Yard and Garden: May 31, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 31, 2019. 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 August 2, 2019. 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: Kyle Broderick, Plant Pathology Extension Educator, UNL

1. The first caller of the show wants to know how to control sandburs without chemicals to avoid harming birds and squirrels?

A. Sandburs can be controlled with pre-emergent grass herbicides in the spring or post-emergent herbicides for grasses such as Roundup after they have germinated later in the spring. All pesticides are approved by the EPA to ensure safety for wildlife and birds as long as they are handled correctly, but it is a personal preference for use of chemicals. Integrated Pest Management should always be used to help be the most effective and to be the most economical. For sandburs, hoeing or hand pulling can be effective to keep seed from producing for next year. Also, if you can get something else to grow in that area, that will help to outcompete with the sandburs. If the soil is compacted and sandy, where sandburs prefer, it might be better to add organic matter to the soil to improve the growing location for turf or other plants.

2. This caller wants to know how to get rid of carpenter bees?

A. Carpenter bees are a good pollinator insect. If they aren’t damaging the structure of a building, they can be left alone. However, if they are digging into framing for a shed or other building, filling the holes in with wood putty should work. Otherwise, you can spray a little sevin in the holes as well. You might also try putting up a Bee Hotel that may be more desirable to them than the structure of your building. View this article on Carpenter Bees for more information. View this NebGuide on Creating a Solitary Bee Hotel to learn how to build and place a bee hotel on your property.

India Meal moth sitting on wall with rule for size comparison.

Indian Meal Moth Adult by a Ruler. Photo by Vicki Jedlicka, Extension Assistant

3. An insect was brought in for identification and control methods.

A. This insect is an Indian Meal Moth, a common pantry pest. This could have been brought in with foods purchased at the grocery store. Be sure to store all products containing cereal, grain, rice, flour, or pasta in air tight, insect proof containers such as canisters or Tupperware containers. Things like cake mixes or flour can be stored in the freezer. Clean up all cabinet shelves from crumbs. Discard infested food products. For more information on Pantry Pests, visit this website from Lancaster County Extension.

4. A caller has spots in the yard with a small depression that has a powdery material and what looks like the remnants of a mushroom. What causes this and can it be controlled?

A. This could be from a puffball. Puffballs are a type of mushroom that when they become mature many spores will puff out of the structure that does not have a stalk like traditional mushrooms. After it has puffed, the pieces left behind are leathery and dark brown to black in color. Puffballs can get into a lawn from low fertility and from decaying tree roots or other organic matter. Maintain good lawn care practices and maintain adequate Nitrogen fertilizer that will help to break down woody tissues. Dig out the puffballs as they are seen in the area.

5. This caller has a maple tree that had a great deal of seeds dropped this spring. Now, there are millions of tiny maple seedlings growing in the lawn. What can be done to kill these seedlings off?

A. In the lawn, just continue to mow, the maple tree saplings will not be able to continually regrow and will die. In a garden setting, it would be best to hand pull or hoe out the seedlings. In a garden, careful applications of Roundup could be used as long as desirable plants are not sprayed. Mulch will also help to kill off the seedlings in garden locations.

6. Are bagworms out yet?

A. No, they haven’t been seen emerging yet. We are behind a little this year due to the cooler weather. Be checking often for emergence in your trees.

7. A caller has an ash tree that had green balls develop last year on the tree. They are still on the tree, what can be done about these? Should she be treating for Emerald Ash Borer?

A. The green ball structures are from an ash flower gall. This gall is from tiny eriophyid mites that feed on the flowers in the early spring. These galls can stay on the tree for more than one season, so these on her tree are likely from last year. Treatment is not necessary because these galls are an aesthetic issue and will not harm the tree. If treating the tree, sprays with sevin could be done in the early spring as the flowers develop. As for Emerald Ash Borer, it is best to wait until the borer is found within 15 miles of the tree to prevent excess damage to the tree and to avoid using chemicals for an insect that hasn’t been found in the area. Watch for signs of EAB in your tree and consult an arborist or your local Extension Office if you see these signs. Damage from EAB consists of: top dieback, bark falling off the tree, D-shaped exit holes, increased woodpecker damage, or increased suckering at the base of the tree.

Advertisements

Long Winter Effects on Trees

Boxwood 1

Winterkill on Boxwood

This year the weather has been abnormal, even for Nebraska. We had snow in mid-October and the cold still hasn’t fully released its grasp on us. This causes us to rethink ‘normal’ weather but it also causes problems for our plants.

Plants are slow to start

Plants are in line with the weather for this year, not necessarily with the calendar. The cool spring has slowed down or even delayed spring leafing out of many of our plants. Some plants may not even be emerging yet, which is unusual for late May. Don’t give up on these plants too soon this spring. Give the plants until early to mid-June before replacing them.

Winter Desiccation

The colder temperatures this winter led to a lot damage to evergreen plants. You might be seeing browning in yews, boxwoods, and arborvitae. This damage is likely from cold temperatures and winter desiccation which occurs when transpiration from these trees exceeds infiltration of water through the roots. Wait until early June to do much pruning of these shrubs. Give the plants time to come out of the winter weather to ensure that all of the dieback is complete before pruning out the brown areas.

White pines have also turned color this year, showing quite a bit of orange-brown discoloration. This is a combination of cold weather and salt damage. Even if the trees are further away from a road, splashing from vehicles can make the salt accumulate farther away from the road than expected. White pines are also quite vulnerable to north winter winds which would cause also cause discoloration. I would not prune the white pines, they should come out of it, but it may be a while longer. Next year, to prevent so much winter desiccation, you can use an anti-desiccant in the winter months.

