Insects – As our temperature gets warmer, you should begin noticing a number of insect pests, including Chilly Thrips, which attack new growth, including flowers and leaves, especially on roses and gardenias. While most insecticides are ineffective on this pest, placing bright blue 3×5 index cards coated with petroleum jelly and spaced 3′ – 5′ apart works quite well.
In case you have not already seen them, clusters of Lubber Grasshoppers, (small black and yellow striped), have begun to emerge from our soil. They are easily killed now, especially with mechanical control of smashing them with your hands – a bit messy, but it works.
Lawn Diseases – Be on the lookout for Brown Patch, which occurs mainly on St. Augustine and Zoyzia lawns. Although we’ve been experiencing drought conditions lately, if we start getting rain and grass remains wet for 2 days or more, you may see circular yellow-brown circular patches all the same size, which later can lead to rot. Treat with appropriate turf fungicide.
Take-all Root Rot is very serious on St. Augustine lawns. Look for yellow/light green patches, which later results in thinning of turf and dieback of roots, which are unable to take up water and dies out. Like above disease, this too is affected by too much moisture.
Stinkhorn Fungi. Many of you have reported finding a reddish-brown fungi on your mulch. although it smells and looks unsightly, don’t worry – it’s just decomposing the mulch.
Lawn weeds – They are on the increase. As I reported before, even though many of the “box stores” are selling weed and feed products, IFAS recommends to avoid using them because they don’t work very well in our area. What you should do is apply the appropriate weed killer dependent on the type of turf you have and what kind of weeds you want to control. This weed killer should be applied first, while the weeds are young and actively growing. Wait two weeks, then apply a slow release fertilizer. Also on another note – you need to kill and remove any winter weeds, preferably before seeds mature, otherwise they will be spread by your lawn mower and you will have a lot more next year.
Now that it’s warming and new plant growth is sprouting, it’s a good time to fertilize your lawn and all other plants. Click here for the IFAS website to find our what fertilizer to get, the rate of application, and frequency of application for each specific plant. By the way, it is a good practice to fertilize your plants after you’ve pruned them to encourage new growth.
If you haven’t already done so, now is a good time to replace your winter annuals. Before purchasing though, check the plant label to see if the plants were treated with Neonicotinoids. if so, I suggest you avoid purchasing and planting. although the label says that this pesticide has been approved by the EPA, it is seriously affecting plant pollinators. In Germany, it has already been responsible for killing off 1/3 of their bee population. See my post from April 2016 on this subject.
Click here for specific IFAS recommendations on appropriate pesticide products to use on the various problems I have discussed in this article.