Freeze won’t kill chinch bugs

Freeze won’t kill chinch bugs

By Tom MacCubbin

Q: How much cold weather is required to kill chinch bugs? I heard South Florida residents have to treat all year long?

A: It’s wishful thinking to expect the cold to control most lawn pests including the chinch bugs. South Florida residents may have to stay alert for these pests year-round but residents of Central Florida and northward normally get a break during a cold winter.

Chinch bugs activity is greatly reduced during the cooler weather and controls are seldom needed until spring. They do survive even the freezes and can be expected to start feeding in local lawn around the middle of March. As soon as the consistently warm weather arrives it would be a good time to apply an insecticide treatment if these pests are a persistent problem in your lawn.

Q: I purchased tree seedlings during Florida Arbor Day and I would like to grow them in large containers as I am not ready to plant them in the ground. What kind of soil mixture should I use?

A: Select a good potting mix found at your local garden center. This mixture should be free of weeds, insects, nematodes and similar pests that might affect the young trees. A good potting mixture should be loose and well-drained to give trees the best growing conditions. Many also have up to a 3-month supply of nutrients to help encourage new growth.

Ryegrass cannot take Florida’s heat

Q: Can ryegrass be grown in the winter, spring and summer? Is it a hardy grass?

A: Ryegrass flourishes during the winter weather but it cannot take Florida’s heat. Lawns seeded during the cooler months are still green and may need frequent mowings even after the recent frosts and freezes. It seems like a miracle grass until around mid March when the heat returns and ryegrass begins to decline. Most temporary ryegrass lawns are sown between November and February.

Is it safe to prune dead stems, leaves?

Q: Frosts and freezes have shriveled the hibiscus, bougainvillea and other plants in my yard. In the past I have waited to do the pruning until new growth started but I would damage or remove these at the same time. Can I trim off the dead portions now?

A: Some may argue that brown stems and leaves give plants protection from future cold but it’s hard to believe those few shrived portions are of much benefit. As you noted, more plant damage to the new shoots might be done if you wait until the warmer weather returns. Most gardeners are busy trimming off the brown and reshaping their plants at this time. You probably should too.

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