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.

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Yard and Garden: March 31, 2017

Yard & Garden for blog, 2017

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for March 31, 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: Natalia Bjorklund, Nebraska Extension Educator in Dodge County

1. The first question was when can we begin applying crabgrass preventer and fertilizer to our lawns this spring?

A. These are both best applied in late April to early May. Crabgrass will not germinate until the soil temperatures are consistently at 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. A caller wanted to know if he should mulch his asparagus and if he can use ash wood mulch around his asparagus?

A. Yes, mulch is one of the best ways to manage weeds in an asparagus patch. Ash wood chips would be fine. You do want to avoid Walnut wood chips because walnuts produce juglone which is a chemical produced by the tree to act as a weed control for nearby plants. This helps walnut trees with competition in the wild.

3. This caller has a goldenrod that has grown too large and messy for the area where it is planted. How can it be killed and what Goldenrod would be a better choice for a less messy plant?

A. 2,4-D or simple hand removal should kill the plant. When purchasing a Goldenrod plant in the future, any of the varieties would be better than the straight species. Fireworks is a nice, open goldenrod. Wichita Mountains and Baby Blue would be good choices as well.

4. Is it too early to transplant hostas? When should you cut back warm season grasses?

A. Wait a couple of weeks to transplant the hostas until the soil has warmed up a little more. You can cut back the ornamental grasses anytime now. It is better to get the old growth cut off before growth resumes so you don’t cut off the new growth. For ease of cleanup with the ornamental grasses, wrap string or twine around the plant before cutting off the old materials so it stays together when taking to the compost pile.

5. A caller wanted to know how and when to prune roses?

A. Wait until a little later into April to start pruning them. It depends on the type of rose to know how to prune them. This sounds like a climbing rose which can be pruned back about 1/2 to reduce the size. Wait until they start greening up to know which areas of the canes have died back, the dieback should be removed as well. If the canes are long and lean over mowing areas or other things, they can be tied up to a trellis.

6. This caller wanted to know how to get rid of cockleburs?

A. While talking with the caller, it came up that the plant had very small yellow flowers on it and there were spines over the plant except right at the soil surface. This plant is in fact buffalobur, not cocklebur. These are easily pulled up if you pull where there are no spines. A 2,4-D product could also be used if there was a large amount of them in the lawn.

buffalobur, Howard F Schwartz, Colorado State Univ, Bugwood

Buffalobur plant from Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

7. A caller wanted to know if they should water in their crabgrass control?

A. The label will explain to you how a product should be applied for best efficacy. Always read and follow the label instructions to apply correctly. For many of the crabgrass preventers, they would need to be watered in, but again, check the label to be sure.

8. When should asparagus be fertilized?

A. Apply a general fertilizer or a composted manure to the bed after the last harvest or sometime in the fall.

9. This caller has mulberries growing in the windbreak. After they are cut down, what kind of stump treatment should be done to keep them from regrowing?

A. 2,4-D concentrate should be used as a stump treatment. This will take multiple applications and will be more effective if done in the fall. Each time the 2,4-D is reapplied it should be applied into newly drilled holes or to a freshly cut area of the stump.

10. A caller has cedars growing in their landscape. Under the cedars there is bare ground. What can they plant in that area to avoid weeds coming in?

A. The cedars are going to keep that area quite dark and the cedars will take the majority of the water in the soil so mulch would be a good alternative. If plants are desired, use a shade tolerant groundcover such as wintercreeper or vinca vine or perennial plants such as bleeding hearts, hostas, coral bells, jacob’s ladder, and others.

11. This caller has tiny cedar trees coming up throughout the lawn. How can they be controlled?

A. Cut them off at ground level. If a cedar is cut below any lateral growth it will not regrow. Mowing over them wouldn’t be low enough.

