Yard and Garden: July 17, 2015

Yard and Garden Green Logo

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 17, 2015. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am and it will run through July 31, 2015. It can also be found on kutt995.com for online listening. If you missed a show or just want to read through the questions, I have written them all in my blog and will continue to do so throughout the season.

Guest Host: Steve Karloff, with Special Guest Jennifer Morris from the Nebraska Forest Service

1. A caller has a 35 year-old spruce tree that has needles that are turning pink, brown starting at the bottom of the tree on the east side. What could be causing this?

A: This sounds like needle cast disease, a fungal disease, that is common in blue spruces this year due to the rains in the spring. The treatment period for this was in the spring prior to development of the disease. It should not kill the tree. Make sure that the tree is properly cared for with 1 inch of watering per week, applied slowly, and a mulch ring of 2-3 inches deep.

2. A gentleman has cucumbers that are developing improperly. They are large at one end and very skinny at the blossom end of the fruit. What would be the issue with this odd developed fruit?

A: This could be due to environmental conditions. Dry conditions, which we have seen since the rain quit in early June, could lead to poor fruit development. It can also be due to poor pollination. Avoid use of insecticides if pollinator insects such as bees are present around the fruit.

Green June Beetles

Green June Beetles

3. A gentleman brought in some metallic green beetles that are very large. What are they?

A. These are green June beetles. They are not damaging to our plants and therefore require no management tactics.

4. A caller has a shady area on the North side of the house. What would be a good groundcover for this area?

A: Holly, purple leaf wintercreeper, vinca, lily of the valley, hostas, snowberry, coralberry, Bleeading hearts, or coral bells will all grow well in a shady environment on the North side of a house. Many of these will stay around 2 feet or shorter, but the snowberry and coralberry and holly will all get taller. A good mixture of shade plants will look nice around a home.

5. A caller has an oak tree that is well established. He is looking for a good groundcover to plant underneath that.

A: hostas, bleeding hearts, coral bells, vinca, and purple leaf wintercreeper will grow well under the shade of a large tree. Grape hyacinth can also be planted around the other plants for early spring color and fragrance with little impact to the landscape later in the season.

6. What are the tall blue flowers growing along the highway currently?

A: Chicory. This is a wildflower often used in roadside mixes or in native prairies. They have a sky blue flower and most of the leaves are located at the base of the plant rather than up along the taller flower stalks.

7. A gentleman has a windbreak of cedars that is dying. He sprayed 2,4-D underneath to kill the wild cucumber. The trees are 30-40 years old and they have bagworms but he has not treated. What can he do to keep the windbreak?

A: This could be due to bagworms. They are heavy this year and right now is a good time to spray with many general insecticides including sevin, eight, malathion, Bt, or Tempo. This could also be a side-effect of the 2,4-D that may have moved into the root zone more quickly with the rain events this year.

8. A caller wanted to know what the best recommendation for mosquito control prior to a get-together would be?

A: Mosquitoes can be controlled for a few days by using a hose-end sprayer with permethrin or bifenthrin which have a longer residual than some other insecticides. These sprays need to focus on the shrubs and trees and tall grasses around the yard where the gathering will occur and they should only be done 2-3 days prior to the gathering. Aerosol foggers that contain pyrethrins can be used shortly before the party begins to help reduce mosquito populations as well. For the time of the gathering, tiki torches and insect repellents containing DEET will help reduce additional mosquitoes.

Cedar-Hawthorn Rust

Cedar-Hawthorn Rust

9. A gentleman brought in a pear leaf with orange spots on the leaves. What would be causing this?

A: This is due to a rust disease, Cedar-Hawthorn Rust. It is very common this year due to the wet spring. The timing for management is in the spring, May and June. There is no need to control it at this point in the season. See this NebGuide on Cedar-apple rust and related rusts of apples and ornamentals.

10. A caller has a maple that is 10-12 years old with leaves that are wilting, turning brown, and falling off the tree. What could be the cause of this?

A: Look for green tissue under the bark on the branches. This could be due to a high flush of growth in the spring that put on too many leaves for the tree to maintain now that the weather has dried up and gotten hot.

11. The same caller wondered if there was a control method for pine wilt?

A: No, the best control would be to remove and destroy the tree as soon as possible after the disease is noticed in the landscape to reduce the spread of the disease to other trees.

Yard and Garden: July 10, 2015

Yard and Garden Green LogoThis is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 3, 2015. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am and it will run through July 31, 2015. It can also be found on kutt995.com for online listening. If you missed a show or just want to read through the questions, I have written them all in my blog and will continue to do so throughout the season.

Guest Host: Jim Kalisch, Diagnostician and Extension Associate for UNL on East Campus

1. A caller has an unwanted tree growing into her shrubs. Can she use a little bit of Tordon on the stump? Or what can she use for a stump treatment?

