Yard and Garden: July 6, 2018

Y&G Blog Photo, 2018

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 6, 2018. 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 3, 2018. 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: Dennis Ferraro, Wildlife Specialist from UNL

1. The first caller of the day wants to know if borers from ash trees can get into his walnut trees?

A. Some native borers can be a problem in both ash and walnut trees, such as the redheaded ash borer which is a common borer in many of our trees in Nebraska. When the Emerald Ash Borer gets to southeast Nebraska, it will not be able to. EAB is a pest in Ash trees only.

He also wanted to know how to move woodchucks and not kill them?

A. Live trapping will work for woodchucks. Use cucumbers or corn to bait them and wire the trap open for a few days before actually activating the trap because woodchucks are very cautious and will not be trapped the first time or 2 into the trap. The woodchuck can then be relocated to within 100 yards of the trapped location. State regulations prohibit relocation farther than 100 yards. It would also work to change their nesting location. This woodchuck is found under a building, so if you can chase it out during the day then pack the hole tightly with road gravel will prevent them from coming back. For more information, visit the UNL Wildlife website on Woodchucks.

2. A caller has heard that bull snakes will keep rattle snakes away. Is this true?

A. These 2 types of snakes do get along but bull snakes are more aggressive hunters and can out-compete rattle snakes. Because of this, rattle snakes usually relocate to find food.

3. This caller has tomatoes with bumps along the stem of the plant. What is wrong with the plant?

A. There is nothing wrong with tomatoes that develop bumps along the stem. These are aerial roots which are common.

4. A caller has a white powdery substance on her peony plants. What causes this and how can it be controlled?

A. This is most likely powdery mildew on the peony plants. It is a common disease we see this time of the year. There is no need to treat the plants for it right now. The best control for powdery mildew is to cut off the plant in the fall when it dies back and destroy the infested plant material so the disease cannot overwinter. It will not kill the plants.

5. This caller has tomato plants with leaves that are turning yellow and the plant is not producing tomatoes, any flowers produced fall off. What is wrong with his tomato plant?

A. This is likely due to environmental stress or possibly Septoria leaf spot. Make sure that the plants are watered 1 inch of water per week, they have mulch, and they are being watered from below. If desired, a fungicide can be applied. For more information view this NebGuide on Leaf and Fruit Diseases of Tomatoes. The poor pollination is common this year due to the heat. Give the plants some time and they should start to produce.

6. A caller has a sycamore tree that is shedding bark. What is wrong with the tree?

A. It is normal for sycamore trees to lose some bark. It is a tree that has a camouflage bark appearance due to the fact that it sheds some bark. Nothing to worry about or to do to fix it.

7. This caller is growing petunias in a hanging basket and the leaves are turning yellow. What is wrong with them?

A. This could be due to environmental stress. Make sure they are kept watered and placed in a location where they get full sun. It might also be from spidermites, look closely at the plant to see if there is any very fine webbing. If so, use a strong spray of water to knock the spidermites off and kill them.

8. A caller has bindweed in his garden and in his lawn. What can be done to control it?

A. In the garden, 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. Basically, the idea is to keep it from flowering and producing more seed, hand pulling will help keep new seed from being deposited into the garden which can be viable for up to 60 years. In the fall, you can spray the lawn with a 2,4-D product.

9. How do you control purslane in the garden?

A. Purslane easily reproduces from cuttings so avoid hoeing or weed trimming through it while leaving pieces of the plant laying around on the ground throughout the garden. Purslane doesn’t like to be smothered, so a heavy mulch layer on the weed will help.

Gorgone Checkerspot Caterpillar

Gorgone Checkerspot Caterpillar

10. This caller has tiny, dark colored worms on her black-eyed Susan plant. She has used some Eight but she still has some. The leaves are also turning gray, how can she control the caterpillar?

A. This could be a checkerspot caterpillar. It is commonly found on sunflower, which is a closely related species of plant to this black-eyed Susan. This becomes a good pollinator butterfly. If she can relocate the caterpillars it would be best, or the Eight will just take some time to fully work on the caterpillars. The gray on the leaves is likely due to downy mildew or powdery mildew, not the caterpillars. Caterpillars will only chew holes out of the leaves, not leave any gray coloration to the leaves. Downy or powdery mildew are not very harmful to the plant and don’t need to be sprayed. In the fall, cut down the plant and discard the infected plant material so the disease is minimized for next year.

11. A caller has an ash tree that is about 15 years old and the outside leaves are now turning brown. What is wrong with it?

A. This could be due to leaf scorch due to the hot, dry conditions we have been facing lately. The tree should be fine, it will likely look rough the rest of the year. Make sure the tree has a mulch ring and that it is being watered for about an hour weekly with a sprinkler or slow trickle from the hose.

This caller also wondered about cougars in the area. He said he has seen a cougar with 4 cubs in the area. Will the cubs all stay here or will they move through to somewhere else?

A. Males can travel many miles and across the country. Females will stay around if there is food available and if a male doesn’t chase the female cubs away. The male cubs will likely move on when they get old enough to travel alone.

12. A caller has a tree that is pushing its roots up to be exposed out of the soil. What can be done about this?

A. Mulch will be the best option for these roots. The mulch will keep you from mowing over the roots which can damage the roots. Do NOT add soil on top of these exposed roots as that can limit oxygen for those roots and eventually kill the tree. You can make the area into a perennial garden under the tree, but do not raise the soil grade to do so and do not damage the roots to do so.

13. The final caller of the day wants to know why black crappie would be larger than white crappie?

A. This could be due to genes. The color gene may be linked to the size genes. So as the color is changed genetically, so is the size. It could also be that the predators in the area this caller was fishing in preferred eating the white crappie rather than the black crappie, causing only the smaller white crappie to be left with the larger black crappie. There are many factors that could lead to this difference in size between the 2 different colored crappie.

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Attack of the Beetles

JB Damage

Damage from Japanese Beetles

This year, like always, we are facing insect issues in our lawns and gardens. It is important to remember that not all insects are bad, in fact the majority of all insects are beneficial in some way. However, when they are found in large populations or damage our plants, or both, we get concerned.

 

Soldier Beetles

Soldier Beetle

Soldier Beetle, Photo from Soni Cochran, Lancaster County Extension Assistant

Soldier beetles are common this year. These are the yellow beetles found in large quantities throughout the area this year. They are often confused with fireflies because they are both beetles without hardened elytra, like many other beetles, and they are similar in appearance. The soldier beetle we are seeing is golden in color with a black spot on each wing on the back. They are commonly found around Linden trees as well as many other flowers. There is no need to control soldier beetles because they are great pollinators and will not harm our plants or us.

