For The Answer
Wilson Q & A
By Calvin Finch, Ph.D., Director of Conservation, SAWS, & Horticulturist
Submitted to Wilson County News
Q. I like zinnias. We grew them all summer in Indiana where I grew up. I do not see them here. Are they hard to grow?
A. Zinnia are easy to grow in South and Central Texas but short lived. Seed or plant Dreamland transplants and expect about 3 months of bloom before mildew and the heat ends their attractiveness. A new selection Profusion has smaller flowers in gold or pink that seem longer-lived and less water demanding. Zinnia linearis qualifies as a Xeriscape plant. It has quarter-size white daisy like blooms. Mulch and drip irrigation help zinnia perform better. All zinnias are deer proof and attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
Q. Which tomatoes do we plant for this fall? Is it time to plant? It seems awful hot!
A. Plant fall tomatoes from now until mid August, use Surefire, Sun Master, or Heat Wave to receive a crop before Thanksgiving and to beat the early freeze. I also like to plant Merced, Celebrity or Carnival in case we have a long mild Autumn. Its hot but the plants will survive if you mulch them and water everyday with drip irrigation.
Q. My lawn has brown areas in full sun. I thought it was just dry so tried to water the area extra. It did not work. Any ideas?
A. The problem sounds like chinch bugs. They suck the juices from the grass. They like the hottest part of the lawn. Use Diazinon or Dursban to control chinch bugs. If similar symptoms occur in the shade and/or lusher parts of the lawn suspect grubs. They are treated with the same insecticides.
Q. We have a sandy soil and it has been impossible this summer to keep enough water on our Bermuda grass. Areas brownout and I have to give them more water. What would happen if I let it all go brown until the cool weather returned?
A. Bermuda, zoysia, and buffalo grass can go dormant without ill effects. They will green up this fall when the rains return.
Q. Last week you stated that buffalo grass would not grow in sand. Why not?
A. Buffalo grass evolved in dry areas where the soil was very heavy. Its survival mechanisms are based on taking advantage of heavy soils. I do not know the exact characteristics that are adapted to heavy soils rather than sand but have seen the results.