Suddenly Summer

sun-157126_640The past few weeks have provided everything summer has to offer us. We kicked it off on the mild side through May and June but now the heat is here to stay. We are on the roller coaster that is summer in the Desert. High one-teens followed by days of humidity, settling back into a block of mild, dry triple digits will be the norm for the next two months or so. Extreme heat with low humidity has caused sun burn and sun damage to a great many plants. High humidity and heat encourage some plants to grow more quickly than others. Particularly dusty windstorms as well as ash have deposited debris on plant material. We generally suggest taking it easy in the garden through the summer but there are always a few things to do.

PRUNING

Sunburn and unruly growth on plant material are best left alone. Over-pruning at this time of year exposes vulnerable branches and new growth to permanent sun damage. We advise just LIGHT pruning through the rest of the summer; a branch here, a stem there and only when you absolutely, positively cannot stand it. Better to endure a few burned leaves than risk permanently harming plant material. Absolutely NO HEAVY PRUNING UNTIL SEPTEMBER.

PESTS

We are seeing two prominent pest issues this summer. The first is the Bougainvillea Looper. Active at night, this starts as a small caterpillar and matures to a gray or brown moth. Damage occurs to the bougainvillea foliage. Scalloped, uneven or torn edges appear on the leaves. Severe infestations may cause the plant to defoliate. Hope remains! Spray CAPTAIN JACK’S DEAD BUG BREW to control both young and mature larvae. SAFER CATERPILLAR KILLER is effective against the larvae. Remember to spray in the early part of the day or in the evening after sun down. You may need more than one application.

The other problem pest this summer is Whitefly, a winged insect in the aphid family; this is not actually a fly. They attack quite a few plant varieties, especially hibiscus and lantana. Tell-tale signs are fly away insects present when the plant is disturbed. Heavy infestations will leave honeydew residue on the leaves followed by a white fungal deposit. Treatment is a bit more aggressive for Whitefly. BAYER ADVANCED COMPLETE INSECT KILLER is one of the more effective options. Several applications are likely needed. We remind you again to spray in the cool of the day. GREENLIGHT MALATHION is another option. Occasionally hosing down plant material is a great way to prevent infestation. A clean plant is a happy plant.

Pest all stars such as the agave snout weevil remain active and can be treated with BONIDE TREE & SHRUB INSECT CONTROL. Red Spider Mites are controlled by keeping plant material dust (and soot) free. Apply BAYER 3-in-1 to eliminate infestation. Cutter bee damage may still be present. Remember there is little to be done for this pest as the problem is cosmetic, not harmful. AND we like bees.

It is very important to follow application instructions for any chemicals you choose to use in your garden. Also important is the time you choose to spray; early morning and after sundown are best. Some sprays contain ingredients not meant to be used in extreme weather conditions. Improper application can damage your plants. Questions? Moller’s sales associates are here to help!

WATER

The roller coaster that is summer may confuse your irrigation schedule; it shouldn’t. Our basic rule remains the same: WATER ONE TIME A DAY. ‘Sprinklers’ should run about 8 – 10 minutes every day. ‘Drip Irrigation’ should be on long enough for the water to reach the bottom of the root ball of whatever you are watering. A one gallon an hour emitter needs to run for one hour to apply ONE GALLON of water….it’s a math thing. When the temperature does rise into the high one-teens and humidity is scarce, an afternoon watering is acceptable to create humidity and thus a sunscreen for the plants. Newly planted, shallow rooted plant material may also require a second application of water. It remains important for plant material to dry out between irrigation cycles. Desert gardens can be tricksters during the summer. A wilting plant does not always require water, it may just be hot. Heat fatigue is an issue for people, animals and plants alike. Plant material does not dry out as quickly during periods of high humidity… so do not add extra water.

WEEDS

Weeds are difficult to keep up with this time of year. Mulch helps. Monitoring where water sprays also helps. Avoid overspray in areas where water is not needed such as unplanted flower beds, sidewalks, etc. Weeds need water to grow. No water – no weeds.

Nut grass or nut sedge is the big weed culprit through the summer. ROUND-UP is great for spot weeding but not effective for nut grass control. NUTGRASS KILLER SELECTIVE HERBICIDE by Monterey applied with HERBICIDE HELPER STICKING AGENT are the best products for the job. (They must be used together) Allow the weeds to get a fair amount of growth on them and spray when the foliage is completely dry; evening is probably best. Multiple applications may be needed.

FERTILIZER

Organic fertilizers are safe to use through the summer. Tropical plants particularly enjoy this warm (hot) growing season and fertilizer will promote healthy growth. A shot of fertilizer on the lawn can improve its appearance for the duration of the summer. Fertilizer should be watered into the soil upon application so plan your application time. Mulch can be put down to hold water in and deter weeds.

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