2002 Garden & Plant
 


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Be sure to stop by Betty's if you have any questions or need advice.


LAWN CARE

Warm season grasses such as Bermuda and Zoysia are ready for their second round of fertilizer. We recommend 'Sta-Green Ultimate.' Sharpen your mower blade at least once a month to get a clean cut which won't brown out in a few days.

Fungus on your fescue, especially if you have a lawn irrigation system, can be a sign of June in Northern Virginia. Prevent, rather than cure, by applying a granular 'Bayleton' product just after mowing. Water in the product with at least 1/2" water over all treated areas. You could, of course, plan your application to coincide with the next good rain.

If you notice patches of white cobwebs on the lawn in the early morning which disappear after 8 AM or so, you probably already have the lawn fungus, pythium. Dieback will begin as a small circle and spread. Cure is more difficult than prevention. First, allow the lawn to dry out. Future watering should only be once or twice a week for long enough to water to a depth of 1". Apply lime if you haven't already this year to make already applied nutrients more available to higher pH loving grass plants. If you have a severe infestation, you may need to treat with a liquid mix of 'Aliette' or 'Subdue.'

Faint Fescue: If you notice that your lawn is loosing its bright, green color, apply Betty's Minor Miracle with 10% iron.

Weeds: If you applied 'Team' or 'Scott's' weed pre-emergents in the spring, your second application should be made on or about June 10th. Bring in weed samples to Betty's for identification and suggested cures. Crabgrass and yellow nut sedge are sprouting on sunny lawns during the first week of June.

TREES, SHRUBS AND GROUNDCOVERS

Newly planted trees and shrubs need to be watered once a week now (unless we get a good rain) and twice a week when the weather really heats up in July through early September. When the top of the soil over the root ball feels dry, water each plant for 20 minutes or so with the hose on trickle. You are trying to encourage root growth at the lower part of the root ball so the plant will be more drought resistant in future years.

Pruning: Dead limbs on any trees or shrubs should be cut back to the live wood. Always cut back to a bud or almost flush to a branch or the plant trunk. Leave the 'collar' of the dead branch … the little rumple of bark where the dead branch and the healthy growth meet. Cells within this collar will grow a protective layer where you have cut.

June is your last chance to prune fall blooming camellias … sasanqua's.

Snap off the developing seed pods left over from azalea and rhododendron bloom now. Be gentle. The buds for next year's bloom are just under these pods.

Butterfly Bush: Leaving work and problems for a moment, there are some relatively new varieties of Butterfly Bush available at Betty's that are suitable for use in smaller gardens. 'Nanho Purple', 'Nanho Blue', 'Petite Indigo', and 'Petite Plum' all mature at 6' by 6'. You can easily trim back in late winter and maintain in the 3-4' range.

Propagate: Stem cuttings can be taken now from your shrubs and perennials. Azaleas and roses are popular choices for home propagation. Cut off the new stem tip, taking at least 4 leaves. Abrade the bart on the bottom end of the cutting slightly. Dip in rooting hormone, if available, and plant in light soil in a shady spot. Cover the cuttings with a clear plastic tent or an old, clear glass jar to provide a humid growing environment for about 1 month. Remove the protective cover when root growth is visible. Keep cutting in a sheltered, but outdoor environment for one year before setting out in the garden. Stem tips propagated now are called 'soft wood'

Cuttings: Check with us to find out if the particular plant you wish to propagate is best done as a 'soft wood' or a 'hard wood' cutting.

June's Bugs: Northern Virginia gardeners must get serious this month to protect many of our ornamental plants from devastating insect infestations.

