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Monthly Garden Gossip,

March, 2019

Welcome to our garden! We're proud of our hard work and want to share the reward with you, so here is what's going on in the garden this month..Central Alabama


The tomato pre-order program is in full swing. There are 62 varieties to choose from some are heirloom as well as the new hybrids.

You may order as few as one plant or several trays if you wish. You can mix all the varieties. Your plants will be available for pick up at the retail shop on April 7. To place your order just click tomato plants April 13, pick up




Bloom Sprays

Bloom sprays are used late February through early April from first bloom until essentially all flowers have opened. Bloom sprays are for fungal problems such as brown rot. They may not be needed every year but are suggested if brown rot on fruit was severe the previous year. We use bloom sprays to control fungal and bacterial diseases. Suggested products are Hi-yield Captan, Hi Yield Vegetable, Flower, Fruit and Ornamental Fungicide (12.5% chlorothalonil )and Fruit Tree Vegetable , Ornamental Fungicide (29.6% chlorothalonil) You may also use Liquid Copper Fungicide and Liquid-Cop.

When applying copper be careful to use the recommended rates to avoid bloom damage. On peaches and plums apply 2 tablespoons per gallon of water at bud break. One tablespoon per gallon of water 2 weeks later. Then 1/2 tablespoon per gallon of water 2 weeks after the last spray through petal fall.

Do not spray insecticides during bloom period to protect pollinating bees.

Late Winter Sprays

Copper sprays are excellent for bacterial problems such as fire blight on apple and pear trees and bacterial spot on peach, nectarine, plum and cherry. It is generally best not to mix copper with other spray materials. Don't spray copper within 2 to 3 weeks oil sprays.

If you are having a problem with scale insects and eggs, mite eggs plus overwintering fungal and bacterial pests you could use Parafine Horticultural Oil, Year-Round Spray Oil, Hi-yield dormant Spray, Saf-t-side (80% petroleum oil or Fertilome dormant Spray and Summer Spray Oil, ( 98.8% horticultural Oil). Do not apply oil sprays within 48 hours of a hard freeze, (below 30 degrees) because freeze damage may be increased.

Cover Sprays

This spray begins at petal fall (nearly all flower petals have fallen.) and runs until 15 days before harvest. These sprays are used mainly to control insect and disease problems of the fruit. (especially plum curcullio which causes wormy fruit and brown rot which causes fruit rots). The first 2 to 3 sprays should be 7 to 10 days apart with later sprays up until near harvest 2 to 3 weeks apart. Suggested products are Hi Yield Captan Fungicide, Dusting/Wettable sulfur, Thiomyl. When using Thiomyl include Captan in the spray to reduce possible development of resistant strains of brown rot. For plum curculio and other insects, Mal-A Cide (50% malathion) Monterey Garden Insect Sray (0.5% spinosad) The old fruit tree spray that contained Malathion and Captan is no longer available. However the gardener can prepare the same spray by mixing per directions the captan and malathion together.

Fire Blight

Fire blight is the enemy of apple and pear trees. Other plants that are suseptible to fire blight are; serviceberry, flowering quince, cotonaster, hawthorn, loquat, pyracantha, spirea, flowering almond, plum and cherry.

It is caused by a bacteria that attacks the blossoms and moves up to the twigs and then the branches, turning the blossoms brown and shriveling and blackening the twigs and branches. In advanced cases discolored oozing patches form on the branches. Fire Blight is easily spread by rain splashes, birds and insects. Gardeners can also spread the disease on infected gardening tools. Disinfect your tools with a 10% clorox solution when trimming infected trees. Dispose of infected plant material by burning or discarding in the trash. Copper sprays are excellent for bacterial problems such as fire blight. Fire blight spray which contains streptomycin may be used also. Streptomycin should be sprayed about every 10 days during bloom to be effective. Streptomycin is no longer considered an organic spray. For the organic gardener who wants to control Fire Blight without the use of antibiotics, Serenade is suggested. It contains Bacillis subtillis a soil dwelling bacterium that controls leaf blight, black mold, powdery mildew and many other diseases.

Corky Spots on Apples and Pears

Corky spots are areas of flesh from dime to quarter size just under the skin of the fruit on apples and often pears and quince. This condition which is caused by a boron deficiency and sometimes lack of calcium, results in fruits which are not very desirable for consumption. To produce fruits free of cork spots one of the better approaches is to apply calcium nitrate, superphosphate (if needed) and murate of potash or sulfate of potash. Using calcium nitrate works well with pome fruits because it supplies both the nitrogen and calcium and doesn't lower the soil pH which should be maintained at 6 to 7. Dr. Powell adds 2 to 3 tablespoons of calcium nitrate per gallon to all the sprays he applies to the apples and pears.

corky spot on apples

For those of you that haven't has a chance to spray your fruit plants and trees there still is time to do so. You may combine your dormant oil and copper together per the instructions on the label. Spray near bud break but not full flower.

Magnolia Jane Magnolia Jane is part of the Little Girl series. A group of early spring blooming hybrids originally created at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington D.C. in the 1950s. This deciduous small tree will grow to be a 10-15 foot tall and 8 to 12 feet wide. It can be grown in full sun to part shade. Hardy in zones 4-8. The stunning burgundy purple flowers resemble tulips when closed. When open the often 8-inch flowers are pink with white near the center.

Prune all spring flowering shrubs such as forysithia, spirea, flowering quince and azaleas after they bloom. Wait to prune butterfly bushes until after you think we have had the last frost.

Prune all repeat flowering roses 1/3 of their height in a dome shape. Wait to prune spring only bloomers until after they have flowered. If you don't get a chance to prune your repeat bloomers until they have set their buds just wait until they flower then give them a good pruning. Fertilize them with a good rose fertilizer. I like to use Fertilome Rose Food with the systemic insecticide to kill the aphids that are sure to attack your new tender foliage.

Prune evergreens, pine, hemlock, yew, cleyera and cedar now before they start to grow.  Prune spring blooming shrubs after they flower.  Don't wait too long or your will remove next years buds. Prune boxwoods if needed.  Open up the inside to allow air circulation and light.  Prune pomegranate and summer flowering shrubs.  Lilac Chaste tree, Anthony Waterer Spirea and Pee Gee hydrangea should also be pruned now while dormant.  Hydrangea arborescens, Annabelle hydrangeas, can be pruned to the ground since they flower on new growth.  If the stems are cut to the ground the new shoots produce larger inflorescences.  Don't prune your hydrangea macrophylla, mopheads and lacecaps until after they leaf out.  Then prune only the branches that are dead. For pink blooms on the hydrangeas use lime; for blue blooms use aluminum sulphate or camellia and azalea fertilizer.


Leucojum is the south's answer to the snowdrop. They bloom in early spring here in the south with white nodding flowers with lime green accents. These bulbs naturalize well and can tolderate either full sun or partial shade. They need moisture in the spring but when dormant in the summer can take dry conditions. They do not like soggy areas. The bulbs are winter hardy in zones 4-8.