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: May 13, 2016

Yard & Garden for blog

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 13, 2016. 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 5, 2016. 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: Fred Baxendale, Horticulture Entomology Specialist, UNL

1. The first caller of the day wanted to know when to transplant Peonies? She also wanted to know if she moved them away from the black walnut tree would that help them grow?

A. It is best to transplant peonies in the fall, but it can be done in the spring as well. It would be fine to move them in the spring as well. It would be beneficial for the plant to be moved away from the black walnut tree to get away from the toxicity produced by the tree as a form of natural weed control for the tree to other plants. Black walnuts produce Juglone which reduces growth and, in some cases, kills the other plants so the black walnuts have less competition for water and nutrients. Planting things 50 yards from the tree will get it out of the zone where damage can occur.

2. A caller has a rose that is old and has grown to 6 feet tall. When can he transplant it? Also, what are the red “ticks” he found around his gardens when he has been working in them recently?

A. Roses are hard to transplant. Do the transplanting in the early spring of the year and take as much of the rootball as can be dug up when it is moved to help the shrub overcome the transplant shock. Maintain adequate water once it is moved. The red “ticks” would be clover mites. These are not damaging to the plants but can leave red marks on house siding and if inside on the walls and curtains. You can treat these with permethrin or insecticidal soap.

3. This caller has Peonies that accidentally got cut back drastically this year. Will they live through this and should she do anything for them?

A. They should be fine but they probably won’t bloom this year. Make sure they are adequately watered and they will regrow by the end of fall. They should be fine again next year.

EAB Damage Collage
Signs of an Emerald Ash Borer Infestation from Boulder Colorado

4. A caller has 2 ash trees in her yard. She has heard about Emerald Ash Borer and wanted to know if there was anything she could do to protect her trees?

A. Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has not been found in Nebraska and we recommend waiting until EAB has been found within 15 miles of your trees before you begin treating them. It takes 2-4 years for the damage to show up in our trees once it is here, so you will have time to treat them when it does get here. In the meantime, don’t move firewood here from other locations and increase the diversity in your landscape to help fill in holes that may appear when EAB takes out your ash trees. Also, watch your trees for signs of EAB including top dieback, suckering at the base of the tree, increased woodpecker damage, bark falling off, and D-shaped exit holes and alert Nebraska Extension if your trees exhibit any of these signs of damage.

5. This caller has a 10-year-old red maple that has struggled to leaf out the past couple of years. The middle of the tree is entirely void of leaves. Should he remove the center of the tree?

A. Removing the center will not fix the problem. This could be a root issue or it may have been improperly planted which would take around 10 years to show signs of damage. This tree is near the end of its life and removal of the entire tree should be contemplated. There could be borers in the tree but that would be a secondary issue and using an insecticide on them wouldn’t fix the whole problem with this tree.

6. This caller planted a Bradford Pear 2 years ago, it is leaning now. What can be done to correct the leaning?

A. Don’t stake the tree to try to pull it back to the correct position. When we stake a tree to try to pull it back upright, this can cause a girdling issue to the tree and it is very damaging to the tree. Because this tree has only been planted for 2 years, it would be a good idea to try to dig it up and reposition it.

7. A caller has steep hills around his yard and doesn’t want to have to mow it. What groundcover choices would he have to grow instead of grass?

A. Buffalograss, dwarf sumac, crown vetch, or potentilla would all be good choices for this type of growing environment.

8. A caller wanted to know if she could use vinegar for weed control in the flower garden?

A. It is best to use pesticides that are labeled for use in the garden. Pesticides for weed control have been rigorously researched to ensure that they work properly and cause limited harm to the environment if applied correctly. When we use non-gardening products in the garden, there isn’t always research to know how those products will work in the garden and it may cause more problems to our plants or it may cause problems if they get into stormwater. If you want to avoid pesticides, it would be better to use cultural and mechanical methods of weed control such as hand pulling and using mulch for weed control.