Japanese Beetles

Japanese Beetle, 7-16 Acreage

Japanese beetle adult on the left side and grub on the right side, photos from Jim Kalisch, UNL Entomology

Japanese beetles have been more of a problem for southeast Nebraska over the past couple of years than they had been in the past. This is an invasive insect from Japan. Japanese beetles are problematic insects as both larvae and adults. The larvae are a type of white grub which feed on the roots of our grass, causing large brown dead spots in the turf that are easily lifted up like a rug from the floor.

Adult Japanese beetles are 7/16 inch-long, metallic green beetles. The elytra, or wing coverings, are copper. As adults, Japanese beetles feed on over 300 species of plants including trees, shrubs, fruits, vegetables, field crops, weeds, and other ornamental plant species. Some of their favorite food plants are roses, lindens, and grapes. Adult beetles feed on the foliage, flowers, and fruits of these plants. They feed on the upper surface of the leaves and cause a skeletonized pattern to the leaf where the veins of the leaf are often left behind but the rest of the leaf is chewed away. In some cases, they will consume the entire leaf. This can stress the plants, and in high populations of beetles can even kill the plant.

Grubs can be controlled with chlorantraniliprole or imidacloprid in June. Adults can be controlled with systemic insecticides such as imidacloprid or dinotefuron around Mother’s Day to give the products time to get throughout the trees and shrubs being treated. Currently, no systemic insecticides can be used on Lindens though, due to the damage to pollinators. Tempo and Bayer Advanced Lawn & Garden Multi-Insect Killer (cyfluthrin), Ortho Bug B Gone (bifenthrin), or Sevin (carbaryl) would be a few other options that can be used on Lindens and others. These options will only work for about 2 weeks so they may need to be reapplied.

Blister Beetles

blister beetles, K. Jarvi

Black and gray blister beetles, Photos by Keith Jarvi, Emeritus Extension Educator

Blister beetles were a real problem in our vegetable gardens last year, and they are back. Blister beetles are ½ inch long, powdery gray colored beetles with black antennae. They can feed on our tomato plants as well as some other vegetable crops. They can damage our plants, but they are also beneficial because they feed on grasshopper eggs. If you find them in your garden, you can treat with general insecticides such as sevin or eight. Be careful handling these beetles, some people develop blisters after handling them.

Yard and Garden: June 29, 2018

Y&G Blog Photo, 2018

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 29, 2018. 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 3, 2018. 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 from UNL

1. The first caller of the day has green worms on her tomato plants. How can she get rid of them?

A. This is a tomato hornworm, a common pest in vegetable gardens. Tomato hornworms can easily be controlled by picking them off and throwing them into a bucket of soapy water or sprayed with sevin or eight.

2. A walk-in listener has buffalograss that is turning a reddish/brown color and dying in patches throughout the lawn. What is wrong with the lawn?

A. This is a disease called bipolaris leaf spot disease. The lawn should grow out of it. Adding 1 pound of Nitrogen fertilizer per 1,000 square feet would help reduce the problems with this disease. Check the lawn for chinch bugs as well, if they are also found, treat for them with insecticides.

This listener also wondered if his lawn should be mowed?

A. With buffalograss, it depends on what you desire from your lawn to determine whether you mow or not. It will be beneficial to mow the lawn at least once per year. Mowing one time per month will help thicken up the lawn overall for a better, fuller look.

3. A caller has poison oak growing up a tree. The root is next to the trunk of the tree, can it be cut off and the stump treated with Tordon?

A. Do not use Tordon in this situation. Tordon is not labeled for use in a landscape setting and it would likely kill the tree as well due to the proximity to the roots of the weed. Tordon is a mobile chemical and it can get from one root easily to another. It would be best to get the weed identified first as well, poison oak is not common here in Nebraska. It is likely that it is woodbine or poison ivy. Woodbine is not harmful to the tree. If still desired to kill the vine, 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 Brush killer or Glyphosate and rub those fingers along the stem and leaves of the undesired plant to kill it.

4. This caller drilled a grass prairie this spring. Now, the grass really isn’t growing, it is mainly weeds. Should he mow it now or how can he proceed to get the grasses growing and kill off the weeds?

A. It is common for new prairies to struggle for the first 1-2 years. Mowing will reduce the weed presence and will thicken the stand of grass that is present. Be patient, it just takes time to get these native grasses really growing.

5. A caller has wild asparagus that he would like to move. When is the best time to transplant it?

A. Spring would be the best time. However, it would be more beneficial and less work to just kill off the asparagus that is growing in the wrong location and planting new crowns in the new location. There are newer, better, hardier varieties available now. Transplanting does not speed up the time to harvest over new crowns. Either way, transplanting or planting new crowns, it is recommended to wait 3 years before heavy harvest of the asparagus to ensure the roots get growing well before harvest begins.

6. This caller planted poatoes, corn, tomatoes, and onions. The leaves are now curling on some of the plants. They added horse manure this spring for compost. Did the manure contain herbicides that are now causing the damage?

A. This could be herbicide drift from nearby fields. Herbicides could be a contaminant in fresh manure, not as likely through composted manure. Be careful when using manure for food safety measures. Fresh manure should never be applied right at planting time. If using fresh manure, it should be applied in the fall to ensure any harmful bacteria breaks down before plants produce fruit that could come in to contact with the bacteria in the soil. Composted manure can be applied in the spring at planting because the composting process would break down the bacteria.

7. A caller planted 35 blue spruce trees this spring. Do they need to fertilize them? Do they need to water them?

A. Fertilizer is not necessary. Typically in Nebraska soils, the main nutrients for tree growth are found and are accessible. Water the trees about 1 inch of water per week. If we are not receiving that through rain, it needs to be given through irrigation. A soaker hose or sprinkler or even a 5 gallon bucket with a small hole drilled in the bottom would work to irrigate these trees.

8. This caller has grasshoppers in their garden and plans to spray sevin for them. Is there a better time of day to spray for grasshoppers?

A. Grasshoppers can be sprayed at anytime of day. However, it is important to spray grasshoppers while they are still small, they are easier to kill when they are younger. Also, make sure to spray the roadsides and ditches where the grasshoppers tend to congregate as well as the areas where they are damaging your plants. For more information on grasshoppers, see this Guide to Grasshopper Control in Yards and Gardens

9. How do you manage ground squirrels in the lawn?

A. Trapping is most effective. For information on 13-lined ground squirrels and how to manage them, check out this NebGuide.

