Planting for Summer Color
By Dr. Jerry Parsons
Plant: For color get the begonias and impatiens in quickly if you expect them to fare well when the heat arrives. Wait to mid-month to plant periwinkles. ·Don’t plant vinca until at least June 1. Hot weather plants include firebush, lantana, poinciana, esperanza, firespike, caladium, coleus, begonia, moss rose, hibiscus, bougainvillea, purslane, cannas and blue princess verbena
Plant sun-loving, heat tolerant annual flowers such as portulaca, purslane, copper plants, lantanas, and ornamental peppers. Do not transplant vinca (periwinkle) until June after the rainy season is over. Let your wildflowers go to seed before mowing.
Prune pillar or climbing roses as soon as they have finished their major bloom to allow time for the development of new canes for next spring’s blooms. Prune storm-damaged tree branches immediately after damage occurs.
Fertilize: If you have not applied fertilizer to the lawn, May is a good month to fertilize lawn grasses after the lawn grass has been mowed twice. Slow release fertilizers are best because they feed throughout the growing season and do not leach (wash) into the ground
Odd Jobs: After spring bulbs have finished flowering, wait until the foliage turns brown before cutting it off. Food is being manufactured and stored for next year’s blooms. Mulch plants to reduce watering requirements, suppress weed growth and minimize soil temperature changes. Peach fruit should be thinned to six to eight inches apart along the fruiting branches which generally leaves about 600 fruit per mature tree; apples and pears should be thinned to one fruit per spur or cluster.
On the Lookout: To encourage more rapid re-blooming, pinch off old flowers on bedding plants after their first flower cycle is completed. Roses may encounter insect problems. Watch for aphids on tender new growth, thrips on flowers and cucumber beetles on foliage. Beetles are especially a problem if a vegetable garden is nearby. Fear not, this is the normal season of leaf shed for photinias, gardenias, ligustrums, pittosporums and magnolias.