Yard and Garden: June 7, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 7, 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: John Porter, Urban Ag Program Coordinator with Nebraska Extension

2019-06-07 10.05.021. The first question of the show was from tomatoes that had odd shaped leaves. What would cause that?

A. This is from herbicide drift. Tomatoes are very sensitive to drift from 2,4-D or Dicamba products. They should grow out of the damage, however because we don’t know exactly what product hit these tomatoes there is no way to know for sure when the product will be out of the tomatoes. I can’t say when or if these tomato plants will be safe for consumption this year.

2. A caller has moths in his house. He had brought in a sample previously for us to identify. What kind of moth is it and how can he get rid of it?

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

3. This caller has hosta plants that are getting holes in the leaves. What would cause this?

A. This is likely from slugs. They can be controlled by pushing a shallow container into the ground near the hostas so that the top of the container is at soil level. Fill the container with stale beer and it will attract the slugs so they fall into the container and die. You can also put cardboard over the ground at night and then pick it up during the day to kill the slugs underneath. There is also a product for slug control, called sluggo.

4. A caller has pampas grass that is dying from the center and would like to kill it. How can that be done?

A. If the dead center is what is bothering you, dig up the plant and divide it into multiple smaller plants. Pampas grass often gets a dead center with age and just needs to be divided. If you still want to kill it, cut it short and spray it with roundup or other glyphosate product to kill it over time. You can also try cutting it back and keeping a layer of mulch on it to smother the plant to death.

5. This caller has a maple seedling forest in their lawn. What can be done to kill all these maple trees?

A. Keep mowing over them, they will die. They don’t have enough roots to keep living after being mowed off.

6. How fast will maple seedlings to grow, if he decides to try to cultivate one or two of these seedlings for a new tree?

A. They are tiny, so it will take quite a while, but it can be done. However, these seeds are most likely from silver maples, that is more of a weedy species of maple tree. They grow easily and fast and therefore often break a lot of branches in storms. There would be better maple choices than silver maples such as Sugar maple or Red maple.

7. The next question came from another walk-in listener who brought in a weed for identification.

A. This is goutweed which is also called Bishop’s weed. There are ornamental varieties of this plant. However, if it is growing where it was not planted it is a weed and glyphosate or Roundup will work on that. If it is below 80 degrees for three days, you can spray 2,4-D. Don’t spray 2,4-D if it is too hot or humid because it can turn into a gas and move to non-target plants.

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

8. A caller has a spruce tree that is 30 feet tall. At the top of the tree it had red structures that now look like bagworms. She sprayed. Are those bagworms and should she spray again?

A. These are actually the cones of the tree. There are male and female cones on spruce trees. The cones can start out pink and then turn into a cone and the other cones are smaller. It is too soon for bagworms to be out this year. So you will need to spray for bagworms again in a couple of weeks when they hatch if you also have a problem with bagworms.

9. The next caller has a peach tree that was a volunteer from a seed pit. It now is loaded with peaches developing on the branches. Should it be thinned?

A. Yes, they should be thinned. Too many peaches on the branch can pull the branch down and break it which would be very damaging to the tree. Also, if you thin the peaches it can increase the size and sugar content. Thin them to only one per cluster and one peach every 6-8 inches along the branches.

10. A caller planted a new yard this spring. Now he has noticed a weed with a small yellow flower growing in it. What can he spray on his lawn to control this weed?

A. This could be either black medic, sorrel, or a sweet clover. These weeds are all controlled best in the fall of the year with a 2,4-D product. You can spray the entire yard in mid-September and again in mid-October for best control. Spraying now could be too hot causing the 2,4-D to turn into a gas and move to non-target plants. Also, spraying now won’t get a full kill on the plant, it will just burn back for a while.

11. This caller wants to know how to control voles in his lawn?

A. Place snap-type mouse traps in the runs of the voles. Place them perpendicular to the run. They can be baited with peanut butter or nothing at all. If there are neighborhood cats around, place a box with small openings on both ends around the traps to avoid harming the cats.

He also wanted to know why the needles on his pine trees are brown?

A. This is likely from Dothistroma needle blight. For best results the trees should be sprayed with a copper fungicide in mid-May and again in mid to late June. Spraying now would help reduce the spread, but spray earlier next year.

12. A caller wants to know why if he has plastic landscape sheets covered with mulch that slugs can get through that? Also, where can you buy sluggo?

A. The plastic and mulch make for a good environment for the slugs. They are able to hide under that during the day where it is dark and cool and they can climb out through the holes around the plants. It would be better to remove the plastic. Sluggo should be available at hardware stores, it is a granule product.

13. This caller has 2 Asian pears with ants and wasps in the fruit. The fruit also turns brown and fall off the trees. What is causing this and how can it be controlled?