Seed Production in Maples

You may have also noticed problems in your maple trees recently. The calls I have received were people asking why their maple was turning brown and if it was dying. Usually the browning has been found in a particular location of the tree, often at the top. The rest of the tree is fine and leafing out correctly. The brown in the tree is actually the seeds of the maple tree. This year, the maples have produced a great number of seeds or samaras, often referred to as helicopters due to the way they float to the ground when they fall from the tree. The brown in the tree is due to the fact that these samaras are maturing and will soon fall to the ground, many have already begun to fall and litter the lawn.

The reason for this heavy seed production is the weather. This isn’t just from this year, though, it could stem back to last spring when there was a late frost that killed many of the flowers on maple trees. These trees developed more seeds this year because they were not able to produce seeds last year, according to Scott Evans from Douglas-Sarpy Extension. The cooler spring this year may have increased the high seed production this year as well. High stress events can lead to more seed production, the tree takes the stress as a signal to produce more seed just in case the stress is deadly.

Seed Production in Conifers

Spruce cone, Tom DeGomez, Univ of AZ, Bugwood

Blue Spruce Cone, Photo Courtesy of Tom DeGomez, University of Arizona, Bugwood.com

Many people have also asked about brown structures at the ends of the branches on their conifers. These structures are just the pollinating cones. The concern is whether they are bag worms because they resemble a small bagworm structure. Typically these structures would appear earlier in the spring and may not even be noticed. But with the cooler spring, the production of these small cones is coinciding with the time that we can start to see bagworms. This is a normal process for evergreen trees and nothing is wrong with them when these cones appear. Bagworms will likely be later this year than normal years due to the temperatures.

Yard and Garden: May 24, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 24, 2019. 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 August 2, 2019. 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: Donnie Engelhardt, Assistant Manager of the Little Blue NRD

1. The first caller of the show has what he suspects is foxtail in his lawn. He has used pre-emergent crabgrass control and it has not helped. How can he control it? He is also having trouble with zoysia grass on the east side of his house where this foxtail is growing. What can he do to improve zoysia?

A. If this is foxtail, crabgrass pre-emergent herbicides should work on it. I would assume that it may be something else if that didn’t work. This could be little barley, which is a winter annual weed that would be seeding now while the foxtail would not be yet. Little barley is often confused with foxtail, especially this time of the year. For more information on little barley, visit this article on Little Barley from Turf.unl.edu

As for the zoysia grass not growing, there could be a lot of issues with this. If it is on the East side of the house, it may not be enough sunlight for zoysia. Since this is a warm season grass, it is very crucial that the grass gets enough light and it is warm enough for best growth. Also, fertilization schedules would be quite different from cool season turf. Zoysia grass should only be fertilized in the summer months. Warm season grasses really only need up to 2 fertilizer applications per year, if any. Fertilize in later May-June and again in July-August. If fertilizing in the spring and fall, this can harm the zoysia grass.

2. A caller wants to plant either a peach tree or a cherry tree. Which will be better and do either of them get cedar-apple rust?

A. Neither peaches nor cherries will get cedar-apple rust. If you are planning on planting just one, for the growing conditions in southeast Nebraska, you would have more luck with a cherry tree. Peaches are not long lived in Nebraska due to our weather conditions. According to John Porter, Nebraska Extension Educator, “Peaches often have cracking due to rapid freezing and thawing. It can be pretty severe when the fluctuations are large and often. This leads to the gummosis and also damage/death of branches.  Its one of the reasons peaches aren’t well suited for Nebraska.” If cherry trees are chosen, tart cherries are best. Bing and other sweet cherry types will not grow in Nebraska.

3. This caller wants to know when he can plant his asparagus?

A. Asparagus is typically planted in the early spring with other spring crops such as broccoli and carrots. However, with the weather as cool as it has been, it would still be fine to plant it this year. Get it in the ground soon and make sure that the soil remains evenly moist in the hot, dry part of the summer.

4. A caller has an established wind break but mowing now is difficult. Can he prune the branches up so he can mow under the tree without damaging it?

A. Trimming dead branches around the bottom of the tree would be fine, don’t go too high or it will not be as effective as a windbreak. If the branches are still alive and full with needles all the way to the ground, it wouldn’t need to be mowed because the turf will die under that condition.

This caller also wondered about using a granule on the ground around trees to control bagworms?

A. The granule chemical controls he is referring to would be those containing imidacloprid. Bagworms are not a listed ‘pest controlled’ on the imidacloprid label so it is not a legal practice to use it on them. It is best to stick with chemicals such as Bt or Tempo for control of bagworms. Spray them when the bags are up to 1/2 inch in length for best control. I would assume that will be a little later this year due to the cooler spring.

5. What are the benefits of letting asparagus seed out?

A. Asparagus is a perennial crop that needs to have the season of growth to build a bigger, stronger plant. All of our plants need time to grow and build sugars for root expansion. Since we cut off all the asparagus through the beginning of the season, we need to allow them to grow through the rest of the summer.

6. Is it too late to plant strawberries or summer bulbs?

A. It is best to plant strawberries in the early spring. They could still be planted yet this year, but some varieties may not produce this year. Planting this late would cause problems getting the plants established, so be sure to mulch them and water them frequently until they are established. June bearing varieties would be past the bloom time and would not produce this year, but you could plant them to get them established so you can have a harvest next year. If planting everbearing this late, they may still produce later this summer. It would be best to cut off early season flowers that may develop to allow the plants to become more established before harvesting later in the summer after the plants are more established. Summer bulbs are best planted after the chance of frost for the year has passed. You would be past that now and still be in good time to get the bulbs into the ground. It will be later before they start to bloom, though.

green-asparagus-pixabay7. A caller wanted to know what type of manure would be best for asparagus fertilization?

A. Cow, chicken, or pig are good manure options for the vegetable garden, asparagus included. Fresh manure should be applied in the fall to allow time for the bacteria in it to break down before harvesting. For food safety guidelines, fresh manure needs to be applied 120 days prior to harvest, which means the fall in Nebraska. If it is composted manure, it would be fine in the spring.