9. This lady has ant hills in her lawn, what can she use to control them?

A. Ant colonies would be spreading now. Leave them alone now, but if they start to overrun the lawn or come inside, you can spray them with permethrin or bifenthrin. If they are not taking over the lawn, they are a predator insect so if you don’t need to control them, they can be beneficial for other bad insect management.

10. This caller has a barberry that she wants removed. Should she call Diggers Hotline before digging it up? Also, how can she remove and kill daylilies growing in her landscape?

A. Always call Diggers Hotline before you do any type of digging. It is a free service that will help you before a problem occurs. As for the Daylilies, the best option is to dig them up. Using pesticides on them would need repeated applications over many years. When you dig them up, you can offer them to your friends and family.

11. How can you control bromegrass in flowers and in strawberries?

A. In the flower garden, you can spray a Grass-B-Gon product to control the grass and not harm the flowers. Do not spray this to where it hits your lawn or any ornamental grasses. As for the strawberries, this product is not labeled for use in strawberries or other edible crops, so mulching and hand pulling would be the best option. You can also paint Glyphosate (Roundup) products on the leaves of the grass among the strawberries and not harm the strawberries.

crane fly, David Cappaert, Bugwood
Crane Fly photo by David Cappaert, Bugwood.org

12. What are the giant mosquitoes this caller has been seeing flying around? What do they do? Are they mosquito killers?

A. These would be crane flies. They are not harmful to us. They feed on nectar when they are adults, but can sometimes be a problem in the turf. They are not mosquito killers, they are in the same order as mosquitoes and look like a large mosquito, but do not eat them. The immatures live in moist environments.

13. Would it be ok to spray a 2,4-D product this weekend?

A. Yes, 2,4-D can turn into a gas and spread to non-target plants if the temperatures for 72 hours after spraying is above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. So, with this cool down predicted where the temperatures will be in the 60’s for the weekend, this would be a great time to spray. Just make sure that the wind speeds are very low.

14. This caller has onions that the tops are dying back on. They tops curl up and die, why is that?

A. Onion thrips can cause streaking on leaves, this may be from onion thrips. Onion maggots will feed on developing bulbs as well. It could also be from a root rot issue. Dig up one of the onions that are not looking healthy and inspect the bulb for signs of insects or disease.

15. A caller has a recently planted black oak tree that has all of the leaves stripped off of it.

A. It could be from canker worms. They are a short-lived problem in our oak trees. Using the Eight product will help to control them.

16. This caller transplanted walking/winter onions. The bulbs are developing below ground and on top they are flowering but not developing the bulbs on top of the plant. What would cause that?

A. Try to fertilize the plant to help it with nutrients that may be missing from the growth of the plant.

Yard and Garden: April 10, 2015

Yard and Garden Green Logo

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for April 10, 2015. 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 31, 2015. It can also be found on kutt995.com for online listening. If you missed a show or just want to read through the questions, I have written them all in my blog and will continue to do so throughout the season.

Guest Host: Dick Campbell from Campbell’s Nursery in Lincoln, NE

1. The first caller wanted to know when to trim trees?

A: This depends on the type of tree to be trimmed. Oaks should not be pruned from April 1 through mid July to avoid susceptibility to Oak Wilt, a deadly disease that affects oak trees. Maples and birches will bleed sap excessively if pruned right not. This bleeding is not damaging to the tree, but it can be messy. Otherwise, it is good practice to prune deciduous trees during the dormant season so you can see through the trees to any crossing branches and air flow through the canopy.

2. This caller has a peach tree that produces too well. He wanted to know how to make the tree produce less fruit?

A: Fruit thinning should occur on fruit trees to help avoid branches breaking later in the season if they get too heavy due to fruit. The fruit on any fruit tree should be spaced 6-10 inches apart, leaving only one fruit on the branch every 6-10 inches. This will give you nice sized fruits that will not weigh down the branches.

3. A gentleman has ash trees that are loosing bark off the trunk. What would be causing this and how can it be fixed?

A: This could be caused by frost cracking. Frost cracks occur due to rapid temperature changes during the winter months. There is no cure for a frost crack and they may never heal over. Some trees may be able to close this wound, but if not it is an area where decay can enter the tree, as well as insects and diseases.

