Yard and Garden: June 2, 2017

Yard & Garden for blog, 2017

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 2, 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: Graham Herbst, Community Forester from 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/44qr and be entered to win a free plant book or some free UNL gifts.

1. The first caller of the day has a Hen and Chicks plant that has grass growing in it. What can be done to remove the grass? She also has spiders in her lawn, what can she do to control them?

A. Grass-B-Gon is a product that contains the active ingredient Fluazifop. This is a grass herbicide. This product or any others containing Fluazifop can be sprayed directly over broadleaf plants with no damage to the desired plant. The spiders are not an issue outside in the lawn, in fact, they are beneficial. Spiders in the lawn are feeding on insects, many of which cause problems to our plants or bother us. Outside, spiders are beneficial. To keep them from coming indoors, home barrier sprays or tempo can be used around the foundation of the house to keep spiders and insects outside. If there is a fear of spiders, the tempo could be used where the spiders are seen.

2. A caller has a mock orange that has not bloomed for the past few years and now this year it finally is blooming some. Should it be removed? Why hasn’t it been blooming?

A. This could be due to a maturity issue. Many of our woody plants need to become established and get to a certain age before they will begin blooming. It could also be due to pruning time. Mock Orange bushes need to be pruned right after they finish blooming because they bloom on last years growth, or old wood. If they are pruned in the fall or early spring, the blooms would be cut off.

3. When is the proper time to spray for bagworms on blue spruce trees?

A.Spray when the bags are small to get the best control. It is best to spray after the bags emerge in the late spring to early summer but before the bags get longer than 1 inch in length. Mark a branch with a bag on it now and keep checking it to determine when the bags have emerged.

4. A caller has 6 table grape plants that had grapes set on. Now the grapes are dropping off and 70% are gone from the plants. What has caused these plants to loose all of the grapes?

A. This could be due to frost damage. Here is a guide from Oregon State University to describe the many factors that can hinder fruit development in grapes.

Forsythia-Richard Elzey, Flickr

Forsythia, Flickr image courtesy of Richard Elzey per CC license

5. Is it too late to prune forsythia this year?

A. It is too late to prune and not cut off any blooms for next year. Spring blooming shrubs should be pruned shortly after they finish blooming for the year. Forsythias bloomed in March this year, so it would already be starting the formation of flower blooms for next year, pruning them now would cut those buds off. If the intent is to just prune a few branches just a little, it wouldn’t impact the overall blooming of the shrub, but pruning too heavily will lead to little or no development of flowers.

6. A caller wondered where they could go to find the wrap around water bags for trees?

A. Local nurseries should carry them or there are many online locations where you can order them. These bags are beneficial to help keep the root ball moist to help get new trees established.

7. Can Grass-B-Gon be used in strawberries or phlox and will preen reduce the number of runners grown off of strawberry plants?

A. Grass-B-Gon is not labeled for use in fruit bearing tree crops and vines. So, it cannot be used in strawberry plants. It would be good to use for grasses growing in phlox and not cause any harm to the phlox. Preen stops the germination of seed to reduce weeds grown from seed in the garden, so it will not harm runners which are growing off an existing plant, not from seed. Check to make sure the preen you are using is labeled for use in strawberries, the general preen is not for use in vegetable gardens.

8. How do you transplant a wild rose?

A. First, make sure it is on your property. Then, just make sure you dig up as much of the rootball as possible and replant it right away. You could also try taking a cutting from one of the branches and dipping it into rooting hormone and placing it into a pot of gravel to get roots to grow. Once roots develop, you can plant the rose.

9. A caller wants to build a privacy border with shrubs. Would Burning bush work for this or are there other options to choose from?

A. Burning bush would be a great privacy wall with good fall color. Other shrub choices would include serviceberry or any of the viburnums. You could plant it now, just make sure the plants get plenty of water with it being this hot and the roots being minimized due to transplanting.

10. This caller has tomato plants that when they planted it they saw grubs and wireworms in the soil around it. Should they treat for this and if so, what should be used?

A. Grubs are not controlled effectively around vegetable gardens because the chemicals with the best control are not labeled for use in the vegetable garden. However, there is a fairly high threshold of grubs and wireworms in the garden before damage is too high. A few grubs or wireworms throughout an entire garden will not cause any real damage. The plants they are most problematic on would be the root crops such as potatoes.

11. This caller had 2 questions: Her asparagus has been planted in this location for 30 years and is quite spindly, why is that? Her peonies are done blooming now, can she deadhead the spent flowers?

