Gardening Tips-Mid April – Mid May

Warm Season Annuals and Vegetables
Now is the time to plan your summer vegetable garden and flower beds. You may choose to start your plants from seed or young plants grown in mini packs or 4″ pots.

Warm season vegetables include tomatoes, peppers, corn, cucumbers, eggplant and melons. Flowering annuals include asters, begonias, cosmos, impatiens, lobelia, marigold, petunias, salvia and zinnias.

Young plants should be protected from killing frost, so don’t plant them out until after the date of last frost has passed. The use of floating row covers (frost cloth) made of spun polyester, will give added protection from cool temperatures during the early season.

Flowering Vines
This is the best time to select and plant spring flowering vines. Nurseries will have a large selection to choose from. Buying a vine in bloom takes away the margin of error that a plant may be mislabeled. Proven performers include clematis, jasmine, honeysuckle, Carolina jessamine, passion vine, and of course climbing roses.

Be sure to consider how vigorous a grower your choice is and provide adequate support (trellis, arbor, fence) to accommodate its mature growth. Vines producing fragrant flowers are most appreciated placed in a high traffic area.

House Plant Rejuvenation
Once all danger of frost has passed it is a great time to perk up your favorite tropicals.
First you’ll want to gently hose down your plants to remove dust and insects like spider mite from the leaves. Then remove the plant from its container. If it is root bound repot in the next sized larger pot 10″ pot to 12″ for example. Otherwise replace existing soil with fresh potting mix and replant.

Indoor plants set outdoors must be protected from direct sunlight or leaves will develop sunscald. Also protect delicate foliage from strong winds, covered porches or patios are ideal locations. Feed plants with indoor plant fertilizer following label directions.

Plant Disease Control
Now is the time to watch for the development of plant diseases caused by fungus. They can form on leaves, flowers, buds, and stems. The two most common are powdery mildew and rust. Plants that have good air circulation and lack of evening watering will be more resistant to fungus growth.

Powdery mildew begins as gray or white circular patches on the plant. It then develops powdery spores that overtake the plant tissue. To control spray plants with jets of water early in the day and pick off infected leaves and flowers. Spray with sulfur, neem oil or copper fungicide for more effective control.

Rust appears on underside of leaves as a yellow-brown pustule. Leaves will become covered with powdery masses. Leaves will eventually turn yellow and drop off.

Remove infected tissue and be sure not to water plants in late afternoon or evening. Sprays that are most effective in controlling rust are copper soap fungicide and sulfur.