♦ If your Hosta and azalea stems have a white powder covering them, it is probably the waxy coating of planthopper insects. They do not do much damage but can spread diseases. Spray with garden insecticide if unsightly.
♦ Lamb’s ear tends to have their lower leaves die after a heavy rain. This forms ugly mats that will rot stems and roots. Pull away the yellow leaves to keep up airflow.
♦ Fertilize crape myrtles, butterfly bushes, and hydrangeas with 1 Tablespoon of 10-10-10 per foot of height.
♦ Chrysanthemums and asters should be cut back halfway by mid-July to encourage fall blooming. If not trimmed they will bloom later this month and not in the fall.
♦ Japanese beetles may be feeding heavily at this time. Brush the beetles into a bucket of soapy water held underneath foliage or branches. The use of Japanese beetle traps near your plants is not recommended. Studies show that traps can attract more beetles to your landscape resulting in increased damage.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
♦ Pick squash regularly to keep up production. If the vines wilt, check the base of the stem for “sawdust”. This means the plant has squash borers in the stem. Remove infected plants (thus removing the borers) and plant new seeds. It is good to change your planting location to hopefully prevent the new plants from being attacked.
♦ Before you spray an insecticide on your vegetables, check the label. Each insecticide has a waiting period after application before you can harvest.
♦ Although tomatoes are self-pollinating, they need movement to transfer pollen. If it is hot and calm for several days, gently shake plants to assure pollen transfer and fruit set. Hot temperatures can interfere with blossom set.
♦ Most fertilizer recommendations are for 100 square feet, so keep your garden’s square footage a simple fraction of that. For example, a 4 X 12-foot garden is very close to 50 square feet and would require one half the fertilizer required by a garden of 100 square feet.
♦ Okra pods get tough if allowed to grow too large. Pick regularly.
♦ Mulch strawberries heavily to protect them from heat and drought.
♦ Brown rot infects peach, cherry, and plum fruits. Pick peaches when background color changes and before fruits become fully ripened. Bring fruits indoors, submerge them in a 1:10 bleach to water solution to kill brown rot fungal spores, rinse well, and allow them to ripen in the kitchen.
♦ The time-of-day vegetables are harvested can make a difference in the taste and texture. For sweetness, pick peas and corn late in the day; that is when they contain the most sugar, especially if the day was cool and sunny.
♦ Cucumbers are crisper and tastier if you harvest them early in the morning.
♦ Start a fall crop of Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and kale indoors. Outdoors, sow pumpkin, beans, squash, cucumbers, and crowder peas. Plant carrots mid-month.
♦ Sunflowers are ready to harvest when the back of the head turns brown.
♦ Keep an eye out for the tomato hornworm. They can do enormous damage overnight. When you see damage, check under leaves and stems to find them. Hand pick to dispose of them.
♦ Do not plant all your beans at once. If you stagger the plantings every two weeks you will have fresh beans longer. Soak bean seeds overnight before planting for faster germination.
♦ If you keep your houseplants indoors all summer, keep them out of the draft of the air conditioner. Plants react to an air conditioner’s cool air in various ways. Some drop their leaves; others do not bloom well and some fail to bloom at all.
♦ Continue to fertilize houseplant while they are actively growing.
♦ Ticks are active year-round. After spending time outdoors in an area where ticks may be present get in the habit of doing a tick check upon your arrival home.
♦ Patrol your yard for mosquito breeding sites. At least twice a week, check and remove water that may be standing in trash and recycling cans, flowerpot saucers, children’s, and pets’ toys, wading pools, tires, tarps, or plastic sheeting.