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Gardening Tips: May

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Rose maintenance:
As new growth fully emerges on your roses, there are a few things to look for. Be sure any new growth coming out below the graft is pruned off. This foliage should look different from the main plant because these shoots are growing from the root stock. Remove all leaf and plant debris, and discard them in the trash, as they might harbor insect eggs and fungi. All roses are heavy feeders so this is a good time to fertilize with a slow release granular fertilizer scratched into the mulch area around the root surface. Most roses would also benefit from an application of a fast acting foliar spray fertilizer throughout the summer. Leggy stem growth and very few flower buds are usually a sign that the plant is lacking sunlight. Try pruning overhead trees and shrubs to increase sunlight or maybe the plant needs to be moved to a sunnier area. Watering is also very important to roses; the spring rains are usually adequate to support lush new growth. But as summer brings more sunny hot weather, it is very important to add moisture to these plants, thoroughly soaking this plant at least once a week with a hand wand. Be sure to apply water to root area and not to foliage; water lying on foliage will cause fungi. If overhead watering is necessary, be sure to water early in the morning so foliage has a chance to dry out. Also keeping a thick layer of mulch on them will help to hold more m

Planting annuals:
With the last frost in this area around April 15, early May is usually a safe time to plant annuals. Eventhough annuals can sometimes be a lot of maintenance and need to be planted every year, there are no other plants that give you so much color all summer long. All annuals are very heavy feeders so preparing the bed is very important. Start by turning over the soil and mixing either peat moss or any other organic material into the soil at about a 50/50 rate. Add a slow release fertilizer by scratching into the top layer right before planting. The best time to plant these small transplants is on a cloudy day or late in the day so new transplants will not be stressed from the sun. It is also very important to water these small transplants in at planting and also follow up for the first week to get them well established. By turning up the soil you will lose all pre-emergent that was put down earlier in the year, so you might need to hand weed these areas until the plants are established. Then you can reapply pre-emergent; check label to confirm the use around tender annuals. Also lightly mulch them at this time.

Summer pruning of evergreens:
The best time to prune evergreens is just after the new growth has flushed out. By cutting or pinching the candle growth, the plant has an easy time recovering and setting new buds for next year. Some plants will flush new growth more than one time a growing season. Keeping this new growth cut back will create a thicker foliage. Shearing is appropriate only when a hedge or formal appearance is required. Rejuvenation pruning is the complete removal of older stems at the base to allow new shoots to replace older stems that are removed.

Post-emergent herbicide:
As the days get warmer, the amount of weed seeds germinating will increase. Hand pulling is always an option, but some of the hard to pull perennials are easier to spray with a post-emergent herbicide to totally kill them. Be sure to read the label for mixing instructions and be careful when spraying; anything that is sprayed will die. This product can be used any time of the year when the plant is actively growing; the plants can translocate the material to the root system. Be very careful around young trees that have a thin smooth bark because this material can kill bark tissue and scar these young trees.

Lace bug:
Lace bugs feed on the under side of the leaf surface with piercing, sucking mouthparts; the main plants affected are Azalea, Rhododendron, Andromeda, and Cotoneaster. The damage appears on the upper side of the leaf as white spotting. The insect itself and its black excrement on the under side of the leaf is proof of this occurrence. Often, this group of insects will attack the plants because the plants are stressed and planted in the wrong area. These plants prefer shady areas, so when they get planted in full sun, they get stressed. At this time of the year, this insect is in its nymph stage and an application of horticultural oil sprayed on the under side of the leaf will control this insect. These young nymphs take one month to complete a generation, and as many as six generations a year. The nymphs can also be controlled by using a systemic drench of Merit or insecticidal spray like liquid Sevin or other products. Please read label before applying these products.