Roses and most spring blooming shrubs and flowers have finished their spring blooming cycle. Deadheading and pruning should be done at this time. Due to the May heat, pansies, snapdragons and winter blooming flowers can be replaced. Fertilize and water after pruning.
Insects are early this spring and are already causing problems. Spider mites and thrips are two major insects; aphids, grasshoppers, fire ants and mosquitos are following a close second. Spider mites are attacking tomatoes, peppers, lantana, squash, shrubs and various flowers. The leaves will look white or speckled and curled. They are very difficult to eradicate. Thrips are noticed on roses. The buds turn brown and don’t open and the stem begins to dry up. Some of the things you can do are: spray the underside of the leaves with a strong stream of water, which will knock most of them off; spray with Seaweed (1 tablespoon of seaweed to one gallon of water); use liquid garlic or a product called Spinosad. These are all organic. You won’t have to be concerned about children, pets, or beneficial insects being harmed. Beneficial Nematodes may be used for anything that lives in the ground such as thrips, fire ants, ticks, fleas, wireworms and grubworms. It is very important to read and follow the instructions on the label. Keep the packs in the refrigerator until they have been used.
Fire ants will be alive and well after the rain. There are several baits for large areas: Come and Get It, Green Light Fire Ant Bait with Conserve and Amdro, plus several others. For hills and small areas, mix 2 ounces orange oil in 1 quart of water and pour on the hills or spray the ants. Don’t spray the plants. The orange oil will burn them. I use Orthene on the hills. It smells terrible, but it makes them move or kills them.
Space is limited to list all the various insecticides, so visit the local garden center or feed store. They can help you decide which product to use.
Now is the time to plant summer vegetables and flowers, okra, winter squash, southern peas, sweet potatoes, zinnias, marigold, caladiums, periwinkle, moss rose, pentas and many others. All the plants will do better if they are fertilized every 2 to 4 weeks.