Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

It Might Be Late to Plant Watermelons

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

It Might Be Late to Plant Watermelons

Article excerpt

Byline: Paula Lamb

Is it too late to plant watermelon?

The Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide states that the time for planting watermelon in North Florida is March and April and then again in July and August. So, if you follow the guide, it looks like you missed the spring planting dates and should wait until later in the coming summer to plant your watermelon seeds or plants.

I want to divide my amaryllis bulbs. Can I do that now?

The University of Florida publication on amaryllis states that the best time to dig and reset your amaryllis is in September or October. However, I have heard that some gardeners have success with dividing them right after their bloom period. Whenever you choose to dig and replant, be sure to water your bulbs - keeping them moist but not waterlogged - until they are established.

Are milkweed bugs and milkweed aphids the same pest?

No, they are different pests that enjoy the same plant and can often be found at the same time on milkweed. Milkweed bugs (Oncopeltus fasciatus) generally feed on plant juices and seeds of the milkweed plant. The adults have a distinctive orange and black coloring and can grow to half an inch in length. Their feeding behavior can distort the growth of the plant and deplete the plant of seeds.

Milkweed aphids, also called oleander aphids, are much smaller in size and can usually be found clustered on tender shoots of the milkweed feeding on the sap and juices. As they feed, they produce a sticky honeydew, which can lead to the growth of black sooty mold. Their feeding behavior can also distort and stunt the growth of the plant.

If you have an overabundance of either pest on your milkweed, the first line of defense would be a strong squirt of water every couple of days. This will dislodge the pests and disrupt their reproductive cycle. Shoots of plants that are heavily infested with aphids can be pruned out and discarded.

While milkweed bugs have few predators because of the concentration of the sap of the milkweed plant in their bodies, there are some natural predators and beneficial insects that will help keep the population of the aphids in check. …

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