8. This caller has apple trees. Last year the apples turned moldy while they were still on the tree. What would cause this?

A. There are a lot of different types of diseases that can lead to moldy apples. It could be from apple scab, sooty mold, powdery mildew, or black rot. Using an orchard fruit tree spray through the season would help reduce these diseases. Also, be sure to clean up infected fruits and leaves at the end of the season to reduce the incidence of disease from one year to the next.

9. A caller wants to transplant some foot-tall cedars from his pasture. Is it too late or can this still be done now?

A. It is getting quite late in the year to transplant trees. The concern is for when the shift from spring-like weather to summer hot, dry weather will occur. Typically June starts getting very hot and dry and a newly transplanted tree would not have any root system to get water if it gets dry. It might be better now to wait until fall, September or October. If the trees will be moved to a location where they will be watered adequately, it would be ok, but for best results now, it would be advised to wait until cooler temperatures return in the fall.

10. This caller has a lawn that is thin and weeds are starting to take over. When should he reseed this lawn? Would it be better to just kill it all off and start from scratch?

A. At this point in the year, it would be best to wait until the fall to overseed or reseed lawns. The turf will come up but it will likely get too hot and dry for it this summer, which will be here before we know it. It would be best to just overseed and thicken up the grass that is already established rather than kill it all off and start over. Starting from scratch takes a lot of time and it can be quite difficult. It would be easier to already have something covering the ground while you overseed to keep the weeds down. If weeds are a problem, you can use a mesotrione product, often found in Tenacity, at seeding this fall to kill the weeds when you overseed.

11. A caller wants to know if you can prune a magnolia now to reduce growth? Also, can the suckers around the base of the tree be removed now?

A. Yes, the magnolia hasn’t produced flower buds for next year yet, so it would be fine. Suckers can be removed anytime through the season. Suckers are growth that takes energy from the tree and have no real purpose so it would be best to remove those as they grow before they get too big.

12. Can a bee house still be hung outside yet this spring or is it too late to get much activity?

A. Yes, you would still be fine. These solitary bees are still out moving around. For next year, it would be better to have it out in April. For information on building your own solitary bee hotel, visit this NebGuide

13. The last caller of the day has apricot trees that are just for wildlife consumption. These fruits have not yet fully developed but many of them fell to the ground in storms recently. Her dog is now eating those fruits that have fallen. Is that toxic for dogs to eat them?

A. After discussion with a local veterinarian, the pit is the part of the apricot or peach that would be toxic to the dogs. If these are immature apricots, the pit would not be developed and it shouldn’t harm the dogs. That being said, it might be best to clean up these dropped fruits to be safest.

Yard and Garden: May 17, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 17, 2019. 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 August 2, 2019. 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: Kathleen Cue, Dodge County Extension Educator

1. The first caller of the show has a bur oak and a pin oak that have both been very slow to green up this spring and now have turned brown. Is there something wrong with the trees?

A. The browning of those trees is most likely due to the formation of catkins, which are the flower structures of the oak trees. Those turn brown when they mature then will fall from the tree. It may look bad, but it is normal for the tree. They are slow to green up this year due to the cooler spring we have had, they will be fine.

2. A caller has a fishing pond that now has a layer of moss on the edge. He sprayed it with copper sulfate in mid-April and that seems to have not worked for this. What can he do to control it?

A. Copper sulfate is a recommended product for controlling this type of algae on a pond. It can be used when growth first becomes visible. Be careful applying too much of this in one season because it can cause a fish kill if sprayed in too high of a dose. However, when this caller sprayed, it may not have been actively growing so the copper sulfate would not be as effective. A second application could be applied now that it is actively growing. Another way to control this would be to use a rake to pull the majority of this algae out of the pond without having to reapply the chemicals and not risking any problems with the fish.

3. This caller has miniature Iris’ that are now done blooming but they need thinned and divided. Can this transplanting be done now?

A. Yes, it would be fine to divide and transplant these Iris’ now. It would be best to cut off the seed heads prior to dividing so the plants put energy into producing roots not into seed development. Be sure to keep the ground evenly moist after this because the plants will not have a good root system in place, but don’t overwater.

4. A caller was gifted some spring-blooming bulbs that were purchased last fall. Can they be planted now?

A. It is best to plant spring-blooming bulbs in the fall. They could be stored over the summer in paper bags with peat moss in a cool, dark location such as a basement and then they can be planted in the fall like normal. However, because they were purchased last fall, it would be best to plant them now to let the roots grow over the summer months. There is not a guarantee that the bulbs will survive with either of these methods, but they will likely dry out if left out of the ground for a year.

5. This caller has pine trees that died due to pine wilt. He now has volunteer scotch pines coming up in the pasture, will they be immune or resistant to the disease?

A. No, all scotch pines will be subject to the disease, they will not become resistant. Volunteer scotch pines can survive for about 10 years before the disease affects them.

6. A caller has Iris’ that look good and are starting to bloom, but all of a sudden all of the leaves have spots on them. What is it and what can she do to manage it?

A. This is most likely from Iris Leaf Spot, a fungal disease. This is best controlled through sanitation such as removing infected leaves and cleaning up all of the leaf litter in the fall to remove the overwintering site. Also, be sure to water from below the plant rather than over the foliage. If the plants have grown together, it would be best to space the plants out more by dividing and replanting. Fungicides can be used when these practices are not working. Copper fungicides would be best.

7. This caller has a sunset maple that is about 25 feet tall and one half of the tree turns red earlier in the season in the fall while the rest of the tree stays green. Now that side of the tree that turns red first has very heavy seeds and isn’t looking very healthy. What, if anything, can be done for this tree?

