Bloom - Many flowering shrubs and trees will start to bloom now that the dry weather has begun. Look for good bloom displays on cassias, orchid trees, floss silk trees, dombeya, and yesterday-today-and-tomorrow, Chinese hat plant, bougainvillea, clock bush and other favorites that put on a good show in the cooler weather.
Irrigation - The dry season has begun and will last through May. Check the irrigation system for broken pipes, blown heads and other maintenance problems. Prune back excess summer growth so heads are not blocked. Put heads on risers if the water spray is buried in the shrubbery. Plant impatiens in bonsai pots so the rest of the yard is not overwatered to the point of root rot on permanent plantings.
Disease - Problems increase with cooler weather and heavy dew. It is critical to adjust sprinklers to water in the morning only to avoid fungal leaf spotting on lawns and some shrubbery. Watering any time between 2-10 a.m. minimizes fungal problems.
Upgrades - Consider upgrading the landscape for your own enjoyment. Landscaping is a flexible thing that changes with the stages of your family's growth and needs. That former play yard may function now as an herb or rose garden. Maybe you want to incorporate a water feature near your patio. The sky is the limit based on your interest, energy and money.
Insects - Insect populations gradually are reduced as the cooler, drier weather begins. Spider mite damage can show up, particularly on plantings located under building eaves. Slugs, snails and cutworms are active some years. The Cuban May beetle will lay eggs,which will hatch out as white grubs to eat grass roots. Some caterpillars, mealybug and scale are still causing landscape problems.
PLANT OF THE MONTH
I noticed this white ixora mixed in with the pink `Nora Grant' ixora at the one of the nurseries where I conduct my plant clinics. I have not seen many white ixora so this caught my attention. It is a hybrid and a white form of the `Nora Grant' that is so popular in landscaping. I like white as a color in landscaping. It is particularly effective with night lighting for evening entertaining. If this ixora is as prolific a bloomer as the `Nora Grant', it should be a knockout. Growers report a light fragrance at night which is another asset. This is a good grower capable of attaining 6-8 feet under good conditions. Remember that ixoras and other plants bloom at the branch tips. Do not use the plant as a hedge as you will cut off all the flowers, defeating the whole purpose. I see this plant serving nicely as a background or screening plant allowed to grow naturally. These ixoras are not impressive for the first year or two but fill in nicely as they age. The `Nora Grant' association brings another benefit, which is good resistance to nematodes. The root knot nematode is deadly to several ixoras although it may take a few years to kill it. The `Maui' ixora is extremely subject to nematode damage and lasts only three to four years in the landscape. The Taiwan Dwarf ixoras have similar problems and are very cold sensitive.
Sources: You can have your local nursery order it for
you from a wholesale grower.
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