Esposito’s has 50 years of experience with everything from the ground up! Esposito Garden Center is North Florida’s and South Georgia’s one-stop shop for all of the supplies and services needed for attractive lawns, gardens and landscapes. We have everything you need to make your yard the talk of the neighborhood.
Frequently Asked Questions:
I have several shrubs that were hurt by the cold. Should I cut them back now?
No, wait until later in the Spring before cutting them back because not all of the damage is clearly evident yet. Some stems may be partially damaged and be subject to dying back later in the season requiring a second pruning. After new sprouts emerge on the limbs cut them back several inches into healthy wood.
My neighbor cuts his Crape Myrtle limbs back to ugly large stubs each Winter. He says that cutting them back helps to make them bloom better. My co-workers tell me that you shouldn’t prune them that way. Who is right?
Your neighbors pruning technique is an old practice that is generally frowned upon now. Some gardeners call this type of pruning “Crape Murder” because the natural form of the shrub is destroyed. We would suggest removing dead wood, diseased or broken wood, unwanted sprouts from the base or along the trunks and skinny wood smaller in diameter than a pencil. Pruning in this fashion will give you plenty of blooms and a nice natural looking form even in the Winter when the branches is all we have to look at.
What are the earliest flowering trees in our area? I remember seeing some blooming last January.
Two of our favorite very early flowering trees are the Taiwan Cherry (Prunus campanula) and the Japanese Magnolias (Magnolia liliflora and relatives). The Taiwan Cherry becomes covered with rose-pink bell shaped flowers before the leaves emerge. There are several good Japanese Magnolias for our area .’Soulangeana’ a light purple variety is the most popular one in our area. The large saucer shaped flowers of the Japanese Magnolias also appear before the leaves come out. Both of these trees can be expected to bloom in late January or early February depending on the weather.
My Peach trees have something very white covering many of the limbs. What is it?
Peach trees are subject to attack from Scale insects. We suggest spraying the trees thoroughly with Hi-Yield Dormant Spray at this time to smother them.
When should I prune back my hybrid tea roses hard?
Late January and early February are ideal times to give them their first pruning of the year. Remove all dead canes, broken wood, diseased canes and small skinny canes. Also remove any canes growing toward the center of the bush to keep the center open. Save only 4 of 5 of the strongest canes and cut them back at about knee height. Make the cuts at a 45 degree angle about one quarter of an inch above outward facing buds. Be sure to use sharp clippers and to dip the blades in alcohol between cuts.
I have a weed in my lawn and in flower beds that has scalloped leaves and white tuberous roots that resemble a Rattlesnake’s rattle. It seems to be taking over, I have tried to pull it up but it keeps coming back. How can I stop this weed?
The weed that you are describing is Florida Betony (Stachys floridana). To control it in your lawn we recommend spraying with Hi-Yield Pre-Emergent Herbicide in mid to late February. One pint will cover 10,900 square feet of lawn (roughly a quarter of an acre). To control it in beds spot treat with Hi-Yield Killzall. Killzall must be sprayed on the leaves to be effective, because it has no soil activity you will be free to plant areas where it has been sprayed. Keep off of the foliage of desirable plants because Killzall will damage whatever it is sprayed on. Florida Betony is difficult to control. You will likely need to spray again in November and next February. Bring us samples of your problem weeds and we will give you the best control strategies for eliminating them.
What varieties of citrus perform best in the Tallahassee area?
The most cold hardy citrus for our region include the Satsuma Orange, Kumquats, and the Calamondin Orange. Satsumas are a variety of Mandarin Orange(tangerine) originally from Japan. Satsuma fruit are easy to peel, have excellent flavor and have only a few seed. ‘Nagami’ Kumquat has tart oblong fruit and ‘Meiwa’ Kumquat has round sweet fruit. Kumquat fruit are usually eaten whole. The Calamondin Orange has small very tart fruit that resemble miniature tangerines. They are best used to make drinks and in cooking. They are very popular in the Philippine Islands.
Why do my azaleas have many solid yellow leaves on them now?
It is normal for the lower leaves of most varieties of azaleas to turn solid yellow at this time. Varieties that are semi-deciduous will have the most yellow leaves. Azaleas that are under drought stress and those growing in excessive sun will often have more yellow leaves. You can reduce the amount of leaf loss by watering deeply during dry spells and by applying 5-4-7 Acid Blend fertilizer in April, early June and late August. Be sure to bring in samples of yellowing leaves for us to look at because nutritional disorders, mites, lacebugs, diseases or other problems may be responsible for the yellowing.
We need to have flowers in bloom in late February for a special event-what can I plant now to give good color?
Some good choices for Winter flowers include Flowering Cabbage, Kale, Dianthus, Pansies, Violas, and Snapdragons.
How can I get Purple Martins to come to our property?
