Yard and Garden: July 6, 2018

Y&G Blog Photo, 2018

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 6, 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: Dennis Ferraro, Wildlife Specialist from UNL

1. The first caller of the day wants to know if borers from ash trees can get into his walnut trees?

A. Some native borers can be a problem in both ash and walnut trees, such as the redheaded ash borer which is a common borer in many of our trees in Nebraska. When the Emerald Ash Borer gets to southeast Nebraska, it will not be able to. EAB is a pest in Ash trees only.

He also wanted to know how to move woodchucks and not kill them?

A. Live trapping will work for woodchucks. Use cucumbers or corn to bait them and wire the trap open for a few days before actually activating the trap because woodchucks are very cautious and will not be trapped the first time or 2 into the trap. The woodchuck can then be relocated to within 100 yards of the trapped location. State regulations prohibit relocation farther than 100 yards. It would also work to change their nesting location. This woodchuck is found under a building, so if you can chase it out during the day then pack the hole tightly with road gravel will prevent them from coming back. For more information, visit the UNL Wildlife website on Woodchucks.

2. A caller has heard that bull snakes will keep rattle snakes away. Is this true?

A. These 2 types of snakes do get along but bull snakes are more aggressive hunters and can out-compete rattle snakes. Because of this, rattle snakes usually relocate to find food.

3. This caller has tomatoes with bumps along the stem of the plant. What is wrong with the plant?

A. There is nothing wrong with tomatoes that develop bumps along the stem. These are aerial roots which are common.

4. A caller has a white powdery substance on her peony plants. What causes this and how can it be controlled?

A. This is most likely powdery mildew on the peony plants. It is a common disease we see this time of the year. There is no need to treat the plants for it right now. The best control for powdery mildew is to cut off the plant in the fall when it dies back and destroy the infested plant material so the disease cannot overwinter. It will not kill the plants.

5. This caller has tomato plants with leaves that are turning yellow and the plant is not producing tomatoes, any flowers produced fall off. What is wrong with his tomato plant?

A. This is likely due to environmental stress or possibly Septoria leaf spot. Make sure that the plants are watered 1 inch of water per week, they have mulch, and they are being watered from below. If desired, a fungicide can be applied. For more information view this NebGuide on Leaf and Fruit Diseases of Tomatoes. The poor pollination is common this year due to the heat. Give the plants some time and they should start to produce.

6. A caller has a sycamore tree that is shedding bark. What is wrong with the tree?

A. It is normal for sycamore trees to lose some bark. It is a tree that has a camouflage bark appearance due to the fact that it sheds some bark. Nothing to worry about or to do to fix it.

7. This caller is growing petunias in a hanging basket and the leaves are turning yellow. What is wrong with them?

A. This could be due to environmental stress. Make sure they are kept watered and placed in a location where they get full sun. It might also be from spidermites, look closely at the plant to see if there is any very fine webbing. If so, use a strong spray of water to knock the spidermites off and kill them.

8. A caller has bindweed in his garden and in his lawn. What can be done to control it?

A. In the garden, 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. In the fall, you can spray the lawn with a 2,4-D product.

9. How do you control purslane in the garden?

A. Purslane easily reproduces from cuttings so avoid hoeing or weed trimming through it while leaving pieces of the plant laying around on the ground throughout the garden. Purslane doesn’t like to be smothered, so a heavy mulch layer on the weed will help.

Gorgone Checkerspot Caterpillar
Gorgone Checkerspot Caterpillar

10. This caller has tiny, dark colored worms on her black-eyed Susan plant. She has used some Eight but she still has some. The leaves are also turning gray, how can she control the caterpillar?

A. This could be a checkerspot caterpillar. It is commonly found on sunflower, which is a closely related species of plant to this black-eyed Susan. This becomes a good pollinator butterfly. If she can relocate the caterpillars it would be best, or the Eight will just take some time to fully work on the caterpillars. The gray on the leaves is likely due to downy mildew or powdery mildew, not the caterpillars. Caterpillars will only chew holes out of the leaves, not leave any gray coloration to the leaves. Downy or powdery mildew are not very harmful to the plant and don’t need to be sprayed. In the fall, cut down the plant and discard the infected plant material so the disease is minimized for next year.

