Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Coastal and Tropical South

October, 2010
Regional Report

Camellia care

Too often, the damage done by pests like thrips or petal blight can ruin camellia flowers, but scale insects can stunt the shrub's growth by reducing its leaf number and quality. Before this fall's buds begin to show color, take a good look at camellias and sasanquas, too. Pale color, webs on the lower surface, or "bumps" on the leaves are signs of insect invasions, particularly scale insects. Use a Neem product to control them, and follow up with oil spray after flowering.

Wildflower seed tips

Beds of blackeyed Susans, coneflowers, zinnias, Mexican hat, and other reseeding perennials and annuals have hundreds of seeds to drop, so let them go. Pull the mulch back and spread a thin layer of compost under them to insure safe landing. Or clip the seed heads before they explode and store them. Recent research shows that seeds will be more numerous when their stems are left intact until dry, but if a thunderstorm threatens nearly dry seed heads, clip and store them.

Fall lawn repair

Construction and cleaning up debris sometimes creates a need to repair the lawn once the heavy equipment is gone. Rake or till the areas to restore a gentle slope away from structures and sidewalks, and be sure it is level with the surrounding lawn. Resodding is recommended for front yards, or, for economy's sake, you can cut plugs from squares of sod. Overseed damaged areas in the lawn that cannot be repaired this fall with perennial ryegrass to prevent erosion this winter.

Let it age

Ground debris of all sorts will compost and age gracefully if you pile it up and leave it alone for long enough to let nature take its course. Do not use freshly cut material to mulch or work directly into garden beds and do not spread such "green" material over the lawn. The rotting process will take available nutrients away from plants. Let the newly cut materials rot naturally, or speed it up by mixing in 1/3 its volume in green matter and/or a sprinkling of fertilizer. Like a regular compost pile, its decomposition will be hastened by turning the pile frequently.

Rethinking raised beds

Building new raised beds or rethinking them means taking a close look at your site to consider its water supply and overall orientation. A long bed running east to west offers maximum sun, but may cause shade issues. By using smaller beds facing west for taller plants, you can put all the sunlight to work in a full sun site. If sunlight is limited, locate the beds and plants so the sun falls on the shorter plants. Or slope the bed toward the brighter light and put a soaker hose or sprinkler at the top for easy irrigation.


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