Weather & Plants

 

The environment impacts our plants in many ways. We are always happy to see the shift in weather to help the heating and air conditioning costs of our homes. Plants are also very happy when the weather changes to a more comfortable temperature. Extremes for moisture and temperature can be very damaging to our plants on both ends of the spectrum. This year we have seen a wide range of these problems which are negatively impacting our plants. To say we have a “normal” growing environment or weather pattern in Nebraska is almost unheard of and this year was unlike any we have seen recently.

Floods

2015-06-04 18.32.28Typically we are excited to see rain throughout the season. However, when the rain doesn’t seem to end, like this spring and even again now, this can harm our plants. There is such a thing as overwatering plants. Plant roots need to breathe too, if they don’t have the oxygen they need they can start to develop root or crown rot that can kill the plant.

Besides problems with root growth and development, many fungal diseases have been popping up on our trees this summer. There are many leaf spots on our trees such as maples, oaks, pears, and crabapples as well as on our vegetable crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and others. The cool, rainy environment this spring led to the infection which is showing up now. Spraying so late in the season won’t really help. The best thing for these plants is to just keep them healthy through the season and then use sanitation in the fall to reduce the diseases next year. Destroy fallen leaves at the end of the season by raking them up and throwing them into the garbage and remove annual plants from the garden. Don’t compost infected plant parts because the spores may not be killed in a compost pile. Leaves left at the base of the plant or vegetable plants left in the garden will make a good location for the disease spores to overwinter and move back into the plant next spring.

Heat

Hot temperatures can be problematic for our plants, especially when that heat comes on fast after such a long, cool spring and winter. We have had problems with leaf scorch showing up on plants when we had that swing of temperatures into the 100’s with high humidity. This extreme heat is damaging to our plants, but especially this year when they were accustomed to cooler temperatures with more than enough water available to them. Scorch is still apparent on trees even though temperatures have cooled back off. For the survival and health of our plants through extreme heat, keep a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around the plants and keep them well watered when rains end in the summer.

Excessive cold

Excessive cold temperatures that we saw this winter can also harm our plants. The good thing for Southeast Nebraska was that we had snow cover most of the winter this year. If we had seen that much wind and cold temperatures without snow insulating the roots and crowns of our plants, we would have seen a lot more dieback.

Some of our plants did still have problems from the cold and some had problems from the high salt buildup around our plants from all the snow. Evergreen plants still transpire through the winter months. Desiccation happens when the moisture released from plants through transpiration exceeds moisture taken in through the roots. White pines see desiccation quite often in the winter months on the north side from the strong winter winds we see in Nebraska. This desiccation becomes even worse on plants that are in an area where snow with deicing salts are piled up each time we scoop snow.

There isn’t much to be done to fix trees now that desiccation has set in. For this coming winter, it would help to water the trees once a month on a warm day in the winter. You can also apply anti-desiccant products once every six weeks beginning after plants have completely hardened off, usually in late November. Continue applications through mid to late February. Avoid covering plants so heavily they become sticky with needles glued together. Have warm, soapy water nearby and clean out the sprayer immediately or equipment may be ruined by the product.

Yard and Garden: July 26, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 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: Bob Henrickson, Horticulture Program Coordinator for the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum

1. The first question of the show was about catalpa trees. They were pruned in the past, but now they have a bunch of smaller branches growing out of the location where the branch was removed from the tree.

A. The branch that was removed was likely not correctly done. If the cut wounded into the trunk of the tree or left a stump, it would cause the tree to push a lot of new growth like suckering. Make sure that proper pruning cuts are followed and that you don’t leave a stump. Follow these steps when pruning a tree to ensure it is removed correctly with minimal damage and avoid the branch-bark collar to avoid a flush cut which will not heal correctly.

3-step pruning cut
Proper pruning cut, University of Missouri Extension

2. How do you control clover in the lawn?

A. Clover can be found in an under-fertilized lawn. It may be a good practice to fertilize at least one time a year to help the lawn compete with the clover. If treating with chemicals, the fall is the best time of year to treat for broadleaf perennials such as clover, dandelions, and creeping Charlie. Apply a 2,4-D product or one containing triclopyr twice in the fall. Mid-September and again in mid-October is best. Other IPM strategies for controlling clover include mowing high and aeration if necessary.

Co Potato Beetle Pupa 2
Colorado Potato Beetle Pupa

3. A question came in via email about orange things on potatoes. There are tiny orange bugs found on potato plants in her garden. What are they and how can they be controlled?

A. These are Colorado potato beetle larvae. Pull any off that are found and smash them or spray with sevin to control them as they emerge as beetles.

4. A caller has creeping Charlie in their yard. When is the best time to spray for that?

A. When using chemicals, the fall is the best time of year to treat for broadleaf perennials such as clover, dandelions, and creeping Charlie. Apply a 2,4-D product or a product containing triclopyr twice in the fall. Mid-September and again in mid-October is best. Other IPM strategies for controlling creeping Charlie include mowing high and aeration if necessary.

5. This caller has cucumber plants with a lot of flowers but no fruits. Why are these plants not producing fruits?

A. You should check the flowers to see if they are all male flowers or if there are female flowers as well. Male flowers just have a skinny stalk behind the flower. Female flowers have a tiny cucumber behind the flower. If male flowers are all that are present, give it time for the plant to produce female flowers. If both male and female flowers are present, there could be a problem with pollinators. Avoid spraying while bees are active, attract bees with other pollinator plants, put up a bee house to bring bees in. If you are using row covers, be sure to uncover the plants for a while during the day so bees can pollinate the plants.

6. A caller called in with a good suggestion to help with cucumber plants. He grows his on a trellis so they can get better airflow and less diseases. It also makes it easier to harvest the plants this way.

7. This caller has a small hackberry that is 12-14 feet tall with 3 trunks growing together. There are small splits all along the trunk like some type of injury, what caused this and will his tree be ok?

A. These could be spots from hail injury, even from a few years ago. There is nothing to do for hail damage. Most trees will come through just fine. If the damage is intense, the tree could have more problems.

8. Is it too late to trim lilac bushes?

A. Yes, it is too late for general pruning of lilacs. They should be pruned within the first couple of weeks following the flowering period. If a rejuvenation pruning is desired, the fall would be a good time to do that, wait until late September to mid-October for that.

9. A caller who manages a golf course has a couple of Linden trees that were under water for about 2 months this year. They sat in a flooded area of the golf course for this time in the spring. They originally did leaf out but since then the leaves have turned brown. Will the tree be ok?

A. There is likely no life left in these trees. Lindens are not adapted to have their roots that wet for that long. The trees probably had enough energy left in the roots to push out leaves but now have ran out of energy. It would be best to remove those trees and replace them with something more adapted to sitting in water from time-to-time, such as bald cypress trees.

10. The final question of the day was sent via email. This listener has a gravel driveway that is partially sloped. How can they keep the weeds out of this driveway and not harm the grass at the end of the slope?

A. Roundup 365 would be the best option for this. It contains glyphosate as well as imazapic which lasts longer than the glyphosate alone. On the label it states to only apply once a year and to “spray until THOROUGHLY WET”, so for best results spray to this extent. Soil sterilants aren’t recommended because they often run off into adjacent plant material such as grass and kills it. Always read and follow the label when using pesticides.

*Disclaimer ­- Reference to any specific brand named product does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, favoring or implied criticism if similar products are not mentioned by Nebraska Extension in Gage County.  Identifying specific pesticides are for the convenience of the reader and are generally most commonly available.  Always read and follow the pesticide label.