11. A caller has an ash tree that is about 15 years old and the outside leaves are now turning brown. What is wrong with it?

A. This could be due to leaf scorch due to the hot, dry conditions we have been facing lately. The tree should be fine, it will likely look rough the rest of the year. Make sure the tree has a mulch ring and that it is being watered for about an hour weekly with a sprinkler or slow trickle from the hose.

This caller also wondered about cougars in the area. He said he has seen a cougar with 4 cubs in the area. Will the cubs all stay here or will they move through to somewhere else?

A. Males can travel many miles and across the country. Females will stay around if there is food available and if a male doesn’t chase the female cubs away. The male cubs will likely move on when they get old enough to travel alone.

12. A caller has a tree that is pushing its roots up to be exposed out of the soil. What can be done about this?

A. Mulch will be the best option for these roots. The mulch will keep you from mowing over the roots which can damage the roots. Do NOT add soil on top of these exposed roots as that can limit oxygen for those roots and eventually kill the tree. You can make the area into a perennial garden under the tree, but do not raise the soil grade to do so and do not damage the roots to do so.

13. The final caller of the day wants to know why black crappie would be larger than white crappie?

A. This could be due to genes. The color gene may be linked to the size genes. So as the color is changed genetically, so is the size. It could also be that the predators in the area this caller was fishing in preferred eating the white crappie rather than the black crappie, causing only the smaller white crappie to be left with the larger black crappie. There are many factors that could lead to this difference in size between the 2 different colored crappie.

Yard and Garden: July 1, 2016

Yard & Garden for blog

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 1, 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: Bob Henrickson, Assistant Director of the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum

1. The first caller of the day wants to use weed fabric and white rocks around the foundation of his house. Is this a good idea?

A. This can be done, but as horticulturists, Bob and I are always for more greenspace and less rocks. The weed fabric will work for a short time but often weeds will germinate through or on top of the fabric and it is hard to remove or change after the fabric is in. A good option would be to plant shrubs and perennials in there to help hide the foundation to the siding. Wood chip mulches will help with weed control around the plants.

2. A caller has a problem with ground squirrels in their lawn.

A. a trap can be built to control ground squirrels. The Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management has a good guide for 13-lined ground squirrels.

3. A caller has bees in their sand play area. What can be done about it?

A. The best control for this would be to cover the sandbox so the bees cannot burrow into the sand to build their nest. If this can’t be done, you can sprinkle a little sevin in the holes where the bees go to nest. This is not the best option if you have kids playing in the sand because the chemical would not be safe for that. Otherwise, spraying the sandbox with water or soapy water will deter and possibly kill the bees.

4. This caller has a bald cypress tree that had lacebugs last spring. This year it hasn’t leafed out on the branches, most of the leaves are on the trunk. What can be done for this tree?

A. Removal and replacement. When a tree only leafs out on the trunk there is some reason that the flow of water and nutrients is not going through the whole tree. This could be due to borers or some type of root issue. Even with trees that are 8 years old, they could have had a root injury or been planted too deeply or had a stem girdling root that is now causing death of the tree. There is no cure for this at this point in the trees life.

5. A caller has a new lawn that they are trying to rejuvenate. What would the process be?

A. They are watering 2 times a week with a sprinkler for a couple of hours at a time, this should be sufficient. Stick with what you have been doing and don’t abruptly reduce it. Fertilize with the holidays: Arbor Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Halloween. So at this point don’t fertilize until the fall. Fertilizing in hot weather can cause more stress or leaf burn. For weed control, use crabgrass pre-emergent in the spring with the Arbor Day fertilization and use 2,4-D in the fall.

6. What to do when planting a tree that is badly rootbound?

A. It is hard to fix a tree when the roots are already rootbound. Once they begin to grow in a circular pattern, they will continue to do that for life, and damage doesn’t always show up until the tree is 10-15 years old. It is best to look at the roots before purchasing to choose a smaller tree with healthy roots. Also, when you get it home, remove the excess topsoil from the top of the rootball to ensure that it gets planted at the correct depth.

7. An email question came in to ask what to do for stump removal where they cut down and removed some shrubs?

A. Keep cutting the suckers off as they regrow and mulch the area if you just want to be rid of the plants. If you want to replant into the area, you will have to remove the stumps by digging them out or using a stump grinder to grind them out. Do not use Tordon in this area as it is against label regulations and it will not speed up the process and it can kill other desirable plants.

