Yard and Garden: May 19, 2017

Yard & Garden for blog, 2017

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 19, 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: Jim Kalisch, Insect Diagnostician for Nebraska Extension

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 question of the day was from a gentleman wondering how to tell when to water his self-watering containers? There is no viewer or gauge to show the water level on the outside of the container.

A. Because a self-watering container is continually watering the plants in it, it can always be refilled. In this case, this container will keep your plants watered for at least a week to two so, they should be refilled before they completely dry up. I would suggest refilling the reservoir every week to 10 days.

Bagworm4

Bagworm

2. A caller has bagworms in their cedars. What is the best way to see them before they get too big to treat?

A. They haven’t hatched yet this year. Mark the branch you have a living bag on with flag tape to check the same bag every week from now until they hatch. You can also place a few bags in a container and keep it in the tree to see when they hatch in the container. Wait a couple of weeks after the initial emergence to ensure that all of the bagworms have hatched before spraying. The bags in the shade will take longer before they hatch. Once they have hatched, Bt is a good insecticide to use when they are young or you can use a product containing bifenthrin in it for longer lasting control.

3. This caller is wondering what types of problems we can expect in the garden, lawn, and trees this year due to the excess rain?

A. The rains in the spring tend to lead to more fungal diseases this time of the year, but they are not terribly harmful and many should fade out as the summer heats and dries up. Many things to watch out for would include fungal diseases in the lawns and trees. We are already seeing Peach Leaf Curl, different fungi in blue spruces, anthracnose on the leaves, and mushrooms popping up in our lawns. We will also see more problems from earthworms and fungus gnats which are mostly nuisance problems.

2015-09-22 18.45.39

Squash bugs on a zucchini

4. How do you effectively control squash bugs in the vegetable garden?

A. Squash bugs are difficult to control in our cucurbit vegetables including zucchini, squash, pumpkins, gourds, melons, and cucumbers. The best option is to kill the adults when they first emerge to manage the population before it explodes. Watch for the eggs as they develop on the underside of the leaves to destroy them before they emerge. Switch to other chemicals for management besides just using “Sevin” for control, which they are becoming resistant to. There are also lures that can be used for them which might help early in the season.

5. A caller has an Oregon Trail Maple that leafed out early this spring. Now the leaves are slightly cupped and turning yellow along the edges. What would be causing this?

A. This sounds like frost damage. If the leaves came out early, they may have been nipped by a light frost in late April. We are seeing this problem throughout many trees and shrubs this spring. The leaves may drop entirely from the tree, but the tree will then push secondary buds to produce new leaves that are not injured.

6. This caller wants to know how to propagate a lilac and a hydrangea.

A. For lilacs: A cutting can be taken from the shrub. Cut off a small, pencil-sized, branch and place it into rooting hormone than plant it into a pot of gravel that is kept moist. Once roots have formed, the plant can be transplanted into the ground. They can also be propagated through a process called layering which is where you bend a flexible branch down to the ground and plant it to allow roots to form on the branch while it is still attached to the main plant. Once roots form, cut it from the parent plant and transplant it. There is more information on this in the NebGuide: Lilacs

Hydrangeas can also be layered to produce new plants or they can be divided. It is too late to do the division this year, but early next spring you can dig up the plant and use a spade to divide the main plant and replant the pieces. Depending on the side you can get 2-4 pieces from a divided plant.

7. Is cedar-apple rust damaging to cedar trees?

A. Cedar-apple rust shows up in the spring on cedar trees as a orange, slimy, ball with horns. This is the gall that opens up with rains in the spring. Cedar-apple rust is not harmful to the cedar tree, it just uses the cedar trees as an alternate host through the winter. When these galls are seen on the cedar, that is the time to spray any susceptible apple, crabapple, pear, or hawthorne tree to avoid damage to them. For more information view this NebGuide

8. This caller has a pink peony that hasn’t bloomed well this year. There is some discoloration and fuzzy appearance to the leaves and buds. What would cause that?

A. This sounds like botrytis blight, a common fungal disease to our peonies. It is not very harmful to the plant itself, so it is not necessary to control it. In the fall, make sure you remove and destroy all of the plant material to reduce the spread to your plants next spring.

9. A caller has a Chanticleer Pear with leaves that have black spots on them and the top isn’t leafing out this spring. What would cause that?

A. This could be due to frost damage as well. Or check the tree for oozing sap along the trunk or branches. The damage could be from borers. It might also be from fireblight which would cause the leaves to turn black on some branches where the end of the branch hooks over like a shepherds crook. Fireblight is likely since this showed up in the tree last summer. If it is fireblight, prune out the infected branches and dip your pruners into a bleach water solution in between the cuts.

