St. Augustine grass.
Photo: LSU AgCenter.
A groundskeeper for a local courthouse invited AHA to examine the front lawn of this public building. The grass is St. Augustine, a popular warm season grass, and this lawn is very recoverable.
AHA recommends the “3+3” plan for improving the appearance of the lawn:
1. The first “3” is setting the mower height to three inches. St. Augustine responds poorly to low mower heights.
2. The second “3” is three fertilizations per growing season in April, June, and August. St. Augustine responds very well to fertilizations and gives the attractive green color we like.
a. A soil test kit from an AgCenter or garden centers are available to conduct a soil analysis.
b. After the recommendations come back, apply lime as soon as possible if needed.
c. Then fertilize in the months listed above.
This “3+3” plan is a good start to bring St. Augustine lawns back to life. Once this grass is healthy and green, it will be denser and will overwhelm more weeds.
Mediterranean gecko egg.
Photo: Gerald Darbonne.
Gerald sent a question and a very good closeup image of a tiny, pearl-like egg. He asks, “My wife found this egg in a bedroom on the carpet, in a used mobile home we bought…. It seems very hard, but light like it’s empty. [Do you have] any idea of what it might be?”
Initially, AHA thought the egg in the image was from an insect and sent the image to the Louisiana State Arthropod Museum in Baton Rouge. The curator of the museum responded quickly identified the egg of the Mediterranean gecko. The Med gecko is harmless and tends to come indoors during cold weather. This lizard is better at eating insects in the landscape than indoors so it should be placed outside.
Flowers of spotted bee balm, a cool season plant.
Photo: Vicky Smith.
Vicky sent in a very good image of a wildflower and asked, “[I] found this plant on the edge of a hay field in Trout, LA while walking. Can you tell me what it is?”
AHA attempted to identify the plant and then asked an AgCenter horticulture agent, Kerry Heafner, to confirm the name of this plant. Well, AHA was wrong. Heafner wrote about this plant, “After enlarging the pic, the plant on the left looks like it has opposite leaves throughout, and spotting is visible on the spent flowers. To me, this more closely resembles Monarda punctata, spotted bee balm.” SBB is native to the eastern half of North American and to California.
According to the USDA, this plant is also called dotted horsemint and is a member of the mint family. Native Americans used SBB for colds, fevers, headaches and skin conditions. It was also used as an aromatic herb by the Navajo. Hummingbirds feed on its nectar, and its flowers attract pollinator insects.
If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337-463-7006 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, you can be on the “green thumbs” email list by emailing your request to the address above.
“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”