This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 17, 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: Connie Fisk, Cass County Extension
1. The first caller of the day transplanted pear and maple trees in December. Recently, these trees turned brown and lost their leaves. What would cause this?
A. This year the weather has been ever-changing. The drastic change from wet and rainy to hot and dry has been hard on many of our plants. It sounds like these plants need watered. Water on a slow trickle about one time per week for 45 minutes-1 hour and make sure the trees have a mulch ring that is at least 2-3 feet out from the base of the tree and only about 2-3 inches deep.
2. This caller has a locust tree that he topped and wanted to use the removed branches to make a trellis for his vegetable garden. Now, the branches are sitting in a pile and sawdust has developed around them. What is this and is it concerning for his vegetable garden?
A. This would be either carpenter ants working on the decaying material of the branches or it could be another type of insect that is emerging from the branch that was developing in the branch over the winter months. This will not cause any problems to your vegetable garden.
*Note: It is not recommended to top a tree due to the weak, unproductive branches that will emerge from the tree.
3. A caller has scotch moss that she purchased for her fairy garden. She purchased it one month ago and has not had time to plant it into the fairy garden. Now, part of it has turned brown in the center of the plant. What can she do to fix this?
A. It should be planted into a garden or the fairy garden as soon as possible to ensure it gets room to grow. Also, this could be due to watering issues. She can prune out the dead growth and the rest should be fine if it gets planted.
4. This caller has 2 Northstar dwarf cherry trees that were planted this spring. One is fine but the other has not leaved out this spring. Will it survive?
A. No, it will probably not live at this point. It won’t hurt anything to leave it in for this growing season to see if it comes out of it, but it is late in the season for no growth to be on the tree. Water it early in the morning to try to help it come out of possible late dormancy.
5. A caller has apple trees that were planted last year. They are 6-7 feet tall. One tree is beginning to bend over from the top, the leaves are green with some yellow leaves throughout. What would cause this?
A. This could be due to fireblight. This is a bacterial diseases that can cause dead leaves and the end of the infected branches will bend over like a shepherds hook. Prune out the infected area by cutting back into the healthy area 8-12 inches past where the scorched area appears. Clean pruners in a bleach water solution between each cut to reduce the risk of spreading the disease. Do not compost infected branches.
6. A caller has a 30 foot tall blue spruce that they would like to trim off some of the bottom branches. Is this an ok practice?
A. Yes, that can be done. The branches removed will not regrow and underneath the weeds and grasses will need to be controlled. It would be best to then use mulch and/or a groundcover under the tree to help with weeds and mowing around it.
7. This caller has a peach tree that split down the middle of the trunk. Can it be saved?
A. No, any assistance will be just to help the tree limp along until death. It would be best to replace the tree at this point. Once the tree splits it is then open to disease and insect issues with no way to remedy it for long-term management.
8. A caller has maple trees that are 5 years old and now the trunks look like the bark is peeling off and you can see the inside. This damage is on the South and West sides of the tree. What is it from?
A. This would be sunscald, also called southwest disease because the damage occurs on the south and west sides of the tree. Sunscald occurs in thin barked trees during the winter when the cells of the tree rapidly freeze and thaw on warm winter days. Now that the damage has occurred there is no control for it. For new, thin barked trees, they should be wrapped during the winter months for the first few years of their lives. The damage is minimal and won’t kill the tree.
9. This caller has hollyhocks that the lower leaves are drying up and falling off of the plant. What would cause that? Also, there are mums blooming now. Can she cut them back?
A. This sounds like a fungal leaf disease due to the wet spring. Remove the leaves and destroy them. Mums can be pinched back throughout the summer months to keep them at a good size and to help with blooms in the fall. They can be pinched back until the 4th of July.
10. A caller wanted to know what causes blue-green algae in a lake?
A. It is a combination of environment, low water levels, and nutrients found in the lake. For more information visit: http://water.unl.edu/lakes/toxicalgae-faqs
11. This caller lost 2 peach trees and a plum to borers. Is it common? Did the tree have borers when it was purchased? Can others be saved?
A. Borers are common in peach trees. They can be treated. For information on treating these borers, visit the spray guides section on https://food.unl.edu/local-food-production
12. An email question came through with an algae problem in a birdbath. What can be done to control this algae?
A. This birdbath needs to be cleaned more often and scrubbed out to remove algae growing on the bottom of the birdbath. For more information visit: http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/resources/waterbirds.shtml
13. A caller has a leaf tree that has developed peaches every year except for the past 2 years. What would be causing this?
A. A late frost has occurred the past 2 growing seasons which would cause a decrease if not an entire loss of the peaches that had begun before this frost occurred. There has also been low pollination the past couple of years due to wet spring during the pollination period.
14. This caller has a established silver maples that are suckering. Can this be sprayed with anything to stop the suckers from forming?
A. Unfortunately, no chemicals can be used on suckers because this growth is coming from the roots of the main tree. Chemicals used on the suckers will kill the entire tree. The best defense for suckers is to continually prune them out.
15. A caller has apples that tend to get worms and spots on the fruits. What can be done to help with these problems?
A. For backyard trees it might be best to just tolerate occasional insect and disease pests. If the problems are minimal, it is much less work to just cut out the bad spots for home use. You can use insecticides, just follow the regulations on the spray guides found at: https://food.unl.edu/local-food-production Sanitation is also important, remove and destroy all fruits off the tree and off the ground and leaves around the tree in the fall to destroy overwintering locations for these pests.
Puffballs are identified by their solid structure throughout the fruiting body, which is typically spherical in shape. (Photo from NebGuide Mushrooms, Fairy Rings, and Other Nuisance Fungi in the Landscape courtesy of R. Mulrooney, University of Delaware)
16. The final caller of the day has a fungus in the lawn that is like a ball on top of the ground that when pushed on releases many spores. What would this be?
A. This would be a puffball. A type of mushroom. There is no control for them, it is best to just remove the puffball structures as you see them and destroy them.