|April is a good time to start a Centipedegrass lawn from seed. Centipede seed is very tiny and should be mixed with a dry carrier such as Milorganite to help in spreading it. Good site preparation is essential. Centipede should be planted on bare soft soil in full sun, and should be lightly covered. Keep the seedbed moist (not soggy) and mow the weeds that emerge to prevent them from shading out the emerging seedlings. Centipedegrass is slow to establish from seed but requires minimal initial investment. One pound can be stretched to cover 4,000 square feet but you will get a lawn quicker by sowing the seed thicker.|
This is caused by a condition called Blossom End Rot. One of the contributing factors is a deficiency of Calcium in the plant. We like to add lime to the soil when planting Tomatoes to supply them with needed Calcium. However in spite of doing this you may still get Blossom End Rot. During the growing season you can spray the entire plant with Ferti-lome Yield Booster (which contains Calcium chloride solution) to prevent this condition from ruining the fruit.
My Camellias have some white dots on the undersides of the leaves and some yellowing from it too. What is causing this and how do I stop it?
What you see on your Camellias are Tea Scale. Tea Scale can be safely and effectively controlled by spraying thoroughly with SunSpray Ultra-fine Oil. This oil is safe to spray all year long. Many other oil sprays should not be used in hot weather, but Sunspray can be relied on even in our summer heat. This product kills by smothering instead of poisoning and can be very effective by repeating the spray treatment about 3 weeks after the first treatment.
What is causing my Indian Hawthorn to have a lot of reddish and brown spots on their leaves? They seem to be getting thinner too.
Unfortunately Indian Hawthorn are susceptible to Entomosphorium Leaf Spot disease. Rake away fallen leaves and spray the new growth with a protectant fungicide every 7 to 10 days until the leaves mature. We like to use Ortho Rose Pride (formerly called Funginex )because it is colorless.
We prefer to wait until the soil has warmed up during April to plant Caladium bulbs. If Caladium bulbs are exposed to cold damp conditions the risk of losing them from fungal diseases is greater. Caladiums will respond to warm soil by rooting and sending out leaves quicker. This is why many professional growers “force” Caladiums by placing trays of moist potted bulbs in special heat tents to keep them warm.
|We suggest drenching their ground nest entrance hole with Demon WP during the evening. Yellow Jackets return to their colony at dusk and are less likely to attack at night. Demon WP comes in foil packages that have 4 soluble packages inside. Mix two of the soluble packages per gallon of water into a bucket or large watering can. If you can cover the entrance hole with screen do so right before quickly pouring the Demon solution down their hole. If you are unable to locate the ground nest location we suggest setting out Yellow Jacket traps. Yellow Jacket traps will lure very large numbers of these insects that can then be destroyed after they are trapped. Yellow Jacket traps are reusable, we also stock the attractant to place into the traps.|
Unfortunately Norfolk Island Pines are tender to cold and will eventually freeze here during a normal winter. Bring your tree in when freezing weather is forecast- they can be grown outside in protected areas in central Florida and throughout the southern part of our state. In our area Leyland Cypress, Deodar Cedar, Red Cedar, and various upright Junipers would make good outdoor living Christmas trees.
I have a book that lists Poinsettias as a poisonous plant, but a recent magazine article states that they are not poisonous. Who is right?
I have a weed in my lawn each spring that is very low to the ground, deep green with finely divided leaves that resemble parsley. If you step on this weed bare-footed it has little prickles that will hurt your feet when it is stepped on. What is it and how do I control it?
The weed that you have described is known as Spurweed. The best way to control it is to spray Hi-Yield Atrazine on the lawn in late December or early January. One pint of Atrazine will cover 10,900 square feet of lawn.
Water them well before the freeze. Small plants can be covered with Frost Cloth or Pinestraw when freezing temperatures are forecast, larger shrubs and small trees can be covered-try to avoid letting plastic touch leaves to avoid cold injury- Frost Cloth or plastic on a frame works well. Ideally covers should reach to the ground to help hold in heat from the ground. Placing tender plants where they will be shielded from wind or benefit from heat escaping from a building can also help. Anti-transpirants, such as Wilt-Pruf can help prevent desiccation from the cold. Use of Christmas mini lights or 100 watt light bulbs can give off protecting heat- be careful to use outdoor rated plugs. We do not recommend home owners using irrigation and icing techniques used by commercial growers because fresh ice must continue to be formed until the temperature rises back up to 32, and the risk of ice breaking limbs and leaves.