A: Tordon is not labeled for use in a landscape setting. Tordon and many of the other products used on parking lots have varying degrees of solubility and will move with water to non-target areas and can cause damage. These products can move off of the parking lot to nearby greenspace and through the rootzones of trees to nearby plants causing damage and possibly death to your desired plant species. That is why these products are only to be used in the locations listed on the label, and not in your home landscape. Instead of using Tordon, a good alternative would be one of the brush killers that are found in many different formulations or Roundup that are labeled for use in our landscapes and won’t harm our non-target plants.

2. A gentleman wanted to know when the best time is for spraying his apple trees for insects found in the apples?

A: Anytime now would be a good time to apply Orchard Fruit Tree Sprays for coddling moth. If you continue to use these products for a few weeks, you will also be able to control apple maggots.

3. A lady has tomatoes that continue to get blight every year that causes spots on the leaves which eventually causes the leaves to turn yellow. She has heard that she needs to clean her tomato cages with bleach water to control the disease. Is this true? How can she control this disease in her tomatoes?

A: Early blight is very common in tomatoes this year due to all the rain we saw this spring. Fungal diseases are easily controlled with good sanitation practices in the garden. The fungal spores can be splashed in rain or overhead irrigation from the soil to the plant leaves and from leaf to leaf. Mulch will help to cover the soil where many of the fungal spores are present from previous years. Removing the leaves at the bottom of the plant when the disease begins to show up will reduce the spread as well. Irrigation should occur from below the leaves from a soaker hose or from drip irrigation rather than from a sprinkler to reduce the spread of these spores, too. Cleaning up the garden in the fall and rotating the crops each year will also help reduce the fungal spores found around the plants each spring. For more information, visit this NebGuide on Leaf and Fruit Diseases of Tomatoes.

mosquito4. A caller was curious what the best control methods for mosquitoes from the backyard for outdoor gatherings this summer would be?

A: Mosquitoes can be controlled for a few days by using a hose-end sprayer with permethrin or bifenthrin which have a longer residual than some other insecticides. These sprays need to focus on the shrubs and trees and tall grasses around the yard where the gathering will occur and they should only be done 2-3 days prior to the gathering. Aerosol foggers that contain pyrethrins can be used shortly before the party begins to help reduce mosquito populations as well. For the time of the gathering, tiki torches and insect repellents containing DEET will help reduce additional mosquitoes.

5. A gentleman has a 30 foot tall silver maple that has water collecting where a branch was removed. Is there anything that can be done to fix this issue and to stop the spread of decay in the trunk?

A: There is no way to stop the water from collecting. Concrete or spray foam should not be added to any holes in trees. Ensure that the best pruning cuts are made at the right time on trees to prevent this problem from occurring in the first place. A good pruning cut should heal over before water can begin to destroy the heartwood of the tree. Watch this particular tree for more signs of decay and dieback to know when it should be removed so that a dangerous tree is not left standing in a yard for a larger hazard.

6. A caller has something that is causing holes on the edge of her garden and lawn and around her shrubs. The holes are 5 inches wide and 6 inches deep. What would cause this?

A: This sounds like it might be a woodchuck. Here is some information on Woodchucks from the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Prevention.

7. When is the best time to plant fall gardens?

A: Late July to early August.

planting fall gardens8. An email was recieved that asked about why there are such large numbers of snails this year in the lawn?

A: This year we had an extended spring with cooler weather than usual with very good plant growth, as a result of this we are seeing an increase in snails and slugs. We are seeing a great deal of damage to hosta leaves due to slugs. Slugs can be controlled with pesticides labeled for slugs or with a container of beer placed in the ground so the top of the container is at soil level. The slugs are attracted to the beer and will fall in and drown.

Don’t Forget

If you are a listener to the Yard and Garden show on KUTT 99.5 FM or online or if you are an avid reader of the blog Q&A, please fill out the 2015 Yard and Garden Survey. When you fill out the survey and put down contact information, you will be entered into a drawing for a gift of University of Nebraska-Lincoln goodies, including 2 shopping bags. Your information will not be redistributed or used for any other purposes than to improve the show and to pick a winner for the prize and your contact information is not linked to your answers. To complete the survey, go to: go.unl.edu/7cza

Chiggers…They make me so itchy!!

Container GardensIt’s summer! It is a great time to be outdoors working in the garden, playing in the sprinkler, and getting bug bites. I realize bug bites is not something we want to think about when we think about the joys of summer, but it’s a reality that they go together. Insects and other “bugs” are active in the summer months and that is when they feed on us. Mosquitoes, ticks, flies, gnats, and chiggers can be found throughout the summer months nagging us and leaving us with itchy, red bumps all over our bodies.