  • Aphids love tender new growth on roses, hibiscus and many other plants. Control can be as simple as blasting them off the plant with a water hose. Aphids don't move around very well and will often be unable to return to their feasting. A severe infestation can be treated with a number of systemic insecticides. Never use systemics on edible plants, however.
  • Bagworms like junipers and arborvitae but will attack most needle or scale leaf evergreens. They are actually caterpillars which make a little bag-like nests out of dead foliage. They emerge from their bags to eat your new foliage and can be quite thorough. The bags aren't hard to see. If their aren't too many, hand pick them and burn. If there are too many to pick, spray with malathion, Sevin or Orthene according to package instructions.
  • Japanese Beetles are now in season and will remain with us for about six weeks. We recommend as a long lasting control a mixture of 1 gallon water, 2 oz. Sevin, 1 oz. Permethrin, l oz of any fungicide and 6 oz of 'Wilt-Pruf' as a spreader-sticker. Be sure to spray ornamental cherry trees, red foliage trees, grapes, fruits, filberts, linden trees and roses. Planting white geraniums at the base of roses will attract and kill Japanese beetles. Place any beetle traps well away from all of these plants. Traps work best if used both by you and all your neighbors.
    Once the beetles have laid their eggs in the soil toward the end of June, you can treat next year's problem in the soil. If your home has moderate beetle problems and is five years old or less, apply 'Merit' now. If you have an older home, apply 'Dylox' in August to treat for both Japanese beetle grubs and sod webworms (which eat your grass at root level. If you have moles and/or voles, you have a severe grub problem which needs to be treated with 'Bendiocarb' in August.
  • Spider Mites are still with us and their damage is visible on needle and scale leaf plants as irregular browned out spots at the outer edge of the branches. Dwarf Alberta Spruce is particularly susceptible and unchecked damage can severely disfigure the plant. Drop by Betty's and pick up our 'Bug' Sheet. Browned out foliage should be trimmed back to live branches. Trim tips of surrounding live foliage to force new growth into the bare spots. Spray the entire plant 2-3 times at 10 day intervals with Isotox IV. Remember to spray at dusk when there is no wind for your protection. This will also spare the bees that are so valuable as pollinators.

PERENNIALS

Daylilies! Though daylilies are not native to North America they have made their home here. There are now over 30,000 registered varieties with many hundreds of new varieties introduced every year. June is the month to select your daylilies. They will grow in almost any site that receives at least one-half a day of sun and in practically any soil. Select your plant by growing height … 1' to 2' to 3'+. Select by bloom time … early, mid-season and late summer. Select for repeat bloom in a some varieties … 'Stella de Oro', 'Black Eyed Stella', 'Happy Returns' to name a few. Select for scent as with 'Hyperion.' Above all, select for color. With so much to choose from it only makes sense to wait until June when the stock is in bloom to make your choices.

A good companion plant for the daylily is narcissus. This spring flowering bulb will keep your bed from looking bare early in the season. Later, the daylily foliage will hide the less than beautiful maturing narcissus foliage.

VEGETABLE GARDENS

Watering your vegetable garden would seem to be a fairly straightforward process. It can, however, be done wrong. When you water, the soil should be wet to a depth of 6-8". This will allow deep roots to develop which makes for studier plants and lessens damage during dry periods. The bottom line is that you are going to have to dig down in the soil after watering to check for moisture depth.

Squash Vine Borers can devastate squash, cucumber, and melon plant vines. One day you have gorgeous plants and the next day there is only a big, wilted mess.

There is an old gardener's trick that can foil the borers. When you set out the plants or when two true leaves have grown from seed, gently wrap the stem of each plant at ground level with a cut strip of the ubiquitous lady's panty hose. The borer will try to enter the stem at just that point.

Tomatoes. Most people purchase tomato seedlings rather than starting from seed. Select plants with deep green foliage and stocky rather than spindly stems. Read the tags if you are trying a new variety. Tomatoes are either of the determinate or indeterminate variety. Determinate tomatoes flower and fruit only once during the season. If you are planning to can your tomatoes or make sauces and salsa's, you probably would prefer this variety. Indeterminate tomatoes continue to flower and fruit over the entire growing season. Your plants will always have some new tomatoes ripening for your evening salad.

Select tomato varieties for disease resistance. The capital letters after the name of the variety, 'Beefmaster' VNF for example, indicate that the plant has been bred to resist Verticillum wilt, Nematodes (little worms in the soil which attack the roots) and Fusarium wilt. Early and late blight are also problems in our area. Remember the yellowing leaves from the bottom of the plant up? Clean up damaged stems and remove from your garden (and not to your compost bin!). Spray weekly throughout the growing season with a fungicide safe for edibles such as Maneb, Zaneb or Mancozeb.
One last note … cracks in ripening tomatoes are caused by variations in water available to the plant. Regular deep watering and a good layer of mulch around your plants will eliminate this problem.

 

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