10. A caller has poppies that are growing wild in her gardens. What can be done to control them?

A. Spot spray or carefully paint herbicide on the leaves of the poppy plants or use the chemical-resistant glove, cloth glove method listed in question #3. Roundup would be ok for this time of year. 2,4-D can be used in the fall, but not now with fear of volatilization to your garden plants.

This caller also asked how to move volunteer cedars that are coming up throughout her lawn? She wants to add them to her deteriorating windbreak.

A. Cedars are fairly resilient and easy to transplant. Since they  are still small, just dig up the small trees and get as much of the root as possible and replant them in the desired location. It would be better to wait until the fall to do this because moving them now will be hard to keep them alive in the heat of the summer. Make sure to keep the plants watered well throughout their transition period. They don’t need much water but would need it more often if they are very small because they don’t have a large root system.

2018-06-29 11.05.53

Purslane

11. Another walk-in listener has a fleshy weed that they found in their garden. What is the weed and how can it be controlled?

A. This is purslane. It is a common weed in our lawns and gardens. Purslane easily reproduces from cuttings so avoid hoeing or weed trimming through it while leaving pieces of the plant laying around on the ground throughout the garden. Purslane doesn’t like to be smothered, so a heavy mulch layer on the weed will help.

12. A caller passing through on the road wants to know how to control trees in pastures? They have been trying using 2,4-D with little success.

A. Cut off the trees and do a stump treatment with something stronger than 2,4-D such as a triclopyr product which is found in the brush killers. In a pasture, you could use tordon in this scenario to control the trees. Don’t use tordon if there are other desired broadleaf plants such as wildflowers or other trees nearby.

13. This caller has an Autumn Blaze Maple that is turning yellowish. He applied iron granules but they don’t seem to have much of an effect on the tree. What can be done?

A. Trunk injections of iron work better than granules. The trunk injections will also last for 4-6 years rather than just one year with the granules. Trunk injections of iron need to be done by a certified arborist.

14. A caller has potatoes that are growing on top but are not developing tubers. Not all varieties are affected the same. What is the problem?

A. The quick transition from cold to hot and the long-term heat this summer may have caused the plants to not produce the tubers as well. Some varieties may be better suited to deal with the heat which would explain the differences between varieties.

15. The last caller of the day wants to know if Linden would be a good replacement for Ash trees as the Emerald Ash Borer moves closer and when to transplant cherry trees?

A. Linden is a great replacement tree for ash. It would be a good idea to start the linden nearby now and remove the ash when it dies or when the linden begins to take off. Transplanting trees is best in the spring or fall. So for this year, wait until mid-September or later.

Yard and Garden: June 22, 2018

Y&G Blog Photo, 2018

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 22, 2018. 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 3, 2018. 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 day has cauliflower that is turning purple in the garden. What is causing this and can it still be eaten?

A. This is a response to the heat. For next year, blanche the heads just after they begin to form by tying the large leaves up around the cauliflower heads to protect them from the sun or purchase self-blanching varieties. This cauliflower can still be eaten even though it has turned purple.

2. When is the best time to move asparagus?

A. Spring would be the best time for planting asparagus. It is more beneficial to just start a new asparagus patch rather than transplanting. It would be difficult to get all of the plant and there are a lot of newer varieties that will do better with heat and other conditions. If you transplant what you already have growing, it is still best to wait 3 years before heavy harvest again, so it would be beneficial to start over since this asparagus bed is already 20 years old.

3. A caller has nutsedge in their lawn, how can it be controlled? Roundup didn’t seem to work for it.

A. Roundup would not be effective in this situation because roundup is for grass control, while nutsedge is a sedge. For best control of nutsedge, it is best to use either Sedgehammer or Tenacity. Both of these chemicals should be effective, but they should be applied prior to the first day of summer to reduce the population for next year. Also, nutsedge tends to grow in areas of the lawn where the soil is compacted or water tends to sit, reduce the compaction and get the turf growing better to control the sedge better.

Yellow Nutsedge-Howard F. Schwartz, Co. State Univ, Bugwood

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

4. This caller has a few walnut trees that the tops look good, but near the base of the trunk the tree is losing bark. He recently added some soil and river rock around the trees. Will the trees survive?

A. When adding soil and rock around a tree that had been planted for a while, it changed the grade around the trees. This can lead to many problems with the tree because it makes the tree too deep in the soil, especially after the roots were at a higher level in the soil for multiple years. This will lead to the death of these trees. The bark could be coming off because of the death beginning in the tree or it could be due to possible damage to the roots when the soil and rock was moved in. Either way, the trees will die. Enjoy them until they do or until they become a hazard to homes, cars, or people found underneath them.

5. What would be a good replacement tree for scotch and Austrian pines?

A. Diversity is a good thing to remember when planting a new trees. Diversity includes species and age of trees. This caller has a great deal of trees to replace in a CRP, it is advised to not replace all of these trees at the same time so they have a diversity of age as well. Good choices include Douglas fir, concolor fir, hemlock, eastern red cedar, blue spruce, black hills spruce, Norway spruce, and Ponderosa pines.

6. A caller has a windbreak with bagworms. Is it too late to spray this year? What should he spray with?

A. We should be ok in the window to spray for bagworms. It is best to spray after the bagworms have germinated for the year until when the bags have developed over 1 inch in length. Once the bags are larger than 1 inch long, the chemicals will not be very effective. Tempo or Bt products would be the best choices for control of bagworms, but most any general insecticide will work.

Bagworm4

Bagworm

7. This caller has a 20-year-old red maple that only has leaves on the west side to cover only 1/4 of the tree. What is wrong with the tree?

A. When that much of the tree has died back, it will not recover. It should be removed to reduce the hazards that will appear from a dead tree.

8. A caller has a newly planted blue spruce. How long should they maintain watering the tree? Should it continue through the winter months?

A. Newly planted trees should be watered throughout the growing season, and even during the winter. If we don’t have a lot of snow cover through the winter months, it is important to water an evergreen tree about once a month on a warmer day. When watering in the winter, water in the early to mid-day to allow all of the water to soak into the soil rather than freeze up on top. It would be best to continue watering this tree at least for 3-5 years on a regular basis. However, even a 30-year-old tree needs to be watered some in years of drought. It would be best to always continue to water this tree, even if only sporadically.

9. This caller wondered if adding drain tiles when adding a raised bed around an established tree would help it to survive with this practice that is not recommended?

A. Adding a raised bed to an existing tree is not an issue with drainage. Adding more soil to where a tree is already living can decrease the amount of oxygen that the roots are able to get which can then kill the tree. Also, adding this soil make it so that the trunk of the tree is underground which can decay the trunk and lead to crown rot or other bad conditions that also lead to death of the tree.