Chiggers are actually a type of arthropod, but not an insect. They are more closely related to a spider than they are to an insect because they have 8 legs. However, when mites are immature they do only have 6 legs, which makes it more confusing. Many people will also call chiggers “jiggers” which is the same thing, these would just be different common names for the same mite. The stage that bites us is an immature form of the common red harvest mite.

Chigger Bite photo by V. Jedlicka, Lancaster County Extension.

Chigger Bite photo by V. Jedlicka, Lancaster County Extension.

Chiggers differ from mosquitoes and ticks by their food choices. They do bite us but they do not do it to suck our blood. They pierce us with their mouthpart to inject their salivary fluid that breaks down the host animal’s cells so they can then suck up the liquefied tissue as a drink. The enzymes that are found in their salivary fluid is what causes an itchy reaction to us. Chiggers prefer to feed in locations that are constricted such as sock tops or waistbands. If we itch the bite mark bacteria and fungi can get into the bite if we itch the spot, which can cause more problems and an occasional infection. The best thing for the bite is to avoid itching it by using an antihistamine cream on each bite.

Many people believe that chiggers burrow into our skin and that is what causes the itch. These people also believe that painting nail polish over the bites will smother and kill the chigger, thus eliminating the itch. This is not true. Chiggers are easily removed from our bodies with soap and water. They only will stay on you until they are brushed off or until they are done feeding, from on top of our skin.

DEET insect repellant for chigger control

DEET insect repellent for chigger control

Chiggers can be found in your yard or anywhere with tall grass and weeds. The best way to keep from being bitten by chiggers would be to avoid sitting in grass. If you can lay down a blanket or sit in a chair you would be better off than if you sat directly in the grass. Also, it is best to wear long sleeved shirts and pants with socks and boots to eliminate locations where chiggers can get to our skin. Make sure that anytime you are outside in the summer months, you use insect repellents containing DEET to deter chiggers from feeding on you. If you find a large population of chiggers in your own lawn, a liquid treatment of bifenthrin will reduce chiggers 75-95 percent for several weeks, according to Fred Baxendale, UNL Entomologist.

Yard and Garden: July 3, 2015

Yard and Garden Green LogoThis is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 3, 2015. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am and it will run through July 31, 2015. It can also be found on kutt995.com for online listening. If you missed a show or just want to read through the questions, I have written them all in my blog and will continue to do so throughout the season.

Guest Host: Julie Albrecht, Professor in Health and Nutrition Sciences at UNL

1. A caller had a Bradford Pear tree with brown limbs on approximately 1/4 of the tree. What would be causing that?

A: This is probably due to fireblight which has been very common in many of our fruit trees this year, including pear and crabapple. If that is the case, prune out the infected limbs by cutting 6-8 inches behind the change in color on the branch from brown to black. Dip pruners into bleach water between each cut to reduce the spread of the disease through the tree.

2. The first caller also has moles in her yard, how can she control them?

A: Moles can be controlled by trapping. Find an active run by tapping the mounds down a few times prior to placing the trap in the run. If the mound returns each time it is knocked back into the hole, it is active and the mole will come back after the trap is set. For more information see the Moles publication from the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management.

3. A caller has a pond that has a lot of moss. How can this be controlled?

A: Copper Sulfate Crystals will work best on algae/moss. It is best if it is applied when the growth first becomes visible.

Photo by Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

Nutsedge Photo by Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

4. A gentleman wanted to know how to control nutsedge?

A: The best control for nutsedge is Sedgehammer, a product that is specific to sedges. It needs to be reapplied throughout the growing season to small plantings before they produce new nutlets that will produce more plants.

5. A gentleman has an ash tree that has many shriveled leaves with insects on the underside of the leaves. What can he do to control these insects?

A: These are probably lacebugs or aphids. Use a general insecticide such as sevin, eight, or malathion to control these insects on the ash tree. Lacebugs and aphids suck the juices out of the tree which will cause discoloration and curling leaves.

6. A lady has tomatoes that are curling and shriveling, she didn’t notice any insects or spots on the leaves. What would be causing this?

A: This could be possibly a virus or 2,4-D drift. If it is herbicide drift, the plants will grow out of it eventually and the new growth should be normal. If it is a virus there is no cure and the plant will continue to grow abnormally.

7. A lady has a mandevilla plant that has leaves that are turning yellow with spots. What would cause this problem?

A: This could be due to environmental factors such as high moisture early in the growing season or due to a fungal leaf spot. Ensure that the plant is getting the correct amount of moisture at all times. Use a fungicide on the plant to help with a fungal disease, Daconil is a good choice for fungicide.

8. A gentleman is curious about vegetable preservation techniques. Do you have to blanch all vegetables that you will be freezing and will you lose nutrients when you blanch these vegetables?

