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Time to relax and enjoy fruit of spring's labor

Posted Tuesday, June 7, 2005 - 10:04 am

By Durant Ashmore

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It's time to consider transplanting plants, trees (11/22/05)
Deciduous shrubs more than "bunch of sticks" (11/15/05)
Autumn leaves are nature's gift for mulching (11/08/05)
Plant colorful winter annuals without delay (11/01/05)
Changing landscape rides in with cold winds (10/25/05)

June is the time for you to just sit back, relax and enjoy all the hard work you have done in the early spring months. There are landscape experiences few more rewarding than being able to visualize the healthy new growth that our plants and trees are exhibiting right now.

If you have planted annuals and perennials in your garden this year they are now coming into their full glory. Remember to deadhead flowers which have died off. This only takes a few minutes and in many cases it quickly promotes a new flush of flowering activity. Deadheading is one of the most productive undertakings any gardener can perform.

If you have some planting projects in mind, don't fret about being too late in the season. There is still plenty of time to get your plants in the ground. You will have to water this summer. If you had planted several months ago the successful formula for you to follow remains the same. You will still have to water this summer. Next week we will discuss in detail proper watering and irrigation procedures for the hot summer months.

There are a few disease and insect situations this time of the year. Sasanqua camellias are now showing leaf gall. This is an unsightly fleshy swelling of the outer leaves. If left untreated it will continue to persist year after year until most of the foliage is affected. Leaf gall will also spread to azaleas and Camellia japonica.

The book says leaf gall is a nuisance only and does not affect the health of the plant. After a few weeks the problem runs its course and leaves a blackened, shriveled leaf in its place. The whole process is unsightly, and if it doesn't affect the health of the plant it sure does affect the appearance. Since one of the primary functions of landscape plantings is to enhance appearance, leaf gall is a significant detriment to achieving this goal.

There is no chemical treatment that can eradicate leaf gall. The only way to stop it is to remove all the affected leaves. I did this to two of my espaliered sasanquas infected with this fungus several years ago and I am happy to report that the problem was totally eliminated.

The affected leaves all need to be cut off and sealed in plastic garbage bags and then discarded. In addition, all the mulch underneath the plant needs to be removed and sealed in plastic bags as well. Leaf gall spreads by spores. If you leave the spores laying around your yard you will have leaf gall again next year.

You may want to consider a radical prune to eliminate leaf gall. You can cut the plant to one-third its current height. In this process you may totally remove all the leaves. Don't be timid about this. Sasanquas, azaleas and camellias readily recover from a radical prune.

If you are unfortunate enough to have leaf gall, the sooner you deal with it the better off you will be. Go outside after you read this and inspect your sasanquas. Leaf gall is easy to identify. It is ugly. This is the best descriptive word for you to know. When you see it you will know it. If you don't have ugly on your sasanquas you can blissfully proceed with the rest of your day knowing you have one less problem in this world to worry about.

Before you start feeling too smug about having a worry free landscape, let me give you the heads up on a few other problems that may show up this time of year. Powdery mildew is making its presence known. This is a white fungus that looks like baby powder. It can cause your leaves to be misshapen and can eventually kill them. Use a fungicide such as Daconil or Bayleton for powdery mildew control. Other fungicides are also effective. Powdery mildew shows up on dogwoods, crape myrtles and some perennials.

Black spot fungus is now on Indian hawthorn, cleyera, etc. This is the disease that killed red tip photinia (considered by some to be a good thing). Daconil works on black spot.

Azaleas should be sprayed now for lace bug. These critters look a little bit like mosquitoes and suck the chlorophyll out of the leaves, leaving them pale and unhealthy looking. Malathion or systemic insecticides control lace bugs.

Japanese beetles will become active shortly. They will eat up crape myrtles, cherry trees and Japanese maples to name a few. Systemic insecticides will keep these critters at bay.

Enjoy your garden. Invite your friends over to see how all your work earlier this spring is now turning out. Just be aware of some potential problems out there. Relax with a sense of accomplishment.

Editor's note: Columnist Durant Ashmore, MLA, of Fountain Inn, is certified by the South Carolina Nursery Association. He can be reached at 243-3446 or at

Wednesday, June 23  

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