8. A caller has a firethorn plant with spidermites that they see on the plant every year and it causes them to loose many leaves each year. What can be done for them?

A. A strong stream of water will often work for spidermites. If the population is too high you will have to use insecticidal soaps. If this is an annual occurrence you may want to remove these shrubs and replace them with something that isn’t so problematic in this area.

9. What do you do for sandburs?

A. Sandburs are an annual grass, so crabgrass pre-emergent herbicides in the spring will help reduce the population by stopping germination. At this point in the year you can use a post-emergent grass herbicide such as Drive. Keep the area mowed to reduce the seed production for next year.

10. A caller has honeysuckle that is now invasive through his yard. What can be done to eliminate the honeysuckle plants? Also, is hickory a good tree for Nebraska? Why don’t we see hickory trees planted more?

A. Continual cutting of the honeysuckle will eventually kill it. You may want to try to dig up the plant to help reduce the problem. You can also treat the stump with roundup and/or 2,4-D. Use 2,4-D products in the spring or fall, it is now too hot to use this product without possible damage to desirable plants. Hickory is a great tree for Nebraska, it is just underutilized. Good hickory tree choices for Nebraska include Shagbark Hickory, Bitternut, and King Nut. Shagbark Hickory was the Great Plants of the Great Plains Tree of the Year Selection in 2011.

 

Japanese Beetle, 7-16 Acreage
Japanese Beetle adult on the left and immature on the right. Photos by Jim Kalisch, UNL Entomology.

11. A walk-in listener brought in a green beetle to be identified.

A. This is a Japanese Beetle. It is identified by the green metallic color, gold elytra, and white spots along the sides of the abdomen. This is an invasive insect from Japan that feeds on over 300 species of trees and shrubs, it favors roses and plants in the rose family. It will cause a skeletonization of the leaves as the adult feeds. As immatures they are a white grub that feeds on the roots of our turf. Management of white grubs in the turf will reduce the population. As adults, they can be controlled with general insecticides such as sevin, eight, bifenthrin, malation, or others. Don’t use insecticides on the flowers or flower buds to help with pollinator populations.

12. The final question of the day was from an email asking what chemicals do you use for bagworms?

A. Bagworms can be controlled with Bt, spinosad, sevin, eight, malathion, or tempo. The treatments need to be completed before the bags are smaller than 1/2 inch in length. You can also remove bags as they are seen and throw them into a bucket of soapy water to kill them without pesticides if you can reach them all.

Yard and Garden: May 29, 2015

Yard and Garden Green Logo

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 29, 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: John Fech, Extension Educator in Douglas & Sarpy Counties

1. A caller had fine webbing on her tomatoes, what is it and how can it be controlled? She also wondered about using blossom set on her tomatoes?

A: The fine webbing on the tomatoes would be spidermites. These can be controlled with a strong spray of water on the plants to knock the mites off and kill them. As for the blossom set, is not recommended as it does not have strong research to back the effectiveness of it.

2. A lady had a river birch and a dogwood shrub that are not leafing out at the top. Why is this?

A: The plants are going through environmental stress. This spring has been warm followed by very cold to warmer again and now just cool, cloudy, rainy weather. That follows 3 years of stressful environmental conditions starting with the drought in 2015. Many of our plants are experiencing a degree of winterkill due to these events, where the top of the plant is not leafing out but the bottom of the plant is. Many of our plants will eventually fully leaf out or just have some dead branches through them. With the dogwood, those dead branches can be pruned back, but wait 2 more weeks to see if any more of the plant comes back. With the river birch, it is not advised to top a tree, so the pruning practices will be more difficult and it would be best to consult an arborist for that.

2015-05-29 07.56.43

3. A caller has an Austrian Pine where the new growth is browning and lighter green, whereas the rest of the tree is dark colored. What is wrong with it?

A: The needles at this point are not fully elongated due to the late spring events. Give the tree time to fully come out of the winter dormancy period to determine the color differences. If at that point there is still a problem, email me or your local extension office for more information.

4. This caller has a Japanese Lilac tree that has brown branches with no leaves on them. What should be done with those branches?