A: Blanching is necessary for all vegetables to stop growth and stop enzyme production that can cause the vegetables to lose flavor. Blanching also helps maintain the freshness and color in your vegetables. Blanching only needs to be done for a very short period of time, followed by plunging the produce into ice water to stop the cooking process. After it is drained, the vegetables can be put into freezer bags for freezing. For more information regarding food preservation, visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation for the safest recommended procedures for food preservation.

9. A lady has some trees that have been planted in the past couple of years and now it looks as if something has come and eat the top off of the trees. Now there is suckering at the base of the plant. What would have chewed on these trees and can those suckers be used to grow a new tree?

A: Deer is likely the culprit for chewing off the trees. The best control for deer would be to add some type of fencing to exclude deer from the trees. The suckers are coming up at the base of the plant because the top has likely died back which forced the trees to produce suckers for new growth. The suckers may be weak or not grow straight, but with additional help a new tree may be able to regrow from the suckers. It might be best for new trees to be planted for best growth and strongest trees.

10. A caller dug out their pond and moved some of the soil to a garden spot. The vegetables growing there are growing but have no fruits on them. What would cause this?

A: This is likely due to high nitrogen that came from the soil at the bottom of the lake. Nitrogen is a nutrient that will cause green leafy growth that can sometimes suppress vegetable production. I would suggest a soil test to determine what to do with the garden to help production improve.

Roseslug Collage

Photo on the left of the roseslug on the underside of the leaf, Photo on the right of the damage from roseslugs

11. A caller has roseslugs on his roses. They have destroyed about 80% of the leaves on the plant. What can be done about this?

A: If a roseslug population is low, control is not necessary. However, this sounds excessive so a controlling spray with a general insecticide such as Eight will work for these roseslugs. Be careful to not spray the rose flowers to reduce impact on pollinator insects.

12. When is the best time to transplant Iris’?

A: Fall is the best time for transplanting Iris and Peonies. Transplanting now would be difficult because when they get moved they have limited roots and in the hot, dry part of the summer it would be hard to keep the plants hydrated enough to keep it alive.

13. A caller has cherry trees that have much of the cherry crop as rotten fruits hanging on the trees. What would cause this?

A: This is brown rot, it is a fungal disease that is common in cherry trees this year due to the wet spring. There is no control for it at this time. Fungicides should be applied early in the spring to prevent this disease.

14. A caller has a cherry tree that one side of it has died. What has caused this problem? He did have some damage occur to the trees a few years ago due to cattle foraging through the area.

A: The cattle likely injured the bark of the tree causing it to get a canker on the trunk. The canker would cause a disruption in the flow of water and nutrients throughout the tree. There is no cure for the canker. He can try to prune out the dead branches and see if it will come out of it in the next couple of years.

Yard and Garden: Survey

Yard and Garden Green LogoIf you are a listener to the Yard and Garden show on KUTT 99.5 FM or online or if you are an avid reader of the blog Q&A, please fill out the 2015 Yard and Garden Survey. When you fill out the survey and put down contact information, you will be entered into a drawing for a gift of University of Nebraska-Lincoln goodies, including 2 shopping bags. Your information will not be redistributed or used for any other purposes than to improve the show and to pick a winner for the prize and your contact information is not linked to your answers. To complete the survey, go to: go.unl.edu/7cza

Yard and Garden: June 26, 2015

Yard and Garden Green Logo

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 26, 2015. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am and it will run through July 31, 2015. It can also be found on kutt995.com for online listening. If you missed a show or just want to read through the questions, I have written them all in my blog and will continue to do so throughout the season.

Guest Host: Sarah Browning from Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County

1. A caller has a pine tree with needles that are turning brown at the bottom of the tree. What would cause this?

A: There are a couple of common fungal diseases on pine trees, needle blight and tip blight. Both of these diseases will start from the base of the tree and move upward. Depending on the species of tree, it could also be pine wilt, but this disease progresses rapidly, causing death in only a few months. There are fungicides to be used for needle and tip blight, but they are best used in May and June. Neither of these fungal diseases should kill the tree in one growing season. This publication from the Nebraska Forest Service, Diseases of Evergreen Trees, shows pictures of both diseases and pine wilt and goes over treatment methods.

2. This caller has tomatoes that have black specks on the leaves which eventually turn yellow and die, but there are no specks on the tomatoes themselves. She was also curious why it makes a difference to water from below rather than above?

A: This would be a fungal disease called black speck or black spot. It is best controlled through good sanitation practices such as watering from below the plant, removing infected leaves as they are first seen on the plant, removing plants in the fall after the growing season, avoid crowding plants, rotating plants each year in the garden, etc. There is a great NebGuide on Leaf and Fruit Diseases of Tomatoes that will be helpful with many of our tomatoes this year with all of the rains as we are seeing many more leaf diseases. Watering from below the plant helps reduce spores splashing from plant to plant and from the soil to the plant. Watering from below also helps to keep the leaves dry throughout the day and into the night to reduce leaf wetness and humidity in the plant which is conducive to disease development.

