July 29, 2009
As July winds down, the weather still seems to be fickle. We finally have gotten the warm weather. Maybe the heat will make some of the vegetable plants catch up to their normal growth potential.
The past week at the garden center has seen a mixed bag of plant problems. Insects are still having a field day eating all types of plants. The cabbageworms are eating up all of the broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. An application of Seven or Neem will take care of these pests. If you see a white butterfly flying around these plants, you can be sure that it is the female laying eggs for this pest. If you find the eggs on the bottom of the leaf, an application of horticultural oil, sprayed onto the eggs, will kill the eggs. To prevent leaf damage, don’t spray the oil during the heat of the day. Aphids are still feeding on many plants. Horticultural oil, Neem and a host of other products will keep them in check. Slugs are still a problem. An application of slug bait will help to keep them in check too.
Many customers have reported an increase in the number of Japanese beetles in their yard. Over the years, there have been periods of increased beetle activity. The last 2 years, we have seen an upswing in the number of beetles. If you have not checked your plants for this pest, it would be a good time to do so. They cause the greatest amount of damage to plants from mid July to Mid August. Setting up your beetle traps and spraying plants when necessary, will prevent many problems from this pest.
Last week I had told you about planting summer flowering perennials. Many of the summer flowering perennials will produce many more flowers if they have the old, spent flowers removed. This process is called deadheading. Both annuals and perennials will produce many more flowers if the plants are deadheaded.
If you have a butterfly bush in your yard, you know what a magnet it is for butterflies. If you apply fertilizer this time of the year, the plant will continue to produce more flowers. If you deadhead off the old flowers that have gone past bloom, you will get a tremendous number of new flowers. When the flowers have gone by flower on the butterfly bush, the flower turns brown. If you follow the stalk of the flower down to where the flower stalk attaches to the plant, you will seen where it attaches just above some new leaves. If you cut the stalk off just above the junction of the leaves, you will allow the plant to produce two new flower stalks. You may be able to see the two new flower buds forming on either side of the leaves. Try not to cut off those new buds when you deadhead the old flowers. If you keep up with the deadheading of the butterfly bush, you will continue to have flowers right up until frost. This is important because the Monarch butterfly migration in the fall needs a source of food along their flight path to South America. There are few things more fascinating than watching hundreds of hungry Monarch butterflies feasting on a plant in your yard.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.