A. The ants and wasps are not related to the fruit falling from the trees. The ants and wasps are also not harmful to the fruit development. The ants may be on the tree if there are aphids on the tree. Aphids produce honeydew as an excrement and the ants follow the aphids around to feed on the honeydew. The fruits falling from the trees could be from brown rot caused by weather conditions. Use a copper fungicide or orchard fruit spray with fungicide to help prevent this from occurring.

14. Can you divide and move lilacs?

A. This type of plant wouldn’t divide well. However you can start new plants by layering which is where you pull down on one branch and stake it into the ground nearby until it produces roots. Once the roots develop, you can cut it from the main plant and move it to another location. Lilacs can be transplanted, but it should be done in the fall.

15. The final caller of the show has peach trees with a lot of peaches. As they are maturing, they get a brown mold. What is causing this?

A. This is a disease called brown rot. It can be controlled with fungicide sprays. Apply the fungicide multiple times through the season. You can use an orchard fruit tree spray through the growing season every 10-14 days to control insect and disease issues.

He also wanted to know what to do when planting rhubarb to ensure success?

A. Plant it in well-drained soil because rhubarb gets root rot if it sits in water. Add compost when planting for fertility. Plant it so the crown is a little above the ground level, it often gets planted too deep which can cause crown rot as well. Other than that, it is fairly easy to grow. Be sure to wait 3 years before harvesting from the plant to allow the roots time to become fully established.

 

Yard and Garden: May 24, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 24, 2019. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am and it will run through August 2, 2019. It can also be found on kutt995.com for online listening. If you missed a show or just want to read through the questions, I have written them all in my blog and will continue to do so throughout the season.

Guest Host: Donnie Engelhardt, Assistant Manager of the Little Blue NRD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yard and Garden: April 26, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for April 26, 2019. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am and it will run through August 2, 2019. It can also be found on kutt995.com for online listening. If you missed a show or just want to read through the questions, I have written them all in my blog and will continue to do so throughout the season.

Guest Host: Roch Gaussoin, Extension Specialist for UNL Agronomy and Turf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Can potatoes still be planted yet this spring?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He also wondered when and how to fertilize trees?

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

tree irrigationHow do you water trees that were recently planted?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

Yard and Garden: April 13, 2018

Y&G Blog Photo, 2018

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for April 13, 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: Kyle Broderick, Coordinator of the Plant & Pest Diagnostic Clinic at UNL

1.The first caller of the show wants to know when is the time to trim roses?

A. Anytime now would be good. When the show aired, snow was predicted for over the weekend, so it is advised to wait until the snow has melted before pruning the roses to avoid damage from cold weather.

This caller also has moles, how do they get rid of them in the yard?

A. Harpoon traps work best for moles. To help the trap work better, stomp down a run 2-3 times before placing the trap in the run. This shows that it is an active run and it will lead the mole to continue to pop the soil back up after you knock it down. For more information, visit the UNL Wildlife site and choose the NebGuide on Moles

2. How do you kill grass growing in peony plants

A. Fluazifop is the active ingredient found in Grass-B-Gon products. This will kill grasses and not harm ornamental plants. It can be sprayed right over peonies and iris’ and other ornamental plants. Be sure to not spray your turf or ornamental grasses with this product as it will kill any grass it contacts.

3. A woman has a substance on her artificial turf. Is it mold or moss?

A. It would be moss if it has a green color, but if it is more of a black color, it would be mold. Dry out the area to reduce the problem. You can also clean the artificial turf with a vinegar solution.

4. A caller has an apricot tree with blossoms that are starting to show color. Is there anything that can be applied to protect it from the frost, snow, and cold temperatures in the forecast for the weekend?

A. There are no sprays to protect the fruit tree from cold damage. Watering the tree prior to the cold weather can help protect it because trees use moisture to protect itself in cold weather. This is the reason that peaches and apricots have years of low production, they tend to bloom earlier than the frost free date which will cause cold temperatures to damage the developing flower buds.

This caller also wants to know if they should spray their trees for pests now or if they should apply preen in their gardens?

A. No on both of these questions. There is snow and rain in the forecast which will wash the pesticides off the trees. It is too early to use preen because it stops the germination of annual plants. Winter annual plants emerged last fall and summer annual plants won’t germinate until the soil temperatures have warmed up more. Applying preen too early in the season will cause it to break down sooner in the summer allowing later germinating summer annual plants to emerge once the preen is gone for the year. It is best to wait until soil temperatures have warmed up closer to when the seeds will germinate.

Ant mounds from YandG listener
Larger Yellow Ant Mounds

5. This walk-in listener has mounds that developed in their pasture area after they burned it this spring. What are the mounds from?

