Yard and Garden: July 7, 2017

Yard & Garden for blog, 2017

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 7, 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: Bob Henrickson, Assistant Director of the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum

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 10 lilacs growing in a lawn which are now getting a gray film on the leaves. What is causing this problem?

A. This is due to powdery mildew. This is a common problem on lilacs. Lilacs often get this disease if they are planted too closely together reducing air flow or if they are planted in heavy shade. If these plants are not growing in either of these environments, it is likely due to the wet spring we saw this year. Fortunately, this disease is not very damaging to the plants and there is no need to treat for it.

2. A caller has many American elm trees growing in his pasture that seem to suddenly be dying this year after the leaves turn brown and curl up on the branches.

A. Unfortunately, this is likely due to Dutch Elm Disease, which is still present and active in Nebraska. Many of our trees can grow for a few years and then the trees get large enough and conditions become conducive, that it shows up and kills the trees fairly quickly. The only management strategy is to remove and destroy the infected trees to reduce the spread to other trees.

chicory, Joseph M Ditomaso, Univ of CA-Davis, bugwood

Photo of Chicory from Joseph M DiTomaso, University of California-Davis, Bugwood.org

3. What are the blue flowers blooming along the roadside now and can the seed be purchased somewhere?

A. That is chicory, a non-native plant often used in roadside mixes. The seed can be found in some roadside mixes or at local seed sources.

4. A caller has a sunset maple with leaves that are curling and falling off the tree. What could be wrong with the tree?

A. This could be due to herbicide drift. Trees stressed by herbicide drift will often lose their leaves and push new growth. As long as they are producing new leaves that are not curled, the tree will likely be fine. However, many years of damage from herbicide drift can cause more stress and even possibly death.

5. This caller has voles in their yard. How can these be controlled?

A. Snap mouse traps can be placed in the runs perpendicular to the runs. These traps will catch and kill the mice. Here is a guide on vole control

6. A caller has a copper-colored beetle in her elm trees that are causing holes in the leaves. What would this be and how can they be controlled?

A. This could be a Japanese Beetle, an invasive insect from Japan. It is a green beetle with copper-colored wings. These beetles need to be controlled as they can do a lot of damage quickly. They chew on the leaves causing a skeletonization of the leaves as they leave behind the leaf veins. They can be treated with a insecticide containing imidacloprid.

7. A caller has a grass that grows in her lawn. The grass grows in a large circle about the size of a dinner plate and tends to turn brown in any kind of drought when the rest of the lawn does fine, but thrives in higher moisture content. What would this be and how can she make her lawn look more uniform?

A. This could be a cool season weedy grass species. They are often found in our lawns growing in a large circle. I would recommend spot spraying the areas of this different type of grass and then reseeding. This would be best done this fall. Be sure to spray the spot while it is still green and actively growing and use a product such as glyphosate. Overseed the areas in September.

8. This caller has hollyhocks with brown spots on the leaves. What could this be from?

A. This is likely due to hollyhock rust, a common fungus of hollyhocks. Remove the leaves as they develop the disease and destroy the leaves and plant parts removed in the fall cleanup. Fungicides can be used if necessary, such as a liquid copper fungicide.

9. A caller has peach trees that have developed some insects in the peaches making them unedible. What can be done about that?

A. There are a lot of different insects that feed on the fruits of peaches. The oriental fruit moth is one. For any fruit tree, either deal with some insect and disease damages throughout the years or keep your trees on a spray program. Spray every 10-14 days throughout the growing season with an Orchard fruit tree spray that contains two insecticides and a fungicide. Avoid spraying during full bloom. For more information, visit food.unl.edu/local-food-production

10. This caller has a sycamore that has shed some leaves and is now shedding bark. What is wrong with the tree?

A. The shedding bark could be normal. Sycamore trees have an exfoliating bark that is normal to give it the camouflage bark appearance. It may have been hit earlier this spring with anthracnose causing the leaves to drop. Anthracnose is a minor, but common, disease of sycamore trees. It is more prevalent in wet weather, such as this spring. There is no control for it, but the tree should be fine.

11. A caller has been trying to seed grass where a septic tank was and can’t get it to grow. What is wrong?

A. At this point in the year, it would be best to wait until fall to plant grass seed due to the heat, humidity, and lack of rain. However, if you have been trying in the spring and fall and can’t get it to grow, I would recommend getting a soil test done of the soil where this problem is occurring. This will help tell if the soil has other problems because of the septic tank or what was put back into the hole. It was also determined that this is an area around a large tree with a great deal of shade, if the area is too shady for grass, try a groundcover or a carex species that will grow better in more shade.

