Yard and Garden: May 18, 2018

Y&G Blog Photo, 2018

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 18, 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: Graham Herbst, Community Forester from the Nebraska Forest Service

1.The first caller of the show has moss growing on the soil of an area where he is trying to plant blueberries and asparagus. Is the moss an indicator of acidic soils? He has used a pH meter and it all reads at 7.0 pH. How can he get the right soil conditions for these plants?

A. Moss does like living in acidic soils, but it will grow in most any location that is moist and typically shady. To know for sure how the soil pH is, it would be most accurate to get a soil test completed. Do a separate test for each section of this garden to know what is best for the blueberry area and what is best for the asparagus patch. Understand that blueberries do not grow well in Nebraska due to our weather and our basic soils. The soil would need to be amended around the blueberries every year to ensure the acidic soil they prefer.

2. A caller sprayed the lawn with a weed killer with crabgrass control 10 days ago. Can he go back in now to apply a fertilizer with a weed killer in it?

A. Without knowing the ingredients in the crabgrass control and weed killer it is hard to tell, but it if there is a weed killer in both the crabgrass control and the fertilizer it would not be advised to use both. It would be best to go in with just a fertilizer now and avoid the weed control for now. It is recommended to wait at least 2 weeks between applications of herbicides.

3. This caller divided and transplanted hostas last year, they are not growing as large as they had been before they were divided. Should anything be done to help them grow larger?

A. Give them time to get over the transplant shock and to build their roots back up. You can fertilize them as well to help them grow healthier. A general fertilizer for perennials would be helpful, a 10-10-10 fertilizer would benefit.

He also wanted to know if it is too late to transplant lilies this year?

A. It would still be fine to transplant lilies this year. Just make sure on very hot days you keep the plants watered.

4. A caller has a native grass patch that now has volunteer plants of Siberian elms and cottonwoods. How can these tree saplings be controlled without harming the grass?

A. If they are small and the population isn’t too high, mechanical removal can be beneficial. They shouldn’t regrow from a sapling. He could also use 2,4-D or a product containing triclopyr as a stump treatment for the saplings to ensure no regrowth occurs.

5. This caller has boxwoods that turned brown over the winter months. What can be done about this?

A. This is likely due to winterkill. Evergreen plants still transpire through the winter, if that transpiration exceeds the amount of moisture the plant takes in through the winter, desiccation can occur. Prune out the brown areas. As long as there are still green leaves on some of the branches, it should grow back.

6. A gentleman has a wildflower prairie area that is getting grasses and weeds coming in. What should be done at the end of the season with this wildflower garden to help reduce the weeds?

A. Mowing the weeds at the end of the season will help reduce the seedheads of weeds. You can also continue to add new plants to compete with the weeds, taller weeds will be most effective. For more information, visit this NebGuide on Wildflowers for the Home Landscape.

Wildflower Collage

Wildflower Photos from the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum at: arboretum.unl.edu/wildflower-week

7. A caller received a black chokeberry with a collection of plants. What is that plant? How should it be grown?

A. This is a nice, multi-stemmed large shrub that can grow up to 3-6 feet tall. It is a great plant for full sun and it produces berries, also called aronia berries, that can be made into jams or jellies but it is typically not eaten raw. Here is an article from the UNL Community Environment website with more information on Chokeberries

8. Is it ok to transplant a lilac shrub now?

A. It would be better to wait to do in the fall rather than right now. The lilac could be cut back to no more than 1/2 the size of the plant before moving, to make it more manageable. Do not cut it back to the ground for a few years to allow the plant to work more on building roots than on growing.

9. This caller has a double weeping cherry tree that has developed a frost crack over the majority of the trunk and now it is not leafing out. What can be done to save the tree?