Alfred B. Maclay State Gardens 3540 Thomasville Road Phone: 850-487-4556 has a magnificent collection. Dorothy B. Oven Park and Meeting House 3205 Thomasville Road
Phone: (850) 891-3915 has an incredible older Camellia collection too.
1. I have a weed in my lawn and in flower beds that has scalloped leaves and white tuberous roots that resemble a Rattlesnake’s rattle. It seems to be taking over, I have tried to pull it up but it keeps coming back. How can I stop this weed?
The weed that you are describing is Florida Betony (Stachys floridana). To control it in your lawn we recommend spraying with Hi-Yield Pre-Emergent Herbicide in mid to late February. One pint will cover 10,900 square feet of lawn (roughly a quarter of an acre). To control it in beds spot treat with Hi-Yield Killzall. Killzall must be sprayed on the leaves to be effective, because it has no soil activity you will be free to plant areas where it has been sprayed. Keep off of the foliage of desirable plants because Killzall will damage whatever it is sprayed on. Florida Betony is difficult to control. You will likely need to spray again in November and next February. Bring us samples of your problem weeds and we will give you the best control strategies for eliminating them.
The most cold hardy citrus for our region include the Satsuma Orange, Kumquats,and the Calamondin Orange. Satsumas are a variety of Mandarin Orange(tangerine) originally from Japan. Satsuma fruit are easy to peel, have excellent flavor and have only a few seed. ‘Nagami’ Kumquat has tart oblong fruit and ‘Meiwa’ Kumquat has round sweet fruit. Kumquat fruit are usually eaten whole. The Calamondin Orange has small very tart fruit that resemble miniature tangerines. They are best used to make drinks and in cooking. They are very popular in the Philippine Islands.
It is normal for the lower leaves of most varieties of azaleas to turn solid yellow at this time. Varieties that are semi-deciduous will have the most yellow leaves. Azaleas that are under drought stress and those growing in excessive sun will often have more yellow leaves. You can reduce the amount of leaf loss by watering deeply during dry spells and by applying 5-4-7 Acid Blend fertilizer in April, early June and late August. Be sure to bring in samples of yellowing leaves for us to look at because nutritional disorders, mites, lace bugs, diseases or other problems may be responsible for the yellowing.
4. We need to have flowers in bloom in late February for a special event-what can I plant now to give good color?
Some good choices for Winter flowers include Flowering Cabbage, Kale, Dianthus, Pansies, Violas, and Snapdragons
Fertilization weed-insect control department
Where you fit into our schedule depends on where you live. To hold overhead costs down, we group everyone in a certain neighborhood together and schedule them at the same time. Generally, the applications will be approximately every 2 ½ to 3 months apart, but timing may vary depending on climatic conditions. You will know we have serviced your yard by the small sign posted near the front curb. These are required by law, but may be removed after 24 hours. Also, unless previously arranged, your invoice for that particular treatment will be left on your door.
We try to use the safest chemicals on the market that will still provide good results, but as a safeguard, we ask that children and pets be kept off the lawn until the spray has thoroughly dried. Drying time is approximately four hours if it is a sunny day or up to six hours if the sky is cloudy.
Mowing prior to an application is okay; however, once chemicals have been applied you will need to wait two (2) days before mowing your lawn. This will allow the chemical adequate time to enter the plant’s systems for maximum effectiveness. Do Not remove the clippings if possible. If weeds are prevalent, waiting three to four (3-4) days for the herbicide to perform is best.
There is no need to water your lawn after each application unless you are otherwise instructed to do so. Please be sure to ALWAYS read the notes supplied on the tickets by our spray technician.
The landscape beds are not treated for weeds under this program. If you have a weed control problem in the flower and shrub beds, call our office and we will advise you on what alternatives are available.
NO. In order to effectively control ants, treatments need to be made more frequently than this scheduled program. Baits are the most effective means of controlling ants. Under the program insecticides are applied only to control “turf destroying” insects such as spittlebugs, sod web worms, chinch bugs, mole crickets. Ants are not classified as turf destroying since they do no harm to the turf by eating or sucking plant juices.
7. Will the spray program kill out grassy weeds Bahia grass, Dove weed, Crabgrass, Nutsedge, etc. in the lawn?
The pre- and post-emergent herbicides used in this program are designed for broad leaf weeds only and have no affect on grassy weeds.
