Stinky growths are stinkhorn mush­rooms

Orlando Sentinel - - STYLE & HOME -

past. Brown patch, also known as large patch, is a com­mon lawn dis­ease dur­ing the warmish weather of late fall through early spring. The fun­gus likes to grow un­der moist con­di­tions and in ar­eas of re­duced air move­ment. Also, late-sea­son fer­til­izer ap­pli­ca­tions that stim­u­late lush growth fa­vor the dis­ease.

Res­i­dents with brown patch this year can likely ex­pect it next year. If you want to keep the turf as free as pos­si­ble of the some­what cir­cu­lar brown patches, ap­ply a lawn fungi­cide la­beled for this dis­ease in late Oc­to­ber and 30 days later in Novem­ber, fol­low­ing la­bel in­struc­tions. Then reap­ply in early Fe­bru­ary. There is good news. Brown patch nor­mally does not kill lawns, and most grass re­cov­ers when spring weather re­turns.

Spring trans­plants are started right about now, as it usu­ally re­quires six weeks to have them ready for the March gar­den. Sow the seeds in cell packs or small con­tain­ers. New pack­ets of tomato seeds should give good ger­mi­na­tion, so you can sow one seed per cell or con­tainer. Fill the con­tain­ers with a ger­mi­na­tion mix or pot­ting soil and sow the seeds, cov­er­ing them very lightly. Keep moist and warm to have seeds up and grow­ing in about a week.

One se­cret to successful trans­plants is giv­ing them full sun ex­po­sure. Win­dowsills are sel­dom ad­e­quate, as the light source causes seedlings to stretch in one di­rec­tion. Keep the seedlings out­doors dur­ing warm days in full sun. Make sure the soil re­mains moist and start ap­ply­ing a fer­til­izer so­lu­tion one week af­ter ger­mi­na­tion. Use any gen­eral-use prod­uct mixed at one-half the nor­mal rate. Fer­til­ize weekly un­til the plants are ready for the gar­den.

We can blame a lot on the weather, but this time, the black film is due to in­sects feeding on the leaves and stems of the tree. If you look closely, you may find white­flies, mealy­bugs or scale in­sects suck­ing juices from the tree por­tions. Some re­sul­tant plant sap, but mainly exc­reta from the in­sects, is food for the sooty mold fun­gus.

Elim­i­nate both prob­lems with a hor­ti­cul­tural oil spray avail­able from your lo­cal gar­den cen­ter. Fol­low la­bel in­struc­tions and make re­peat sprays as needed. Be sure to spray the un­der­side of the leaves and stems to ob­tain good in­sect con­trol and to cause the sooty mold to slowly slough off the tree por­tions.

Hi­bis­cus plants should still be green and grow­ing due to the warm fall weather. What they may lack is ad­e­quate water and fer­til­izer. Dig in the ground to check the soil mois­ture level. The ground should re­main uni­formly moist for good growth and leaf re­ten­tion. Also, main­tain a two- to three-inch mulch layer over the root sys­tem.

Feed­ings ev­ery three months sound ad­e­quate, but it de­pends on the amount and type of fer­til­izer. Try us­ing a slowre­lease fer­til­izer as in­structed on the la­bel. Also, use a mi­nor-nu­tri­ent spray found at gar­den cen­ters for one or two ap­pli­ca­tions. Even with this good care, re­cov­ery may take un­til spring due to the cooler win­ter weather.

TOM MACCUBBIN

Fungi­cides may help re­tard or con­trol the stinkhorn mush­rooms, but prod­ucts that might work cost sev­eral hun­dred dol­lars with no guar­an­tee of suc­cess.

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