A: Scrape the branches with a fingernail or pocket knife to see if there is any green tissue under the bark in the cambium layer. If underneath is brown it is a dead branch. Either way, wait until around June 15 to see if the branches will come back from winter dormancy. If not, then the dead branches can be removed at that point. Don’t remove any live tissue from the tree at that time of the year.

5. A caller wanted to know if you can get multiple cuttings from a broccoli plant?

A: Broccoli is a tough plant to grow in Nebraska because in typical years it gets too hot too soon in the summer to provide an efficient harvest. It is suggested to grow broccoli as a fall crop. This year, however, is a good year for broccoli in the spring due to the slow warm up we have seen. As long as you only cut out the broccoli florets, you can leave the leaves and provide additional side buds that can be harvested for broccoli meals.

6. This caller has a large silver maple in their yard and now they are finding multiple small seedlings of maples all around their landscape. How can those seedlings be controlled?

A: Mowing them off is the best practice or pruning them out while they are small and easier to control. Do not spray them with any chemicals for control because they could be suckers coming up off of the roots of the main plant and any chemical applied to root suckers can kill the entire tree. These seedlings could also be from the seeds that fall from the trees in samaras that resemble helicopters, but determining the difference is very difficult and it is just easier to only cut the seedlings rather than treat them with a chemical and risk harming the main tree that is enjoyed in your yard.

7. This caller has cherry trees that have suckers coming out from the base of the plant. What can be done to control those?

A: These suckers will have to pruned off repeatedly with pruners not the lawnmower. They are attached to the main plant and any chemical attempts would harm and possibly kill the main cherry tree. Typically, trees will begin to sucker when they are stressed. Ensure that the tree is well taken care of and healthy by providing it with a mulch ring 2-3 inches deep and as wide as they can make it. Water the tree at a slow trickle for 30-60 minutes one time a week during the hot part of the summer and only once every two weeks during the spring and fall.

8. This woman was wondering if now was the time to prune her snowball bush that is just finishing up the blooming period? She also wanted to know if this was the time to apply weed and feed to her lawn?

A: Now would be a great time to prune that spring blooming shrub. The rule of thumb is to prune spring blooming shrubs after they finish blooming for the year and prune summer blooming shrubs late in the winter before growth begins for the year. Now is the time to fertilize your lawn, but avoid using weed and feed products. The problem with a weed and feed product is that the weed control part of that needs to stay on the leaves and the feed portion needs to stay off of the leaves. It is a better practice to fertilize the entire lawn with only a fertilizer and spot spray with 2,4-D products only on the weeds in the lawn.

9. This caller’s daughter lives in Lincoln where flooding was a problem and she has a drainage ditch that has caused water to sit and is now concerned with mosquitoes. What can be done?

A: If the water is stagnant and there is no way to remove the water, it is best to use larvicides that are found in mosquito dunks that can be purchased at many box stores and garden centers. These mosquito dunks are not harmful to other wildlife or people.

10. This lady has a tree that has deer rubs on it. She placed a tree wrap tube on the tree and was curious about removal of the tree wrap.

A: The tree wraps and tubes are a great way to keep deer from damaging young, thin barked trees. They should only be left on for the winter months and then removed during the spring and summer. If left on they can girdle the tree if it gets too tight on the trunk and it can be a location for insects and diseases to get into the tree.

tree wrapping

11. This caller has Ponderosa Pines that have brown needles that cover 80-90% of the tree. It is only a problem on 2 of the many Ponderosa Pines that are all planted together. They have been planted for about 5 years and have shown this browning over the entire tree for 2-3 years. What can be done for this problem?

A: This could be a root issue dealing with stem girdling roots or a watering issue. It is hard to determine, but might possibly be due to low watering. Water the plants slowly for 30-60 minutes weekly in the summer and once every two weeks during the spring and fall. These trees may not make it through, if it is a root issue digging them up after they have completely died would help solve the problem.

12. The final caller this week wanted to know how late in the season they should harvest their asparagus plants?

A: They do need a period through the summer to rest from being harvested so they can build sugars to help them get growing next spring. It is best to quit harvesting when the stalks develop ferns, when they get small and spindly, and/or when they get woody. This will give the plant plenty of time to recover from this years harvest and prepare for next years harvest.