Frequently Asked Questions During Early Summer

Question: Why don’t my crape myrtles bloom?
Answer: Crape myrtles are our premier summer-flowering tree providing great diversity in the landscape both from growth habit, flower color and bark color. In May and June powdery mildew disease can infect flower heads but they still bloom. I can think of only two reasons why trees fail to bloom. They are planted in excessive shade or they are pruned prior to blooming. Crape myrtles form flowers on new growth so a late spring pruning would delay, not prevent, trees from blooming, unless they are again pruned during summer. If the trees require such drastic pruning, then treat as a shrub and prune to the ground every winter or replant a variety that will comfortably grow in the space provided.

Question: Why are my tomatoes dying?
Answer: Tomatoes that wilt and die within four days probably succumbed to Southern Bacterial Wilt—a serious, soil borne disease for which there is no truly effective control. If plants take one to tw weeks to die, then Fusarium Wilt or Southern Blight disease may be the cause. Grow healthy plants by maintaining proper soil pH and fertility and water on a regular basis. Plant disease resistant varieties. Letters that follow the variety name designate its disease resistance. Submit an entire plant sample (roots included) to your parish Extension office for assistance. Visit ( for more information and photos of tomato diseases.

Question: I have several Taiwan Flowering Cherry trees and all the leaves are being eaten. I don’t see any insects. What could it be?
Answer: Without the actual insect for identification or signs of activity, like droppings, it most likely May or June beetles – the brown-colored beetles seen flying around outdoor lights in the evening. No control is recommended as their feeding activity, though obvious, seldom warrants a pesticide application.

Question: Is it too late to fertilize my St. Augustine lawn?
Answer: No. If your lawn needs fertilizer or if you want to promote growth, fertilizing St. Augustine is the best answer. Follow label directions. Apply fertilizer to a watered lawn, not stressed from drought, and then water after application.

Question: Why did my watermelons split open after the recent rains?
Answer: Fruit that develops during droughty conditions or when irrigation is infrequent can split when moisture is supplied later in its developmental stage. Consistent irrigation is crucial for proper fruit development. If heavy rainfall occurs just before harvest fruits can also split. Actually, reducing irrigation as melons near harvest increases flavor.

Question: Tiny black ants have invaded my home. Help!
Answer: If these are sugar ants sanitation is an important control measure. Wipe down all counters before bedtime. Dry the sink and recycle items nightly. Set out baits containing Fipronil or Borax. Ants will take the bait back to the colony where all ants share which is much better than the hit and miss method of spraying a household insecticide where only a few ants are controlled.

Question: What are velvet ants? I’ve been told they have a bad bite when disturbed.
Answer: Also called cow killers, velvet ants are actually wingless wasps that will sting if handled. Often, kids in the garden will pick these ants up because they are highly colored and attractive looking only to get stung making for a very unpleasant experience. When you come across one just let it be as they are considered a beneficial insect.
6/17/2011 5:12:08 PM
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