Before going on vacation, get your garden in order. Place outdoor potted plants in a shady location or in the ground up to the rim of the container. Place indoor plants in an area that receives indirect light. A thick layer of mulch throughout your landscape will conserve moisture and reduce the amount of water needed while you're gone. Just before leaving, thoroughly soak the plants. Houseplants should be okay for two weeks. If your vacation is longer, move houseplants outdoors and sink pots in a shaded, cool garden bed. Ask a friend or neighbor to check on your plants - and mow if necessary - while you are gone.
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Plant heat-loving summer annuals such as angelonia, celosia, marigolds, portulaca, vinca and narrow-leaf zinnias. Pinch off faded blossoms.
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The small black lubber grasshoppers seen earlier this year are now maturing into large adults that are yellow with dark markings and a red area on their wings. Once they reach this size, chemical controls are of little value. Try disposing of them in a bucket of soapy water.
Information from Carol Suggs and Theresa Badurek of the Pinellas County Extension Service. Visit the extension website at pinellascountyextension.org.