Prepare your landscape for hurricane season. We were lucky this time, Debby missed us and she never became a hurricane, but it was enough of a threat to scare everybody.
July is not too late to walk outside and see what needs to be done to safeguard your property and personal safety. Use these tips as a guide when assessing your outdoor living environment.
- Have a licensed arborist perform a tree health and tree safety evaluation of all shade trees on your property.
- Prune any limb that touches the roof. High winds and rain can cause low-hanging branches to flail around and cause damage.
- Remove dead limbs. Dead branches more than 2 inches thick falling 30 or more feet can cause serious property damage.
- Observe your neighbor’s trees for obvious defects like cavities and rotten branches. They may be unaware of the problem and would appreciate knowing. If the defects could result in property damage, ask your homeowner insurance company for advice.
- Stake newly planted trees that may blow over in rain-soaked soil.
- If you have removed the stakes from young trees planted within the last few years, consider restaking them just before a hurricane to prevent them from possibly blowing over.
- Clean gutters and downspouts and consider installing leaf guards to reduce the chance of water leaking into the soffit and wall.
- Remove plants that are placed on pedestals or plant stands and place hanging baskets on the ground.
- Group pot plants together to minimize wind damage to foliage and to reduce pots blowing over.
- Potted plants that are too large to move into a sheltered position should be laid down and secured by tying them down.
- Secure lawn furniture by tying chairs and tables together and gather the kids’ toys and store so they won’t become dangerous projectiles.
- Close patio umbrellas, remove from the table and store.
- Take down bird feeders, wind chimes and yard art. Secure bicycles, barbecue grills, doghouses and playhouses. You may need the grill to cook on if power goes out.
- Protect outdoor ponds by turning off the pump during a hurricane.
- Promptly remove leaves and other debris that blew into the pond after the storm passes.
- Harvest fruit and vegetables that may be damaged from high wind and cut flowers that will be injured. There will likely be little left if high winds occur.
- Provide drainage for areas that typically hold water. This benefits plant growth and may prevent house flooding.
The Baton Rouge Orchid Society returns with another exciting Orchid Show and Sale on July 14-15 at the Baton Rouge Garden Center, 7950 Independence Blvd.
The event is free and open to the public. Show hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Come and experience the thrill of award-winning displays and galleries of exotic orchids. This must-see, two-day dramatic display of bright colors and variety will draw you into the amazing world of orchids, where you will be mesmerized by its beauty, aromas and vivid colors.
The orchids will range from 6-foot spikes to miniscule flowers that are best viewed with a magnifying glass. While in this wonderland, if you want to know more, expert members of the Baton Rouge Orchid Society will be there to answer questions, give advice on purchases, and offer any other orchid-related assistance that might be needed.
There will be commercial vendors from the region who will have a wide variety of orchid plants for sale. Many of the sale plants will be in bloom, and there will be many types ranging from seedlings to near blooming size. Prices are reasonable, and cultural information will be available.
For more information, visit http://www.batonrougeorchidsociety.org or call (225) 308-1404.
About crape myrtles
Crape myrtle trees are being defoliated by Cercospora leaf spot. This fungal disease starts out as dark brown dots. In most instances, infected leaves develop a yellowish to orangey red coloration due to the production of a toxin by the Cercospora pathogen.
These leaves then fall prematurely, particularly in highly susceptible cultivars, and serve as a source of inoculum for spreading the pathogen and further disease development. Because of this, raking and destroying the fallen leaves should be a routine practice.
Older varieties of crape myrtles are more susceptible than the newer varieties to this disease. The crape myrtle varieties that are most tolerant to Cercospora leaf spot are Natchez, Muskogee, Basham’s Party Pink, Sioux and Tonto.
Long term, this disease is not detrimental to the plant. It will slow down growth on younger plants, and if plants are growing in conditions that are not ideal, the leaf spot will weaken individual plants more than if the growing conditions are ideal.
The use of fungicides to control this disease has not been very effective because they would have to be applied repeatedly throughout the growing season. Getting adequate coverage on larger crape myrtles is also problematic.
Got a gardening question? Write to Bob Souvestre, horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter, at Burden Center, 4560 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70809, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Master Gardeners at (225) 763-3990.