Gardening with Laurie: Plenty of time left for spring garden

May 19, 2010 at 12:19 a.m.

By Laurie Garretson

If you are like most gardeners, you probably often feel that you aren't able to get all your garden chores accomplished each week.

The days just aren't long enough.

Well don't despair, I think there's still some time left to get many of your outdoor chores done before the harsh temperatures of summer kick in.

Many gardeners enjoy plants that not only provide us with beauty, but also fragrance.

Gardenias can provide you with pretty white flowers, and the flowers will fill any garden with a wonderful perfume. Gardenias come in several varieties that range in height from 2- to 8-foot tall shrubs. They can bloom from spring to fall. Unfortunately, some people plant these beauties in unsuitable locations. Plant them in loose, well-drained organic soil that gets shade all afternoon. They like their soil to be moist, not wet.

Also, avoid getting the foliage wet when watering. Wet foliage can easily lead to fungal problems.

One common problem reported with gardenia plants is bud drop. You will usually notice this when the flower buds abort just before opening.

Common causes of this problem are over watering, under watering, temperature fluctuations and cold drafts.

In our area, the problem is usually water related. Always stick your finger in the soil to check the moisture level, if in doubt about watering. If the soil feels dry down to your knuckle, they want a drink.

One other complaint I get from gardeners about their gardenias is about leaf drop.

Late spring is usually a time of year when gardenias will be drop their older leaves, this is a natural thing.

If the shrub drops more than the older leaves, then you need to check the moisture level.

Make sure the plant is fed every four to five weeks with a good natural fertilizer. Mulching will also help to keep the soil moist and cool.

After getting a good rain shower, it's a good idea to be on the look out for fungal diseases.

Rain, or watering, can spread a fungal disease from leaf to leaf, and from one plant to another.

Be on the look out in your vegetable garden and throughout the rest of your landscape for spots, discoloring, and/or deformed foliage. If any are found, and you suspect a fungal problem, treat with a fungicide.

Working in your garden is never enjoyable when mosquitoes are bothering you.

After all the rain, it's a good idea to check for any containers holding rain water and empty them. Any containers with water that needs to be kept mosquito larvae free can be treated with Mosquito Dunk or Bits.

These products are safe for all animals, fish and plants, but will kill the mosquito larvae.

This is the time of year when bagworms become a problem. Common plants to find them on are junipers, arborvitaes and other evergreen shrubs.

These caterpillar-like larvae build a bag or sack around themselves with bits of leaves and tiny twigs. Some people mistake them as part of the plant.

They look somewhat like tiny pinecones. This caterpillar feeds on the foliage of plants. Bagworms can be controlled with BT Worm Killer. Treat as soon as they are noticed, as they will do a lot of damage to your plants if left untreated.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.



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