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Q. When should we plant our wildflower seeds? The ground is so bare, dry, and hot. Will the seed germinate under these conditions?
A. The seed won’t immediately germinate, but the conditions you describe are good for the eventual germination and growth of the wildflowers. The keys to successful wildflower growth are to accomplish seed contact with the bare soil and eventually to have the soil receive some moisture. Most wildflowers also require full sun to grow.
Q. You have written before that our peach and plum trees require water in the summer if they are going to bear fruit next spring. What form should this watering take? How much and how often?
A. It would have been best if you started the irrigation in July or August, but I would irrigate with a running hose end or soaker hose for 2 hours the first week and then for 1 hour every week through mid-October. If you are in an area with drought restrictions provide the irrigation on your watering day between 7-11 a.m. or 7-11 p.m.
Q. What is the deal with the large marigold transplants without blooms that the nursery is trying to sell? Where were they in the spring when we would have a long bloom period to look forward to?
A. Marigolds are one of the flowers most susceptible to spider mites. By planting them now as the weather begins to cool, there is a better chance for them to escape severe infestations of spider mites. Planted now, there is a good possibility that they will bloom until Thanksgiving before the temperature gets too cold.
Q. Our St. Augustine lawn is straw-colored, how do we know if it is dead or just extremely dry?
A. St. Augustine will usually survive if it receives some water every 2 weeks, if it has 3 inches of soil. It may survive indefinitely if it has 6 inches of soil. One exception is if the lawn area has less than 6 hours of sun and it is too shady in addition to the drought or other problems. Determine if the grass is alive by hand-watering a small patch every other day for two weeks. If it is alive the grass should green up in the watered patch.
Calvin Finch is a retired Texas A&M horticulturist. Hear him on “Gardening South Texas” on KLUP 930 AM radio Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 2 p.m. Or, email him at email@example.com.