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Tom's Monthly Gotta-Do's


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We cannot ignore them – the plants are dry. Dry spring weather has made it tough to grow plants in local landscapes. We have to do our part to keep the landscapes attractive but also conserve water. First try to only water the lawns, bedding plants and shrubs on the permitted watering days. If some start to shrivel, hand watering or use of water conserving microsprinklers is permitted in most areas. Do note that after a good watering, most trees, shrubs and ground covers can go a week or two without further irrigation.

When you do water, apply three-quarters to an inch of water over the surface of the ground. How do you know when you have applied this amount? Use a shallow can or rain gauge to test your sprinkles and determine the amount applied at each watering.

Do make sure you are watering more than the mulch with ornamental plantings. Using mulch over the soil surface is good but not too much. Often during drought we water only enough to wet the mulch and not the soil. This why we recommend only a light layer of mulch over bedding plants and perennials and no more than two to three inches with shrubs and trees. Dig down a take a look to see how well you are watering.

What about container plantings? They dry out so quickly. If a plant dries out too fast, it may be an indication it has too small a pot. Stepping it up a pot size or two may help with the watering and makes for better plant growth too.

One way to help with container plant watering is keeping a saucer under the plant at this time of the year. It holds the extra water that drains through the containers and keeps it ready for use. This may supply up to a day’s worth of water.

Here are some more tips we use to conserve water at this time of the year. Catch the water from the air conditioner for watering container plants. We can capture 4 to 8 gallons of water per day. Also, save the water from dinner glasses. This too is used for plants indoors and outside too. We also catch the first cold water before showers. This is used for the roses. And also don’t forget to put a cistern under the down spouts. When it does rain here is a reserve for the dry times.

Hopefully the rainy season will return soon. No matter what, there are still plenty of Tom’s Gotta Do’s for your landscape and garden.


Tom's Gotta Do's for May, 2017:

Lawn care needed:

- Lawns have been might dry; keep up with the waterings as permitted.
-Try to stretch the time between waterings; wait until spots in the lawn start to wilt to water.
- Check for clogged or overgrown sprinkles as a cause for dry spots.
- Chinch bugs are very active; apply an effective control following label instructions.
- Now is a good time to install or repair a lawn as you control the water to prevent rot.
- In areas of prohibited summer feedings your last fertilizer application is at the end of May.
- Iron or a minor nutrient application can help regreen yellowish lawns.
- Apply a lawn fungicide after sodding new lawns to reduce turf decline due to diseases.
- Now is the time to seed new lawns or fill bare spots as seasonal rains help with the watering.
- Take time to have a soil acidity test made and if needed adjust the pH.
- Avoid mowing with dull blades; sharpen frequently.
- Take a new route at each mowing to avoid ruts in the lawn.

Landscape care:

- Get to know the drought tolerance of your plantings and water as needed.
- Most trees can go several weeks without watering; shrubs a week or more.
- Maintain a mulch layer over tree and shrub roots to help conserve moisture.
- Established annuals and perennials need twice a week watering.
- Container plantings usually need daily watering by hand or drip irrigation.
- Keep shrubs, ground covers and perennials growing with a late spring feeding.
- Prune azaleas to reduce plant size and thin out older wood before the end of June.
- Camellias only get a light grooming at this time as many have started to form flower buds.
- Prune bougainvillea when they stop blooming and before mid summer.
- Avoid shearing shrubs and perennials; remove out of bounds shoots with hand pruners.
- Replace declining spring flowers with summer survivors.
- Foliage plants make great additions to shady landscape sites.
- Add fresh soil to planters and improve sandy sites with organic matter before planting.
- Prune palms; only remove brown fronds and old flower portions.
- Feed palms with an 8-2-12 or similar slow release palm fertilizer according to label.
- Move orchids to shady landscape spots and feed every other week with a liquid fertilizer.
- Repot orchids and bromeliads overflowing their containers.
- Prune poinsettias; then cut them back 4 inches every time they produce a foot of new growth.
- Add slow release fertilizers to container plantings to reduce the number of feedings needed.
- Have older trees checked prior to hurricane season.
- Look for sap stained bark, hollow areas and twin trunks as signs of tree problems.
- Train young shade trees to have one central leader with evenly spaced branches.
- Correct drainage problems before the rainy season arrives.
- Select plants for pool and patio areas that do not drop messy flowers or foliage.
- Remove limbs affecting traffic along walkways.
- Create shady gardens with low light requiring flowers, shrubs, bulbs and foliage plants.

Vegetable and fruit plantings.
- Keep edible plantings moist and maintain a mulch over the root systems.
- Use microsprinklers or soaker hoses to conserve water.
-There is still time for a few of the quick growing warm season crops in early May.
- Good growing conditions are over for tomatoes, peppers and eggplant until August.
- Cherry or grape type tomatoes often continue some fruiting through summer.
- Tropical vegetables like hot damp weather; starts can be found at grocery stores.
- Grow your own sweet potato transplants for the garden in water or pots of soil.
- May is the last month for good herb growth; many decline due to heat and humidity.
- Give citrus, grapes and other fruits a late spring feeding.
- Apply a minor nutrient spray and control psyllids as citrus trees begin new growth.
- Groom fruiting trees and shrubs as needed to maintain the proper shape and size.
- Produce good figs by feeding lightly monthly, keeping the soil moist and using a mulch.
- Purchase seeds now for later plantings; seeds may be removed from stores during summer.

Foliage & Houseplants:

- Foliage plants love the outdoors; find a shady spot to help them recover.
- Repot plants that have outgrown their containers.
- Select a container an inch or two larger in diameter and use a good potting soil.
- It’s best to toss tulips and other forced cool climate bulbs; these are difficult to rebloom.
- Forced amaryllis can be grown outdoors in bit larger container or in the ground.
- Plant Easter lilies in the ground after blooming for a repeat performance next year.
- Reshape taller tree form foliage plants and remove declining limbs.
- Divide African violets, bromeliads and orchids.
- Wash pests and dust away with soapy water.
- Feed outdoor foliage plants monthly or use a slow release fertilizer.

May 2017 Plantings
Flowers: Angelonia, balsam, begonias, black-eyed-Susan, blue daze, bromeliads, browallia, bush daisy, butterfly weed, cat's whiskers, celosia, coleus, coreopsis, crossandra, Dahlberg daisy, gaillardia, gazania, gerbera, goldenrod, gomphrena, impatiens, liatris, marigolds, melampodium, moon vine, nicotiana, nierembergia, pentas, periwinkle, Porter weed, portulaca, purslane, salvia, sunflowers, torenia, verbena and zinnias.

Vegetables: Calabaza, chayote, cherry tomato, collards, dasheen, lima bean, snap bean, Malabar spinach, malanga, New Zealand spinach, okra, hot pepper, roselle, Seminole pumpkin, Southern pea, sweet potato, tamarillo, yam and yard-long bean.

Herbs: Anise, basil, bay laurel, cardamom, chives, coriander, dill, lemon balm, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory, sweet marjoram, mint, tarragon and thyme.

Bulbs: Achimenes, agapanthus, blood lilies, bulbine, caladiums, calla lilies, cannas, crinums, day lilies, eucharis lily, gladiolus, gloriosa lilies, peacock ginger, society garlic, spider lilies and rain lilies.

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