A. These mounds developed from ants. Upon closer inspection, Jim Kalisch from the UNL Entomology department, has determined the ants are Larger Yellow Ants. The mounds will persist as long as the land is not tilled. The ants favor building their nests in clumps of bunchgrass, as it provides stability and protection, and the ants tend root aphids on the bunchgrass roots underground. If the mounds are not desired, tilling the ground will reduce the mounds.

6. Can preen be used on asparagus before it emerges?

A. Yes, preen only stops the germination of annual seeds. Asparagus is a perennial plant coming back from the roots, so it will not be inhibited from growth if the preen is applied before it comes up. Make sure you are using the preen that is labeled for use in asparagus, not the general preen that is used in ornamental plantings.

7. A caller has grubs in his vegetable garden space. What should be done about that?

A. A few grubs in the garden won’t be problematic. Mostly, grubs are only damaging to potatoes and not our other vegetable plants. If the population is high enough and damage is occurring, the vegetable garden would need to be moved for a year to treat with chemicals that are not labeled for use in a vegetable garden. There are no products available to treat grubs that are labeled for use in vegetable gardens safely.

8. This caller is taking care of a planting of hostas for the first time. What does he need to do to clean up the space?

A. Hostas die back to the ground every year, so once the weather is a little warmer more regularly, these plants can be cut off at the ground level to remove all of the dead leaves and plant material from last year. Make sure to refresh the mulch to 2-3 inches deep with new organic mulch. If the plants are too big, they can be divided and replanted in other locations. Depending on the size of the plant it can be divided into 2, 3, or 4 parts to replant in other locations or to share with friends. To divide the plants, dig them up and use a spade to cut it into pieces that are then replanted.

9. A caller has white pine trees that were transplanted last year that are now turning brown on the ends of the branches. What is causing this?

A. This could be due to a combination of transplant shock and winter injury. Fall watering will help protect newly planted trees from winter injury. Water these trees well throughout the season and they should improve over time.

10. This caller has an angel wing begonia that is overwintered indoors each year. Can it be placed outside during the summer months?

A. Tropical-type plants, such as this begonia, will not take temperatures below 50 degrees F, but they can live through our summer months. Once the temperatures are consistently in the 50’s and warmer, the potted plant can be placed outside. To prevent breakage of the branches, it would be best to place the planter in a location that is protected from high winds. Next fall, before the temperatures move too cold at night, move the plant back indoors to keep it alive through the winter. Spray the plant with an insecticide before bringing indoors to keep insect pests outside instead of bringing them indoors with the plant.

11. A caller has scrub elm trees that have started growing up in the asparagus patch. What can be done to kill the elm trees?

A. Right after cutting the elm off, paint the stump with a straight 2,4-D product. Don’t use tordon or triclopyr products as these can get into the roots of the asparagus, killing it. Treat the stumps early in the season before temperatures reach 80 degrees F to avoid volatization of the product and causing possible harm to the asparagus.

12. This caller has gnats from houseplants in the office. How can they control them?

A. These are likely fungus gnats from the houseplants. If you know when the gnats first appeared and you can link that to the appearance of a new houseplant, remove that houseplant to remove the majority of the gnats. Houseplant insecticide sprays can also be used. Repotting the plants, removing the majority of the soil from the roots will also help.

13. The last caller of the day wants to know how to control grass in a well-established asparagus patch?

A. You can spray the bed with glyphosate (Roundup) before the asparagus has emerged and no green from asparagus is present, but the grass is green. It would also be best to apply mulch around the plants to reduce new weeds from emerging.

Peach Leaf Curl

Lately, I have had quite a few community members come into the office with a problem on their peach tree. The leaves look funny and have a pinkish color to them. The same problem is being seen throughout the area and unfortunately, there is nothing we can do about it, at least not for this year. The problem many people are dealing with is Peach Leaf Curl.

Peach leaf curl is caused by the fungus Taphrina deformans. This fungal disease is one of the most common diseases in the home orchard and can affect the blossoms, fruit, leaves, and shoots of peaches and nectarines. (Cherries have a similar leaf curl diseases caused by T. cerasi.) Peach leaf curl is more severe following cool, wet springs; temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees F are ideal for infection, which is why we are seeing it so often this year.

Peach Leaf Curl, Paul Bachi, Univ of Kentucky R and E Center, Bugwood
Photo of Peach Leaf Curl is from Paul Bachi, University of Kentucky Research and Education Center, Bugwood.org

The primary symptom is a thickened, puckered area on leaves which will turn yellow to red or purple with the loss of chlorophyll. These leaves may prematurely drop, weakening the tree and making it more susceptible to other diseases, pests, and cold injury. The disease can also result in reduced fruit set, size, and quality.

