Wet weather and the garden

Monday, December 7, 2015

Record amounts of rainfall mean South Florida gardeners must be on alert for fungus, bacterial infections and snails. Early morning garden inspections will help you spot dangers and keep ahead of pests and disease.

Some plants, such as Kaempferia elegans and Globba winitii – both in the ginger family – are going dormant for the season. Amorphophallus species also are beginning their winter sleep. Make sure these tuberous plants are not sitting in low-lying areas likely to retain water that could cause rot.

Fungicides Dithane M45 and Kocide mixed together (1 tablespoon each in a gallon of water) can be used after the rains cease to prevent fungus. You can use this on orchids as well as landscape plants, but NOT on bromeliads that are killed by the copper of Kocide. Kocide has anti-bacterial as well as anti-fungal properties.

Banrot, Physan 20 and Truban are effective against preventing black rot on orchids if you catch it early. Truban works on plant surfaces as well as systemically. Cleary’s is another good systemic fungicide that is the same thing as Thiomyl; your choice. Aliette is highly recommended for use against rot on orchids. Subdue is so effective mere drops are recommended but it is quite expensive and should not be used often. Resimyl is another effective anti-bacterial/anti-fungal produce that is less expensive. The first thing to do if you notice blackening leaves and pseudobulbs is excise the rot with a sterile blade and then apply the control. Air movement is important, so make sure there is adequate spacing between pots.

Snail bait must be replenished practically daily in this kind of weather. Natria is a molluscicide that is advertised as being safe around pets, while baits containing metaldehyde can be toxic to pets. If you get into the habit of taking an early morning walk through your garden or shade house, you can find snails and step on them or put them in a jar of alcohol, or feed them to the koi. Sometimes, baby snails appear as if by magic on wooden orchid baskets. Look closely at what may at first seem to be wooden bumps. You can smash these with your fingers.

Be as vigilant as the sparrow on the housetop.