GROOMS GARDENING: Protect your plants with insecticides

Submitted photo: Formosa lily

The month is almost over, time passes so quickly. Pecan trees are in full leaf, summer flowers are starting to bloom and each day seems to bring a new species of flower into bloom.

As more flowers open, there seems to be more pests to eat them. I noticed a sickly looking amaryllis this past week, when I reached into the dirt to squeeze the bulb it was mushy and hollow in the middle. That means the evil amaryllis weevil has visited and laid eggs on the neck of the plant and the larvae have eaten out the inside of the bulb.

If you grow amaryllis, spider lilies or hymenocallis lilies, the weevil is here and may attack your bulbs. I keep granular insecticide spread over my bulb beds to protect them. Don't know how the weevil manage to destroy the bulb. Will have to reapply and look for any other damaged bulbs.

If you find damaged bulbs, dig them, trim off all foliage and soak the bulbs in a solution of one gallon of water and a fourth cup of bleach. Allow the bulbs to soak for 30 minutes, completely under water. When you replant the bulbs place them in an isolation area and keep watch over them every day to make sure no worms were missed. 

The evil weevil can wipe out hundreds of bulbs. The first sign is yellow foliage near the throat of the bulb.

Zebra worms or convict worms are a source of trouble for many bulbs about this time of year. They do not eat the bulbs; they strip the foliage of all green material leaving only the top transparent covering of the leaf. 

Zebra worms are so easy to see they can be picked off by hand and dropped in soapy water to drown them. Sevin dust is effective too. The worms hide under the leaves so you must hunt for them. Amaryllis are their favorite food.

Formosa lilies are often attacked by aphids about this time of year. If your lily foliage looks wilted, check the under side of the foliage for aphids. A strong stream of water can wash them off or Sevin will kill them if you get it on the bottom of the very narrow leaves.

Most amaryllis seed are mature and ready to gather now. Get them planted as soon as possible for highest rate of germination.

Shrubs and trees that bloomed in spring can be pruned if they need their size reduced. All early blooming shrubs should be pruned before July as many begin to form flower buds for next spring in late summer.

Azaleas send up long straight branches that are called runners, they grow tall, above normal branches and will not bloom next spring. They can be removed near their exit point on the shrub and this keeps the bushes tidy looking. If you want your azaleas to grow larger and taller, leave the runners and they will flower the second spring. 

We have had a week of exceptionally beautiful days. Cool mornings and late evenings have been wonderful, but it feels like summertime heat is almost upon us now and most gardeners dread high 90s and 100 degree temperatures.

I am out of space, see you next week.

Susan Grooms lives and gardens in Lowndes County.

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