No, wait until later in the Spring before cutting them back because not all of the damage is clearly evident yet. Some stems may be partially damaged and be subject to dying back later in the season requiring a second pruning. After new sprouts emerge on the limbs cut them back several inches into healthy wood . My neighbor cuts his Crape Myrtle limbs back to ugly large stubs each Winter. He says that cutting them back helps to make them bloom better. My co-workers tell me that you shouldn’t prune them that way. Who is right?
Peach trees are subject to attack from Scale insects. We suggest spraying the trees thoroughly with Hi-Yield Dormant Spray at this time to smother them.
No, wait until later in the Spring before cutting them back because not all of the damage is clearly evident yet. Some stems may be partially damaged and be subject to dying back later in the season requiring a second pruning. After new sprouts emerge on the limbs cut them back several inches into healthy wood .
My neighbor cuts his Crape Myrtle limbs back to ugly large stubs each Winter. He says that cutting them back helps to make them bloom better. My co-workers tell me that you shouldn’t prune them that way. Who is right?
Your neighbors pruning technique is an old practice that is generally frowned upon now. Some gardeners call this type of pruning “Crape Murder” because the natural form of the shrub is destroyed. We would suggest removing dead wood, diseased or broken wood, unwanted sprouts from the base or along the trunks and skinny wood smaller in diameter than a pencil. Pruning in this fashion will give you plenty of blooms and a nice natural looking form even in the Winter when the branches is all we have to look at.
4. What are the earliest flowering trees in our area? I remember seeing some blooming last January.
Two of our favorite very early flowering trees are the Taiwan Cherry (Prunus campanula) and the Japanese Magnolias (Magnolia liliflora and relatives). The Taiwan Cherry becomes covered with rose-pink bell shaped flowers before the leaves emerge. There are several good Japanese Magnolias for our area .’Soulangeana’ a light purple variety is the most popular one in our area. The large saucer shaped flowers of the Japanese Magnolias also appear before the leaves come out. Both of these trees can be expected to bloom in late January or early February depending on the weather.
Peach trees are subject to attack from Scale insects. We suggest spraying the trees thoroughly with Hi-Yield Dormant Spray at this time to smother them.
Late January and early February are ideal times to give them their first pruning of the year. Remove all dead canes, broken wood, diseased canes and small skinny canes. Also remove any canes growing toward the center of the bush to keep the center open. Save only 4 of 5 of the strongest canes and cut them back at about knee height. Make the cuts at a 45 degree angle about one quarter of an inch above outward facing buds. Be sure to use sharp clippers and to dip the blades in alcohol between cuts.
My Azaleas have yellowing leaves that appear as if the green has been partially scraped off with sandpaper. There are dark shiny spots on the undersides of the leaves. What is causing this to occur and how can I stop it?
|The yellowing on your Azaleas leaves is from the feeding activity of Azalea Lacebugs. The shiny black spots on the undersides of the leaves are excrement from these pests. Lacebugs are tiny insects with lacy clear wings that are often unnoticed because they feed on the underside surface of leaves.|
During the summer heat most lawn weed killers should be avoided to prevent injuring the grass. The herbicide Image is an exception to this general rule. Image can safely control a number of difficult weeds such as Dollarweed, Nutsedge, Bahiagrass, and Dandelions in Bermuda, Centipede, St. Augustine and Zoysia lawns. Bring us examples of the weeds that you would to like to control to see if they are labeled. Several of the weeds that Image can control will require repeat applications spaced 6 weeks apart.
The Crape Myrtle Aphid is causing the leaves to get a black coating. Crape Myrtle Aphids are small pale yellow insects that feed on plant sap. These insects secrete a sugary substance called honeydew as they feed. The black coating that you see is is called sooty mold. Sooty Mold forms on the honeydew secretion not directly on the leaves. To stop the problem you can kill the aphids with Insecticidal Soap, Ortho Systemic Insecticide, Hi- Yield Malathion or SunSpray Ultra-fine Oil.
What is causing my St. Augustine grass lawn to yellow and die in patches that are in the sun on good well drained soil?
We suggest spraying the undersides of the leaves with Sunspray Ultra-fine Oil . This will smother immature Whiteflies instead of poisoning them. Repeat the spraying at 3 week intervals until control is achieved. This oil is safe to use all year long.
You can prune back your Azaleas up to early July without loss of future blooms. We suggest July 4th for a convenient date to remember to serve as the last day for pruning Azaleas. Remove strong growing erratic shoots several inches below the outer level of the shrub so that the new growth will not quickly out grow the limits that you would like to set. We suggest using lopping shears with a by-pass cutting action to provide sharp clean cuts.