A. Stress will cause a tree or even a portion of a tree to go into early fall color. Stress is also one of the reasons that we are seeing the heavy seed production this year in maple trees. During the discussion, it turns out that there is a stress fracture and included bark on the trunk due to co-dominant branches. In this area, there is likely decay and that is problematic on the tree. There is no good way to fix this on the tree now that it is so large. One half of the tree could be pruned off to reduce the damage from the included bark and co-dominant branching. It would take a long time for the tree to recover from this and it will look a little odd while it is recovering from this pruning.

8. A caller reseeded their lawn last fall. It was planted so it got hit by frost and did not survive. Can he spray his lawn and reseed now?

A. The weeds can be sprayed now, but it is a little late now to overseed for this spring. The fall seeding was a little too late and with the early snow we had in October, the grass was not able to survive at such a young state of growth. A similar situation would happen if seeding now, but with heat instead of cold. It would be best to overseed in late August to early September to ensure good growth before frost. For now, he could cover the ground with an annual ryegrass to keep the weeds down. When he does overseed in the fall, he can use a mesotrione product such as tenacity at seeding without harming the seed and killing off the weeds.

9. Can daylilies be planted on the south side of the garage or will it be too hot for them there?

A. Daylilies can be planted in full sun on the south side of a building and they will thrive in that location. They are tough plants. It would not be too hot for them there.

10. This caller has small holes around his sweet corn. Sometimes the seed is gone and sometimes the new plants are cut off at the ground level. What would cause this?

A. This could be from a couple of things. The plants being cut off at the ground level could be from cutworms. Cutworms can be controlled with sevin sprayed or dust sprinkled around the base of the plants. It could also be from voles or even turkeys. If voles, a snap mouse trap can be used in the runs or around the plants where they are seen. If turkeys, there isn’t a good control for them. The problem shouldn’t last the whole season.

knotweed, kim starr, starr environmental, bugwood

Prostrate Knotweed photo by Kim Starr, Starr Environmental, Bugwood.org

11. Finally, a listener texted a picture of a lawn weed to the radio station and wanted to know what it is and how it can be controlled?

A. This is knotweed. It can be controlled with a 2,4-D product.

 

Annuals for Shade

coleus-pixabay

Coleus picture from Pixabay

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about annuals for color. That article focused on annuals for color in full-sun locations, however there are a lot of great choices for shady locations of your landscape as well or if you live in an apartment with only shade on your balcony or have a patio or garden space in the shade. So, I thought I would take the time to give you a selection of good shade tolerant annuals as well.

Tuberous Begonia

Tuberous Begonia is a common shade plant found at the garden center. They can be found in basically all flower colors except blue and the flowers may be single or double. The plants can grow upright or as a trailing plant. Trailing varieties of tuberous begonia are often found in hanging baskets and are popular as a Mother’s Day gift. Tuberous begonias can also be kept over the winter to replant and enjoy new each season. Save the tubers from the plant and then repot them in February to early March and enjoy them as they grow again the next year.

Caladium

Caladium is a fun plant for the shade that will not survive our winters, so it is grown as an annual here. This is a plant that is used mostly for the leaves, not for the flowers. The leaves can be found in shades of green, white, red, and pink and they are large and tropical in appearance. They grow best in moist, shady areas of your landscape where many other plants will not thrive. They will take part shade as well. If caladiums are planted in areas with too much sunlight, the leaves will scorch and turn brown and papery. Caladiums can also be planted in containers placed in a shady location.

Coleus

Coleus is another shade plant that we grow for the foliage, not for the flowers. Coleus can be found in many shades of green with pink, purple, white, red, and orange. There are even mixes that have multiple color combinations together. Depending on the variety they can be only 1 foot tall up to 3 feet tall and wide. There are also sun varieties but be sure to plant shade varieties in the shade and sun varieties in the sun for brightest colors and most vigorous growth. These plants can be grown year-round indoors in a container, but outdoors in Nebraska, they will not survive the winter conditions.

Impatiens

Impatiens are a fun addition of color to a shady spot in your garden in shade planters. The typical impatiens are coral or a mix, but they can be found in the pinks, reds, oranges, coral, and white. These are tough and fairly easy to grow for the gardener of any age. There are now varieties of impatiens that can be grown in full sun, called the SunPatiens. They will grow in full sun, part shade, and full shade, making them very adaptable and a great addition to our landscapes and container gardens. Impatiens often get downy mildew, choose a variety that is resistant to this disease to help maintain your flowering through the season. New Guinea impatiens are another species of impatiens that can survive in more sunlight than traditional garden impatiens but require a lot of water to thrive in that location. New guinea impatiens are the impatiens with large, brightly colored bronze or purple leaves typically with a pink midrib. For a full sun option with less water requirements, choose the sunpatiens that are better suited for this location and have resistance to downy mildew.

Torenia

Torenia is a fun shade annual. I added it to my shade container gardens one year when I lived in an apartment with a North facing patio to add something different. They have a small, blue flower that reminded me of a snapdragon style of flower but it grew well in the shade. It is a little less known, but it can be found at most garden centers.

These plants are shade loving, but not necessarily full shade. They will all tolerate part to full shade. They should have 4 hours or less of sun and that sun shouldn’t be only in the afternoon. It should be more morning sun with some early afternoon or early evening sun as well. So, even if you have a location where you can only have containerized plants and you only have space for them in a shady location of your landscape, there are still great choices for the shade. Annual plants can be fun to put into containers or in the ground around your perennial choices.

Yard and Garden: May 10, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 10, 2019. 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 August 2, 2019. 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 Hosts: Kevin Christiansen, Horticulture Instructor at SCC Beatrice & Chelsea Tietjen, Agronomy and Entomology Instructor at SCC Beatrice

1. The first caller of the show wants to know when to start spraying his apple trees with the orchard fruit tree spray? He also wants to know if it is too hot here to grow cabbage because it is hard to get a harvest?