12. When is the best time to spray for bagworms?

A. Now would be a good time since the bags have emerged. Make sure you spray before the bags are 1 inch in length for best control. You can use any general insecticide for controlling bagworms such as sevin, eight, bifenthrin, tempo, or Bt can be used for a safer control method. Bt will not harm bees and other beneficial insects.

13. A caller has a Norway Spruce that is 8 feet tall. It has been drying up since this spring and looks like it is dying. The tree has been planted here for 5-6 years and is watering slowly every 2 weeks since the trees were planted. What is causing it to die?

A. This could be due to overwatering. The roots of the trees need to breathe in between waterings. If the caller is filling a moat around the trees with water every 2 weeks for this many years, it would be excessive.

14. The final caller of the day wondered if the yard could be sprayed to help with chiggers? He also wondered when the time was to use sedgehammer on the lawn?

A. Nothing can be sprayed on the lawn to entirely help with chiggers. The best defense against chiggers would be to use insect repellent that contains DEET and to wear light colored clothing. Sedgehammer is best used before June 21st or the longest day of the year to help reduce the populations of nutsedge for next year. However, it can still be used this late in the year to kill what is in the lawn this year.

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Yard and Garden: June 30, 2017

Yard & Garden for blog, 2017

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 30, 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: Connie Fisk, Cass County Extension Educator

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 wanted to know if he could fertilize his tomatoes, potatoes, and cucumbers with the same fertilizer?

A. Yes, the same product could be used for all three of these crops. Be careful when fertilizing to not use too much Nitrogen during the bloom period which will cause the plants to grow large but not produce any fruits. Also, too high of Nitrogen for the plants can lead them to grow large and dense which can lead to more fungal diseases.

2. A question came through email asking what would cause red spots on strawberry leaves?

A. This could be either due to leaf scorch or leaf blight. The leaf scorch will have red spots that have a red or purple center and the leaf blight will be a red spot with a gray center. For both of these diseases, you can use Captan fungicide.

strawberry leaf diseases comparisons

3. How soon can peonies be cut off?

A. Peony leaves should be left on the plant through the growing season and can be removed in the fall when the leaves turn yellow. Otherwise, this time of the year you should only remove the flower stalks. Leaving the leaves on the plant will help the plant build sugars to help it bloom early next year.

4. A caller planted Karl Forester Reed Grass in 2 locations in his landscape at the same time this spring. One location, the grasses are doing well, but in the other location, the grasses are much smaller and not growing well. The worse plants are on the east side of the house while the good grasses are on the west side of the house. What would cause them to grow so differently?

A. The east side of the house would be in more shade than those plants growing on the west side. Most of our grasses like to be grown in full sun, this difference in sunlight could cause the difference in growth. Because they are in different locations, a nutrient deficiency could be causing the few on the east side to be growing less. Add a general fertilizer to help with growth.

5. This caller is applying a fertilizer with 24% Nitrogen every 7 days to her tomato plants. Is this too high of a percentage of Nitrogen for the plants to grow well?

A. The percentage isn’t as important as how much is applied. Applying a fertilizer every 7 days is too often. For most vegetable gardens, fertilizing three times a year will be sufficient. With this high of Nitrogen in the soil the plants will not produce and may grow too large and develop diseases in the deep canopy.

6. A caller had golf ball sized hail a couple of weeks ago that hit his tomato plants. The plants are still growing and have leaves on them. Will they be ok?

A. Yes, they should be fine. Keep them mulched to help reduce competition with weeds and keep them uniformly watered as needed. Don’t fertilize the tomatoes because they are stressed from the storm damage and fertilizing a stressed plant will increase the stress.

7. This caller wondered if grass clippings will negatively affect the soil in his vegetable garden? He had been using the grass clippings for a couple of years and now his vegetable plants don’t look as healthy as before he started using grass clippings.

A. After discussions, the caller said he had been using herbicides on his lawn and using the grass clippings on his garden. Pesticides can have a long residual on the grass clippings and this can negatively affect the plants. Especially if he was using broadleaf herbicides such as 2,4-D for dandelions. Broadleaf herbicides will damage vegetable plants which are all broadleaf plants. It would be best to avoid using his grass clippings if he is to continue using herbicides on his lawn. He can use other types of mulch such as straw, woodchips, newspaper, cardboard, or grass clippings from a neighbor who isn’t using herbicides on his or her lawn.

8. A caller has hollyhocks that have copper colored, round spots on the leaves and the leaves are falling off. What is the problem and what can be done to improve the flowers?

A. This is likely due to hollyhock rust, a common fungus of hollyhocks. Remove the leaves as they develop the disease and destroy the leaves and plant parts removed in the fall cleanup. Fungicides can be used if necessary, such as a liquid copper fungicide.

9. Do weeds need to be controlled in sweet corn or will the plants grow tall enough and shade them out soon?

A. Weeds should always be removed to reduce competition and lead to better overall plant growth. You can hoe the weeds out and use mulch between rows.