How often should we set our irrigation system time-clock to come on, and how long should it run in each zone?
|Don’t rely on your time-clock to set up an irrigation schedule. Instead water only when your lawngrass turns a wilted gray-green color. It is important to water deeply applying 1/2 to 3/4 inch of water to wet the entire root zone. If you do not apply enough water a shallow root system that is even more sensitive to drought will be the result. To determine how long you should water place several cans or rain gauges out in the sprinkler pattern to catch water until the desired amount is applied. It is very important to avoid frequent light irrigations that provide a perfect environment for diseases and stimulate excess growth that leads to thatch problems. If you are leaving your property for a long period it is generally safe to set the time-clock to run about every 5 or 6 days, your water output test will let you know how long each zone should be.|
1. What “weed and feed” fertilizer would you recommend to put on my lawn that has both Centipede and St. Augustine grass?
When your lawn is about 50% green (mid-March) you can apply Ferti-lome St.Augustine Weed and Feed to kill young tender weeds and to prevent warm season weeds from emerging. This is safe on Centipede grass. It will help with Chickweed, Dollarweed, and Oxalis. If you have large Clover, Dandelion and Spurge we would recommend waiting until the lawn has entirely greened up (April) and applying Ferti-lome WeedOut Plus Lawn Fertilizer. Bring in samples of your weeds for additional help.
Esposito’s Own Brand 15-0-15 with 50 percent water insoluble nitrogen is specially blended to satisfy the latest recommendations from lawn experts with Florida’s County Extension Service. Apply after your lawn has greened up.
Armadillos feed on white grubs and earthworms. One strategy is to reduce the grub population and to apply a repellent to make the earthworms distasteful to them. We recommend applying Hi-Yield Kill-A-Grub granules to the lawn and watering in with Dr.T’s Whole Control.
4. My yard is too shady for Centipede grass to grow. Can you recommend a good grass for me to plant?
St. Augustine grass varieties are our only choices for the shade here in the deep south. ‘Amerishade’ is a new very shade tolerant variety developed by The Scotts Co. that is now available in sod and plugs. ‘Amerishade’ received the highest rating for its performance in shade studies conducted at LSU in 1996 and 1997. ‘Amerishade’ has a dwarf growth habit (lower than ‘Seville’) and can be mowed between 1-2” high! We are excited about the potential for this attractive St. Augustine variety because it is lower growing and more shade tolerant than other varieties.
Fertilize your Azaleas after they finish flowering with Esposito’s Own 5-4-7 with minors. Be sure to rake away fallen blooms first to help avoid future attacks of Azalea Petal Blight.
Good heat tolerant flowers include Begonias, Blue Daze, Globe Amaranth, Impatiens, Lantana, Melampodium, Pentas, Portulaca, and Vinca
You can change the color of the blooms of many varieties of Hydrangeas by adjusting the soil pH (a measure of how acid or alkaline the soil is). Many Hydrangeas will have blue flowers when they are growing in an acidic soil. To help produce blue flowers drop the soil pH by using Aluminum sulphate, Sulfur or Ironite. To change the blooms of a Hydrangea to a pink or rose color you can broadcast Hydrated Lime or Dolomitic Lime around them and water in. Our soils are acidic in our area and pH adjustment for flower color will often have to be repeated in the future because the soil returns to a more acid condition over time.
My daylilies have dying leaves with raised orange and brown spots on them. What can I do to prevent this from happening?
You likely have Daylily Rust (Puccinia hemerocallidis) a new disease that will require removing and destroying infected leaves and spraying the new leaves that come out. We suggest spraying the new leaves that emerge on a 7 to 14 day schedule with two separate fungicides. Start by spraying with Ferti-lome Broad Spectrum Fungicide (Daconil) then the next time that you spray use Ferti-lome Systemic Liquid Fungicide (Banner). This spray schedule should be kept up until the leaves mature and anytime that there is new growth on your Daylilies.
Tulips are best treated as annuals in our region. Bulbs purchased in the fall should be placed in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 weeks before planting to provide the pre-chilling that they require. Remove and discard the bulbs after they finish flowering in the spring. Tulips do not keep their leaves long enough here to store needed energy for good re-blooming due to our early summer heat. Our winter season does not provide enough consistent chilling for them either. The strong splash of color they offer to the Spring garden make them well worth the extra effort they require.