3-step pruning cut

Proper pruning cut, University of Missouri Extension

12. When is the best time to prune a maple tree that had a branch break in a storm?

A. As soon as the storm has passed and it is safe to do so, you should remove a branch that broke in the storm. If the damage occurred in a winter storm, let the ice and snow melt off first. Then, hire a certified arborist to come out and make a good pruning cut so that the tree can seal off the wound quickly and fully.

13. A caller has a hibiscus tree that is turning yellow and many of those yellow leaves are falling off the tree. It was moved indoors during the winter months in an area of the house with low sunlight. What is wrong with it and will it survive?

A. Hibiscus plants would need more sunlight than what it has received through the winter. It should be fine once it gets more sunlight. As the days get warmer, you can move it outdoors for more intense sunlight. It should be fine once it gets moved to better growing conditions.

14. This caller has a weeping willow tree that they would like to prune up a little. When can they prune it?

A. The weeping branches shouldn’t be pruned up too much or they could lose their weeping habit. Willows tend to have a heavy sap flow in the spring if they are pruned then, so it would be best to wait until later fall to prune a willow.

15. This caller has grasses that are coming up among the gravel paths around his daylily patch. What can he use to prevent those plants from coming up?

A. Preen is a great way to stop the germination of annual weeds, such as many of our weedy grass species. If they come up before the preen gets put down or if they grow as a perennial weed, you can use a post-emergent herbicide. If it is a grass that is growing out of place among daylilies, you can use Grass-B-Gon or a similar product to kill grasses.

henbit, steve dewey, Utah State Univ, Bugwood

Photo of henbit is from Steve Dewey, Utah State University, Bugwood.org

16. What can be done to manage henbit?

A. At this time of the year, there is nothing very effective at controlling henbit. Henbit is a winter annual plant, meaning that it germinates in the fall and flowers and produces seed in the spring. It dies with the summer heat. As we are now seeing the purple flowers from henbit, there is no need to control what you are seeing. The seed is already present in the lawn for next year and what you would be spraying will die soon. You can hand pull it now and spray with a 2,4-D product late in the fall.

17. This caller has moon flowers that had a lot of hornworms on them last summer. What can be done this year to reduce the number of hornworms?

A. Just because there were hornworms there last year doesn’t necessarily mean you will have a lot this year. Hornworms are sporadic pests. They are easily controlled by hand removal. You can also use sevin or eight or any other general insecticide. Use Bt to protect other pollinators as Bt is only harmful to insects in the order Lepidoptera which includes butterflies and moths.

18. What do you do for bindweed in a vegetable garden?

A. If you haven’t planted yet this spring, you can roundup the plants before you prepare the soil for the summer vegetables. The plants will probably still be a problem later in the year as this is a difficult pest to control. When it comes back in the summer, you can carefully use roundup through the growing season. You can paint the glyphosate product onto the leaves of the bindweed avoiding spraying the desired plants.

Yard and Garden: August 5, 2016

Yard & Garden for blog

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for August 5, 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: Graham Herbst, Community Forester Specialist with the Nebraska Forest Service

If you enjoy reading my Q&A from the show each week, take my quick survey at: http://go.unl.edu/9b24 and be entered to win a free plant book or some free UNL gifts.

1. The first question of the day was a walk-in client wondering what the weird structures in his yard were?

A. These would be fungal formations. The one that popped open is a puffball and the other is a type of mushroom. Neither of these are edible, they are both poisonous. They will develop in a yard from decaying roots of old or removed trees. They can be removed manually if you would like or they will go away on their own.

2016-08-05 10.14.05

Puffball on the left, Mushroom on the right

2. A caller has a small tree that is leaning that looks like a palm tree, what is it and why is it leaning?

A. After visiting the home after the show, it was determined that the tree was a sumac. It is leaning because that is the growth habit of a sumac. They tend to form a colony and lean every direction for sunlight.

3. A caller has a zucchini plant that just all of a sudden started dying off. Is this plant just done for the year or can something else be wrong with it?