A. The lack of leaf development may not be due to the frost crack. If a callus has begun to form on the frost crack, that is a good sign. Once the frost crack has developed, there is nothing to do to fix it. The lack of leaves could be due to cold damage from the winter, but not necessarily the frost crack. Give the tree some time to see if it is just late coming out of this long, hard winter. Don’t fertilize it now, it can do more damage to fertilize an already stressed plant. Scratch the bark off on some of the smaller twigs, if it is green underneath, the plant is still alive, if it is brown, the plant is probably not going to survive.

10. How long does it take for a pear to start producing fruit? This caller has one that was planted in 2015 and has not yet bloomed more than just a couple of blooms.

A. It can take pear trees up to 10 years to start flowering and producing fruit, but the can begin this as early as year 3.

11. A caller has a snowball bush he would like to transplant. When is the best time to move this plant and how is it done?

A. Fall would be the best time for this. To be most successful with this transplant, dig up as much of the rootball as you can and only cut the plant back up to 1/2 the size that it is now. When replanting, dig a hole just as deep and twice as wide as the rootball and backfill with the existing soil from the new location.

12. The last caller of the day has a sawtooth oak that was planted last year. As soon as it was planted it dropped all the leaves but regrow them through the summer last year. Now, the tips of the branches seem to be dying back and the tree is suckering at the base. He mulched the tree in and he waters slowly for 10-15 minutes every 2 weeks or less. What is wrong with the tree and will it survive?

A. The water amount is sufficient, but more often would be beneficial to the tree. Water a newly planted tree for about 15 minutes once a week. This tree is likely facing some problems with transplant shock, but should be coming out of that. The oaks are slower to come out of dormancy this year. Give the tree a couple more weeks then prune out the tips that have not developed leaves while the rest of the tree has.

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Yard and Garden: June 2, 2017

Yard & Garden for blog, 2017

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 2, 2017. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am and it will run through July 28, 2017. 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: Graham Herbst, Community Forester from the Nebraska Forest Service

If you enjoy reading my Q&A from the show each week, take my quick survey at: http://go.unl.edu/44qr and be entered to win a free plant book or some free UNL gifts.

1. The first caller of the day has a Hen and Chicks plant that has grass growing in it. What can be done to remove the grass? She also has spiders in her lawn, what can she do to control them?

A. Grass-B-Gon is a product that contains the active ingredient Fluazifop. This is a grass herbicide. This product or any others containing Fluazifop can be sprayed directly over broadleaf plants with no damage to the desired plant. The spiders are not an issue outside in the lawn, in fact, they are beneficial. Spiders in the lawn are feeding on insects, many of which cause problems to our plants or bother us. Outside, spiders are beneficial. To keep them from coming indoors, home barrier sprays or tempo can be used around the foundation of the house to keep spiders and insects outside. If there is a fear of spiders, the tempo could be used where the spiders are seen.

2. A caller has a mock orange that has not bloomed for the past few years and now this year it finally is blooming some. Should it be removed? Why hasn’t it been blooming?

A. This could be due to a maturity issue. Many of our woody plants need to become established and get to a certain age before they will begin blooming. It could also be due to pruning time. Mock Orange bushes need to be pruned right after they finish blooming because they bloom on last years growth, or old wood. If they are pruned in the fall or early spring, the blooms would be cut off.

3. When is the proper time to spray for bagworms on blue spruce trees?

A.Spray when the bags are small to get the best control. It is best to spray after the bags emerge in the late spring to early summer but before the bags get longer than 1 inch in length. Mark a branch with a bag on it now and keep checking it to determine when the bags have emerged.

4. A caller has 6 table grape plants that had grapes set on. Now the grapes are dropping off and 70% are gone from the plants. What has caused these plants to loose all of the grapes?

A. This could be due to frost damage. Here is a guide from Oregon State University to describe the many factors that can hinder fruit development in grapes.