10. A caller has a pin oak that the roots are starting to pop out of the soil around it. What can be done for it?

A. Wood-chip mulch can be used to cover up the roots as they show up out of the soil. Do not add soil or increase the soil level. Avoid rock mulch as it can be too hot for the plant. Adding a mulch over the roots will prevent you from mowing over the roots and injuring them. Plants can be planted among the roots as well, but don’t add soil to do that.

11. Is it too late to prune lilacs?

A. Lilacs will begin producing flower buds for next spring shortly after they finish flowering this year. They should be pruned within a couple of weeks after blooming has finished in the spring. They can be pruned this late, but it will reduce the flower production for next year.

12. This caller has lilacs that have never been pruned for many years. How, when, and how much can she prune now?

A. A rejuvenation pruning may be beneficial for this situation. Older lilacs, if never pruned, have unproductive wood. This will lead to less leaf production, less flowering, and often much of the leaf and flower production will be just at the top 1/3 of the plant. When this happens, it is best to just prune the lilac off 6-8 inches above the ground to allow it to regrow with younger, more productive wood to produce more leaves and flowers throughout the whole plant. Rejuvenation pruning should be done just after flowering or in the fall for best health of the plant.

13. The last caller of the day wants to know about planting and growing blueberries and currants in Nebraska. He has pots he wants to plant them in to plant the pot into the ground. Is that necessary? What type of soil should be used?

A. Blueberries are not the best option for Nebraska soils. They must live in highly acidic soils, which we do not have. If determined to grow blueberries in Nebraska, it is best to grow them in a pot in the ground that can be brought up every year to amend the soil with acidic fertilizer or peat moss. Serviceberries may be a better choice to blueberries for Nebraska. Serviceberry is a native plant so it will grow in our natural soils with a lot less care and they have more antioxidants than blueberries do. There are also some newer varieties that have berries larger than blueberries. Currants will grow just fine in our natural soils and need no ammendments.

Hot Weather and Plants

Drought in a lawn

Drought lawn photo from John Fech, Nebraska Extension Educator in Douglas/Sarpy Counties.

It’s hard to say what normal Nebraska weather is. However, this year has been particularly difficult for our plants. The quick change from cool to hot has caused some lasting effects on our plants. Some of the common problems we have been seeing this year include: leaf scorch, drought problems, and poor pollination.

Leaf Scorch

Leaf scorch can happen on the leaves of our trees, vegetable plants, and other garden plants. Leaf scorch causes the tips of leaves of many plants to turn brown and crispy. The abrupt change in our environment from cold to hot and humid left even the most well-adapted plants struggling to stay green. Even plants that are not in full sun will be affected from the high temperatures, such as hostas that are planted in shade.

When the plant is unable to take up enough water, the leaf tissue that is farthest from the major veins will dehydrate first causing leaf margins to scorch first. Leaf scorch is not necessarily caused from lack of water, it is because the plants cannot take in enough water to compensate for what is being lost through transpiration. The moisture may be present around the roots, it just is not entering the plant as fast as it is leaving it.

Do not automatically go out an water the plants that are showing scorch. Watering may be necessary, but don’t overwater. Ensure that the plants have mulch around them and check the soil moisture before watering.

Dry Conditions

In these dry conditions we have faced through most of the growing season, it is important to remember to water your plants. But, it is always a good idea to check soil moisture before watering to help reduce the problems with overwatering. Most of our plants need about 1 inch of water per week, if they don’t receive that from precipitation, they need it from irrigation. If a screwdriver or dowel pushes into the ground easily moisture is sufficient around the plant. For trees the screwdriver should go down 12-18 inches, for perennials it should go down 6-8 inches and for turf and vegetables it should go down 4-6 inches.

Poor Pollination

The heat we are facing is also causing some slight problems with poor pollination and there are problems we could face later as our fruits begin to develop, abnormally. In this heat there is a condition called blossom drop that can occur. It is when the flowers abort and fall from the plant rather than developing into a fruit. This can also be due to drought conditions, which we are also facing. When temperatures reach 93 degrees F, pollen becomes sterilized, so even if they get pollinated, they are not fertilized and fruits will not develop.

The heat and drought we have been dealing with can also cause small fruit development and sunscald. Sunscald happens in high temperatures when our fruits develop without leaf cover. Don’t prune tomatoes too heavily or it can leave your fruits open to damage from sunscald.

We could also have problems with bitter tasting cucumbers this year. Cucumbers produce a chemical called cucurbitacin, which is bitter in flavor. Most cucumbers that we eat now have low amounts of this chemical, but they can produce more due to environmental stress. Uneven watering, drought issues, and high temperatures can all lead to the build-up of cucurbitacin. It is likely this year we may have a problem with that, and there is no way to fix it. Just be sure to try out your cucumbers while you are cutting them up for your recipes.

The leaf scorch information for this article came from Kathleen Cue, Dodge County Extension Educator.

Yard and Garden: June 15, 2018

Y&G Blog Photo, 2018

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 15, 2018. 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 3, 2018. 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, Insect Diagnostician for UNL Extension

1.The first caller of the show wants to know how to attract more fireflies to his yard?

A. Fireflies like moist environments. So a location of higher shade that is kept moist with dense plantings will attract them to your landscape. Also, just keeping the lawn watered will help.

lonestar tick, lifestages, J. Kalisch

This photo from Jim Kalisch, UNL Entomology, shows the lifestages of the Lone star tick

2. This year has high populations of ticks found in nature. Many ticks around this area have been identified by Jim Kalisch as being the Lonestar tick. Is this species of tick increasing in population in Nebraska?

A. Lonestar tick nymphs are being found often now. They have been found in the southeast portion of Nebraska. The range for this tick has spread north over the past decade or 2 to include the southeast corner of Nebraska. Prior to this, the Lonestar tick was found further south of Nebraska. This tick is significant for health reasons because it spreads many diseases including Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness (STARI), rabbit fever and erlichiosis. It also can causes a food allergy to red meat. Because of this, it is always good to remember to use insect repellent sprays and check yourself for ticks when coming inside from outdoor activities.

3. A caller has a blue spruce that was planted from a container last spring at 3.5 feet tall. Now it is turning brown on top and the branches are getting a shepherd’s crook at the end of the branches. What is causing this and can the tree be saved?

A. This is likely a fungal disease called sirococcus shoot blight. The best time to spray the trees is in May with additional sprays every 3-4 weeks as rain occurs.  It is a little late for the spraying of this tree, but it would still be beneficial to spray the tree to reduce the spread. Using a liquid copper fungicide would be best. Next spring, spray the trees when the shoots are 1/2 to 2 inches in length.