A. Orchard fruit tree sprays will combat both insect and disease problems on fruit trees. Sprays should begin as soon as pink is seen in the buds, but should cease during blooming. Since this caller hasn’t begun spraying yet, it would be fine to just start as the blossoms are falling off the tree. You want to allow the pollinators to come to the tree without harming them, so no sprays should be done while the trees are blooming. This spray should be applied every 10-14 days through the growing season, up until harvest.

As for the cabbage, it should be fine growing here, but some years it can get hot quickly and that can cause our cool season crops to bolt. Cabbage may be better grown in the fall due to the quick warm up in spring that usually happens here in Nebraska. For more information on growing cabbage, visit this article from Lancaster County Extension.

2. This caller was wondering if we would see bagworms later this year than most years due to the colder weather? He also wondered what is the best control for them and when to control them?

A. It is likely that we will see bagworms a little later this year due to the cooler spring we have had. They will hatch at different times in the year because their hatch is weather dependent. Starting in late May, check weekly for the small bags to begin to show up on the trees. When the small bags show up and until they are up to 1/2 inch in length you can spray. Tempo or Bt would be best for control.

3. A caller has lilacs that were planted 2 years ago. They were a small cutting at 1 inch tall when they were planted and now they are only 4-6 inches tall. What fertilizer can he use to get these to grow faster?

A. Mulch would be a better option for these plants since they are so small. This would protect them from weed competition and from accidentally being mowed over and would do much more for the plants than fertilizer would. It would also be a good idea to put a fence up around them to prevent rabbits from chewing them off since they are so small.

4. This caller has cedar-apple rust that is showing up on his cedars. He has sprayed his apple trees, but does he also need to remove the galls from the cedars?

A. The galls will not hurt the cedars and as long as you sprayed the apple trees, that should be sufficient. Pulling the galls off won’t stop the disease for future years because the spores can spread up to 2 miles so they will come from other cedar trees.

5. A caller has a rhubarb plant that is flowering and not producing the stalks for consumption. What can be done to improve stalk production?

A. Cut the flower stalks off at the bottom of the stalk. These flower stalks take energy from the plant. The energy is moved from the leaf production to flower production. The abnormal weather this spring has caused rhubarb to flower more this year than other years.

6. When do you prune snowball bush and lilacs?

A. After they complete blooming this spring, remove 1/3 of the stems at the base of the plant. Remove the largest, least productive canes and leave the smaller, younger, more productive canes.

This caller also wondered what do do for the purple flowering weeds and dandelions in the yard?

A. The purple flowering weeds are henbit. They are a winter annual and will soon die when the temperatures warm up, likely in the next week or so. There is no reason to spray them now. Dandelions are best controlled in the fall with an application of a 2,4-D product. Spray them in the middle of September and the middle of October. The later application in the fall will also help kill henbit as it emerges in the fall to reduce the population for next year.

7. A caller is building a raised bed in his landscape. Does he need to put rock at the bottom to help with drainage?

A. No, it wouldn’t be necessary to add rock to the bottom of a raised bed to help with drainage. Raised beds are built up on the sides with an open bottom. That will be drainage enough for them. Be sure to use good quality soil and some compost, don’t use soil from your yard.

Buckbrush, Steven K. UNL

Buckbrush Photo from Steven Knezevic, Extension Weed Management Specialist, from Cropwatch.unl.edu

8. How do you control buckbrush in the pasture?

A. According to the Guide to Weed Management from Nebraska Extension, 2,4-D will work on buckbrush in the pasture. For more information visit this cropwatch article.

9. This caller has lillies that are not growing well. The daylilies are short and blooming but they are not growing big at all. Other plants in the bed are fine and these daylilies in other locations are growing larger. What is causing the problem?

A. This may be a soil issue. It might be good to do a soil test. It could also be that the soil is compacted more in that location that are constricting the roots and limiting growth. Add some compost to the soil and work it in around the plants to try to reduce the compaction. A general fertilizer could be tried as well. It also could be that the plants are maybe planted a little too deep. It might be helpful to dig up the plants, add compost or manure to the soil, and replant the daylilies a little higher in the soil profile.

10. The last caller of the day had 2 questions. She is rejuvenating her landscape beds, should she use landscape fabric in them? Also, she has a trumpet vine growing on a trellis that has a lot of dead branching in it, what can she do to remove the dead growth and rejuvenate these vines?

A. Landscape fabric is not necessary in the beds. Landscape fabric can restrict the movement of moisture into the soil and harm the plants. Also, soil and weeds can move in on top of the fabric which defeats the purpose of using it. Finally, if you ever want to change that bed in the future, the landscape fabric is very difficult to remove.

As for the trumpet vine, it can be cut back heavily, but it would be best done early next spring rather than now because it is getting a little late this year. Remove the old, unproductive growth and leave the smaller, healthier growth.

Yard and Garden: May 3, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 3, 2019. 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 August 2, 2019. 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, Owner of Campbell’s Nursery

1. The first caller of the show has holes in his lawn that are about the size of a pinky, what would cause that?

A. This could be from either earthworms or wolf spiders. Neither of these will harm our lawns, in fact they are both beneficial. Earthworms break up the soil and add compost back into our soil. Spiders will feed on problematic insects.

2. A caller was wondering about a homemade weed killer that has vinegar, dish soap and epsom salt in it?

A. It is not advised to go with homemade weed killers because there is no research to help with rates, timing, PPE, or other environmental and health risks associated with them. It is best to use IPM to control pests using mechanical and cultural practices first then turn to pesticides that have been approved from the EPA.

3. This caller is having difficulty with a redbud that isn’t blooming. It is 6-7 years old and in full sun, but it isn’t blooming yet. Why is that and can he do anything to get it to bloom?

