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Even though September has been fairly warm, the cooler days of autumn are upon us. We’ll soon be enjoying the brightly colored blooms of early “sasanqua” camellias and the spicy scent of osmanthus. These transition times are also great for taking stock of what happened during our long, hot summer.
Zoysia grasses continue to increase in popularity in southeastern North Carolina. I had the opportunity to work directly with JaMur, Crown and Zorro zoysias this summer. All of these grasses grow well but Crown continues to be the best choice for a residential lawn. It can be mowed with a standard rotary mower and maintains its dark green color without lots of fertilizer. JaMur is incredibly vigorous and might be a better choice under heavier wear and tear but it tends to lose the vibrant green color this time of year. Zorro is beautiful, fine-textured grass but it does not lend itself to being cut with a rotary mower. Our small reel mower struggles to cut it well.
Zoysias generally have medium shade and wear tolerance and perform pretty well in typical home lawn conditions. Of course, there are differences among the selections, but for overall performance and ease of management, Crown is hard to beat.
Those of you who regularly follow my ramblings know that crape myrtles are one of my favorite groups of plants. It’s hard to find a plant that will thrive in the heat, bloom for three months and still show off its attractive bark and form in winter.
We planted the two best really red crape myrtles this year—Red Rocket and Dynamite. These aren’t hybrids but they do have good powdery mildew resistance. You can’t get a true red flower with the hybrids, anyway. Selections like Tonto and Arapahoe may be listed as “red,” but they are really a nice, dark pink.
I’ve been impressed with both of these red selections. Even without removing the old seedpods, they have continued to set flower buds and are still attractive even now because the foliage has remained free of leafspot. Listed as semi-dwarfs reaching 12-15 feet at maturity, Red Rocket and Dynamite won’t take up too much garden space. While there may be some subtle differences in the flower color, it is nearly impossible to tell them apart unless they are side-by-side. Red Rocket looks to be slightly more vigorous. Because of that growers will probably prefer it over Dynamite.
Even though the bark isn’t particularly showy on either of these selections, they are worthy garden additions, especially for gardeners with N.C. State or Ohio State connections. You Ohio State folks can tell everyone that the flowers are scarlet.
Just like other crape myrtles, you’ll need full sun and average soil with good drainage to grow Red Rocket and Dynamite well.
Don’t forget to take soil samples from your lawn and landscape now before the laboratory gets busy over the winter. All of the necessary boxes, information sheets and instructions are available at the Extension office in Building N of the Government Complex in Bolivia.