Squash bug-NH-pic monkey4. An email question came through asking how to get rid of pumpkin bugs in the garden this year, he faces them every year?

A. From his description, these are likely squash bugs. They are common pests in pumpkins, as well as in cucumbers, squash, zucchini, and melons. If these bugs are in pumpkins that are for ornamental use only, not for consumption, a systemic insecticide called acetamiprid can be used. Be careful if using in a garden with other edible garden plants, read the label for the PHI to tell you how long to wait from when you apply this product until you can harvest again. If these plants will be used for consumption, eight or bifenthrin would work for less PHI. Still pay attention to the PHI for harvest times.

5. This caller has oriental poppies in her garden that have faded now. They are planted in an area that is becoming overtaken by weeds. She would like to plant mums around the poppies to get a longer season of interest. How can she work the soil to plant the mums and kill the weeds, while not harming the poppies.

A. Tilling through the garden space may not be the best answer. If you till through weeds, it can sometimes cause more of a problem. Many weeds will propagate vegetatively, so new plants will form from each of the cut pieces of the main plants. Also, it would be difficult to till around poppies safely. I would recommend carefully using glyphosate on the weeds for better control, do not use any 2,4-D or Dicamba products this time of year due to problems with these chemicals turning into gas and moving to non-target plants. Spot spraying the weeds or painting the chemical on the leaves would get more of a kill for the weeds and the glyphosate product will not turn into a gas and it deactivates as it hits the soil. Finally, just go in and just dig holes where the new mums will be planted.

6. A caller wants to know when the best time is to move tiger eye sumac?

A. Fall would be fine to move this sumac, such as in September.

This caller also has a 5-year-old peach tree that has borers. How can the borers be controlled?

A. For borer control, it is best to treat the base of the tree and the branch junctions with bifenthrin. This chemical will have to be reapplied a few times through the growing season to help with the lesser peach tree borer and the peach tree borer which emerge at different times of the year. Applications should be made in June and again in July and August for best control.

7. This caller has a 2-year-old black raspberry. The new growth is curling and turning black, it seems to be moving from the tip of the leaf inward. What would cause this?

A. This could be from a scorch issue. Make sure that the plants are getting enough water, but check before just watering more. Often when we get scorch we automatically go to overwatering which can also be quite detrimental to the plant. For more information on scorch and how to deal with it, visit the Gro Big Red Blog Post on Scorch from Kathleen Cue.

8. A caller emailed pictures of his fir trees that are having some issues. One, was planted about 6 years ago and the bottom few branches have turned brown. He watered through the winter but has not yet this spring. The other fir was replanted about 4 years ago and the top is green, but the bottom half is sparse. What can be done for these trees?

A. The bottom branches of this tree could be just dying from shade or from a needle drop issue. That branch or 2 can be removed and the tree should be fine. It would be best to water this tree. Put the sprinkler in the root zone of this tree weekly for an hour or so to help it. As for the smaller tree, it is not going to make it. The lower portion is quite bare and it will be very difficult for the tree to come back from that.

9. What do you do about sandburs in a lawn?

A. Crabgrass preemergent herbicides should be used earlier in the season to control sandburs before they grow. Sandburs are a summer annual weed just like crabgrass. For post-emergent control, quinclorac products will work best. If it is in a driveway or other non-plant area, roundup 365 might be fairly effective.

10. A caller has a birch tree that needs a large branch removed, when is the best time for this? They also have a pear tree that needs some pruning, when is the time to do this? And when can they prune a mock orange bush?

A. New research is showing the timing for pruning has changed from what was previously recommended. We now recommend pruning in the late spring to early summer, so that would be right now for both the birch and the pear tree. It is better to wait until a little later in the spring to prune birch trees to avoid problems with heavy sap flow. The concern with this is that it was stated that a large limb needed to be removed, which can be quite harmful to the tree. Don’t remove a limb that is more than 1/2 the diameter of the trunk and do not remove more than 1/4 of the tree in one growing season. Removing a large limb leaves a large wound that the tree is not able to seal up. If the wound doesn’t get sealed, then decay can begin to move through the tree which can lead to the death of the tree in many years. In addition, removing more than 1/4 of the canopy in one season will remove a great deal of the photosynthetic area from the tree, which can harm the growth and development of the tree. The mock orange bush should be pruned within a few weeks after blooming for the year because it is a spring blooming shrub.

11. The last caller of the day wanted to know about pruning tomatoes and how to do it?

A. Tomatoes can be pruned if desired, but it is not necessary. If desired, only prune on indeterminate tomatoes, avoid pruning determinate tomatoes. Determinate tomatoes already will only grow to a certain size and produce a certain amount of tomatoes so they do not need to be pruned. Pruning tomatoes can decrease the amount of tomatoes produced and increase the size of the tomatoes and it can help increase air flow to reduce diseases. It will also help keep your tomatoes off the ground. When the plants are young, remove some of the branches. In some locations, 2 or more leaves will start to develop from one node, remove all but one. For more information on pruning tomatoes, here is a guide from Minnesota Extension.

Yard and Garden: June 8, 2018

Y&G Blog Photo, 2018

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 8, 2018. 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 3, 2018. 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 Water Resources Director, Little Blue NRD

1.The first caller of the show heard of a chemical that can be used to treat bindweed that started with a Q. What is that product?

A. Quinclorac is the active ingredient in a product called Drive. It is effective at controlling bindweed. However, this product is only labeled for use in lawns and cannot be legally or safely used in landscape beds or vegetable gardens.

He also is having a problem with his peach tree, it didn’t leaf out on the one side. The damage is also seen in some hydrangeas planted nearby. What is causing this?

A. This could be due to herbicide damage. If multiple types of plants in different families, genus’, and species are all affected the same it is often due to herbicide drift. There is nothing that can be done now to fix the problem, leave them to see if they grow out of the damage.

This first caller’s final question is that he has 3 pear trees that he ordered from a mail order catalog and one has not leafed out still. Is it dead?

A. This one that died could have dried out during transport. I would assume by now it would have leafed out if it was still alive. Scrape the bark off some of the smaller branches, if they are green there is still life in the tree, if it is brown, the tree is dead. Also, if the branches bend rather than break they are still alive.

2. A caller is looking to plant some new trees for shade, preferably something fast growing. When should they buy and plant these new trees?

