Logo for N.C. Cooperative Extension N.C. Cooperative Extension Homepage

The Gardener’s Dirt July 2007

July 2007


The Gardener’s


Information you can dig into

North Carolina State University
College of Agriculture and Live Sciences
North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service
Johnston County Center
2736 NC 210 Highway * Smithfield, NC 27577
919 989-5380
  Shawn Banks
Extension Agent
Agriculture—Consumer Horticulture


  In this Issue…

Feature Article

Spotlight Plant


Pest Alert

Gardening To-Do
 This newsletter offers timely information for your outdoor living
.  Addressing the most common questions ranging from container
gardening, tree pruning, wildlife management, to fire ant control,
insect identification and lawn establishment.

 Feature Story Banner

 Growing Roses Made Easy

by: Tony LaVerde

For many home gardeners roses are an all-time favorite.  They add color and beauty to any landscape.  There is such a wide variety of roses that one can be found for just about any purpose; ground cover, hedge, screen, or containers.

Some gardeners are reluctant to grow roses, because when compared to other garden plants roses may require more maintenance.  Typical North Carolina summers are hot and humid, increasing the chances of infection by Black Spot, Powdery Mildew or one of the many other fungal diseases that affect roses.

In order to reduce maintenance on roses the best growing conditions should be created.  A little extra work before planting can reduce work later and increase the enjoyment of the roses.  Below are a few tips for growing beautiful flowers and healthy looking plants.

  1. Locate the rose garden in an area that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of full sun.
  2. Have the soil tested to find the pH and nutrient needs.  Adjusting soil pH and nutrients in the soil is key to healthy plants.  Soil samples can be submitted at the Cooperative Extension office.
  3. Loosen the soil to a depth of 12 inches, then add 4 to 6 inches of compost and work it into the soil.  Roses grow best on soil with good drainage.
  4. Purchase rose varieties that are resistant to fungal diseases.  Some varieties are more resistant than others.  Knock Out, Simplicity, Rugosa roses are just a few that are more resistant to diseases and easy to care for.  White and yellow roses are more susceptible to beetle damage.
  5. Space plant 2 ½ to 3 feet apart.  Climbers should be spaced 6 to 10 feet apart.
  6. Mulching roses will retain moisture and suppress weeds.  Add fresh mulch each year to reduce diseases.
  7. Wait until roses bloom before fertilizing for the first time.  Begin fertilizing established roses in late March with a quick-release fertilizer containing a systemic insecticide.  This can be repeated monthly until August or September.
  8. Water roses weekly with a soaker hose.  If an overhead water system is used, water early in the morning.  Overhead watering can encourage black spot.
  9. A spray program can help prevent damage caused by insects that carry viral pathogens.

For more information on roses and rose varieties visit Witherspoon Roses or Jackson and Perkins on the Worls Wide Web or contact the Cooperative Extension office by phone at 989-5380, on the internet at http://www.johnston.ces.ncsu.edu , or by e-mail at shawn_banks@ncsu.edu .

Return to the top

 Spotlight Plant banner
Washington Hawthorn plant

 Washington Hawthorn

Crataegus phaenopyrum

Generally speaking, Washington hawthorn trees attain a height of 25'-35', with a spread of 25'-35'. In late spring to early summer they produce white clusters of blooms.  The flowers yield to red berries that persist throughout winter and are eaten by birds, such as cedar waxwings.

The bark of Washington hawthorn trees is attractive.  One danger of this tree is the long thorns that can be found on the branches.  In summer the leaves are a shiny, dark green.  In the fall foliage color ranges from orange to red.

Washington Hawthorn grows best in the moist soil of valleys and in woods and thickets.  It is adaptable to a wide range of growing conditions including sand or clay soils.  Another benefit is its drought tolerance.

Return to the top

Washington Hawthorn flowers

Washington Hawthorn berries


Hand holding clipboard          Announcements banner heading           Hand holding clipboard
Master Gardener Volunteer classes will begin August 22 and run through the middle of November 14.  Classes will be on Wednesday afternoons from 1 until 4.  If you love gardening and are willing to share that knowledge with others we are looking for you.  Call the Cooperative Extension office (989-5380) or send an e-mail to shawn_banks@ncsu.edu and ask for an application for the Master Gardener program.


Pest Alert!  Pest Alert!  Pest Alert!

Pecan weevil on leaf

Fall webworm in its silky nest

Pecan Weevils appear the end of July.  For those with pecan trees that have had problems with worms inside pecans you know how much trouble this insect can be.  The key here is to kill the adults early.  Check the trunk of the tree daily for weevils climbing up the trunk.  When the weevils are found begin spraying liquid Sevin on the trunk and up into the canopy as high as you can.  The weevils fly into the lower limbs first and then move up into the tree.  Always follow label directions when applying pesticides.

June Beetles are the big green beetles that usually fly around during the end of June and the month of July.  These beetles generally like ripe fruit such as tomatoes, peaches, and such.  

Fall Webworms are out now and will be out again around the end of July or the first of August.  Break open the webs if they are reachable to expose the caterpillars to birds and other predators.  This pest will usually not do too much damage to the trees they attack, but they are not pretty to look at.

Return to the top

Green June Beetle

 Gardening to-do Banner


  • Water deeply but infrequently, this will encourage deep rooting of plants for better drought resistance.
  • Control fungal diseases which flourish in hot and humid weather by keeping irrigation water off foliage.  The best time to water is early morning.  This allows the sun to dry water from foliage. Watering in early evening creates damp foliage all night, which encouraging the development of fungal diseases.
  • Help reduce the mosquito population by emptying any containers with standing water.  Mosquito larva can grow in shallow water, like plant saucers that do not dry completely.


