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Tips for keeping your crape myrtles looking good

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

Insects: Some of the first wave of Japanese beetles have already made their presence known and have been seen on some crape myrtles, as well as some other popular landscape ornamentals. There are a number of pyrethrins that may be used to control Japanese beetles. You may wish to check some of these out: Talstar, Decathlon, Astro and X-clude. Orthene, Sevin and Malathion may also be used. Be sure to follow label directions.

Diseases: If you have been paying close attention to your crape myrtle foliage lately, you’ve probably noticed that the disease has already started. According to the 2008 Agricultural Chemical Manual, Heritage 50W, Banner MAXX or Bayleton 50WSP are the recommended fungicides. Once you have had to deal with this problem, you might consider the merits of using powdery mildew-resistant varieties such as Biloxi, Miami, Osage, Seminole, Tuscarora, Tuskegee, Yuma and Zuni. Lagerstroemia faurei is also becoming a popular choice as a mildew resistant crape myrtle. Carolina Beauty and Potomac are two very popular cultivars that are susceptible to powdery mildew.

Turfgrass

Turfgrass continues to come out of winter dormancy and with the expected high temperatures in the forecast, this means the grasses will really take off. Be sure to sharpen the blades on your mowing equipment. If the blades are too dull, the grass will have a uniform brownish-gray cast to it after mowing. Now is the time to fertilize your centipedegrass.

Centipede prefers having just one application of fertilizer for the season and June is the best month to fertilize centipede. One recommendation is to apply 10 pounds of 5:5:15 fertilizer per 1,000 square feet of turf area. If you have other products that you need to use, then you could take the first number on the bag of fertilizer and divide it into 50 and that would tell you how many pounds of fertilizer to put out for the product you have or the product you are about to buy if you cannot find the 5:5:15.

Example No. 1: for a bag of 8:8:8 fertilizer, you would take the first number (8) and divide it into 50, which equals 6.25 pounds of fertilizer to apply to 1,000 square feet.

Example No. 2: for a bag of 6:6:12 fertilizer, you would take the first number (6) and divide it into 50, which equals 8.33 pounds of fertilizer to apply to 1,000 square feet.

Other turf grasses have different requirements and recommendations. Call your local county extension office and ask for the appropriate turf guide to manage your lawn properly for the summer.

Groundcovers

Groundcovers should be in a full growth period. New growth should be apparent on liriope, English ivy, periwinkle and other types of groundcovers. If new growth from this spring season is not visible, or is less than normal, then investigate the problem. The problems may be due to environmental stress, poor drainage, low nutrient availability and pH problem, construction damage to the root zone area or possible chemical injury. Be sure to check for insects. Aphids, mites and scales are serious problems.

Summer Bedding Plants

Finish planting summer color beds. Don’t take any shortcuts in preparing the soil. In order to maximize top growth and flowering performance, there has to be good root establishment and growth. This will only occur in well-tilled soils with adequate amounts of organic matter in the beds.

June Pruning Tips

The appearance of many shrubs can be improved with a general pruning at this time of year. With new growth averaging 6 to 8-inches long, many evergreens are getting slightly out-of-bounds. Now is a good time to take hand pruners and shape them up. This type of shaping is difficult to do with electric or manual shears. Individual branches and stems need to be cut back inside the plant. This will reduce the overall size of the plant and also reshape it. Shears basically cut on one plane, giving that flat outer shape. It will take a lot longer to hand prune instead of shearing, but the immediate look and subsequent growth will be worth the trouble. Formal hedges, “bowling balls” and “boxes” can continue to be sheared if you really insist on having that type of pruning in your landscape, but is it really worth the expense time and trouble?

This would be a good time to get the big saw out and cut back shrubs that have turned into small trees over the years. For overgrown shrubs, cut them back to 12 to 15-inches or less depending on your goals. They will look absolutely terrible until the end of the summer.

Compost Use

With all the effort you’ve gone through since last fall, it should be time to utilize the fruits of your labor (and garbage you’ve been saving). A properly functioning compost bin should be about “done” by now. Refer to one of the many information resources on backyard composting from the Horticulture Department if you need more information.