Forsythia-Richard Elzey, Flickr

Forsythia, Flickr image courtesy of Richard Elzey per CC license

5. Is it too late to prune forsythia this year?

A. It is too late to prune and not cut off any blooms for next year. Spring blooming shrubs should be pruned shortly after they finish blooming for the year. Forsythias bloomed in March this year, so it would already be starting the formation of flower blooms for next year, pruning them now would cut those buds off. If the intent is to just prune a few branches just a little, it wouldn’t impact the overall blooming of the shrub, but pruning too heavily will lead to little or no development of flowers.

6. A caller wondered where they could go to find the wrap around water bags for trees?

A. Local nurseries should carry them or there are many online locations where you can order them. These bags are beneficial to help keep the root ball moist to help get new trees established.

7. Can Grass-B-Gon be used in strawberries or phlox and will preen reduce the number of runners grown off of strawberry plants?

A. Grass-B-Gon is not labeled for use in fruit bearing tree crops and vines. So, it cannot be used in strawberry plants. It would be good to use for grasses growing in phlox and not cause any harm to the phlox. Preen stops the germination of seed to reduce weeds grown from seed in the garden, so it will not harm runners which are growing off an existing plant, not from seed. Check to make sure the preen you are using is labeled for use in strawberries, the general preen is not for use in vegetable gardens.

8. How do you transplant a wild rose?

A. First, make sure it is on your property. Then, just make sure you dig up as much of the rootball as possible and replant it right away. You could also try taking a cutting from one of the branches and dipping it into rooting hormone and placing it into a pot of gravel to get roots to grow. Once roots develop, you can plant the rose.

9. A caller wants to build a privacy border with shrubs. Would Burning bush work for this or are there other options to choose from?

A. Burning bush would be a great privacy wall with good fall color. Other shrub choices would include serviceberry or any of the viburnums. You could plant it now, just make sure the plants get plenty of water with it being this hot and the roots being minimized due to transplanting.

10. This caller has tomato plants that when they planted it they saw grubs and wireworms in the soil around it. Should they treat for this and if so, what should be used?

A. Grubs are not controlled effectively around vegetable gardens because the chemicals with the best control are not labeled for use in the vegetable garden. However, there is a fairly high threshold of grubs and wireworms in the garden before damage is too high. A few grubs or wireworms throughout an entire garden will not cause any real damage. The plants they are most problematic on would be the root crops such as potatoes.

11. This caller had 2 questions: Her asparagus has been planted in this location for 30 years and is quite spindly, why is that? Her peonies are done blooming now, can she deadhead the spent flowers?

A. The asparagus is regularly fertilized so the small spears could be due to heavy harvest or it could be getting old or too crowded. It would be time this year to stop harvesting to allow the plants to recover and make sure to stop sooner next year. Once peonies and iris plants have completed their blooming period, the flowers can be cut off and composted. Leave the leaf material on the plant to build sugars to help with the flowering next spring.

12. How do you control weeds in asparagus?

A. Hand pulling and mulch would be the best options for weed control. When the plant is done in the fall and the leafy material is all removed below the ground level, the existing weeds can be sprayed with Roundup as long as no green material from the asparagus is above ground or showing. Here is a good explanation from Backyard Farmer of why we don’t use salt on asparagus for weeds and how to effectively control weeds with Roundup.

Carpenter Bee, J. Kalisch

Carpenter Bee photo from Jim Kalisch, UNL Entomology

13. A caller has carpenter bees digging holes into the roof of a patio. What can be done about this?

A. You can plug those holes with caulk or putty or use a sevin dust in the holes. For more information on Carpenter Bees, see this article from Retired Extension Educator, Barb Ogg

14. This caller has puncture vine in the lawn. What can be used to control it?

A. 2,4-D is a good way to control it in the the spring before it blooms.

15. A caller has peonies that need to be transplanted. Can they also be divided when they are transplanted?

A. Yes, they can be cut into a few pieces when they are transplanted this fall. Just make sure that each section you cut off the plant has 3-5 eyes which are more like pink noses or knobs on the roots of the plant. Peonies are best transplanted and divided in September or October.