The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

May 11, 2013

Now’s time for planting your annuals

Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — May is such a beautiful month to be outdoors.

Now is the time to plant your annual bedding plants that provide us with lots of summer color.

I love my perennials, but they only bloom for two weeks. Now is the time to plant summer bulbs such as cannas, dahlias, elephant ear, caladiums and gladiolus. Spider mites might be appearing. To look for spider mites shake a leaf over a piece of white paper. If the tiny specks begin to crawl, you have spider mites.

If you have fescue or any cool-season lawn, it is time to fertilize again in May. Then you will not fertilize fescue again until late September. If you have taken a soil sample to the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, then you will know how much fertilizer to spread to have a successful lawn.

Warm-seasons lawns also may be fertilized in May. Seeding of warm-season grasses such as Bermuda grass, buffalo grass and zoysia grass may be done in mid-May through the end of June. The soil temperatures must be warm enough for germination and an adequate growing season to promote winter hardiness.

In mid-May, dollar spot disease will become visible. Before applying a fungicide, make certain you have  adequately fertilized. Nutsedge plants become visible this month.

Now is the time to apply a post-emergent treatment. Make certain your warm-season grasses have completed their green-up before applying any post-emergent treatment.

Beautiful weather means an insect alert. In late May, look for bagworms on your juniper and arborvitae. Check your elms for elm leaf beetles. Look for mimosa webworms on your mimosa and honey locust trees. Lace bugs might be showing up on sycamore, pyracantha, and azalea. If you have newly planted trees, soak them unless rainfall is abundant.

Mid-May is time to spray your pines to prevent pine needle diseases. You have to decide how earth-kind you will be. First try hand picking the insects before you use any insecticides.

You need to become familiar with insect friends and foes in order to know which ones to fight and which ones to encourage.

I have started planting sweet alyssum around my vegetable garden as sweet alyssum attracts lace wings, which are beneficial insects that love to eat aphids. Your goal is to lower the number of pests to a manageable level. Frequent inspections and monitoring of your yard is very important.

If you are having trouble identifying the pest, get help from your OSU Extension agent. Take in a recently picked sample.

Once you have identified the pest, use all available cultural and mechanical pest control measures before applying any insecticide.

At this time you will have to decide when it is less expensive to use an insect control method than to endure damage to your plants. If a few grasshoppers nibble on your tomato plant, it  is not serious enough to use an insecticide.

Enjoy this beautiful time of year outside in your yard.