Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Coastal and Tropical South

July, 2005
Regional Report

Pick Okra Often

Whether you consider it nasty and sticky, or love it fried and stewed, it's prime okra season. Pick frequently while small, and fertilize only lightly, if at all, once it's producing. Leaf miners may show up on lower leaves. Pick them off as soon as you see them and destroy them.

Provide Shade for Tomatoes

Many troubles can beset tomato plants, including sunburn. Mature plants and even ripening fruit can get bronzy or burnished-looking with no other symptoms. Young plants for the fall crop can completely burn up in full sun. Hang white barrier cloth, thin burlap, or an old sheet to block the sun.

Watch for Azalea Caterpillars

Azalea caterpillars hatch this month. Easy to spot, the caterpillars have big orange-red "heads" and "spines" along their sides, black hairs, and white sides. They hatch in summer, eat lots of leaves, then overwinter in the ground for more trouble next year. Pick them off now before they can bury themselves.

Adjust Mowing Heights

Proper mowing heights differ depending on what kind of lawn grass you have. Starting with St. Augustine at 2 inches, the heights get shorter, in turn, for zoysia, centipede, carpetgrass, and Bermuda (1/2 to 1 inch at most). Don't cut off more than half the blades' height at once.

Be Discriminating When Pruning Flowering Shrubs

Spare the shears on azaleas and other spring-blooming shrubs because their buds are setting for next year. Do prune cape jasmine and crape myrtle after they bloom to shape plants and encourage more buds. Use care when clipping hydrangeas and be sure not to cut all the green stems off older varieties.


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