This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 28, 2019. 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 2, 2019. 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: Dave Olson, Forest Health Specialist from the Nebraska Forest Service
1. The first question of the show was about a red twig dogwood that is overgrown. Can it be pruned now?
A. It would be better to wait until fall to prune it. It can be thinned by removing 1/3 of the canes at ground level. This type of pruning can be done every year to remove the oldest, least productive canes from the plant. You can also do a rejuvenation pruning on it by cutting the whole plant off 6-8 inches above ground level in the fall. This will help to bring back a deep red color in the stems that may have faded over the years. If you rejuvenate it this fall, it will not bloom next year, but should after that.
2. A caller has a couple of blue spruce trees with low hanging branches. Can those branches be removed now to make it easier to mow around?
A. Yes, you can remove those lower branches for mowing around. That can be done most anytime, but it is best in the late winter while the tree is still dormant.
3. This caller has green ash suckers that are growing up in her gooseberry bush. These have come from an ash tree that was removed a few years ago but is still suckering. What can be done to kill the ash seedlings and not harm the gooseberry bush?
A. It might help to get someone to grind out the ash stump to help fully kill the tree. If the stump is still there, the roots are likely still alive and doing what they can to bring the tree back, which includes suckering in other locations. Otherwise, you can just keep cutting the suckers off and eventually the roots will run out of energy. You could also cut back these suckers and paint the fresh cut with a roundup or glyphosate product.
4. A caller has gray bugs with long black antennae that are found in her garden. What are these and how can they be controlled?
A. These bugs could be blister beetles. They can sometimes come into our gardens. Certain years, they can be found in high population. If they are feeding on your garden plants, you can spray with some sevin or eight to control them.
She also wanted to know what would cause her iris leaves to turn yellow with brown spots in the yellow color?
A. This is likely from Iris Leaf Spot, a common fungal disease of Iris plants. This can be controlled fairly well by removing and destroying the infected plant material as it shows up. When watering, don’t water over the foliage which will spread the disease. If necessary, a fungicide such as Daconil can be used if sanitation isn’t enough.
5. This caller is trying to re-establish a new windbreak. For a quick windbreak solution, would the quick growing willow-type trees work well?
A. Willows and other very fast growing trees would not work as a windbreak, even temporarily. The fast growth in these trees would not be very strong growth and therefore it would break a lot in windy situations. It would be better to go with a larger shrub such as a viburnum or serviceberry to help fill in until the trees can grow up larger. These shrubs would block the winds quicker than some trees but withstand strong winds and storms much better than willows.
6. What can be done to control bindweed in phlox?
A. Among other plants it is best to use the “glove of death” which is when you wear a chemical-resistant glove and then put a cloth glove over that. Then, dip a few fingers of the gloved hand into Glyphosate and rub those fingers along the stem and leaves of the bindweed to kill it. Basically, the idea is to keep it from flowering and producing more seed, hand pulling will help keep new seed from being deposited into the garden which can be viable for up to 60 years.
7. A caller wants to know if she can use the Extended control Preen on her petunias, they are not listed on the label?
A. If it is not listed on the label, you can’t use that pesticide on that plant. Stick with the general preen that has the petunias on the label to ensure correct application.
8. This caller has a pin oak tree with lower branches that are in the way of mowing. Can those be removed right now?
A. No, it is best to avoid pruning oak trees during the summer months. Oaks are susceptible to a disease called oak wilt that is spread by a beetle. The beetle is attracted to the trees after they have been pruned. Oak wilt can kill the tree if it is introduced to the tree. Wait until the fall or until the trees are dormant or early next spring before April to prune oak trees to avoid this disease.
9. A caller had her driveway lined with small mums that grew only to 1 foot tall. Over time some of them have been dying periodically throughout these lines. What could she switch to that is more winter hardy and stays at the 1 foot tall size?
