Your Top 10 Gardening Questions Answered
Courtesy of the Experts at Esposito Lawn & Garden Center
1. My yard is full of weeds? No matter how many I pull, they always return. Is there any hope?
Absolutely! Effective weed control requires a two-pronged approach, and most people are neglecting one of the two necessary steps. In order to truly eradicate lawn weeds, you’ll need to kill the weeds that have already sprouted (using WeedFreeZone) and kill the weed seeds that have been deposited in the soil (using Dimension). Weed seeds can drop just a few days after blooming and last for many years buried in the soil, waiting to be unearthed the next time you dig a flower bed, disturb the soil, or as the lawn declines or thins. The only way to ensure these buried seeds don’t sprout is to kill the seeds using a pre-emergent weed control like Dimension. If you rely solely on post-emergent control after the weed is already growing, you’ll find yourself spraying for weeds constantly. Save yourself some trouble, aggravation and money, and kill them before they sprout. Each application of post-emergent Dimension lasts up to four months.
2. What is causing the overnight damage to my lawn? Where do all of those holes come from?
Armadillos. You don’t need to kill them. Armadillos feed on underground grubs, and the best way to get them to leave your lawn alone is to eliminate their food source using GrubFreeZone. As soon as their food is eliminated, the armadillos will mosey on in search of grubbier pastures, which usually means the wooded lot next door. In Year 1, reapply the GrubFreeZone every four to six months, then as needed. Be sure to water in.
3. It looks like sheep are grazing my lawn in some spots, and other areas are discolored. No matter what I do, it doesn’t seem to grow properly. What is causing this?
Lawn pests such as spittlebugs and sod webworms are very common in Florida. Adult spittlebugs have two orange stripes across their back. Every lawn has a few of them, but when their population gets too high, they cause the grass blades to become brown or discolored. Sod webworms chew the blades to nubs, which causes the grass to look like sheep have been grazing. They spread quickly and can be devastating to the lawn. To eliminate both of these pests, start by using Surrender and follow up with an application of Bug Blaster. Several applications will be necessary. Finally, feed your lawn with an application of Esposito’s Own 15-0-15 to help it bounce back
4. What is the best all-around fertilizer for my garden beds and ornamentals?
We sell specialty fertilizers formulated for virtually any plant, but if you’d prefer to purchase just one fertilizer, choose Esposito’s Own 13-6-6. This is an all-around general-purpose fertilizer that is great for gardeners on a budget, those with limited time, or anyone who is just starting out and wants to keep things as simple as possible. As you get more comfortable with gardening, you might want to branch out and try different formulas for different types of plants. In the meantime, the Esposito’s Own 13-6-6 is more than adequate, and you’ll see excellent results. The key is to set a schedule and stick to it.
5. Do I need to prune my azaleas? If so, when should I do it and how often?
Pruning your azaleas will promote a more uniform, bushy appearance with many more flowers. Ideally, you should prune your azaleas as soon as they stop blooming, with the second pruning around Father’s Day, but no later than July 1. Apply Espoma’s azalea-tone (it’s organic) after both prunings and water in. Encore azaleas are re-bloomers so, generally speaking, one trimming in spring after they bloom is sufficient.
6. I’m looking for the best, low-maintenance sod for my lawn. St. Augustine or Zoysia?
Zoysia, Zoysia, Zoysia — hands down! Remove St. Augustine and replace it with Zoysia; you can thank us later. Not only will Zoysia grow in wet spots, but it is also far more disease- and pest-resistant. St. Augustine is very susceptible to chinch bugs and fungus infestations, but Zoysia is rarely plagued by such maladies.
7. My knock-out roses are growing way too tall. How do I encourage a better shape?
Generally speaking, knockout roses and drift roses don’t require frequent pruning. They bloom better (provide more color) when pruned perhaps twice a year — once in early spring around Valentine’s Day and again in August. You may cut them back by about 50% in spring, 20% in summer. Fertilize monthly with Espoma Rose Tone, water frequently, and keep weeds and grass away from the trunk.
8. Are there any hanging baskets that don’t wilt in the summer heat?
This can be tricky in the Sunshine State, but there are certain varieties that require less water than others. Our most sun-tolerant baskets are “supertunias,” geraniums, purslane, succulent baskets and Mandevilla. Surprisingly, over-watering hanging baskets is almost as common as under-watering. The best way to determine if it is time to water — lift the basket and feel the weight. If it’s light and easy to lift, your plant is probably thirsty, but if it is heavy, it’s best to wait. Fertilize monthly with Espoma’s Flower-tone, and prune as needed.
9. What is that wonderfully fragrant vine with the white flowers?
That’s Confederate Jasmine. You can see a fabulous example over on the side of Tan’s Asian Bistro. This is one of the fastest-growing vines around, and it is incredibly low maintenance. Because Confederate Jasmine is an evergreen that doesn’t lose its leaves in winter, it looks great year-round and makes a wonderful fence decoration or ground cover. This plant is easy to wind through trellises or grow on pergolas, and with vines growing up to 20 feet in length, the sky truly is the limit to what you can do with this fabulously fragrant vine. Plant in full sun, 3-5 feet apart, and fertilize monthly with Espoma’s Garden-tone.
10. I’ve noticed black, sooty mold on my gardenias, crepe myrtles, and camellias. Should I be worried?
Yes and no. You do want to eradicate the mold before it causes bigger problems, but there is no need to worry because there is an easy solution. Simply apply Fertilome’s Systemic Drench or Horticultural Oil Spray once every six months. The drench prevents future problems, and the Horticultural Oil controls existing mold. Fertilize in February, May, and August with Espoma’s Azalea-tone.
For more information or to schedule an on-site evaluation, call (850) 386-2114.