Monday, December 18, 2017
Home and Garden

Timely Tendings: Garden care tips, and dealing with webworms

Pruning helps blooming

Prune gardenias as soon as they finish blooming if necessary to keep them in shape. Yellow leaves with green veins may indicate an iron deficiency. Correct by applying iron chelate or iron sulphate according to the label instructions.

Remember to keep old faded crape myrtle flowers clipped off to encourage more blooms, if you can reach them. Clip just behind the flower heads. When crape myrtles are allowed to produce seed, flowering slowly declines as seeds are produced.

This is the month when chrysanthemums can be planted. Pinch back to encourage branching that will result in more blooms in the fall. Do not pinch or prune after August.

How to avoid sod webworms

Dingy brown moths flying around grassy areas are often an indication that eggs are being laid in your lawn by the sod webworm. These eggs will hatch into small green caterpillars in about five to seven days that primarily feed at night and remain in a curled position on or near the soil surface during the day. Injured grass has notches chewed along the sides of the blades. The foliage may be completely stripped in patches.

A soap flush is a good way to detect sod webworms. Mix two tablespoons of dishwashing liquid in a gallon sprinkler can. Fill with water and drench a four square foot area. Observe the area for about two minutes. Soap is an irritant causing insects to surface. One pesticide labeled for sod webworm control is Bacillis thuringiensis (Bt, Dipel, Thuricide). Bt is a bacterial product that will cause the caterpillars to stop feeding and die without harming beneficial insects (except butterfly caterpillars), wildlife, pets or humans. So, it is a more environmentally friendly choice. Sod webworms may re-infest the lawn within one to three weeks after treatment. Continue to examine the lawn and re-apply pesticide as required.

Compiled by Theresa Badurek, urban horticulture extension agent, UF/IFAS Pinellas County Extension Service. For additional landscape and garden information, visit pinellascountyextension.org. For regular tips and information about what's growing in Pinellas, go to facebook.com/growpinellas.

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