A. That is a problem with some of our newer mum varieties, they just aren’t as winter hardy as they are advertised to be. The 1 foot tall size is difficult to find, I would suggest a groundcover to stay so small. Most other plants are going to be 2-3 feet tall at least. There would be some nice phlox that would look nice lining a driveway.
10. This caller has an oak tree that was pruned. The pruning is about 20 years old and has recently started oozing. What is wrong with it?
A. The tree could have borers or it could be a slime flux. It would be best to have a Certified Arborist look at the tree to determine what is causing the oozing and what can be done about it.
11. A caller has a mulberry tree with a flower bed underneath the tree. The high number of mulberries are now falling off the tree and rotting on the ground which is attracting flies. Is there anything that can be sprayed to treat for the flies but not harm the tree or the flowers growing underneath?
A. This is difficult since the fruit is already maturing and falling from the tree. If it was caught earlier, the fruits could have been quickly harvested by placing sheets underneath and shaking the branches. Once the fruits are on the sheets, they can be used or destroyed away from the tree if there are too many for consumption. Leaving the fruits to decay around the tree is attracting the flies. Using a sevin around the plants could help reduce the flies, but it won’t eliminate them entirely. Once the fruits have decayed completely, the flies should not be a problem.
12. This caller has an apple tree that gets rust even when they are spraying and then it moves onto their peach tree. What can be done for this disease?
A. Rust is found on apples, crabapples, and pears, but not on peaches. I would say there are 2 different problems. As for the rust, if the timing or chemical formulation is off a bit, the spraying will not work. Be sure to spray the trees with either copper fungicide or orchard fruit tree sprays. These sprays need to be applied every 10-14 days through the growing season starting at bud break, skipping the time frame while the trees are blooming to avoid harming pollinators. As for the peaches, it could be a fruit rot or other disease. The orchard fruit tree sprays will work on those as well, but it would be for a different disease on the peaches, not the rust.
13. A caller has a 6-7 year old apple tree that was girdled all the way around the tree this past winter by rabbits. It seems to still be growing fine, does the death just take a while after damage like this? Will it eventually die?
A. It could be ok, but most likely it won’t live through girdling all the way around the tree. If the damage was minor and the tree is able to seal up the wound, maybe it will be ok. I would say just to keep an eye on the tree and give it time to see if it gets better or worse. If the canopy isn’t full or has top dieback, you would want to remove it before it becomes a hazard.
14. This caller had large hail last week. It hit his vegetable garden. Is there anything he can do for the plants now? Will they survive and produce?
A. This depends on how badly the plants were injured and if the damage is mostly just on the leaves. It is a situation where time will tell, the damage may not be fully present for a while. There is nothing that can be done to fix this type of damage once it gets hailed on.
15. A caller has bare spots in the lawn due to shade under pine trees. What can be done about that?
A. Grass doesn’t grow in the shade. It would be best to use mulch under the trees or try to plant something else that thrives in shade conditions such as carex, sedge, or other groundcover or use shade perennial plants. Remember to plant the right plant in the right place for best growth.
16. This caller has rose with leaves that were eaten off of it. What would do that and how can it be managed?
A. This could be from rose slugs, but the damage sounds worse than what rose slugs do. It could be from Japanese Beetles. Those can be controlled with sevin, bifenthrin, or neem oil applied to the leaves. Be careful to avoid hitting the flowers with insecticide sprays to avoid injuring pollinators.
17. The last caller of the day wants to know how to renovate her strawberry plants?
A. According to John Porter, UNL Extension: She will want to manage weeds, but do nothing to disturb the plants. They should be left to grow until the end of the season. Tilling is okay around the beds, but in the beds hand pulling or minimal cultivation would be ideal to avoid damaging roots. Using a mulch like straw or woodchips can help control weeds in the bed. If the strawberries are a Junebearing variety, they are done producing for the year. However, if they are a day neutral or everbearing variety they will have more production cycles throughout the season.