A. Some varieties of redbuds take a few years before they will start blooming, it could just not be fully mature and ready to bloom yet. Transplant shock can also set the blooming cycle back. It should be over that soon. Also, if it is in an area where the lawn around it is getting a high amount of nitrogen, that could push the tree to leaf out and not push energy into flowering. Give it time and reduce the nitrogen fertilizer applied around the tree.

4. A caller has 2 lilacs. One is blooming fine, while the other is blooming only on 2 branches and the other branches seem to be dead. What can she do about this lilac?

A. A rejuvenation cutting will help to renew this shrub with only 2 live branches. You can cut the entire shrub off at about 6-8 inches above the ground. The new growth will be healthier and it should leaf out better and throughout the whole shrub. It may take a couple of years to rebloom after this rejuvenation cutting, but it will be better in the long-run. Also, be sure to remove any grass growing right up around the trunk of these shrubs. Add a nice 2-3 inch layer of mulch and keep the grass competition out away from the shrubs.

5. What is the best decorative/flowering tree for Nebraska?

A. There isn’t really one that is better than the others, there is a long list of great flowering trees. Crabapples are great spring flowering trees. Make sure that you pick one that is resistant to cedar-apple rust and apple scab. Serviceberries make a great flowering tree or large shrub for any landscape with berries for the birds in the fall. Redbuds are a favorite among many and there is a whitebud which is just a white flowering variety. Magnolias are amazingly beautiful, but they need to be planted in a somewhat protected location to help with flowering in those years with a later frost. Flowering pears can be used, but choose Chanticleer or Cleveland Select to avoid problems with branches breaking due to tight branch crotches.

This caller planted a redbud 6 years ago, but it has since died. What caused that?

A. It turns out that this tree wasn’t purchased from a local source and may have been shipped from the south, which was common with redbuds a few years ago. Once they were moved into Nebraska, they couldn’t tolerate the conditions that were so much different from where they were started and sourced, which was typically the South. This is why it is best to purchase trees from a local grower or a grower that is at the same latitude or further north than where the tree will be grown.

6. Where can you get buffalograss seed or plugs?

A. Campbell’s nursery has both seed and plugs available for purchase, as does Stock Seed Farms in Murdock, Nebraska. Buffalograss is a warm-season grass and shouldn’t be planted until late spring so later May would be ideal. It can be seeded until mid-August so long as irrigation is provided to help with establishment. Soil temperatures need to be 60 degrees F before buffalograss seed will germinate. Plugs should be planted at this time as well.

7. A caller added a raised bed around the tree about 5 years ago and heard us discussing how that shouldn’t be done. What can be done now?

A. Adding a raised bed around an existing tree can end up suffocating the tree. Before the raised bed, the tree was planted at the correct depth, after the raised bed, the tree is too deep. It will take between 5-10 years sometimes before any damage starts to show up in the tree. It is likely that once the tree does start to react to this change, you will see top dieback. You can try to remove the excess soil now, but it may be too late, the tree may still die.

8. When do you spray for bagworms?

A. They will hatch at different times in the year, it is weather dependent. Starting in late May, check weekly for the small bags to begin to show up on the trees. When the small bags show up and until they are up to 1/2 inch in length you can spray. Tempo or Bt would be best for control.

9. This caller has an area on the north side of their house in full shade that she would like to plant shrubs into. What can of shrubs can she plant in full shade?

A. There are some euonymus shrubs that could be planted there. This is the same genus of plant as burning bush. Summer sweet would grow well in the shade. If there is some sunlight, many hydrangeas would grow well there.

Termites

Subterranean Termites, Picture from UNL Entomology

10. A caller has concerns about termites coming from wood mulch. Will termites come from the mulch into the home?

A. It really isn’t a concern that termites will be brought in with mulch. The termites would be either cut up with the mulch or they would dry out quickly in those small pieces of wood. They have a soft body and will dry out quickly if not within soil or wood. If the wood mulch is piled up so high to where the mulch is touching wood siding, it can be a pathway for the termites to enter the home. However, mulch is recommended to only be 2-3 inches deep and most concrete foundations will go higher than that. Also, if you have had termites in the past, you should be working with a pest control company for termite control and the chemicals will manage the termites from the mulch.

11. The final question came to us from a Facebook post. This caller has a spot in his lawn that had a sidewalk in 1993, but even still it seems to dry up quickest in the summer and you can see a visual difference in the area where the sidewalk was in comparison to the rest of the grass.

A. This soil was severely compacted to add the sidewalk and still has not gotten better. They also add sand to build concrete on top of. I would suggest aerating annually and spreading compost over this area after the aeration. Over time, this will help to loosen the soil and to add organic matter back to the soil. Otherwise, you can dig it all up again and put in new soil that is high in organic matter and reseed overtop of that which would be much more work.

Yard and Garden: April 26, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for April 26, 2019. 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 August 2, 2019. 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: Roch Gaussoin, Extension Specialist for UNL Agronomy and Turf

1. The first caller of the show recently applied a Weed-B-Gon product that contained crabgrass control. Now he wants to fertilize, but it is a fertilizer and crabgrass control together. Will it be harmful to put the crabgrass control on twice this spring?

A. That should be fine and you won’t see any injury from applying the crabgrass control twice this spring. You won’t need to apply any additional pesticides for the lawn this year. Next year, it would be better to do a little more planning ahead so you don’t apply the chemical twice so close together. This is just additional pesticides in the environment that are not necessary, so be careful with that in the future.

2. A caller is bringing in topsoil on a new build site. He needs to overseed, but is it getting too late to do that yet this spring?

