  vegetables. Dust garden lime into the soil to ready it for September spinach.
  • Plant broccoli, garlic, shallots and lettuce.  
  • Seedlings will need to be sheltered from hard rains or tropical storms until they are established.
  • Keep beds weed free, well watered, and fertilized monthly for best growth.


  • Fall’s the best time to tie and direct climbing roses, cut out dead canes, and replace their mulch. The canes are still supple even if the thorns are mature.
  • Untie the canes and rearrange them on the trellis, never through it, and only use soft ties that give with the roses’ growth.
  • Proper watering and fertilization are key to growing great roses. Using drip irrigation keeps the rose foliage dry, helping prevent black spot and other diseases. Raking up any fallen black spotted foliage will help reduce reinfection this winter.
  • For fertilizer, use  20-10-20 for container roses and specially formulated rose food on roses in the ground. Annual additions of compost around all roses will also help them grow strong.
  • In a narrow side yard, or small courtyard, low growing foundation plants (begonias, coleus and impatiens) don’t take up much space but add a late season punch of color.


  • The needles of the mugho pine are a delicacy for the European pine sawfly. Eating only last year’s needles, they will not kill the tree. To beat the pests, remove any needles with rows of yellow eggs on them, now through winter. Larvae emerge in the spring, causing the needles where the eggs were laid to look like curled straw.
  • The sandy soils of the Coastal Tropical South can shed water quickly, so drought tolerance is important in palm choices.
  • Fertilizing palms is a necessity, yet few agree on what to apply and when. Read the labels until you find a slow-release formula with micronutrients that lists the major elements (N-P-K) in a 3:1:3 ratio. Even in the tropics, fertilizing three times a year with such a formula is plenty. Overfeeding palms can shock and even kill them, but no fertilizer at all for a young plant is slow starvation. 


  • Keep alert for fungal problems on lawns, such as brown patch and gray leaf spot. To prevent these diseases from spreading, use low nitrogen fertilizers during warm months and water only in the morning year round.

 Image: SS/Sunny Forest

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