3. A caller has a bur oak that is 15 feet tall with leaves that are curled under. What would cause that?

A: This could be herbicide damage from a 2,4-D product. It could also be from aphids or lacebugs. To determine if it is due to insect feeding, look on the underside of the leaves for tiny, green bugs, lace-like bugs, or frass. If it is aphids, they can be controlled with many general insecticides. Lacebugs rarely warrant insecticides as their damage is minimal to the tree. If it is herbicide drift, the tree should grow out of it, depending on severity of damage.

Bagworm

Bagworm

4. Is it time to spray for bagworms yet?

A: They have not yet begun to emerge in Southeast Nebraska. They are behind in their development this year due to the cool spring. They should be emerging in the next week or two. Ensure that the immature bagworms are active on your tree before treating to get best control from your pesticide.

5. Another caller wanted to know if it is illegal to use rainwater in Nebraska?

A: No, Nebraska does not have a law to prohibit the catching and use of rainwater, as some other states do. Rainwater is a good use of extra water to avoid so much runoff and contamination to the water supply. Be careful to not use rainwater on vegetable crops to avoid contamination from non-potable water.

6. This caller has a Kentucky coffeetree that was planted in the right-of-way by the city within the last 2 years. The bottom of the tree has leaves and new growth, but the top of the tree does not. Will it survive?

A: This tree probably is having troubles with establishment or may have been planted incorrectly. Due to this, the top of the tree is not receiving water and nutrients from the roots. It can be pruned back to the growth with possible success. Be sure to watch for a new leader to develop or you may have to start a new one to help it grow taller as the central leader will be pruned off of the tree.

Photo by Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

Yellow Nutsedge Photo by Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

7. How can nutsedge be controlled in lawns?

A: A product that is specific for use on sedges can be used in the lawn with no harm to the turfgrass. The most commonly used product for yellow nutsedge is Sedgehammer, it should be applied multiple times throughout the growing season, as new plants come up. It is better to spray with Sedgehammer early in the life of the new plant to reduce nutlet production and reduce the size of the plant.

8. A caller wondered when the best time is to prune an oak tree?

A: It is not advisable to prune oak trees during the summer months to avoid chances of getting oak wilt in the tree. The best time to prune oaks, and many of our deciduous trees, would be in the dormant season, such as November.

9. A caller has a fescue lawn that is getting yellow in spots. What would be the cause of that?

A: This year we have faced many days of cool, wet, cloudy weather which is favorable to many turfgrass diseases. This sounds like it is either brown patch or dollar spot disease. Brown patch has tan colored lesions on the leaf blades that have a dark margin around the tan spot. Dollar spot would just be tan spots in the lawn that are typically half-dollar sized but you can see many dollar spots coalesce into one larger spot. As the weather dries out and warms up, the fungus should fade in the lawn, or you can use fungicides in the lawn if necessary.

10. A caller has bindweed in the lawn. What can be done to control it?

A: A herbicide that is just for broadleaf weeds will work on the bindweed and not harm the lawn. Triclopyr is a great choice to use. This is commonly found in brush killer, poison ivy killer, and clover killer in the stores. Make sure that the temperature on the day of application is below 85 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce the risk of harm to non-target plants.

11. A lady has cucumbers that are flowering with no fruits developing. What would cause that?

A: Cucumbers have both male and female flowers on the same plant. Early in the season you may see development in only male flowers with no female flowers to produce no fruit. The female flowers will have a tiny cucumber structure at the base of the flower. This also could be due to low pollinator presence in the garden. Rainy days and hot days discourage pollinators. Give the plants more time, they should begin to produce female flowers and fruits soon. Hand-pollination may also be necessary if it is due to low pollinator presence. To hand-pollinate, take a Q-tip and touch the pollen of all of the flowers.

12. A caller has a clematis plant that is dying back, causing all of the leaves to turn brown.

A: Clematis commonly gets a fungal root and crown rot. If this plant was in a location where water sat this year with all of the heavy rains, it may have caused this fungal disease to occur. Cut the plant back to the ground and see if it will grow back, if not, you will need to replant.

13. This caller has Iris plants that have completed their blooming period for the year. Can these be cut back now?

A: No, all spring blooming plants need to be left, without being cut off, for the remainder of the summer until their foliage turns brown in the fall. This allows the plants to make sugar throughout the summer months to have a starting supply for early spring blooming next year. The flower stalks can be removed after the flowers are done.