4. This caller uses ammonium sulfate on their lawn. Can this harm his lawn?

A: This can be harmful to the lawn, if the fertilizer is not spread uniformly throughout the lawn. If it gets concentrated too high in one are of the lawn, a burn can occur on the turfgrass. Otherwise, it will work fine as a quick release fertilizer.

5. Another caller has a steep slope in full sun in his lawn. What is a good perennial groundcover to use that does not have to be mowed?

A: Buffalograss is a good low management, perennial groundcover for full sun that wouldn’t have to be mowed. There are a lot of new varieties to choose from including, the newest from UNL, Sundancer Buffalograss that is darker green, has a denser canopy, and establishes faster. For more information on buffalograss care, see these UNL NebGuides: Establishing Buffalograss Turf in Nebraska and Management of Buffalograss Turf in Nebraska¬†

6. This caller had old Lilac bushes used as a hedge. She had cleaned them up and noticed there was a lot of dead branches and some new growth of branches. What should she do to clean them up and get them growing nicely again?

A: Prune out the dead canes, leave as much of the new, healthy growth as possible this year. Over the next few years, she can prune more of the larger, older canes out to bring it back to healthy growth. Don’t use a rejuvenation pruning with these lilacs because the older they are the harder it is for them to come back from such a drastic pruning. Watch out for borers and use systemic insecticides if holes are found at the base of the shrubs.

7. This caller had locust trees in the roadside. What should she do to get rid of them?

A: Cut the trees down and do a stump treatment with herbicides labeled for use on trees in a roadside.

8. A caller wanted to know what to do when planting new strawberry bushes and if they can be planted in containers? He also wanted to know what to do with shrub roses that grew taller than they should have, how much can he prune off of those roses?

A: Plant the strawberries to where the crown of the plant is just at the soil surface. Plant them 1 foot apart within the row and space the rows 4 feet apart. After planting you can use a pre-emergent herbicide on them to reduce weeds. Yes, they can be planted in a container, but that container will need to be protected through the winter months to get the strawberries to overwinter. As for the roses, you can cut those back to 6-8 inches tall rather than just taking a few inches off of the top. This will give you new growth that will produce more flowers throughout the entire shrub rather than some flowers just on the ends and sides.

 9. This caller had bagworms on his blue spruce in the past. He has now noticed that the top few feet of the spruce has died. Is this due to the bagworms? How can this be fixed?

A: This would be from a fungal disease called canker that is very common to spruce trees. From the point of the canker and anything above it, the tree will die and sap will flow from that canker location. There is no cure for canker, but the infected area of the tree can be removed to a location below the canker. It may regrow a new leader, but it may also continue to grow with a flat top. Bagworms can be treated with Bt, carbaryl, permethrin, or malathion around the third week of June or when the bagworms are immature and crawling around on the tree.

10. A caller wanted to know when to prune shrub roses? She also has a weeping white birch, when should this be fertilized?

A: Shrub roses can be pruned now. The weeping white birch should be fertilized just before they start to send sap up throughout the tree, which will begin soon. Watch all birch trees for borers, as this is a common pest in birches. Systemic insecticides, such as those containing imidacloprid, can be applied in the spring to help with borers in the tree.

11. This caller had apple trees that are 15 years old. When should they be sprayed for insects and diseases and what should they be sprayed with?

A: Orchard fruit tree sprays can be applied to all fruit trees. These have an insecticide and a fungicide to help with many problems that fruit trees face in Nebraska. This product should be applied at petal fall and every 10-14 days following. Be careful to not use insecticides on fruit trees while the flowers are blooming so no harm comes to the pollinators helping fruit development.

12. A gentleman wanted to know how to control Star of Bethlehem?

A: Spray with a combination product, such as Trimec. September 1st would be the prime time to do this so that the chemical will be taken into the bulb when the plant is taking nutrients into the bulb to help it get growing the following spring.