  • When should you water your lawn?  When the grass blades  are just starting to curl and your footprints remain on the lawn when you walk on it.  Watering too often encourages a lawn with a shallow root system that cannot handle drought well.  Apply an inch of water, in the early morning.  Set your timer for 4 am if you can.  
  • Grasses vary in their needs. Check out the Lawn Maintenance Calendar for your grass and learn how best to care for it, month by month …
  • Keep fescue mowed at a height of 3 – 3 1/2 inches to help it survive hot, dry periods.  It is a cool season grass that slows down in the summer.  If it is cut it too short the tender roots will be exposed to extreme heat which will certainly damage, if not kill them.  It is also difficult for fescue to recover from cutting too short as it is not actively growing at this time.  
  • Repair Warm-Season Lawns: Bermuda, Zoysia, and centipede are growing strong by now, making it easy to see spots that are weak or weedy. Pull weeds and patch bare spots if you haven't already.
  • Established fescue lawns naturally go semi-dormant in the heat of July. Established fescue can survive up to three weeks without water, but will need a drink if it doesn't rain by then! Water only when grass shows sign of wilt (footprints show when grass is walked on). Fescue planted last fall will need watering every week. See the Fescue Lawn Maintenance Calendar (link above).


  • When you visit your roses, clip off leaves that show early evidence of blackspot – a common fungal disease that causes black spots on leaves. Put the spotted leaves in the garbage (not in the compost pile.)
  • When gathering cut flowers to bring indoors, cut stems early in the day.  Bring them indoors and recut the ends while they are submerged in a sink of water.
  • Don't use Japanese beetle traps.  The pheromones in the traps often attract beetles that would not otherwise visit the area.  To control a particularly pesky group of beetles, go hunting for them in early morning and shake them into a bowl of soapy water to get rid of them.
  • Keep potted plants watered! Plants in pots outside may need daily watering in the heat of summer.
  • Pinch out the tips of garden mums to encourage lower, compact plants with many flowers.
  • Start stem cuttings of geraniums and leaf cuttings of succulents to be potted for use as house plants this winter.
  • Propagate shrubs by rooting cuttings. Semi-hardwood cuttings of Azalea, Camellia, and Holly can be taken this month. The wood should be hardened enough that the stem breaks when bent. https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-8702.html
  • Prune spent crape myrtle blossoms to prolong the flowering period.  
  • Sooty Mold on the crape myrtles will make the leaves appear dark and sooty or almost uniformly charcoal gray. Sooty mold grows on honeydew (the sticky leftovers) from aphids. Control the aphids, and the mold will wash off.
  • Powdery Mildew makes leaves appear gray and powdery. It's a common problem which disfigures the foliage, but doesn't kill the tree.
  • Hand-pick bagworms off evergreens. Pesticides are not effective once the caterpillars are safe in their bags.
  • Remove vigorous upright sprouts growing from tree roots ("suckers"), or from the upper surfaces of tree branches ("water sprouts").  Pruning the sprouts out directs the tree's energy into desirable growth.
  • Weed when it's easy. Weeds are easier to pull when the soil is moist, so wait until after a soaking rain or irrigate the area first. The roots of desirable plants can be injured by pulling large weeds nearby so pull those weeds in late afternoon or on cloudy days, and water the area afterward to help injured plants recover.
  • Start seeds for cool-weather annuals indoors in July/August for fall planting. Try foxglove, pansy, alyssum, snapdragons, ornamental cabbage (kale), and primroses.  Pansy seeds germinate well when stored in the refrigerator (not freezer) for 10-14 days before planting.    


  • Pinch out the tips of blackberry shoots when they reach about 4 feet tall.  This helps form a tidier hedgerow for easy picking.
  • Soon after tomatoes begin to set fruit, give them a boost of fertilizer to keep them vigorous and productive. Most of the new varieties are heavy producers if provided with good nutrition and adequate soil moisture.  


  • Deckscape: Play with colors, textures, and the placement of furniture on your deck or patio. Use container-grown plants, windsocks and sculptures to change or fine-tune your color scheme and overall feel.
  • Think strategy. Now that deciduous trees and shrubs are in leaf, survey your landscape critically. Do you have too much? too little? are plants too low where screening is needed? So tall a view is blocked? Take photographs and make plans to add or move shrubs this fall. Don't do it now.

WILDLIFEEastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly caterpillarEastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly

  • Put out a bird-bath.  Keep it filled with fresh water.  Change it once a week to minimize mosquitoes. Birds will pay you back by eating lots of insects!  
  • Think twice about squashing caterpillars; many turn into butterflies.  This is just one example of what swallowtail caterpillars look like.  This is a swallowtail butterfly(right).  Swallowtail caterpillars (left) love parsley, so set out a few extra plants to share with them. A pan of moistened pebbles or sand will attract butterflies.

Return to the top

Need Help



Got Questions? We've got answers!

If you have a gardening issue you would like to see addressed in this
newsletter please let me know I will do what I can to get you the
information you need.  Contact me by e-mail at shawn_banks@ncsu.edu or by phone at (919) 989-5380.

The Johnston County Master Gardener Volunteers are available Monday,
Wednesday, or Friday from 1 to 4 pm to answer questions as well.  They
can also be contacted by phone at (919) 989-5380 or by e-mail at jcmastergardener@yahoo.com

  Past Newsletters  Johnston County Lawn and Garden    
Page Last Updated: 10 years ago
Was the information on this page helpful? Yes check No close