14. A caller has patches of clover in the lawn. What can be done for management for the clover?

A: The best time for treatment of clover is in the fall with a Triclopyr or 2,4-D product. At this point, the temperatures are too high for herbicide control without possible harm to non-target plants. Both of these products can turn into a gas and move to non-target plants if temperatures are above 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit, the 2,4-D can volatilize for up to 72 hours. Be sure to mow the clover prior to herbicide treatment to mow off the flower blooms and cause less harm to bees.

15. A caller has grass planted in late March and added more seed later in the spring. She used a starter fertilizer and covered the areas with straw, and now there are brown spots appearing in the lawn. What would be causing that?

A: Brown patch disease is common on young seedlings of tall fescue. Look for irregular shaped tan spots with a dark margin to know if it is brown patch. Bayleton is a good fungicide that may still be effective on this lawn. Also, remove the excess straw to reduce disease problems.

16. That same caller has crabgrass coming up around her trees. Can she use roundup to control it?

A: Roundup can be used around the base of trees with minimal damage to the trees. A better option would be to use a post-emergent crabgrass herbicide such as Dimension or Fusilade.

17. A caller wanted to know if it was allowable to use Grass-B-Gone in their sweetcorn?

A: No. Grass-B-Gone kills all types of grasses, including sweetcorn. Also, Grass-B-Gone is not labeled for use in a vegetable garden.

18. A gentleman has mock orange and bridal wreath spirea. When can these plants be pruned?

A: Both of these plants have just finished blooming for the year so they can be pruned now. Remove no more than 1/4 of the plant in a growing season. This can be done by removing the largest canes at the base of the plant. If it is too tall, you can remove 1/4 of the height, if it is a 4 foot tall shrub you can prune it back to 3 feet tall.

19. A caller wanted to know what to do for management of dandelions in their lawn?

A: Dandelions are best controlled in the fall with a 2,4-D product.

Pesticide Safety

*Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended of those not mentioned and no endorsement by University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension is implied for those mentioned.

*Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended of those not mentioned and no endorsement by University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension is implied for those mentioned.

Pesticide safety is always an important consideration when caring for your landscape plants. If used correctly, pesticides can help improve the health and longevity of our plants. However, if used incorrectly, they can harm and even kill our plants or our neighbor’s plants.

Pesticide is the general term for any type of chemical we apply to our plants. This can include insecticides for controlling insects, herbicides to help us control weeds, and fungicides to help with fungal diseases in our plants.

Always read and follow the pesticide label instructions. Remember, the label is the law. Pesticides can only be used in the location and on the plants that are listed on the label. For instance, Tordon is a common pesticide used along roadsides and in fencerows as a stump treatment for weedy tree species growing where they are not desired. Tordon and many of the other products used on parking lots have varying degrees of solubility and will move with water to non-target areas and can cause damage. These products can move off of the parking lot to nearby greenspace and through the rootzones of trees to nearby plants causing damage and possibly death to your desired plant species. That is why these products are only to be used in the locations listed on the label, and not in your home landscape. Instead of using Tordon, a good alternative would be one of the brush killers that are found in many different formulations that are labeled for use in our landscapes and won’t harm our non-target plants.

Along with following the label instructions, make sure you are applying the pesticide at the correct rate for best control. The company that developed the product went through a great deal of research to ensure that they gave you the correct amount to apply to your weeds or insects. Do not apply more than what is recommended, and remember to be patient, the death of a weed takes around a week for many general use herbicides.

We have been seeing a great deal of weeds in our lawns this year, and with all of the rains, it has been hard to spray chemicals or have effective treatments for those weeds. However, we should now begin putting our 2,4-D products away for the summer months. 2,4-D can volatilize, or turn into a gas, and move to non-target plants in temperatures of 80 degrees or higher for up to 72 hours following application. 2,4-D should not be used in the summer months due to this issue. Also, most of the broadleaf plants we typically use 2,4-D on will be controlled better in the fall. So enjoy the flowers in the lawn until fall comes and mark your calendar for 2-3 applications of a 2,4-D product in September and October when the temperatures are cooler and the plants will take the chemical back into the roots with their winter storage nutrients.

Bee pollinating clover

Another issue with using pesticides, insecticides in particular is the harm to pollinating insects. June 15-21, 2015 was National Pollinator Week. We need to make sure that we are applying chemicals at the right rate, right time, and right location to not harm beneficial insects. If it is a plant that bees or butterflies are common on, use insecticides only as necessary and at dusk when the pollinator insects are not around and avoid spraying the chemical on the flowers. If the pest is a caterpillar, like bagworms, choose Bt instead of general insecticides. Bt is only harmful to caterpillars and won’t harm bees or beetles, but it will harm monarchs so be careful around milkweed plants with Bt. If you are spraying any kind of chemical on your lawn, it is beneficial to bees if you mow the lawn first to cut off any blooms that bees may forage on, reducing the risk of the chemical getting on the bees.