10. This caller has squash plants growing in black containers that are growing in potting soil. They are not thriving, what could be the problem?

A. The pot could be getting too hot because it is black. It would be beneficial to add mulch around the container or paint it another color to keep the roots cooler inside. It also could be drought stressed. Plants grown in a container get drought stressed sooner and need to be watered more than those growing in the ground because they have more limited root space. It also might be beneficial to add a general fertilizer to help the plants grow better.

2015-04-15 11.03.06

Kabatina Tip Blight

11. A caller has flagging on cedars that is causing the tips of the branches to turn brown. What would cause this damage to 20 year old cedars?

A. This could be due to bagworms which would be very small yet. Bagworms can be sprayed with any general insecticide. It also could be due to drought stress or Kabatina tip blight. There is no fungicide control for Kabatina. The best management is to cut out the affected areas.

12. This caller has sweet corn growing in his garden. The corn is about 2 feet tall and is now tasseling and it is very light colored. What would cause this problem? He is watering his garden for 1.5-2 hours every night.

A. This is likely due to overwatering. Vegetable gardens need about 1 inch of water per week, watering every night is not necessary and that much water would cause the nutrients to leach down through the soil, which would account for the lighter green coloration. The corn will likely not produce this year since it is already tasseling.

13. A caller wondered if the wood chips being produced from all of the downed trees would be safe to use as mulch around living plants or if there would be an issue with insects in the mulch?

A. This would make a good mulch for your plants. If there was an insect in the trees being chipped, the chipping process will kill it.

14. This caller has grapes that were hit by herbicide drift this spring. The leaves were all the size of a nickel and deformed, but the plants are not pushing new growth. What should they do to help the grape plants make it through this stress? Should they fertilize the plants?

A. Unfortunately, grapes are very sensitive to herbicide drift. 2,4-D can drift about 1/2 miles and Dicamba can drift about 1 mile, so it can move from a long way and grapes will be the first to know. If these are mature plants and they are pushing new growth, they should be fine. Don’t fertilize the plants, this will add more stress to the situation. Keep them well watered to help them through.

15. A maple tree was recently hit by hail. Now the trunk and branches have wounds on them. Should anything be done to cover these wounds?

A. No, don’t apply anything to the tree or cover the wounds with anything. Allow the tree to go through it’s normal processes to seal up the damage to reduce decay further into the trees.

16. A caller has cantaloupe plants that are not growing well. They have very small leaves but they are flowering already. What can be done to help them grow better? They are growing in a garden with many other vegetable crops that are growing much better.

A. Remove the flowers that are developing on such a small plant. When plants try to push flower growth and fruiting, they reduce their growth. Removing the flowers will push the plants to try to grow more before they begin flowering.

17. This caller is growing strawberries that have been growing for a few years. They bloomed and looked healthy this year, but the strawberries produced were very small. What would cause this problem? Also, what will help stop strawberries from rotting if they ripen on the ground?

A. The plants should be thinned at the end of the year to help increase the size of the berries. They also could be dealing with an issue of poor pollination. The cool, wet weather this spring led to low pollination because the bees don’t like to fly in the rain. Poor pollination may lead to development of the fruits, but at a much lower size than normal. Poor pollination can also cause the plant to drop small fruits from the plant before they mature. Mulch the strawberry beds with straw to help keep the berries from laying on the soil and rotting as they mature.

18. A caller from the Geneva area has an ash tree. Should he be treating for Emerald Ash Borer now?

A. No, Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has only been found in Greenwood and Omaha in Nebraska and we recommend waiting until the beetle has been found within 15 miles of your tree before beginning treatments to reduce injury to the trees and to reduce the amount of insecticides in the environment. There is no need to treat for a problem that we don’t have yet.

19. This caller has one apple tree and needs to get a second tree for pollination. What would be a good variety?

A. It is necessary to plant a second variety of apple tree to help increase pollination. Look at the local nurseries to find good choices that go with the variety you already have planted. They will have a chart to show which trees pollinate which.

20. A caller has a fungus in the lawn every year. This fungus shows up in different locations throughout the yard every year and she treats with a fungicide every year. Is there anything she can do to make it so she can stop treating every year?

A. If you see the fungus in your lawn every year, you would need to treat for it earlier in the year before the fungus appears. If the fungus is present before treatments begin, they will not stop the damage that is already present.

*A caller later on the show suggested that these spots may be due to a dog urinating in the lawn, which can cause brown spots similar to many of our summer fungal diseases. There is no way to stop the brown spots left after a dog urinates on it, you would need to walk the dog somewhere else to do his or her business.

21. The final caller of the day has tomatoes that are growing well and they are now 3.5 feet tall, however, they have no blossoms on the plant. What would cause this?