A. Purchase your plant material when you are ready to plant. If the plant has to sit in the pot longer, it can lead to more problems with it drying out. The best times to plant a tree would be either in the spring or fall. At this point, it would be best to wait until fall, like September – later October. Planting now would be difficult to keep the tree watered through the heat/drought of the summer. Fast growth is not always the best option. Fast growing trees are not as strong as the slower growing trees and tend to break more in storms. Slower growing trees can actually put on quite a bit of growth in a few short years if they are kept with a 2-3 inch mulch ring and kept well watered. For good tree choices, view this guide from the Nebraska Forest Service.

3. This caller has Iris’ that have finished blooming, can they be cut back now? They also have some mums that died over the winter, why is that?

A. Once Iris’ and peonies’ have finished blooming for the year, the flower stalk can be cut off at the ground level. However, the leaves need to be left there to build energy in the roots for next spring. Some mums are just not as hardy as believed. Many gardeners struggle with maintaining their mum plants over the winter due to repeated freezing and thawing cycles through the growing season as well as wet, heavy soil or lack or snow cover. Longevity of the plants can be enhanced by planting them in a location that is more protected from north winds, discontinuing fertilization by the end of July to reduce new growth at the end of the season, adding several inches of mulch to the soil around the plants through the winter months, and cutting the plants back in the spring rather than in the fall.

4. Should the blooms of small tomato plants be pinched off?

A. Removing those blossoms until the plants get a little more growth on them will help the plants develop more roots and more shoot growth before pushing so much energy into producing the fruits. Wait until they get a little bigger before allowing those flowers to develop into fruits.

2016-04-02 10.11.52

Redbud Tree

5. A caller has a redbud tree that was planted last year and has not leafed out yet this year. It is, however, producing suckers at the base of the tree. Can those suckers be grown into a new tree? Also, how should trees be fertilized?

A. This could be a winterkill issue. Be sure to purchase redbuds from a local source. Often box stores purchase redbud trees from a Southern source and send them to all stores in the United States. If a tree was started further south than where it will be planted, it will not adjust well to the change in climate from the south to here. The sucker will grow into a new tree. Redbuds will do better with this than some. Often the suckers from a tree may not be as strong as the main tree and will not do as well, but with a redbud it should be fine. Fertilizer is rarely needed for trees in Southeast Nebraska. I would especially avoid fertilizer on a stressed tree, such as this redbud. Fertilizing a stressed tree will lead to further stress.

6. When is the best time to prune suckers from the maple trees and when is the best time to prune the lower branches from a spruce tree so the mower can fit below it?

A. Anytime is a good time to prune suckers from a tree. It is best to just continually prune them off as they form. If you leave them, they take energy from the tree. You can prune spruce trees most anytime of the year. However, if you are just looking to prune them so you can mow under the tree, if you leave them the tree will provide it’s own mulch and the grass will not grow under the high shade of the tree.

7. This caller wants to know what to do with peonies now and if ants are needed for the flowers to open on a peony?

A. At this point with a peony, cut off the stalks of the flowers and leave the leaves there. The leaves should be left to grow and produce energy for the plant so it can come out and flower early next spring. Leaves of peony plants can be removed in the fall when they turn brown and die back naturally. No, ants are not necessary for the buds of peony flowers to open. That is just a myth because ants are commonly found on the flowers, but they just like the sweet nectar.

8. A caller planted mums last year, they looked great through the season. This year only 2 came back. What is wrong with them?

A. Some mums are just not as hardy as believed and they often die due to winterkill. Many gardeners struggle with maintaining their mum plants over the winter due to repeated freezing and thawing cycles through the growing season as well as wet, heavy soil or lack or snow cover. Longevity of the plants can be enhanced by planting them in a location that is more protected from north winds, discontinuing fertilization by the end of July to reduce new growth at the end of the season, adding several inches of mulch to the soil around the plants through the winter months, and cutting the plants back in the spring rather than in the fall.

9. The last caller of the day has peppers planted in a mineral tub that are looking wilted. They are green and growing well but have droopy leaves. What is wrong with them?

A. Through discussion, it was noted that these peppers are planted in a container with soil from the backyard, not potting soil. It would be best to use a soil mix rather than soil from the ground. Potting soil has more nutrients available and is more porous for better plant growth. Adding fertilizer to his plants may help.

Brown Lawns caused by a leaf blight

Ascochyta, 6-2018

Symptoms from Ascochyta Leaf Blight

This year has been difficult for our lawns. Since our cold April, our temperatures skyrocketed and we haven’t had many rain events throughout this spring and early summer. This has been causing our lawns to look a little ragged and brown.

Ascochyta

Many cool season lawns throughout Eastern Nebraska have begun to look brown due to Ascochyta leaf blight, a widespread disease found throughout the early part of summer this year. Mowing during the hot Memorial Day weekend seemed to have worsened the symptoms of this disease.

Symptoms

Ascochyta close up, 6-2018

A close-up of the blades of turf infected by Ascochyta

Ascochyta is a diseased that is stress-induced and often shows up in the early summer when the weather shifts from cold and wet to hot and very dry. Ascochyta is a dieback from the tip of the leaf blades of cool season turf. Red-brown spots can also appear lower down on the affected blades. You might also notice a dark brown/black band between green growth and the brown tip of the blade. After the initial disease moves through, a general brown appearance will show up in the lawn, often following lawn mower tire patterns. Mowing worsened the symptoms of this disease, not by spreading it, but by the physical traffic of the equipment  to weaken the turf. This allowed for ease of the fungus to attack the lawn.

Ascochyta affects just the turf blades of the plant, not the roots or crown of the plants. The crown is the growing point of the turf. Because it doesn’t affect the roots and crown of the plant, it is then able to grow out of the disease. Mowing the lawn will remove the infested areas of the plant which will lead to regrowth and regreening of the lawn over time.

Management

There are a few types of fungicides labeled for use on ascochyta, however, research at UNL shows poor results with many different classes of fungicides on this disease. The best management for Ascochyta would be to reduce stress and manage the lawn properly. Provide adequate moisture for the lawn. Remember it is best to provide 1-1.5 inches of water per week to the lawn. If that isn’t provided through rainfall, irrigate two to three times per week with 1/3-1/2 an inch each time to keep the lawn healthy. Also, ensure that your lawn mower blades are sharp to avoid tattering the leaves which can leave more of an opening for diseases to move into grass plants. Finally, early June is a great time for a slow-release fertilizer to help slowly feed your lawn through the summer months and keep it healthy.

For More Information

The information for this news article on Ascochyta came from the UNL Turfgrass Team of Bill Kreuser and Roch Gaussoin. This information came through a Turf iNfo update. You can sign up to be on their listserv to receive these updates automatically as they come out by going to the Nebraska Turfgrass Website and scrolling down to click on the ‘SIGN UP FOR TURF INFO’ tab at the bottom of their page.