A. Seeding the lawn will have the best results if done in the fall, but spring can get a good start on a new lawn. The weather will be the problem to lawns seeded too late this year. With the weather as it has been this year, there is likely still a 2-3 week window for overseeding the lawn with fairly good success. It might be a good idea to overseed now and then do another overseeding in the fall to thicken it up. Also, for weed control, it would help to use mesotrione (tenacity) at seeding. There is a starter fertilizer that contains the tenacity to help with start-up of the turf and to keep the weeds down while establishment occurs. It would just help to get some type of cover crop or turf down to reduce the amount of bare soil that weeds can grow into.

3. This caller has henbit. Would it be controlled well with the Tenacity? If so, should he use a stronger dose of the Tenacity because he has tried it with limited success?

A. It is Never a good practice to use pesticides at a higher rate than what is listed on the label. A lot of research went into finding the correct rate for best control of a pest. Henbit is hard to control this time of year, it is best controlled in the fall. It will die as soon as the heat of the summer comes on because it is a winter annual and doesn’t live well in hot weather. Treat in the later fall, October, with a 2,4-D product for best control.

That caller also has a peach tree that just flowered for the first time. It has two 2-inch long cracks on the tree trunk, each on opposite sides. What can be done with this?

A. Unfortunately this tree is not going to live long. There is nothing to do to fix the tree once cracks like this happen. This large of an opening is very damaging to the tree and will not allow the tree to live long. If it is out in the open where it won’t damage anything if it falls, leave it until it dies.

4. A caller has been trying to get a native grass prairie started for a few years now with limited success. He has a mix with Blue Grama, buffalograss, and little bluestem. What can he do to get it to grow better?

A. Don’t give up yet. Be sure to control the weeds with herbicides, 2,4-D won’t harm the grasses but will manage the weeds. After some photos, it shows that there is still some grass in there, but it is very early for these warm-season grasses. Keep mowing to keep the seed heads down for the weeds.

5. Can potatoes still be planted yet this spring?

A. Yes, get the potatoes in soon, and they should be fine yet this year.

What do you do for Pampas grass with a dead center?

A. Dig it up and divide it and replant it. This can still be done this spring.

She has a crabapple that has dead branches in it, can those be cut off now or should they be removed in the fruit tree pruning window of February-March?

A. Remove dead branches anytime of the year that they appear.

6. A caller wants to know when to spray for bagworms?

A. It is weather dependent. Starting in late May, check weekly for the small bags to begin to show up on the trees. When the small bags show up and until they are up to 1/2 inch in length you can spray.

He also wondered when and how to fertilize trees?

A. It really isn’t necessary to fertilize trees in Nebraska. They can get the nutrients they need from the soil naturally.

tree irrigationHow do you water trees that were recently planted?

A. water them one time per week with a slow trickle from the hose for about 20 minutes each time they are watered.

When is the best time to prune cedar trees to shape them?

A. Most anytime would be fine with a cedar tree, but the best time is in the late winter to early spring.

7. This caller has Austrian pines that are turning brown on the tips of the branches with short needles. What is causing this and how can it be controlled?

A. This sounds like tip blight. It can be treated now with a copper fungicide. A second application should be made 7-14 days after the first application.

8. What is the best thing to mulch asparagus with?

A. Grass clippings, straw, hay, or wood chip mulch can all be used to mulch asparagus. It would be best to hand pull weeds and then use preen that is labeled for use in asparagus before applying the mulch. If there is a problem with brome grass, use roundup carefully around the asparagus first as well. To carefully get the glyphosate on the brome and not on the asparagus either paint it on with a foam paint brush or use the “glove of death” which is when you wear a chemical-resistant glove and then put a cloth glove over that. Then, dip a few fingers of the gloved hand into Glyphosate and rub those fingers along the stem and leaves of the bindweed to kill it.

9. A caller has been trying to start seedlings of spruce and fir trees for a few years with limited success. He thinks it may be due to root rot because when he pulls them up the roots look rotten. How can he get the trees to grow?

A. After discussion, it seems that he doesn’t overwater the trees and may in fact not be watering them enough. He also said that he can get the trees to grow in another, more neglected, location. It was suggested that he do a soil test to see what is going on with the soil in this desired location. It might be that there is a hard pan underneath these trees that is impeding water movement through the soil causing the roots to rot.

10. This caller has been trying to get grass started and is having difficulties. He has used an aerator, seeder, lawn roller, and then waters the seed well and it is not coming in very good.

A. It seems his practices are good, so he may try a soil sample to see what the nutrient and pH levels are in his soil.

11. The last caller of the day wanted to know what the difference is between a Sycamore and a London Plane tree?

A. These trees are 2 different species of very similar trees.

 

Annuals for Color

Now that spring is here, we can begin to think about the plant material for our landscapes. One of my favorite activities in the spring is heading out to the garden center and choosing new flowers for my garden. I like perennial plants because I can plant them one time and they will continue to come back every year. However, I also really enjoy annual flowers. They have fun colors and bloom throughout summer.

Marigold

Marigold_Big_Duck_Orange-From AAS Website

Big Duck Orange Marigold, Photo from the All American Selections Website

Marigolds are an old favorite flower of many gardeners. They are very easy to grow, making them a great choice for youth or for a new gardener. Marigolds come in many color options in the orange and yellow spectrum. 3 new varieties were All American Selection winners for 2019 for the Heartland region, which includes Nebraska. Big Duck Orange and Big Duck Yellow are large, longer blooming varieties. Garuda Deep Gold is a great choice that lasts with intense flower color much longer than the competition and will last up to 10 days as a cut flower. Marigolds have a lot of different varieties for single and double flowers but mostly all in the yellow-orange color spectrum.

Sunflower

Sunflowers are always a great annual flower choice. There are so many great varieties now that it is difficult to decide which ones to plant in your garden. You may think that the Sunflower is too large, but there are some smaller plants, that only grow up to 2 feet tall. There are also some new variaties like ‘Red Wave’ or ‘Chianti’ that have deep burgundy colored flowers or ‘Fun N Sun’ that is a mix of yellows, oranges, and red colored flowers. Sunflowers are great pollinator plants and they can provide you or the birds with a snack later in the season.

