Timely tendings: Though evergreen, magnolias drop their leaves

m Magnolia trees (above) are called broad-leaf evergreens, but they do shed their old leaves during spring. These old leaves turn pale green or yellow and drop. Trees do not become entirely bare. Occasionally a magnesium or iron deficiency will cause yellow leaves but they have a distinctive pattern that can be identified easily.

. Check your vegetable garden each day for signs of disease or insect injury. Pests such as caterpillars and snails can be removed by hand, cutting down on the use of pesticides. Biological products such as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) and insecticidal or organic disease control products are available at garden centers.

. Sweet potato plants can act as an attractive ground cover. Sweet potatoes are a long-season crop, so they need to be fertilized during the growing period. Use an 8-8-8 or similar fertilizer every five or six weeks during the summer growing season. Vegetables and other edible crops are exempt from the fertilizer ordinance at the moment, but always fertilize responsibly to protect our waters.

. It's time to plant caladium tubers. Tubers should be planted 2 inches deep in loose, well-drained soil. Caladiums will give a splash of color in shade or partial sun. Several varieties have been introduced that perform well in full sun.

Information from Carol Suggs and Theresa Badurek of the Pinellas County Extension Service and from the Hillsborough County Extension Gardening Almanac. For answers to landscape questions, go to www.skextension.org, pinellascountyextension.org or hillsborough.extension.ufl.edu.

Timely tendings: Though evergreen, magnolias drop their leaves 04/23/11 [Last modified: Saturday, April 23, 2011 5:30am]

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