don't be dazzled by the blooms
Which plants to buy at the garden center? Not the ones in glorious full bloom, attractive though they may be. Choose those that haven't bloomed or even budded yet, Barbara Damrosch advises in The Garden Primer (Workman, $18.95). Let them do their growing — and blooming — in your garden, not in nursery pots. Buy annuals no more than 6 inches high and perennials a few inches high or barely showing. Avoid anything potbound, which may be starved, or those with small, underdeveloped root systems.
Lure whiteflies with yellow
In the garden this month, keep an eye out for whiteflies, which can be very damaging. Check citrus, gardenias, camellias, your vegetable garden and other host plants for the telltale sooty mold on the tops of leaves. The nymphs, which feed on the underside of leaves, are very flat, almost clear and less than 1/16 inch in diameter. Adult whiteflies are attracted to yellow, so you can set out yellow "sticky cards" near affected plants so the maturing adults will fly to the cards and get stuck. If you go the pesticide route, read the label carefully; some chemicals are inappropriate for certain plants.
Water evenly to keep fruit intact
Keep an eye on your citrus trees as we move into September. The rains may slack off by month's end and you'll have to provide water. Fruit may split because of uneven watering, Month-by-Month Gardening in Florida advises. Water when the surface of the soil feels dry, not on a rigid schedule.
Solution for springtails
Are you overwatering your potted plants? One sure sign is the presence of springtails, small white pests that crawl or hop over the surface of potting soil but don't fly. Springtails live in moist soil nearly everywhere in the world. They can infest potted plants if soil from the yard or garden is used. Springtails do not harm healthy plant roots. The adults and young feed on soil debris. Allowing the soil to dry out will help control springtails.
Asian whitefly infiltrating Florida
An exotic species of whitefly, said to be a native of Myanmar, China and India, is spreading rapidly through Florida, defoliating ficus trees, other fig trees and hedges along the way. The fig whitefly was first identified in Miami-Dade last year. Read more about it at floridagardener.com, where you'll find images of Singhiella simplex and tips on how to combat it.
Compiled by Times Homes and Garden editor Judy Stark