Removing spent flowers on crape myrtle trees will help them rebloom more quickly.
Leaves that are dark and sooty or charcoal gray probably have sooty mold growing on them. This fungus doesn't attack the tree, but results from an aphid or other insect infestation that occurred in late May-early June. Control the mold now by spraying a horticultural oil. Next year, treat plants for aphids in May.
Resist the urge to prune your crape myrtles now (except to remove any dead or diseased branches). The best time to trim these trees is in late winter or early spring.
Spring-blooming azaleas are forming next year's flower buds now, so avoid any pruning. Keep the soil around your azaleas evenly moist to fuel flower formation.
Check mulch around plants. Refresh it to maintain a 2-inch-thick layer if necessary.
Apply a slow-release fertilizer with extra iron to soil surrounding azaleas. Be sure to water it in.
Continued on page 4: Garden Chores for the South in July