A. This would be due to high Nitrogen levels in the soil. It cannot be fixed at this time, but don’t add any additional fertilizer to the garden for a couple of years to bring the level back down.

Yard and Garden: June 19, 2015

Yard and Garden Green Logo

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 19, 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. A walk-in guest has ants in her house. How can they be controlled?

A: Liquid ant baits work best. One good choice is the Terro bait stations. Another helpful tip is to spray around the outside of the house on the outside of the wall where most ants are found. The little black ant and odorous house ant are common in homes right now.

2. A caller has Linden trees that are covered with moths right now. What can be done to reduce the populations for outdoor activities?

A: A contact insecticide spray will work for the moths, such as malathion. These products do not have a very long residual, so they need to be reapplied. However, be very careful with insecticides on linden trees and other flowering plants to not harm bees and other pollinator insects. Spray at dusk to avoid spraying the bees.

3. A gentleman has a snowball bush viburnum that just finished blooming for the spring, can it be pruned now?

A:  Now that the blooms are fading from a spring bloom, it would be a great time to prune the shrub. It is best to remove the largest canes of the shrub all the way back to the ground, up to one-third of the plant in one growing season. Leave the rest of the canes as they are or remove a portion of their height, if necessary.

4. A gentleman has moths in large populations on his “bug zapper” every morning. Is he bringing the moths in? Should the “bug zapper” be moved from near his plants?

A: Moths are attracted to lights, but you aren’t bringing them in from far distances. You can move the “bug zapper” if it is near a regularly used door that causes problems with moths when going in and outside. They are not causing any harm to our plants.

5. When is the best time for grub control? And, is it past the time for crabgrass control?

A: Grub control is best done right now, during the third week of June. It is best to apply grub control when the adults are actively flying and mating. Crabgrass is still germinating, so crabgrass control can still be applied if none was applied earlier in the spring. If you do a split application of crabgrass control, now is a good time to do the second application for the spring.

6. A caller has a spruce tree that has been slowly dying for a couple of years, it has now lost 60-70% of its needles. If they remove the tree, will something else grow where that tree is removed?

A: Yes, the stump will cause no problems to a new plant. You may want to plant the new tree 5-10 feet away from the stump to avoid the root system, but otherwise no problems will occur. The needles on the ground may lower the pH of the soil, but in a clay soil, the amount is so low to cause no problems if not help the plant.

7. A caller is moving from one house to another. The house they are leaving has a great asparagus patch. Can that be transplanted to the new home?

A: It is best to move asparagus in the fall when it is going into dormancy. Asparagus will transplant well, but you will need to wait until the third season after transplanting before heavy harvesting can resume. A new plant would take the same amount of time and may be better suited for a moving condition to ensure it is planted at the correct time of the year.

8. A gentleman has a crabapple tree that he removed from a landscaping berm. Can he use Tordon on the stump to keep it from regrowing?

A: No! Tordon is not labeled for use in a landscape setting so it should never be used in a lawn or garden. This product can move out into the root system of other plants and it has a residual for up to 5 or 6 years where it can still cause problems to the neighboring plants. Be sure to always read and follow label instructions on all pesticides as the label is the law.

9. A caller has sweet corn that is tasseling but it is only 3 feet tall. What would cause this?

A: Some hybrids of corn are shorter. If that is not the case, it would be due to environmental stress. When a plant is stressed they may try to produce fruit sooner than they should for the size of the plant.

10. A gentleman has a 60-year-old spruce tree that is dying on the west side of the plant. What is causing this?

A: Look for white sap on the trunk which would be an indication of canker. This is likely due to environmental stress from the quick drop in temperatures last fall. Any branches that are dead can be pruned off and it should regrow new branches eventually.

11. A lady had a birch and 2 large maples planted last fall. This spring the birch is slow to leaf out and still has not leafed out on the top of the plant. What is causing this?

A: Birch trees face a lot of death in the first year after being transplanted. Scratch the bark of the branches to see if their is any green, live, growth or if it is brown and therefore dead. If it is brown, call the nursery to get a replacement tree planted.

12. Another caller also has 2 maples that were planted last fall and are dead on top. What is causing that? She also has hollyhock rust, is that too early to be seen?

A: They didn’t get enough root growth developed prior to the drop in temperatures last fall. If they have no green in the cambium layer, the caller should call her nursery for a replacement tree. As for the Hollyhock rust, that is due to the rainy weather we have seen this spring.

13. A caller has blue spruce trees that had flood water up and around their bottom branches for 2 days and are now turning brown. Will the trees come out of this?

A: Spruce trees don’t like too much moisture. However, don’t give up yet, give them time to come back and grow out of the problems from flood damage. It is too early to tell if these are long-term issues for the plants.