Yard and Garden: June 19, 2015

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This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 19, 2015. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am and it will run through July 31, 2015. It can also be found on kutt995.com for online listening. If you missed a show or just want to read through the questions, I have written them all in my blog and will continue to do so throughout the season.

Guest Host: Dick Campbell from Campbell’s Nursery in Lincoln, NE

1. A walk-in guest has ants in her house. How can they be controlled?

A: Liquid ant baits work best. One good choice is the Terro bait stations. Another helpful tip is to spray around the outside of the house on the outside of the wall where most ants are found. The little black ant and odorous house ant are common in homes right now.

2. A caller has Linden trees that are covered with moths right now. What can be done to reduce the populations for outdoor activities?

A: A contact insecticide spray will work for the moths, such as malathion. These products do not have a very long residual, so they need to be reapplied. However, be very careful with insecticides on linden trees and other flowering plants to not harm bees and other pollinator insects. Spray at dusk to avoid spraying the bees.

3. A gentleman has a snowball bush viburnum that just finished blooming for the spring, can it be pruned now?

A:  Now that the blooms are fading from a spring bloom, it would be a great time to prune the shrub. It is best to remove the largest canes of the shrub all the way back to the ground, up to one-third of the plant in one growing season. Leave the rest of the canes as they are or remove a portion of their height, if necessary.

4. A gentleman has moths in large populations on his “bug zapper” every morning. Is he bringing the moths in? Should the “bug zapper” be moved from near his plants?

A: Moths are attracted to lights, but you aren’t bringing them in from far distances. You can move the “bug zapper” if it is near a regularly used door that causes problems with moths when going in and outside. They are not causing any harm to our plants.

5. When is the best time for grub control? And, is it past the time for crabgrass control?

A: Grub control is best done right now, during the third week of June. It is best to apply grub control when the adults are actively flying and mating. Crabgrass is still germinating, so crabgrass control can still be applied if none was applied earlier in the spring. If you do a split application of crabgrass control, now is a good time to do the second application for the spring.

6. A caller has a spruce tree that has been slowly dying for a couple of years, it has now lost 60-70% of its needles. If they remove the tree, will something else grow where that tree is removed?

A: Yes, the stump will cause no problems to a new plant. You may want to plant the new tree 5-10 feet away from the stump to avoid the root system, but otherwise no problems will occur. The needles on the ground may lower the pH of the soil, but in a clay soil, the amount is so low to cause no problems if not help the plant.

7. A caller is moving from one house to another. The house they are leaving has a great asparagus patch. Can that be transplanted to the new home?

A: It is best to move asparagus in the fall when it is going into dormancy. Asparagus will transplant well, but you will need to wait until the third season after transplanting before heavy harvesting can resume. A new plant would take the same amount of time and may be better suited for a moving condition to ensure it is planted at the correct time of the year.

8. A gentleman has a crabapple tree that he removed from a landscaping berm. Can he use Tordon on the stump to keep it from regrowing?

A: No! Tordon is not labeled for use in a landscape setting so it should never be used in a lawn or garden. This product can move out into the root system of other plants and it has a residual for up to 5 or 6 years where it can still cause problems to the neighboring plants. Be sure to always read and follow label instructions on all pesticides as the label is the law.

9. A caller has sweet corn that is tasseling but it is only 3 feet tall. What would cause this?

A: Some hybrids of corn are shorter. If that is not the case, it would be due to environmental stress. When a plant is stressed they may try to produce fruit sooner than they should for the size of the plant.

10. A gentleman has a 60-year-old spruce tree that is dying on the west side of the plant. What is causing this?

A: Look for white sap on the trunk which would be an indication of canker. This is likely due to environmental stress from the quick drop in temperatures last fall. Any branches that are dead can be pruned off and it should regrow new branches eventually.

11. A lady had a birch and 2 large maples planted last fall. This spring the birch is slow to leaf out and still has not leafed out on the top of the plant. What is causing this?

A: Birch trees face a lot of death in the first year after being transplanted. Scratch the bark of the branches to see if their is any green, live, growth or if it is brown and therefore dead. If it is brown, call the nursery to get a replacement tree planted.

12. Another caller also has 2 maples that were planted last fall and are dead on top. What is causing that? She also has hollyhock rust, is that too early to be seen?

A: They didn’t get enough root growth developed prior to the drop in temperatures last fall. If they have no green in the cambium layer, the caller should call her nursery for a replacement tree. As for the Hollyhock rust, that is due to the rainy weather we have seen this spring.

13. A caller has blue spruce trees that had flood water up and around their bottom branches for 2 days and are now turning brown. Will the trees come out of this?