 

Yard and Garden: June 1, 2018

Y&G Blog Photo, 2018

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 1, 2018. 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 3, 2018. 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: George Pinkerton, Director of Landscape Maintenance for Downtown Lincoln

1.The first caller of the show wants to know how to control grassy weeds in peonies and in asparagus?

A. In the peony plants, you can spray Grass-b-Gon or another product containing fluazifop-p-butyl to kill perennial and annual grassy weeds. However, this product cannot be used in asparagus. For weed management in asparagus, it is best to use mulch through the season to keep the weeds down. Roundup, or glyphosate, can be sprayed over top of the asparagus in the beginning of the season before the asparagus begins to grow, after harvest once all the stalks have been cut off below the ground level, and at the end of the season after removing the ferns and no green of the asparagus is showing above ground. Preen that is labeled for use in asparagus can be used throughout the season as well to stop the germination of new, annual weeds.

2. This caller has ants on their potatoes and radish with a great deal of damage. What can be done to stop the ants from damaging these plants more?

A. It is likely that the problem is not due to the ants, they are likely there as a secondary issue and they are not eating the potatoes and radish. Grubs will feed on the tubers and other underground structures. They do not typically affect tomato roots or the roots of the other above-ground growing plants. There are no products labeled for grub control in a home vegetable garden. If the grubs are becoming a problem, move the garden next year and treat the area without the vegetables on that area for a year. Treat for grubs in the lawn around the garden to help reduce the population.

3. A caller has had poor pollination in cucumbers in past years. What can he do this year to ensure he has better cucumber production?

A. If there aren’t many bees or butterflies around the garden, it could be low pollination. Try to attract pollinators through additional pollinator garden areas. You can also hand-pollinate these plants with a cotton swab, touching many flowers throughout the plant with the same cotton swab to transfer the pollen throughout.

4. This caller purchased burning bushes in containers and then left for 4 days before getting them planted. Now, the leaves are brown and crispy, are these plants dead or will they pull through?

A. If branches are brittle and break rather than bend, they are likely dead and will not regrow from that. In the late May time frame, it is going to be difficult to keep a newly planted shrub watered well enough in this heat and drought, this will be even more difficult if the plant is not placed into the ground right away. Containerized plants would need to be watered at least once a day now that it is so hot.

5. A caller planted 2 fruit trees and a red maple that they received through a mail-order service. The fruit trees are doing fine, but the maple has not leafed out and is not growing well at all. What happened? Will the tree come through?

A. Sometimes during transportation, bare root trees will dry out and they are not able to recover from that. It is best to purchase your plants locally to ensure this does not happen.

Carpenter Bee, J. Kalisch

Carpenter Bee Photo from Jim Kalisch, UNL Entomologist

6. How do you control carpenter bees?

A. Carpenter bees are a good pollinator insect and will not sting you. If they are doing damage to the structure of a building, you can fill the holes with some caulk or putty. If you would like to, you can inject sevin dust into the holes before sealing the holes to kill the bees. For more information here is a guide from Lancaster County Extension on Carpenter Bees.

7. This caller has Siberian elms growing within a well-established windbreak that are dropping yellow leaves. What is wrong with the trees?

A. It is likely that the trees turning yellow are hackberry trees growing in the windbreak rather than the elm trees. Hackberry trees have recently been dropping leaves like they do in the fall. They tend to do this in the late spring if the weather becomes unfavorable to their growth. They will drop their leaves and then push new regrowth. This is likely due to the quick change to hot/dry this summer.

8. A caller just planted rose bushes and oak leaf hydrangea plants in full sun with a rock mulch. Now the roses have holes in the leaves and the hydrangea plants are getting rush spots. What is wrong with these plants?

A. After a picture was emailed, it was determined that the roses had rose slug damage. Rose slugs are actually the immature form of sawflies that feed on roses this time of year causing brown spots in the leaves and holes. Rose slugs resemble a caterpillar that is translucent green with a brown head and they are found on the underside of the leaf. They are not very detrimental and do not need to be controlled. They are a short-term problem. Also, it is difficult to control sawfly larvae and not harm pollinators in the flowers of the rose. The hydrangeas are exhibiting problems with heat due to being planted in full sun with a rock mulch. Make sure to keep them well-watered to avoid more problems.

5-4-11 (2)

Creeping Charlie in a lawn

9. This caller has a mint smelling weed growing in his yard. What is it and how do you manage it?

A. This would be Creeping Charlie, also called ground ivy. This weed can be difficult to control, but it is best managed in the fall. Many broadleaf herbicides will work for creeping Charlie, including 2,4-D, trimec, tenacity, or triclopyr. It is best to apply one of these chemicals 2 or 3 times in the fall. One application can be made around September 15th with a second application around October 15th. It will take multiple years of this management plan to fully rid the yard of ground ivy.

10. A caller has zucchini leaves that are crisp and curled up rather than smooth like normal growth. What is wrong with the plant?

A. After discussion with the caller, it was determined that she should spread her watering out more. Our vegetable gardens need about 1 inch of water per week, but this should be spread out over 2 or 3 times per week if rain is not providing that water. She also sent a photo to Nicole, where it was determined that this might be due to herbicide drift from a broadleaf herbicide applied nearby. In the heat and humidity we are dealing with currently, it is best to not use broadleaf herbicides anymore now until the fall of this year to avoid volatilization of the chemicals where they turn into a gas and move around to non-target plants.

11. How much water does a lawn need? How do you know how much water you are applying? Should you water in the afternoon to cool the grass off or is that a myth?

A. A lawn need 1-1.5 inches of water per week. If you are not getting that naturally, it is best to apply 1/3-1/2 of an inch 3 times per week to keep the lawn healthy. You can do an audit of your system to know how much you are applying each time you water. Simply place tuna cans or some type of catch device throughout the lawn to catch the irrigation as it runs to determine how much is being applied each time. As for syringing the lawn, no it doesn’t really help the lawn cool off. Lawns transpire as a natural way to cool themselves, and syringing only cools the lawn a few degrees for a few minutes. For more information on syringing, here is a good Turf iNfo article from Bill Kreuser at the UNL Turfgrass Department.

12. This caller has something that is digging large holes in the yard. What would be causing this and how can the damage be controlled?

A. This could be due to a skunk digging up the grass looking for white grubs. Treat the lawn for grubs in the middle to late part of June to help reduce the attractant for the skunks. For more on skunks and how to control them, here is a guide from UNL Wildlife.

