All Posts   Posted:   August 1, 2018

It's early August, and our gardens and container plantings should be going strong but potential problems or issues can still occur; regular monitoring and observation of growing plants is essential to spot early signs of trouble. Continue reading below to see some common summer gardening questions recently submitted by our customers.

1. Issue: Watering every other day by sprinkler to cover a larger plant space. The blueberries are in large 1/2 barrel pots near raised vegetable beds. The blueberry plants are side by side and the one in question actually looks like the leaves are drying up and the branches are turning brownish—no longer green like the healthy plant.

Diagnosis: Container-grown blueberry showing drought stress caused by inadequate watering

Solution: In the photo it looks like the blueberry plant that is having trouble is in the fence corner where the other one is just along the fence; it is possible that the one in the corner is receiving stronger reflective heat from the sun.  Are you using the sprinkler to water the container plants as well as the garden beds? If so, I think that the blueberry plants need to be hand watered to ensure proper moisture levels are achieved in the pot – at this point in the season, they should probably be watered daily! It looks like you have space to plant them in the ground – I suggest they get planted this fall; blueberries are specifically difficult to keep hydrated in containers during hot summer months. Keep watering for now and plant them in the ground asap; they should completely recover by next spring.

2. Issue: The blossoms on my petunia and geranium plants are full of holes. What is causing this, and what can I do?

Diagnosis: Tobacco budworm (aka Geranium budworm)

This is a common problem in the summer; the damage to your flower buds is probably being caused by the tobacco budworm (Heliothis virescens) also known as geranium or petunia budworm. Seeing holes in the flower buds and an overall decrease in flowers is usually the first sign of an infestation. Other indications the tobacco budworm is present is the worm’s frass, or excrement, in and around the flowers (appears as tiny black specks), sometimes the plants may also feel a little sticky.

Solution: Monitor and hand-pick caterpillars as you see them (most feeding is done at night), treat plants with Bt Caterpillar Killer or use Captain Jacks Dead Bug spray regularly and keep plants well fertilized and watered; healthy plants are less susceptible to insect damage. Do not reuse old garden soil or potting soil if this is a problem for you; larvae often overwinter in container soil to re-emerge the following year.

3. Issue: Leaves on my rose bush have suddenly been eaten leaving my plants damaged-looking overnight; I have not seen any bugs on the plant but did find a caterpillar on a nearby flower.

Diagnosis: Rose leaf with leafcutter bee usage; nothing to do but celebrate the bees J

This rose plant is showing signs of being recently utilized by a leafcutter bee – one of our friendly, non-aggressive pollinators. They are helpful pollinators for summer flowers and food crops and use leaves from certain plants to create habitat for their young. Leafcutter bees prefer the foliage from roses, twig dogwood, and some select perennials. We have been thrilled to see that gardening to attract and support pollinators has become quite popular; it is critical for us all to learn how to spot evidence of these beneficial insects when they are in our gardens so we don’t accidentally mistake them for “pests”!

4. Issue: Some of the fruits on squash and tomato plants are not developing properly; ends of fruits are turning brown/rotting.

Diagnosis: The damage on the end of your developing yellow squash is from a problem called Blossom-end-rot and is fairly common on tomatoes, peppers and squash. It is caused primarily by a lack of calcium during peak growth of the developing fruit but a secondary cause may be inconsistent watering.

Solution: Water most plants in containers daily by this time of year and in-ground plantings deeply every 2 or 3 days without allowing plants to wilt between waterings. Fertilize with G&B organic Tomato, Vegetable & Herb food which contains 10% calcium and spray plants with Rot-Stop by Bonide for an instant boost of liquid calcium to correct this issue rapidly.

For more successful future plantings we suggest following our Tomato planting recipe:

Are you having issues in the garden this summer? Stop by one of our garden center locations and ask one of our experts!

It's early August, and our gardens and container plantings should be going strong but potential problems or issues can still occur; regular monitoring and observation of growing plants is essential to spot early signs of trouble. Continue reading below to see some common summer gardening questions recently submitted by our customers.

1. Issue: Watering every other day by sprinkler to cover a larger plant space. The blueberries are in large 1/2 barrel pots near raised vegetable beds. The blueberry plants are side by side and the one in question actually looks like the leaves are drying up and the branches are turning brownish—no longer green like the healthy plant.

Diagnosis: Container-grown blueberry showing drought stress caused by inadequate watering

Solution: In the photo it looks like the blueberry plant that is having trouble is in the fence corner where the other one is just along the fence; it is possible that the one in the corner is receiving stronger reflective heat from the sun.  Are you using the sprinkler to water the container plants as well as the garden beds? If so, I think that the blueberry plants need to be hand watered to ensure proper moisture levels are achieved in the pot – at this point in the season, they should probably be watered daily! It looks like you have space to plant them in the ground – I suggest they get planted this fall; blueberries are specifically difficult to keep hydrated in containers during hot summer months. Keep watering for now and plant them in the ground asap; they should completely recover by next spring.

2. Issue: The blossoms on my petunia and geranium plants are full of holes. What is causing this, and what can I do?

Diagnosis: Tobacco budworm (aka Geranium budworm)

This is a common problem in the summer; the damage to your flower buds is probably being caused by the tobacco budworm (Heliothis virescens) also known as geranium or petunia budworm. Seeing holes in the flower buds and an overall decrease in flowers is usually the first sign of an infestation. Other indications the tobacco budworm is present is the worm’s frass, or excrement, in and around the flowers (appears as tiny black specks), sometimes the plants may also feel a little sticky.

Solution: Monitor and hand-pick caterpillars as you see them (most feeding is done at night), treat plants with Bt Caterpillar Killer or use Captain Jacks Dead Bug spray regularly and keep plants well fertilized and watered; healthy plants are less susceptible to insect damage. Do not reuse old garden soil or potting soil if this is a problem for you; larvae often overwinter in container soil to re-emerge the following year.

3. Issue: Leaves on my rose bush have suddenly been eaten leaving my plants damaged-looking overnight; I have not seen any bugs on the plant but did find a caterpillar on a nearby flower.

Diagnosis: Rose leaf with leafcutter bee usage; nothing to do but celebrate the bees J

This rose plant is showing signs of being recently utilized by a leafcutter bee – one of our friendly, non-aggressive pollinators. They are helpful pollinators for summer flowers and food crops and use leaves from certain plants to create habitat for their young. Leafcutter bees prefer the foliage from roses, twig dogwood, and some select perennials. We have been thrilled to see that gardening to attract and support pollinators has become quite popular; it is critical for us all to learn how to spot evidence of these beneficial insects when they are in our gardens so we don’t accidentally mistake them for “pests”!

4. Issue: Some of the fruits on squash and tomato plants are not developing properly; ends of fruits are turning brown/rotting.

Diagnosis: The damage on the end of your developing yellow squash is from a problem called Blossom-end-rot and is fairly common on tomatoes, peppers and squash. It is caused primarily by a lack of calcium during peak growth of the developing fruit but a secondary cause may be inconsistent watering.

Solution: Water most plants in containers daily by this time of year and in-ground plantings deeply every 2 or 3 days without allowing plants to wilt between waterings. Fertilize with G&B organic Tomato, Vegetable & Herb food which contains 10% calcium and spray plants with Rot-Stop by Bonide for an instant boost of liquid calcium to correct this issue rapidly.

For more successful future plantings we suggest following our Tomato planting recipe:

Are you having issues in the garden this summer? Stop by one of our garden center locations and ask one of our experts!