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Cosentino: Catching up at the midpoint of summer
FLOWERS, PLANTS AND THINGS

Cosentino: Catching up at the midpoint of summer

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Green leaves of hosta

Green hosta leaves.

Here we are, right at the midpoint of summer. How did we get here so quickly? Today, I want to give most of this week’s column over to some of the things we need to be doing right now.

Actually, the idea for the column came up as I entered the front door of the store today. To my right were a trio of large pots, each with an old-fashioned spike plant and a nice selection of summer annuals. The marigolds by the front door looked healthy, though they could have used some deadheading, and then I looked to the left. The hosta leaves were beautiful, not even any snail damage. The whole scene, though, was spoiled by the dozens of floral spikes with one or two living blooms and a whole lot of nothing. Take some time today and wander through your garden, even if it is only a couple of container pots, and shape them up. Take off the flowers that have passed their prime, remove yellowing or dead leaves, and fluff up the mulch. Just a few minutes can turn a so-so-looking garden into a place of beauty. It is worth the effort.

Well, it looks as if we got our rain. Too bad we got the total summer allotment in a couple of rainstorms. Sometimes that can do much more damage than good if it comes so fast on a dry soil. Chances are much of it will run off, probably taking some good topsoil with it. Despite the rain of the last few days, I think that it is a good time to water your pots and your garden. Of course, you need to get your hands into the ground to see if it is, indeed, dry. If so, give each area a long, slow watering. No need to hurry. Let the water soak in, and while you are at it, it is a good time to add fertilizer to the water. The plants will thank you for it with greener leaves and more and brighter flowers.

And, while you are down there, look at the undersides of the foliage of your plants. See any insects? They can do a whole lot of damage in this climate. Look for the eggs, too; they will become next week’s bugs. If you see any infestations, deal with them as soon as you can. Don’t know what to use? Well, head up to Dickman Farms — they have knowledgeable people who will answer your questions. Be certain to bring along a few of the infested leaves so they can suggest the right sprays to use. Please put those leaves in plastic bags and seal them. We do not want to pass any of them to the healthy plants in the greenhouse. Home improvement stores carry the same insecticides, but in most cases, you will have to read the label to get your information.

And, if you see large round holes in the middle of your hosta leaves, they are probably made by slugs. Though, with the very dry weather, they have probably not been too active — yet. they can be controlled by raking up the organic matter, fallen leaves, dead flowers and twigs in the beds. You can also buy pellets to spread around the plants. And my all-time favorite is to gather bottle tops, those from pickle jars and the like work best. And the next time you have folks over, gather up the empty cans and bottles and fill the caps with stale beer — I sure would not waste a can of good beer on them — and strategically place the caps where the snail trails are. The snails will absolutely drown for a sip of that beer.

I have had a few calls recently about fig trees. Yes, their worst enemy is the spider mites. Just look for the red fuzz on the underside of the leaf. Keep after the watering because those large leaves lose a lot of water every day. And yes, they are heavy feeders. And for folks who want to buy one, you might try Dickman Farms. I do know that a few couple of weeks ago, I called Chuck Hafner’s Garden Center in Liverpool and they had a lot of them at that point.

Carmen Cosentino operates Cosentino's Florist with his daughter, Jessica. He was elected to the National Floriculture Hall of Fame in 1998, and in 2008, received the Tommy Bright award for lifetime achievements in floral education. In 2016, Carmen and Jessica were presented Teleflora's Tom Butler Award, naming Cosentino's the florist of the year at the company's annual meeting in Hawaii. Carmen can be reached at cosenti@aol.com or (315) 253-5316. Material for this column was excerpted from a Better Homes and Garden article and various websites.

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