13. A caller is looking for a good plant to use to grow up a windmill. Would a vining hydrangea be a good choice to grow on the windmill that is in full sun?

A. No, hydrangea plants don’t grow well in full sun. Honeysuckle would be a good choice for this location. If you can keep the roots a bit shaded, clematis would be another great choice.

14. The final caller of the day wanted to know how long tulips can live?

A. Some of the newer varieties may not live as long as some of the old types. However most will grow for many years.

Yard and Garden: May 25, 2018

Y&G Blog Photo, 2018

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 25, 2018. 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 3, 2018. 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, Lancaster County Extension Educator

1.The first caller of the show has ant hills throughout her lawn. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

A. Ants are a beneficial insect, they are predators feeding on many small insects. If they are not in the way of your daily activities, I would leave them alone. However, if they are a detriment to your outdoor activities, you can sprinkle sevin dust in the hole or spray it on the mound.

2. What can be done to discourage barn swallows from making nests on beams under a porch?

A. The best would be to use a porcupine wire attached to the top of the beams or some type of netting to deter the birds from starting the nest there. Once the nest is completed, it cannot be removed due to the eggs in the nest. So be sure to deter the birds before they complete their nests. For more on this, here is a video on Barn Swallows from Dennis Ferraro from Backyard Farmer.

3. A caller wants to know if they can prune the low branches of their river birch now?

A. Yes, it can be done now. River birch trees have a heavy sap flow in the early spring, so waiting until now would cause a reduced amount of sap flow from that tree when it is pruned. Do not remove these branches if it removes more than 1/3 of the tree with these lower branches. That will remove too much of the photosynthetic area in one cutting, stressing the tree too much. Also, do not remove these branches if they are 1/2 the size of the main trunk or larger. It is hard for a tree to seal up the wound from such a large cut.

4. This caller has a small orchard and wants to know how much of the orchard fruit tree he should be spraying on each of his trees?

A. You need to spray the trees enough to get good coverage on all of the leaves. They need to be sprayed thoroughly so that the branches as well as the tops and bottoms of the leaves have been sprayed to hit all the areas where the insects can be found.

5. This caller wants to know when the best time to move peonies is?

A. The general rule of thumb is: ‘if it is a spring blooming shrub, move it in the fall. If it is a fall blooming shrub, move it in the spring’. Peonies are best moved in the first part of September to allow the roots to build in cooler weather. However, they would be fine moved in the spring as well. They may not bloom for a year after transplanting.

This caller also wanted to know if they can divide lilacs and snowball bush and when that should be done?

A. You can divide these, but make sure you take a good part of the roots with. Lilacs don’t divide well, it would be better to layer them and then move that new part. Layering is when you take a branch and stake it down into the ground, while it is still attached to the main plant. This will allow that branch to make roots. Once the roots are present, the branch can be cut from the main plant and transplanted. These 2 plants would best be moved in the fall.

6. A caller has a south facing, full sun, sloped location in his yard. What would be a good groundcover for this area to replace the turf to avoid mowing on the high slope and would require minimal care?

A. Buffalograss would be a good choice for full sun, hot location. Once buffalograss is established it takes very little maintenance. It will take a couple of years of management to control the weeds and to get it established, but it wouldn’t need to be mowed often. Other choices would include a low growing juniper or cotoneaster to cover the ground but have limited management. You could also plant a selection of different full sun perennials and shrubs to cover the ground as well.

BuddleiaPurple, V. Jedlicka

Butterfly Bush, Photo courtesy of Vicki Jedlicka, Lancaster County Extension Assistant

7. Are butterfly bushes easy to grow here?

A. Yes, they grow well in Nebraska. Make sure you wait to prune them in the spring after growth begins again. This will tell you how far back you need to prune the canes to get back to where the growth shows up. In hard winters where the temperature fluctuates, they can have winter die back, but otherwise they do fine.

 

8. A person brought in a picture of a plant they wanted identified, wanted to know how to prune it and if they can cut out the dead stems in it right now?

A. The picture was of a trumpet vine. It is best if it is pruned in the fall or during the dormant season. You can remove the dead branches in the plant anytime. Trumpet vine is an aggressive plant that can spread through the landscape quickly, watch for suckers and cut those out as they grow. Do not spray the suckers as they are growing from the main plant and that could kill the plant too. It also grows very fast and may need to be lightly pruned throughout the growing season to keep the shape and size how you want it.

9. How do you control bagworms on cedar trees?

A. Bagworms should be controlled within a couple of weeks after emergence until the bags are up to 1 inch in length. You can put masking tape inside-out around a branch to collect them as they emerge. Once you start finding caterpillars on the tape wait a week or two before spraying to ensure all the larvae have emerged. This will make one application enough for all the larvae. Bt products, such as Thuricide or Dipel would be best because they won’t harm any pollinators or predatory insects on the trees. Tempo, sevin, eight, or bifenthrin will also work for bagworms.

10. This caller wants to know what to do to prevent seed stalks from forming in rhubarb?

A. Rhubarb will form seed stalks due to many different environmental conditions including cool nights and hot days. Some varieties are just more prone to producing seed stalks early. Just remove those seed stalks as they form and continue to harvest the rhubarb as long as the stalks are still wide.

11. The last caller of the day has a privet hedge along an alley that is not leafing out. It was fine last fall and another hedge in a different location is fine. What is wrong with these privets?

A. This could be due to winter damage and they might come out of it yet. Look at the base of the plants, it could be due to rabbit or vole damage through the winter. If it is that, the privets may not come back. Because this is a full hedge along the alley and they are all looking the same, this could be due to herbicide damage. If someone sprayed the alley to control weeds, they may have sprayed something that got into the roots of the privet and killed them.

This caller also has a row of Rose of Sharon not leafing out either. What is causing that?

A. This could also be due to the same herbicide from the alley. If the herbicide was something like tordon or triclopyr, it would be very mobile in the soil and could have damaged the Rose of Sharon as well.

This caller had a final question that she received hemlock via delivery while the ground was still frozen. The hemlock trees were kept in the garage until the weather warmed up a bit but now have no green needles left on them. Will the trees survive?

A. If there are no green needles or very few, the trees will die. Evergreens need some green needles to continue to grow. It would be best to purchase trees from a local nursery that were grown locally. They are more adjusted to our environment if they are grown locally. Also, if you purchase locally, you can purchase when you are ready to plant and not have to store it until the weather is right. In addition, it might be better to choose a different plant species, hemlocks don’t do well in our environment. It might be best to choose a columnar juniper like a Taylor Juniper or something else better suited to our clay soils and high humidity in the summer.