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  • May garden tips & tasks

    GARDEN EVENTS IN MIDDLE TENNESSEE

    May 20: Master Gardeners of Davidson County Urban Gardening Festival, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., Ellington Agricultural Center Demonstration Garden. Free admission. www.mgofdc.org; on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mgofdc.

    June 10: Middle Tennessee Daylily Society show and sale, Ellington Agricultural Center’s Ed Jones Auditorium, 440 Hogan Rd. in Nashville. Sale open at 10 a.m.; show opens to the public at 1 p.m. To learn more about the Middle Tennessee Daylily Society, visit www.middletndaylilysociety.org.

    It’s time to plant those tender herbs and vegetable transplants, such as basil, dill, tomatoes, green peppers, hot peppers, eggplant.

    If tomato transplants are already too tall and leggy, you can plant them on their sides and cover the long stems with soil. The stem tips will turn upward, and the buried stems will sprout roots.

    Sow seeds of bush beans and pole beans, cucumbers, sweet corn, melons, okra, field peas, pumpkin, squash and zucchini. Follow the directions on the seed package for planting depth and spacing. Vegetables grow best in full sun.

    Cut the faded blossoms of peonies. Fertilize the plants lightly in late spring or early summer.

    Remember the basics of watering: morning is best, so plants’ leaves have time to dry before evening. Lawns, perennial borders and annuals like to have 1 – 1½ inches of water per week.

    Many indoor plants enjoy a summer vacation outdoors. Give them a cool, shady spot in the yard, and don’t forget to water them.

    Prune thyme frequently so it will stay full and green in the center.

    Weeding is easiest after a rain. If the ground is too dry and you need to weed, soak the bed first with a hose or sprinkler.

    Whether they’re growing in the ground or in pots on the porch, pinch the tips of geraniums from time to time to encourage them to branch out and to produce more flowers. Geraniums in pots benefit from regular feeding with a water-soluble fertilizer.

    Remember that mulch can be a gardener’s best friend. Pine straw or composted leaves are good alternatives to hardwood mulch.

    Harvest herbs as they reach their peak. Dry small leaves on a screen, hang small bunches of long-stemmed herbs in a warm, dry room out of the sunlight.

    Plants growing outdoors in containers dry out quickly when it’s hot. Check them daily, and water as needed.

    Don’t go near hydrangeas with the pruning shears unless all you’re cutting is dead branches. If the bigleaf hydrangeas look like they’re not going to bloom, it could be that the buds were nipped in a late cold snap, or the plant was pruned too late last year.

    As the flowers of Shasta daisies begin to open and then to fade, keep them clipped off. This prolongs the blooming season of daisies (and most other annuals and perennials), and keeps the plants looking better, as well.

    Watch for aphids on shrubs and perennials. A strong blast of water from a hose will remove many of them, or spray with insecticidal soap.

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No-fly zone

QUESTION: Some of the plants I brought in from outdoors seem to have tiny white flying bugs all around them, and are a nuisance. What are they? And what can I do about them?

 

Schefflera can play host to whiteflies.

These are likely whiteflies, and they often ride in on plants that spent summer outdoors. They’re more than a nuisance; they feed on the plant’s juices and can cause the leaves to turn yellow and die. The insects that are flying are the adults, and if you look at the undersides of the leaves you may be able to see the tiny yellow eggs and larvae.

Whiteflies feed on dozens of plant species and they reproduce quickly, so the problem could get out of hand quickly. To get rid of them, remove the badly infested leaves, then rinse the plant thoroughly and spray with an insecticidal soap. Be sure to treat the undersides of the leaves. Repeat the spraying every week or so.

Next fall, examine them closely to be sure there are no pests hitching a ride. Wash the leaves and treat the plants before you move them indoors. There are several other insect pests that you should watch for:

Aphids: they usually gather in clusters on tender young leaves. They also feed on a plant’s juices. Insecticidal soap, or washing with water or rubbing alcohol, is usually effective.

Mealybugs: You may see white, cottony clusters on stems or leaves, or where the leaf joins the stem. They also feed on the plants, so get rid of them by rubbing them off with water or alcohol.

Spider mites: They are barely visible, but you’ll certainly notice the damage – light-colored, speckled areas on top surfaces of leaves. You may see webbing stretching between leaves if there is a heavy infestation. Wash the plant with soapy water, and treat with insecticidal soap a day or two later. It may require diligence and several applications to control these insects.

UT Extension provides a booklet at its Web site that addresses these problems and more: Insects and Related Pests of House Plants (PB1157).

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One Response

  1. […] the plants that are overwintering indoors for whiteflies and other pests! About whiteflies: http://bit.ly/wW7nFvTwitterFacebook […]

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