Do you venture out during the evening hours? I do - to see my moon flowers. This is a plant pollinated by nighttime insects so it has to bloom as the sun goes down and until dawn. I was surprised to learn this is a Florida and tropical native. Mine were started in containers and transplanted to the landscape about two months ago. They do need a trellis or fence to climb. Moon flowers are easy to grow and only need a loose soil, water and a little fertilizer to create an evening display.
Why all the moths? That's what many gardeners are asking me. Well, they are most likely from the sod webworms as they push their way up the Florida peninsula. Theory has it, these insects die back each year to South Florida and then as the weather warms head northward. During mild winters I am not sure this is the case. And for sure they are plentiful this year.
So what is a gardener to do about the moths. Well, nothing. Isn't it neat, their control is not a Gotta Do? But you do have to keep your eye out for the chewing caterpillar stages. When they start to feed, you may want to apply a lawn insect control product as labeled for sod webworms or caterpillars. Just follow the label as these pests are easy to control. Now, what happens if you do nothing? Healthy lawns have no problem surviving some caterpillar feeding. Just keep the turf moist and apply a little extra fertilizer in areas where summer feedings are allowed.
Maybe caterpillar control is one thing you might do, but there are plenty of things you need to do. If you want to stay on schedule with me, start your next transplants around mid month for the fall garden. The transplants should be ready to go in the ground around mid August. It only takes four weeks to grow a tomato, pepper or eggplant ready for the garden so plan accordingly. I start my seeds one to each portion of a cell pack or one seed to a small pot. Fresh seed gives almost 100 percent germination. Keep the soil moist, grow them in full sun and feed weekly with a half strength fertilizer solution once the plants start growing
Getting the garden ready is the next chore. Remove the old declining crops, pull out the weeds and improve sandy soil and previously cropped sites with lots of organic matter. Do take time to have the soil tested and make adjustments as needed. You can take about a pint of your soil to most independent garden centers and University of Florida Extension offices to have the simple acidity test made and recommendations provided.
- Lawn feeding restrictions are in effect in some areas; check before applying fertilizer.
- Where permitted help lawns continue new growth with a slow release fertilizer application.
- Regreen yellow lawns with an iron feeding.
- Continue to repair bare spots and declining grass left from winter damage or pests.
- Control crabgrass and broadleaf weeds invading turf.
- Till problem soils deeply before adding new grass.
- Incorporate organic matter into water resistant sands before planting a new lawn.
- Rains often supply adequate moisture during the summer months; watering may not be needed.
- Wait until the lawn shows signs of wilting before watering to help it develop deeper roots.
- Avoid sodding shady spots during the rainy season to prevent decline due to rot problems.
- Remove thatch and aerate lawns if needed.
Vegetables: Boniato, calabaza, cherry tomato, okra, Southern pea, Seminole pumpkin, sweet cassava, sweet potato and yard long bean; start transplants of eggplant, peppers and tomatoes from seed in mid July.
Herbs: Anise, basil, bay laurel, chive, dill, ginger, Mexican tarragon, mint, oregano, sage, sweet marjoram and thyme.
Flowers: Angelonia, ageratum, begonia, blue daze, bush daisy, butterfly plant, bulbine, cat's whiskers, coleus, crossandra, false heather, fire spike, gaillardia, ginger, goldenrod, impatiens, lantana, marigold, melampodium, Mexican petunia, Mexican sunflower, moon flower, pentas, periwinkle, porter weed, portulaca, purslane, salvia, sunflower, torenia and classic zinnia.
Bulb-type plants: Achimenes, African iris, caladium, canna, crinum, crocosmia, day lily, eucharis lily, gladiolus, gloriosa lily, peacock ginger, society garlic, spiderwort, rain lily and walking iris.
Vegetable and fruit care:
- Tomato, eggplant and pepper plants are declining; remove when the harvest is over
- Wait to plant tomatoes, eggplants and peppers until next month.
- Replant with vegetables that won't mind the summer heat and rains.
- Sweet potatoes are a high yielding and easy to grow crop for summer.
- Locate or order seeds now for mid summer plantings; store in the refrigerator.
- Start vegetable seedlings for August transplants in small pots or cell packs in mid July.
- Feed summer vegetable plantings monthly.
- Cover vacant garden soil with clear plastic for eight weeks to bake out pests.
- Spray citrus trees with a low toxicity oil product to control greasy spot, mites and scale.
- Keep figs moist and mulched to avoid summer fruit drop.
- Feed bananas and papaya trees monthly.
- Turn the compost pile every other week.
- Prune blueberries when the harvest is over; also check and adjust the soil acidity.
- Give fruit trees light trimmings as needed to direct growth.
In the landscape:
- Most plants should have recovered from winter cold damage; replace as needed.
- Delay transplanting in ground trees and shrubs until late fall or winter.
- Now is the time to transplant palms and sagos during the rainy season.
- Remove 4- to 6-inches of new growth from poinsettias to encourage compact plants.
- Summer rains usually provide adequate water for established trees and shrubs.
- Divide the landscape into water use zones and water according to plant needs.
- Rains encourage out of bounds growth; prune plantings and edge walkways as needed.
- Mushrooms are normal growths; remove if children or pets are present as many are poisonous.
- It's not to late to trim trees but hurry to prevent wind damage during summer storms.
- Add new trees, shrubs and ground covers from containers.
- Construct a 4- to 6-inch berm of soil at the edge of root balls to aid in watering new plants.
- Water new plantings by hand to maintain a moist root ball.
- Create the tropical look with foliage plants.
- Remove declining flowers and replant with summer selections.
- Divide and replant perennials including Shasta daises, gerbera, bromeliads and many bulbs.
- Finish pruning azaleas and gardenias during early July or wait until next year.
- Root 4- to 6-inch tip cuttings from shrubs and perennials.
- Give roses a summer grooming and control black spot.
- Feed water gardens monthly.
- Clean and refill birdbaths weekly.
House and foliage plants:
- Transplant root bound foliage plants into larger containers.
- Make sure new containers and established plants have adequate drainage
- Adding pebbles or pieces of pots to the bottom of containers is still a good idea.
- Trim overgrown house plants; use trimmings for cuttings.
- Move light starved plants outdoors to a shady location.
- Ask a friend to care for your plants during vacation or move them outside to a shady spot.
- Fill empty indoor spaces with new plants.
- Feed house plants monthly or use a slow release fertilizer as instructed.
- Check for pests and remove with soapy water as needed.