A: Spruce trees don’t like too much moisture. However, don’t give up yet, give them time to come back and grow out of the problems from flood damage. It is too early to tell if these are long-term issues for the plants.

Yard and Garden: June 12, 2015

Yard and Garden Green Logo

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 12, 2015. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am and it will run through July 31, 2015. It can also be found on kutt995.com for online listening. If you missed a show or just want to read through the questions, I have written them all in my blog and will continue to do so throughout the season.

Guest Host: Natalia Bjorklund, Extension Educator in Dodge County

1. This caller has asparagus that is going to seed and is growing very large, does it need to be left up and growing all year?

A: It is best to allow the plants to grow all summer. This will allow it to build up nutrients to be used next spring to get the plant growing early in the season. It can be cut back to the ground late in the fall.

2. A caller had rabbits that eat his tomato plants off at the ground level. Will these plants grow back or should he replant?

A: This late in the season it would be best to replant the tomato plants. It is also advised that a rabbit fence is put up around the garden. To keep rabbits out of a garden, the fence needs to be at least 2 feet tall.

3. A lady has Black-eyed Susan’s growing in her garden for a couple of years now and they have gotten black spots on the leaves of the plants. She put sevin on it and the plant still has black spots on it.

A: This would be a fungal leaf spot disease that is common on many asters including Black-eyed Susan. Sevin is an insecticide that would only be affective on insects and not on fungi. Cleaning up the garden in the fall and removing infected leaves throughout the growing season will help reduce the spread of this disease. Also, ensure that when watering is necessary, it is applied to the base of the plant rather than over the top of the leaves. This is not a disease that typically needs to be treated for as it causes only minimal damage to the plant.

4. A woman who is moving from her home would like to know if it will be alright for her to transplant her iris and lilies to her new home at this time of the year?

A: The best time to transplant these would be in the fall, but if necessary, they can be transplanted now. Just take time to give these plants extra care and ensure that they are getting sufficient water throughout the season as they will not have a well-developed root system to deal with the hot and dry conditions we typically see in the summer months.

5. When is the best time to transplant peonies and how deep of a root system needs to be taken with the plants?

A: Fall is the best time to transplant peonies. When transplanting any plant take as much of the rootball as is possible and backfill with the same soil that was removed from the new location when the hole is dug. For peonies, pay close attention to where they are planted currently and make sure that they are not planted any deeper in their new location or they will not bloom again until they are lifted to higher in the soil profile.

6. A caller’s husband sprayed her garden area with Roundup. When can she safely plant this into a vegetable garden?

A: It will be fine to replant. As long as you wait 3 days to replant after roundup, or any glyphosate product, it will not harm the crops you plant on it.

7. A gentleman is growing purple onions and now they have started to produce seedheads. What should be done about this, is it a concern?

A: Cut off the seedheads or they will take too much energy to put into the seedheads and not enough into the onion.

8. A gentleman has a tree that is suckering. Can he spray anything on those to stop the growth of so many?

A: No, these suckers are coming up from the roots of the main tree. Anything sprayed on the suckers will translocate into the entire tree. The best control for suckers on a tree is to continually prune them off throughout the growing season.

2014-06-12 16.08.12

9. A caller has a spirea that is 3-4 feet tall. Is this as large as they should get? When should they be pruned for maximum growth?

A: Spireas typically grow to 3-4 feet, so this is probably about full grown size. Some varieties will grow larger and some will grow smaller, it depends on the variety, but most commonly they are found in the 3-4 foot range. If it is a summer blooming spirea prune it in the late winter or early spring just before growth begins. If it is a variety of spirea that blooms in the spring, prune it in the late spring, just after it has finished blooming for the year.

10. A caller has tomato plants that were planted in a location 75 feet away from where they are typically planted because they always see leaf curling and they are still curling up in the new location. What is causing this and how can it be remedied?

A: This could be a herbicide drift issue which will cause cupping, curling, and distortion of the leaves and stems. It could also be a physiological leaf roll issue that is common this year due to the wet, cooler weather. The plant will grow out of either of these issues to not be problematic to the plants later in the growing season.

11. A lady was wondering when hibiscus can be transplanted?

A: It can be transplanted either now or in the fall when you can see the plant because it is late to emerge in the spring.

12. A caller has broccoli growing in his garden that now has developed holes in the leaves. Will sevin or eight work for this problem?

A: Yes, this is probably due to cabbage looper which can be controlled with a general insecticide such as sevin or eight.

13. A gentleman has tomatoes that have curled up leaves that look like they have been sprayed. Is it a spray drift issue?

A: Tomatoes are very sensitive to spray drift so it could be that. It could also be physiological leaf curl. Both of these problems will work their way out of the plants.

14. The last caller of the day has potatoes that are turning yellow and wilting over. What is causing that?

A: This is probably due to too much moisture. Check the potatoes for rot.