The Pests of Azaleas and Camellias

The Pests of Azaleas and Camellias
by Kent Higgins

Starting caladiums in the South during March is not a good idea. We do not attempt to start our main crop of fancy leaved caladiums until the weather gets fairly warm; however, it is possible to start a few in a sunny window this month. If planted too early and if the weather remains cool, the bulbs may rot. A safe method of handling is to start the bulbs in a well-drained bed in a sunny spot.

Place the bulbs on a 2-inch layer of a sand-peat mixture and cover with an inch layer of the same mixture. When two or three leaves have developed, lift the bulbs with all the soil that clings to the roots and set them in their permanent places in the garden. If you are growing a mixture of bulbs this method will enable you to determine the colors and make pleasing combinations before setting them in their permanent beds.

A half-and-half mixture of garden loam and leafmold or peatmoss makes a fine soil for a garden bed of caladiums; we always place a handful of sand under each plant to improve the drainage. Caladiums, which are available as named varieties, are among our best plants for summer color. They are well suited to shady spots where many other plants will not thrive.

Cleaning my pools – Almost every spring I wait too long before cleaning my pools, and when I finally do get around to them there are scads of baby goldfish on hand to greet me. If you have a pool, let me urge you to clean it right away as goldfish and other aquatic animal life start breeding with the first suggestions of spring, and a late cleaning will materially disturb their young.

Plant Stuff

Early care for roses – If a stitch in time saves nine in the ordinary run of events, it saves about ninety-nine in the care of roses. The easiest way, by far, to keep black spot under control is to start your dusting or spraying schedule in March when the new growth is only a few inches long. Also remove and destroy all debris such as pruned canes, old leaves and faded blooms, for they harbor disease.

Pests of azaleas and camellias – The only insect that supplies a ny great amount of trouble with azaleas is the lacebug; and the same can be said of scale on camellias. Each shrub just like caladium bulbs should be sprayed with an oil base material or malathion preparations as soon as it is finished blooming. Malathion is especially effective at this time and not during planting season when young insects are present in great numbers.

Questions of the Month

Q. When is the best time to divide and rest my lycoris bulbs? Also, when is the best time to purchase new stock?

A. Most of the lycoris species are green and growing during the winter months and should not be disturbed until the foliage has matured and turned yellow, usually about May. The best time to buy new stock is from May through June, as the roots start growing again in late summer.

Q. My amaryllis have formed large clumps and seem to need dividing. When should this be done?

A. You may divide and rest them immediately after they have finished blooming, but late fall is probably a better time. Be sure to replant immediately so that the roots will not dry out.

Q. I know that we cannot grow peonies very successfully in the Deep South, but are there any particular varieties or types that will thrive farther South than others?

A. Two factors seem to militate against growing good peonies down here. The winters are too mild and too short; and the hot sun in late spring blasts the buds before they can open. The very early varieties and those that produce single or semi-double flowers are likely to do the best.

Q. Is it necessary to hand-pollinate amaryllis to get them to bear seeds?

A. As a rule it is. A few may set seeds from self or insect-pollination but not many. Most gardeners wish to produce seeds only from their choice varieties and this can be done only by hand-pollination.

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