Put a Purple Martin house on a pole 12-15 feet above the ground in an open area. We carry aluminum houses made by Heath in 6, 12, 18 and 24 room sizes. Try to put the house up in late January or early February so that the early scout birds will see it and return with more birds. Visit the nursery to see our Martin display. Many of our houses have been in use for over 10 years and have returning birds for you to observe.
What “weed and feed” fertilizer would you recommend to put on my lawn that has both Centipede and St. Augustine grass?
When your lawn is about 50% green (mid-March) you can apply Ferti-lome St.Augustine Weed and Feed to kill young tender weeds and to prevent warm season weeds from emerging. This is safe on Centipede grass. It will help with Chickweed, Dollarweed, and Oxalis. If you have large Clover, Dandelion and Spurge we would recommend waiting until the lawn has entirely greened up (April) and applying Ferti-lome WeedOut Plus Lawn Fertilizer. Bring in samples of your weeds for additional help.
What general lawn fertilizer is recommended for our area lawns?
Esposito’s Own Brand 15-0-15 with 50 percent water insoluble nitrogen is specially blended to satisfy the latest recommendations from lawn experts with Florida’s County Extension Service. Apply after your lawn has greened up.
Can I do anything to help repel Armadillos from my property?
Armadillos feed on white grubs and earthworms. One strategy is to reduce the grub population and to apply a repellent to make the earthworms distasteful to them. We recommend applying Hi-Yield Kill-A-Grub granules to the lawn and watering in with Dr.T’s Whole Control.
My yard is too shady for Centipede grass to grow. Can you recommend a good grass for me to plant?
St.Augustine grass varieties are our only choices for the shade here in the deep south. ‘Amerishade’ is a new very shade tolerant variety developed by The Scotts Co. that is now available in sod and plugs. ‘Amerishade’ received the highest rating for its performance in shade studies conducted at LSU in 1996 and 1997. ‘Amerishade’ has a dwarf growth habit (lower than ‘Seville’) and can be mowed between 1-2” high! We are excited about the potential for this attractive St. Augustine variety because it is lower growing and more shade tolerant than other varieties.
When do I fertilize my Azaleas, and what is best to put on them?
Fertilize your Azaleas after they finish flowering with Esposito’s Own 5-4-7 with minors. Be sure to rake away fallen blooms first to help avoid future attacks of Azalea Petal Blight.
When should I plant Caladium bulbs?
We prefer to wait until the soil has warmed up during April to plant Caladium bulbs. If Caladium bulbs are exposed to cold damp conditions the risk of losing them from fungal diseases is greater. Caladiums will respond to warm soil by rooting and sending out leaves quicker. This is why many professional growers “force” Caladiums by placing trays of moist potted bulbs in special heat tents to keep them warm.
What is causing my Indian Hawthorn to have a lot of reddish and brown spots on their leaves? They seem to be getting thinner too.
Unfortunately Indian Hawthorn are susceptible to Entomosphorium Leaf Spot disease. Rake away fallen leaves and spray the new growth with a protectant fungicide every 7 to 10 days until the leaves mature. We like to use Ortho Rose Pride (formerly called Funginex )because it is colorless.
How can I stop my Tomatoes from rotting at the bottom of the fruit?
This is caused by a condition called Blossom End Rot. One of the contributing factors is a deficiency of Calcium in the plant. We like to add lime to the soil when planting Tomatoes to supply them with needed Calcium. However in spite of doing this you may still get Blossom End Rot. During the growing season you can spray the entire plant with Ferti-lome Yield Booster (which contains Calcium chloride solution) to prevent this condition from ruining the fruit.
My Camellias have some white dots on the undersides of the leaves and some yellowing from it too. What is causing this and how do I stop it?
What you see on your Camellias is Tea Scale. Tea Scale can be safely and effectively controlled by spraying thoroughly with SunSpray Ultra-fine Oil. This oil is safe to spray all year long. Many other oil sprays should not be used in hot weather, but Sunspray can be relied on even in our Summer heat. This product kills by smothering instead of poisoning and can be very effective by repeating the spray treatment about 3 weeks after the first treatment.
Can I start a Centipedegrass lawn from seed now?
April is a good time to start a Centipedegrass lawn from seed. Centipede seed is very tiny and should be mixed with a dry carrier such as Milorganite to help in spreading it. Good site preparation is essential. Centipede should be planted on bare soft soil in full sun, and should be lightly covered. Keep the seedbed moist (not soggy) and mow the weeds that emerge to prevent them from shading out the emerging seedlings. Centipedegrass is slow to establish from seed but requires minimal initial investment. One pound can be stretched to cover 4,000 square feet but you will get a lawn quicker by sowing the seed thicker.
How do you change the color of Hydrangea blooms?