A. The asparagus is regularly fertilized so the small spears could be due to heavy harvest or it could be getting old or too crowded. It would be time this year to stop harvesting to allow the plants to recover and make sure to stop sooner next year. Once peonies and iris plants have completed their blooming period, the flowers can be cut off and composted. Leave the leaf material on the plant to build sugars to help with the flowering next spring.

12. How do you control weeds in asparagus?

A. Hand pulling and mulch would be the best options for weed control. When the plant is done in the fall and the leafy material is all removed below the ground level, the existing weeds can be sprayed with Roundup as long as no green material from the asparagus is above ground or showing. Here is a good explanation from Backyard Farmer of why we don’t use salt on asparagus for weeds and how to effectively control weeds with Roundup.

Carpenter Bee, J. Kalisch

Carpenter Bee photo from Jim Kalisch, UNL Entomology

13. A caller has carpenter bees digging holes into the roof of a patio. What can be done about this?

A. You can plug those holes with caulk or putty or use a sevin dust in the holes. For more information on Carpenter Bees, see this article from Retired Extension Educator, Barb Ogg

14. This caller has puncture vine in the lawn. What can be used to control it?

A. 2,4-D is a good way to control it in the the spring before it blooms.

15. A caller has peonies that need to be transplanted. Can they also be divided when they are transplanted?

A. Yes, they can be cut into a few pieces when they are transplanted this fall. Just make sure that each section you cut off the plant has 3-5 eyes which are more like pink noses or knobs on the roots of the plant. Peonies are best transplanted and divided in September or October.

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Choosing Plants for Next Spring

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The winter months are sometimes very difficult for a horticulture enthusiast. There is nothing for us to grow and we can’t go outdoors and do much in our garden beds, so we start to get a bit of cabin fever. However, there is always something to do in January for our gardens because the plant catalogs have begun to arrive. Hooray! We can start planning our gardens for the next season. A great listing of plants to utilize in your garden would include the All American Selections and the Perennial Plant of the Year.

The All American Selection (AAS) group is “the only non-profit plant trialing organization in North America” according to their website. This is a selection organization that is unbiased because all proceeds go into the trials and promoting all AAS winners. Each year the group selects many different judges and judging sites. These judges are professional horticulturists who are volunteering their time to evaluate plants for their growth, flowering or fruiting, and how well they adapt to different environmental conditions. Often times, Universities and public gardens are potential judging sites to keep the results impartial. The AAS is a good way to test new cultivars throughout North America to help gardeners trust the plants they purchase.

Each year the group chooses multiple annuals, perennials, and vegetables to be All American Selections. For 2017, the group came up with a great group of annuals, vegetables, and perennials. The one perennial that was chosen for 2017 was Twizzle Purple Penstemon.

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This photo of Twizzle Purple Penstemon is from the All American Selection website at: http://all-americaselections.org/product/penstemon-barbatus-twizzle-purple/

Penstemon plants are great for any garden as they grow tall and upright and have flowers similar to snapdragons because they are in the same plant family. Twizzle purple is a new penstemon with vibrant purple flowers. The judges liked the upright habit of the plant and the overall great flowering performance. This penstemon grows up to 35 inches high and is a great pollinator attracting plant.

Another great pollinator plant is the 2017 Perennial Plant of the year, Butterfly Milkweed. This is a plant honor that was chosen by the perennial plant association which is a trade association of growers, retailers, landscapers, educators and others in the herbaceous perennial industry. They choose a plant to showcase each year that is a standout plant. The perennials they choose are widely adaptive and have minimal insect and disease issues with low management inputs. Butterfly milkweed was chosen for the 2017 Perennial Plant of the year to “celebrate an excellent plant known for its ability to support insects and birds and serve as the primary caterpillar food for a beloved North American native butterfly”. That butterfly would be the Monarch butterfly. Monarchs have been decreasing in their population over the past few years due to many different factors, but lack of food is one. Milkweed is the primary source of food for Monarch butterflies and that plant is now reduced in our environment due to the way that we garden and the fact that people regard milkweeds as weeds. Planting pollinator plants will help with the populations.

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This photo of Butterfly Milkweed is courtesy of Dave Powell, USDA Forest Service (retired), Bugwood.org

Butterfly milkweed is a native plant with small, bright orange colored flowers that are held in bunches throughout the plant. This is not the common milkweed that most people find to be a weed, which is another great pollinator plant. This is a unique and interesting plant that will attract many pollinators to your garden. The plants grow 2-3 feet tall and wide. Butterfly milkweed plants are a great addition to any landscape, but especially in a prairie, native grass area, or naturalized planting.