For the Spring Paper-white Narcissus are very well adapted to our area as well as some Daffodils such as ‘Fortune’ ‘Ice Follies’ and ‘Carlton’. Snowdrops (Leucojum) are another spring blooming bulb that will naturalize here. Summer blooming bulbs such as Amaryllis, Crinums, Dahlias, Gladiolus, Gloriosa Lily, Spider Lily (Hymenocallis), Louisiana Iris, Formosan (or Philipine)Lily, and the Zepher Lily perform well here. The Lycoris (Hurricane or Red Spider Lily) blooms in late summer or in the fall dependably in our region.
Many of the large weeds that are troublesome in the spring are cool season annuals. They sprout in the fall, grow through the winter and bloom in the spring before dying from the summer heat. By applying a pre-emergent herbicide in the fall you can help prevent them from becoming a problem. We suggest spraying Hi-Yield Atrazine or spreading Scott’s Halts now to stop the weeds from becoming a problem next spring.
You are describing the Tea Olive (Osmanthus fragrans). This upright growing, evergreen shrub starts blooming in the fall and continues into the spring. Although the individual blooms are very small their fragrance is very intense. We count the Tea Olive as one of our favorites and highly recommend planting them for a vertical accent and for their rich fragrance.
The best choices for fall color in our area include Bradford Pear, Dogwood, Ginkgo, Japanese Maple, Red Maple, Shumard Oak, Sweetgum, Sourwood, Tulip Poplar and Water Tupelo. Fall color is slow to develop here. We often have bright “fall color” developing in November and persisting into December.
You can plant a wide array of cool season vegetables that will grow through the Winter such as Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Onions, Radishes, and Turnips. Flowers that can be planted now include Sweet Alyssum, Bachelors-Buttons, Calendulas, California Poppies, Clarkias, Delphiniums, Dianthus, Gaillardia, Gyposphila, Hollyhock, Larkspur, Linaria, Lobelia, Lupine, Nasturtium, Nicotiana, Pansy, Petunia, Phlox, Scabiosa, Statice, Stock, Sweet Pea, and Viola. Now is also the time to plant Amaryllis, Freeesia, Dutch Iris, Leucojum, Lycoris, Narcissus, and Ornithogalum bulbs.
We usually refer to this shrub as Cassia (Cassia bicapsularis ). Cassia is a good choice for full sun locations when planted where it will not be missed in the winter when the frost kills it to the ground. Cassia usually sprouts out again in the spring and will often grow as high as 15 feet before winter. Cassia rewards us with bright golden yellow blooms that remind us of butterflies each fall.
|Scott’s Winterizer fertilizers have an analysis of 24-3-12 and 22-3-14 which are inappropriate for our sub-tropical turf grasses in the fall. It is best to avoid using high rates of nitrogen in the fall here to avoid succulent late growth which may not have time to harden off before frost. Potassium (Potash) the last number of a fertilizer analysis should be higher than Nitrogen in the Fall here at the advice of our Cooperative Extension Service. This is why we carry our own Esposito’s Winterizer (5-0-20). The elevated Potassium encourages the buildup of carbohydrates in the roots and rhizomes of our grasses improving their cold resistance. We are aware that Fall application of Nitrogen on cool climate grasses such as bluegrass and fescue in northern states can be beneficial to them.|
Yes, we suggest fertilizing now with Esposito’s Winterizer (5-0-20) to help improve lawn cold tolerance and spring recovery. (See October Questions for additional information).
How can I stop my grass from dying? It looks like it has been “chewed down” close to the ground in irregular patches and is turning brown.
You are describing the injury that is common from the attacks of the Tropical Sod Webworm, a very small caterpillar that is the larvae of a night flying moth. Close inspections of the grass blades reveal chewed out notches in the edges and on occasion chewed grass droppings can be found. We recommend applying a proven insecticide to control them. Come by our store and we can show you effective sprays and granular products. Our spray department can control Sod Webworms for you by setting up an appointment, call us at 850-386-2114.
What is the tall shrub that has large double flowers that change in color from white to pink and how do I grow it?
You are describing the shrub that is nicknamed Confederate Rose (Hibiscus mutabilis). Confederate Rose is native to southern China and has been popular in our area for several generations. Give it a sunny location, use 5-4-7 Azalea/Camellia fertilizer in the Spring and Summer ,water during long dry spells and watch for Whiteflies. This shrub loses all of its leaves in the winter. Confederate Rose can grow over 15 feet tall if not pruned.
Visit our Year Round Color photo album for a good picture of a Confederate Rose bloom.