Snapdragon

2014-09-25 10.17.25

Snapdragons

Snapdragons are one of my favorite annual flowers and the 2019 National Garden Bureau annual flower of the year. They come in different colors and sizes and can be added to any container garden or landscape bed. Check which size you choose before you purchase to make sure that you don’t pick an annual that grows larger than the plants behind it. Remove spent flower blossoms through the season to maintain flowering throughout the summer months.

Calibrachoa

Calibrachoa is another of my favorite annual flowers due to the long list of colors and color combinations from many varieties. Calibrachoas are also sold as ‘Superbells’ or ‘Million Bells’ and it resembles a small petunia flower. These plants have a growth habit similar to the wave petunia where it spills over the edge of a container. They are also quite drought tolerant and will do well on their own for a few days if you are out of town for a weekend. It was the 2018 annual plant of the year for the National Garden Bureau. The hardest part of growing calibrachoa is deciding which varieties to plant.

Lantana

2014-09-25 09.32.13

Lantana

Lantana is a fun annual that will grow well in hot locations. It will bloom through the summer and into fall with no deadheading necessary. The common variety is a flower cluster that is red on the outside, transitioning to yellow flowers in the center, but there are varieties with pink and yellow and straight white clusters of flowers. It is a low-maintenance plant for many garden spaces and can be utilized in a container or in a landscape bed.

Annual plants can be planted in the ground or in a container. I like to use them around perennials to provide more color, for a longer period during the growing season. For the most part, they are easy to care for, some may need to be deadheaded to remove spent blooms and allow new blooms. The plants listed in this article should all be planted in full sun. The best part of using annuals in the garden is that they are typically less expensive than perennial plants and if a disease or insect problem occurs on them, you can just pull them out and you might even have time to replant. There are always new varieties of these flowers for improved flowering or new, unique color combinations or better disease resistance. Go to your local garden center and find the perfect choices to fit in with your landscape and container gardens.

Yard and Garden: April 12, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for April 12, 2019. 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 August 2, 2019. 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: Stacy Adams, Associate Professor of Practice, UNL Department of Agronomy & Horticulture

1. The first caller of the show recently purchased a tree at a box store. Can it be planted now or should she wait?

A. If the tree is not leafed out yet, it would be fine to plant it outdoors. However if it is leafed out, like it turns out this tree is, it would be better to wait and put it in a shed or garage for a few more days to get through the cold nights we are supposed to face this weekend. Next week it should warm up to the 70’s and would be find to plant this tree outdoors.

2. This caller just recently moved into a new house. The yard at this house seems to have been neglected for a while and it is full of weeds. What is the best way to renovate this lawn? Should it be all killed and started again?

A. It would be better to just renovate what is existing rather than killing off the entire lawn and starting from bare soil. When the soil remains bare as new seed is started, many weeds will find their way back into the yard. A good way to renovate would be to aerate now and follow the aeration with an overseeding to improve the density of the lawn to help out compete weeds. When overseeding, a starter fertilizer can be used, there is one that contains mesotrione, a herbicide commonly known as Tenacity. This mesotrione will help combat the weeds and not harm the new seedlings. Then, in the fall, aerate and overseed again to help thicken up the lawn more. Next spring, crabgrass control can be used. Over time, the lawn will improve and weeds will begin to be reduced in population.

3. A caller has ash trees with holes in the trunk, mainly at the base of the tree. The holes are very small, maybe 1/16″. What is causing this damage? Is it Emerald Ash Borer? Can he save the trees?

A. These holes are too small to be Emerald Ash Borers (EAB). The holes for EAB are 1/8″ and they are D-shaped. With EAB, it is more likely that the damage and holes would start at the top of the tree and move their way back down the tree rather than just at the base of the tree like these holes are. This size of hole could be from a Bark Beetle. These are tiny beetles that can damage the cambium layer of our trees. Bark beetles can easily be controlled with a tree and shrub systemic insecticide containing Imidacloprid, which is common in the Merit products. For more information on the different types of insect damage, visit this page from the Nebraska Forest Service

bark beetle damage, whitney cranshaw, Colorado state Univ, bugwood

Bark Beetle damage, Photo from Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

4. When is the best time to plant poppies and where should they be planted? She purchased seed and would like to plant it.

A. Poppies germinate best in cool soil temperatures, so anytime now would be a good time to get the seed spread. They need full sun, so place them in a garden that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. Click Here for more information on growing poppies.

5. A caller has buffalograss growing, but it is fairly thin. What can be done to thicken it up?

A. Overseeding or adding new plugs will help to thicken the buffalograss. However, this is a warm season grass species so it should be seeded or plugged in later May to June. Fertilize should be added in the summer months as well, do not fertilize in the spring or fall when the plants should be going dormant. This guide will help, it is a Buffalograss Lawn Calendar from the UNL Turf Department.

6. The last caller of the day has Iris that was transplanted from her grandmother’s plants 15 years ago. She will now be moving sometime this summer how can she transplant these iris’ to ensure they live?

A. The best time to move Iris’ would be in the fall, but it can be done in the spring. Since you haven’t purchased the new home or sold this home, they can’t be moved now. It could be written into the purchase agreement that you can dig those up when the time is correct in September. If not, you can develop a nursery type of location. Dig them up now and put them into a cat box on the North side of the house at the new location until the fall planting time. For this spring, it would help to pamper the plants to help them with the move. Keep them watered through the year and fertilize them and cut off the flower stems before they set seed to help them put energy into the rest of the plant rather than seed production. If you have to move them in the summer, just make sure you keep them well watered.