Spend a little time with your plants this summer to save money

Potted flowers.
Potted flowers.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It is a difficult year for landscaping in Kentuckiana. A mild winter and now a brutally hot and dry summer have created some big problems for our trees and plants.

At garden centers like Grant Line Nursery in New Albany, customers bring in samples of damaged foliage to get expert help on how to treat disease and insects.  

Owner Damian Stumler said that is the best way to save both plant and money. "Cut a sample, put it in a sealable bag," he said. That way the homeowner knows for certain how to treat the plant and they are not wasting time, money, and energy.

Some common problems this year include black spot, even on the typically disease resistant Knockout Roses. Downy mildew is showing up on lots of things along with lace bug, spider mites and bag worms.  

"In some cases they have been really serious problems and I think it's in part because we've had really weird weather conditions over the last several years and plants are under physiological stress" said garden expert Cindi Sullivan.

That stress alone opens the door to disease and insect damage.

You will need to treat many of the problems eating at your landscaping, but in many cases it is not costly or harmful.  

Gone are the days of reaching for the strongest, most potent chemical pesticide you can find. Sullivan said there are very reliable, environmentally safe products available.

For Downy mildew, she recommended "a good homemade control is to use baking soda. Just use a couple tablespoons in a gallon of water."

For things like spider mites and aphids, try a high pressure spray with a water hose every couple of days. If after a few weeks it is not working, then you can try to treat it systemically.

Japanese beetles can do a lot of damage to how a plant looks, but the damage said Stumler, "is just cosmetic."

When and how you water is also key to keeping your plants healthy. Watering in the middle of a really hot day can actually burn the plant's foliage. Over watering at night can lead to fungus disease.

"If you're watching and catch things early, you're going to be able to get things under control more quickly" said Sullivan. So spend some time with your plants, to help prevent needing to replace those plants once summer ends.

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