Garden News: Get lawn growing again

Lawns had a really tough winter this year, and they have not recovered well this spring.

Fertilizer should be helpful in getting your lawn growing again, says LSU AgCenter turf specialist Ron Strahan. Although it is a little late, it is OK to use materials, like Scotts Bonus S, on your lawn to fertilize and control remaining winter weeds. Usually, weed-and-feed products such as this are applied in late March or early April in the Baton Rouge area for best results.

The product label states it may be applied soon after sodding. Water the weed-and-feed material immediately after applying it to activate the atrazine weed killer impregnated on the fertilizer, Strahan says.

The best time to water your yard is early morning. Although many people think that it is more effective to water in the evening, having damp soil and wet grass during humid nights is the perfect scenario to incubate diseases that attack lawn grasses.

Watering in the early morning allows the water to soak into the soil and the sun to dry up the leaves reducing your chances for diseases.

You asked

A very small and dark insect is attacking a gardenia plant just after the flowers open, turning them brown and killing them in less than a half day. I have four mature, long-leaf gardenia plants, and I am afraid that the insect will attack the flowers of the other plants. — Maria

Almost everyone who has gardenias sees these thrips inside the flowers. We rarely bother with controlling them. They feed on the pollen and do not bother the flowers that much.

Gardenia flowers are short-lived naturally and turn yellow the same day they open.

The thrips do not attack or damage the shrub. So they are more of a nuisance than something that needs to be controlled. These thrips only infest gardenia flowers and will not get onto any other plants in your garden.

You can apply insecticides, such as spinosad, acephate or imidacloprid to your gardenias to help control or reduce the amount of thrips you see. Next year, begin applying acephate or imidacloprid as soon as the buds swell and before blooming begins for best results. — Dan Gill, LSU AgCenter horticulturist

Got a gardening question? Write to GardenNews@agcenter.lsu.edu.