The heat is ON!

in Susan Stone by

By Susan Stone

We were so fortunate this year to have an extended spring season with temps remaining below 90 and the humidity below 90%…that time has passed…the heat is on!

Whitefly on a Gardenia leaf
Whitefly on a Gardenia leaf

Hot dry weather brings us spiders, humid weather brings us fungus, rainy weather brings rot and molds. The aphids have arrived and the whitefly is left over from last year! Ahhhhhhh! It feels like enemies at every turn! Don’t despair…go with the rhythm. Water early in the day to avoid problems with fungus in the first place. Wet leaves and warm nights are breeding grounds for fungi to get a foothold. But it’s nothing that a little garlic juice and dish soap can’t handle. Put a few drops of each into a spray bottle with water and you have an inexpensive, very effective tool against sooty mold and other fungi.

The aphids are laying eggs right now…and lots of them! If you catch them on your roses and mandevillas early, you can eradicate them quickly with a few drops of dish soap and water. Re-check them every few days to get the new eggs.

Aphids on a rose
Aphids on a rose

The trick to controlling pests and disease is to inspect often and treat early and consistently. The time of day you treat is critical. Depending on your sun exposure, spray soaps and oil mixtures and rubbing alcohol when the plants will not get direct sun for several hours. For you it may be early morning, but for others it may be early evening. Just make sure the plants have time to dry before sundown.

June is the month you will want to prune your fruit trees, winter/spring flowering shrubs including azaleas; you have until the first of July to prune azaleas before they set their buds for next spring’s show. If you shear them year after year, you will encourage growth only at the top and eventually there will be no foliage in the middle. I recommend hand pruning instead, removing dead wood as you go. You can find proper pruning tips for your specific varieties by going to www.clemson.edu.com.

Please send your gardening wisdom and questions to susan@outdoorarchitecture.com if you are asking about a particular disease or pest; please include a photo if possible.