A. This is probably due to squash vine borer. There is no way to fix the problem once it has gotten to the point of wilt and death. When you remove the plant, cut open the stalk to see the borer caterpillar. For the remaining plants use sevin, eight, or bifenthrin at the base of the plants to reduce the chances of those plants getting the borer as well. You can also wrap the base of the plant with aluminum foil or a toilet paper tube to protect it from borers laying eggs to bore into the plants.

4. A caller has cedar trees that have pine cone structures all over them that are killing the trees. What are these and how can they be controlled?

A. Those would be bagworms. At this time of the year it is too late to control them as their feeding has greatly reduced and possibly stopped for the year. Once they are in their bag the sprays cannot penetrate the bags to get to them so there is no need to spray now. Pick off and destroy all the bags you can get to and next spring watch for them sooner to spray at the correct time of the year.

Bagworm4

Bagworm

5. With bagworms, will sevin work for spraying them?

A. Yes. Sevin, eight, bifenthrin, tempo, malathion, or bT are all good insecticides to use when the bagworms are actively feeding.

6. A caller has wild cucumber growing on trees. How can this be controlled?

A. This weed has shallow roots and will pull out easily. You can treat with a herbicide, but not as a spray because that would harm or even kill the tree it is growing on. You can paint roundup on the leaves to help control it.

7. This caller has a mature maple tree that has mushrooms growing in the center of it. Can it survive?

A. It is best to manage the trees shape throughout the life of the tree to help it from having to have large branches removed. At this point there is no way to fix the hole and decay that have already begun. If the tree is in a location that it will not hit structures or people it can be left up longer, but it would be best to have a certified arborist come take a look at it to determine if the tree is safe to stand or needs to be removed.

8. A caller has a tree that the roots were exposed during work on the house nearby and then the roots were covered back up. Now, there are a lot of tree suckers coming up throughout the lawn. Can Tordon be used to control these?

A. Tordon is not labeled for use in a landscape setting. Also, using any type of insecticide on the suckers could harm or even kill the main tree. Since these suckers are all growing in the lawn, it would be best to just continually mow them off. The suckers appeared because the tree was stressed from the construction around the roots. Sucker stop can be used to slow the growth of the suckers but not completely eliminate them.

9. An email question was asked how to control locusts that are taking over a pasture?

A. Grazon is a good choice for pastures as a full foliage treatment during June. You can cut the stump and do a basal treatment anytime. Another choice would include Dicamba or a Trimec product that contains dicamba.

10. Another email question came in with a cottonwood tree that has brown tips on the leaves and lots of ants on the tree. Are the ants causing the problem? Can this be controlled?

A. The brown tips could be from sunscald which is due to the heat and drought we have faced lately. Aphids are probably also present on the tree which would bring the ants in to feed on their honeydew excretions. The ants are not harmful to the tree. The aphids are not causing much of a problem. Control measures are not necessary. Mulch the tree and water it to help with sunscald.

11. A caller from Iowa has hostas that were variegated in the leaves for the past 20+ years and now the leaves are solid green. What is causing this?

A. This is called reversion. The plant is a hybrid or cultivar that has reverted back to the original plant or parent plant with solid green leaves. It will not turn back into the variegated form.

12. A caller wanted to know why windbreaks and trees along creeks are being removed?

A. Sometimes the trees get old and start to become a hazard after they die. It also allows for more farming areas. These windbreaks are beneficial to wildlife, insects, and soil microbes and to help reduce water pollution from pesticide and fertilizer runoff.

13. The last caller of the 2016 season wanted to know when to transplant clematis, iris, peony, spirea, and general perennials?

A. all of these can be transplanted in the fall. Wait until mid to late September before doing this to get through the hot, dry weather. Could be done in the spring with some of these as well, but fall would be great.

Thanks for all of the great questions on the show and for reading the blog posts! I look forward to another great season of Yard and Garden Live in 2017!! Keep reading my blog for other great updates on keeping your yards and gardens “Green and Growing”!