A single fungicide spray applied while trees are still dormant (just prior to bud swell), thoroughly covering all branches, shoots, and buds will control peach leaf curl. Effective controls include Bravo, Ziram, and copper compounds.

At this time of year, most infection has already occurred, and fungicide sprays are relatively ineffective. Fruit on defoliated trees should be thinned to reduce stress and improve tree survival.

This information on Peach Leaf Curl came from Connie Fisk, a fruit tree expert for Nebraska Extension located in Cass County. Read more from Connie on her blog, Food Adventures with Connie

Another thing to think about this time of year, is what type of fruit tree to plant if you are thinking about planting new trees. You need to decide what type of fruit you prefer to grow, what you will be using your fruit for, and if the tree is self-fruitful or if you need to plant a pollinator tree nearby. It is also best to plant fruit trees that are resistant to the common diseases found in our fruit trees. For apple trees, select a tree that is resistant to cedar-apple rust and apple scab. For peach trees, choose a tree that is resistant to bacterial spot. For pear trees, choose one that is resistant to Fire Blight.

apples-A. Henneman flickr
Flickr image courtesy of Alice Henneman per CC license

For Apple trees, some good choices include Redfree, Johnafree, or Liberty. For Pear varieties, look at Moonglow, Luscious, Lincoln, Magness, or Seckel. For Peaches, choose Reliance, Red Haven, Contender, or Madison.

There are many other great choices for fruit tree varieties to use. Nebraska Extension released a NebGuide in July of 2016 called ‘Fruit Tree Cultivars for Nebraska’. It is a good guide that helps you to find the fruit tree variety or varieties you need for your fruiting wishes.

Do prune this…Don’t prune that

2013-05-09 10.12.37

Spring will be here before we know it. With all the warm weather lately, it is hard to remember that spring has not already sprung in Southeast Nebraska. But, with the warmer weather, there are a few things we can do in our landscapes and a few things we should avoid.

Don’t prune spring blooming shrubs this time of the year. Plants such as lilac, forsythia, spring blooming spirea, and some hydrangeas produce flowers in the fall of the previous year to bloom early in the spring. If you prune these plants now, you will cut of the flower buds and not have those flowers to enjoy this spring. So avoid pruning those shrubs in the spring. Spring blooming shrubs should be pruned immediately after they finish blooming in the spring. This will allow for the best growth of the plant and for best flowering each year.

Forsythia-Richard Elzey, Flickr
Forsythia Flickr image courtesy of Richard Elzey per CC license

Prune trees this time of the year. February and March are the best months of the year to prune deciduous and fruit trees. It is best to prune these trees during the winter months because it doesn’t affect fruiting that occurs in the spring and it allows the tree to seal up the wound quickly in the spring when growth resumes. It is also easier to see areas that need to be pruned in the winter months. You can see where branches are crossing or rubbing and where the branches are too dense. In addition, pruning in the late winter helps reduce the transmission of different diseases that aren’t active. However, it is best to avoid pruning maple, willow, poplar, birch, hackberry, Kentucky coffeetree, black walnut, honeylocust, and elm due to the high sap flow they have in the spring. Freshly cut wounds this time of year will cause the tree to “bleed” or have excessive sap flow out of the wounds. They are best pruned in the late summer to early fall to avoid sap flow.

Don’t uncover perennials yet. It is still winter, for a few more weeks. Many of our perennials are getting confused with the weather lately and some are starting to green up already. Tulips, Iris, and peonies are starting to emerge and crocus are blooming already. However, if you pull the winter mulch back from these plants or remove the plant material that was left on the plants through the winter, you will be exposing the plant to cold temperatures and removing its protection. The plant will have better survival and less winterkill if you leave them covered through the winter months.

Plan your gardens for the spring. Late winter is a great time to plan what you will plant in your vegetable gardens so you can format your plan to know what you have space for and to ensure that you move your crops around from year to year. This will also help you decide what seeds to start indoors. Mid-February through March is a good time to start the seeds of your chosen warm season crops indoors. Make sure that you have them in a warm location with 14-16 hours of light on them everyday.

crabgrass, Joseph Berger, Bugwood
Crabgrass photo is courtesy of Joseph Berger, Bugwood.org

Don’t use pre-emergent herbicides for crabgrass yet. The soil temperatures have been at an average of 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 7 days. Even as warm as it has been, crabgrass has not yet begun to germinate. If the temperatures continue at this pace, it will probably germinate early, but we still have a couple of weeks before we need to get the pre-emergent herbicides on. Remember, crabgrass germinates at 55-60 degree soil temperatures, so we still have a bit of warming up to do.