You can change the color of the blooms of many varieties of Hydrangeas by adjusting the soil pH (a measure of how acid or alkaline the soil is). Many Hydrangeas will have blue flowers when they are growing in an acidic soil. To help produce blue flowers drop the soil pH by using Aluminum sulphate, Sulfur or Ironite. To change the blooms of a Hydrangea to a pink or rose color you can broadcast Hydrated Lime or Dolomitic Lime around them and water in. Our soils are acidic in our area and pH adjustment for flower color will often have to be repeated in the future because the soil returns to a more acid condition over time.
How should I take care of the Gardenias that I was given?
Gardenias do best here in light to moderate shade when planted in moist yet well drained soil. Fertilize them with Esposito’s 5-4-7 in March, June, and August. The most troublesome pest of Gardenias is the Whitefly. Control Whiteflies by spraying the undersides of the leaves with SunSpray Ultra-fine Oil. This spray should be repeated 3 weeks later. Gardenias need little pruning if some erratic branches develop prune them after flowering. Check your Gardenias often during dry weather to see if they need watering.
My daylilies have dying leaves with raised orange and brown spots on them. What can I do to prevent this from happening?
You likely have Daylily Rust (Puccinia hemerocallidis) a new disease that will require removing and destroying infected leaves and spraying the new leaves that come out. We suggest spraying the new leaves that emerge on a 7 to 14 day schedule with two separate fungicides. Start by spraying with Ferti-lome Broad Spectrum Fungicide (Daconil) then the next time that you spray use Ferti-lome Systemic Liquid Fungicide (Banner). This spray schedule should be kept up until the leaves mature and anytime that there is new growth on your Daylilies.
Can you suggest some flowers that that I can plant now to survive the Summer heat?
Good heat tolerant flowers include Begonias, Blue Daze, Globe Amaranth, Impatiens, Lantana, Melampodium, Pentas, Portulaca, and Vinca.
How late in the Summer can we prune Azaleas without losing some of next Spring’s blooms?
You can prune back your Azaleas up to early July without loss of future blooms. We suggest July 4th for a convenient date to remember to serve as the last day for pruning Azaleas. Remove strong growing erratic shoots several inches below the outer level of the shrub so that the new growth will not quickly out grow the limits that you would like to set. We suggest using lopping shears with a by-pass cutting action to provide sharp clean cuts.
How can we control Whiteflies on our Gardenias, Satsuma, Ligustrum and Sweet Viburnum safely?
We suggest spraying the undersides of the leaves with Sunspray Ultra-fine Oil. This will smother immature Whiteflies instead of poisoning them. Repeat the spraying at 3 week intervals until control is achieved. This oil is safe to use all year long.
We have black insects with orange-red stripes across their backs flying out of our lawn when we mow. Should we be concerned about them or are they harmless?
The insect that you have described is called the Spittlebug because immature Spittlebugs cover themselves with a mass of frothy foam. They are often found in Centipedegrass lawns. Every lawn has a few of them. When their population gets too high their feeding activity can cause the grass blades to develop a yellow-white streak, purple-red discoloration and browning. If you have a Spittlebug infestation they should be controlled. We can sell you efective chemical controls that you can apply yourself or make arrangements for our Spray division to treat your lawn for these pests. Click here to see a video on Spittlebugs.
How often should we set our irrigation system time-clock to come on, and how long should it run in each zone?
Don’t rely on your time-clock to set up an irrigation schedule. Instead water only when your lawngrass turns a wilted gray-green color. It is important to water deeply applying 1/2 to 3/4 inch of water to wet the entire root zone. If you do not apply enough water a shallow root system that is even more sensitive to drought will be the result. To determine how long you should water place several cans or rain gauges out in the sprinkler pattern to catch water until the desired amount is applied. It is very important to avoid frequent light irrigations that provide a perfect environment for diseases and stimulate excess growth that leads to thatch problems. If you are leaving your property for a long period it is generally safe to set the time-clock to run about every 5 or 6 days, your water output test will let you know how long each zone should.
What can I do to stop my Crape Myrtle’s leaves from turning black?
The Crape Myrtle Aphid is causing the leaves to get a black coating. Crape Myrtle Aphids are small pale yellow insects that feed on plant sap. These insects secrete a sugary substance called honeydew as they feed. The black coating that you see is called sooty mold. Sooty Mold forms on the honeydew secretion not directly on the leaves. To stop the problem you can kill the aphids with Insecticidal Soap, Ortho Systemic Insecticide, Hi- Yield Malathion or SunSpray Ultra-fine Oil.
What is causing my St. Augustine grass lawn to yellow and die in patches that are in the sun on good well drained soil?
The problem is likely from the feeding activity of Chinch Bugs. Chinch Bugs are very small insects that you are not likely to see without closely inspecting the grass. Dig up a section of the declining grass and shake it hard over a sheet of newspaper. If Chinch Bugs are present you should be able to see them rapidly move about on the paper. You can also bring us a sample of your lawn for inspection. To control Chinch Bugs we suggest spraying with Acephate 75 and spreading Turf Ranger granules 2 weeks later.