Richard Bogren, Huffstickler, Kyle, Gill, Daniel J., Owings, Allen D.
Many times, we tend to neglect our home landscapes during the summer, but this can be a time of the year when problems arise. Summer officially will last only three months, but real summer growing conditions in Louisiana can last 120-150 days. During this hard time of the year in the landscape, several horticultural practices need to be done.
Here are a few items to be thinking about for home landscape “chores” over the next few months.
– It is important to control thrips, aphids, cucumber beetles and spider mites on roses by using a recommended insecticide or miticide. You also can encourage beneficial insects to become established in the landscape. This will reduce the need to apply insecticides to eliminate harmful insects. On highly susceptible varieties of roses, primarily the hybrid tea types, continue blackspot control by using a recommended fungicide at seven- to 10-day intervals.
– When irrigating landscape plants, water the soil thoroughly. Try to irrigate less often, but irrigate well each time. Light, overhead sprinkling is not the best way to water.
– You can continue to plant warm-season bedding plants through the warm Louisiana summer. Examples are coleus, periwinkle (vinca), blue daze, scaevola, zinnias, melampodium, portulaca and begonias.
– You can plant lantanas, too. They thrive in Louisiana’s hot summers. Try lantanas in containers as well. The new Landmark and Lucky series are highly recommended as are the new Bandana series and the new variety Chapel Hill Yellow.
– Plant sunflowers in late summer. Have you noticed the new flower colors available in sunflowers? Flower colors include yellow, orange, red, bronze, white and combinations of these.
Most sunflowers make flowers about 60 days after you sow the seed. So count forward or backward on your calendars and sow seed based on when you would like flowering to start. Keep in mind the first frost may come in mid-November.
– We are past the point when we should have pruned azaleas. Azaleas need to be pruned no later than mid-July – and normally by July 4. Pruning azaleas after early to midsummer may remove next season’s developing flower buds. This applies to most spring-flowering shrubs as well as hydrangeas and gardenias.
– Camellias and azaleas need care to set a good crop of flower buds for next year. Healthy, vigorous plants will set buds, but weak plants may not. If plants lack vigor, fertilize them, provide moisture during stressful periods and control pests. Remember that these acid-loving plants need a pH of 5.5.
– Cut faded flowers from annuals and perennials to encourage new growth and more flowers. Old blooms and seed heads left on plants can retard continued flower production.
These tasks should keep us busy for the next few weeks. Remember to watch the heat and humidity, and do not overdo it. With heat indices between 100-105 on most days during the summer in Louisiana, plants and people suffer.
Visit LaHouse in Baton Rouge to see sustainable landscape practices in action. The home and landscape resource center is near the intersection of Burbank Drive and Nicholson Drive (Louisiana Highway 30) in Baton Rouge, across the street from the LSU baseball stadium. For more information, go to www.louisianahouse.org and www.lsuagcenter.com/lyn.