10. This caller has roses that had dieback from the winter. She pruned them off in early April and now it looks like the only live growth is coming from the ground. What is wrong with her roses and will they come out of it?

A. Unfortunately, these roses seem to have more dieback from the late frost we saw in April. If there is no green growth showing up on the main part of the plant, it is likely that it has died back. The roots would be shooting the new growth from the ground, but that is not going to be the same type of rose that you had there before because our roses are often grafted. The growth from the ground would be from the rootstock so it wouldn’t be the size and color of rose that was originally purchased. Unfortunately there is nothing that can be done about that. It might be time to go and choose some new rose colors for your garden.

11. A caller has a river birch tree that dropped its leaves in the summer last year. The leaves now are yellow and only the top half of the tree has leafed out this spring. They are 20 year old river birch trees. What would be causing this problem?

A. Look on the branches of the tree for signs of bronze birch borer. Some of the signs of this borer would be rippling on the branches or holes in the stem or branches. If you find the signs of bronze birch borer, you can treat it now with a borer spray or with a systemic insecticide.

12. A caller has a river birch tree that was growing in a clump and one of the trunks of the group died out. Should it be removed now?

A. Yes, any dead part of a tree should be removed as soon as it is noticed. A large part of a river birch, like this, could be hazardous if left standing after it dies. Unfortunately, when that branch is pruned off decay will likely begin but there is no way to prevent that at this point. This will likely be a large portion of the tree removed and that large of a pruning cut may not ever heal over entirely. When a branch doesn’t seal up, decay can get into the tree causing more damage. We don’t advise painting the stump with anything.

13. A question came in via email regarding a red twig dogwood. This dogwood is 4-5 years old and has never been pruned. Following the storms this week, some branches are falling over blocking a mowing path. Can those be pruned now? What should be done with it in the future?

A. Broken branches can be removed at any time. If these are just bending over, they could still be removed if necessary, but they may pop back up to their normal standing position. For future, red twig dogwoods should be pruned to the ground every 3-5 years to maintain that good red color on the twigs. They should be pruned in the late winter to early spring.

14. A lady called who has a Cranberry Bush Viburnum that has dead branches in it. Can those dead branches be pruned out now?

A. Yes, dead branches should always be removed when they are noticed. Check to ensure that these branches didn’t die due to Viburnum borers, if so, treat with a borer spray or systemic insecticide.

15. The last caller of the day has 2 different plants that have problems. A maple tree has brown specks on the leaves and they are falling off the tree. A Peony bush has leaves that are turning yellow along the edges of the leaf. What would be causing these two problems?

A. These both sound like frost damage. They will both be fine. The maple may drop all the damaged leaves and put on new growth.

Yard and Garden: April 7, 2017

Yard & Garden for blog, 2017

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for April 7, 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 Hosts: Jonathan Larson, Extension Entomologist from Douglas-Sarpy Counties & Jody Green, Extension Entomologist from Lancaster County

1. The first question was to see if we could guess the caller’s favorite insect that was described as a moth with large, light green wings and feathery antennae?

A. This is a luna moth

2. A caller has moles in the yard and wants to know how to manage them?

A. A harpoon type of trap can be used, but should be prepped ahead of installation. This trap tends to work best if you stomp on a run to determine if it is an active run.  If it gets pushed back up, it is an active run. Stomp on this area a couple of more times and then set the trap to ensure the mole moves through the area. For more information on moles, click here for a publication from UNL on moles.

3. This caller wants to know how to get rid of creeping charlie in a lawn?

A. Triclopyr or a 2,4-D product can be used in the fall. For best control, use the product twice in the fall 2-3 weeks apart. September 30th and October 15th would be good dates for application. This is a tough weed to control, so it will take multiple years of multiple applications. A spring application of either of these products can be used as well to knock the weeds back for this year.

4. When can you transplant daylilies? Can they be planted into an area on the east side of the house with rock mulch?

A. Wait a couple of weeks until mid-late April to transplant them when the temperatures have warmed up more. Also, as long as the area is receiving at least 6 hours of sunlight daylilies will grow fine. This is a tough plant that will grow well in most conditions.

5. A caller has strawberries that had botrytis last year. When should they be sprayed to prevent the disease this year?

A. Apply from 5-10% bloom until flowers have finished blooming. For more information see the Midwest Small Fruit and Grape Spray Guide from Midwest Universities including UNL.

6. This caller has a pear tree that last year had orange spots on the leaves later in the season. What is this and how can it be controlled?

A. This is due to a rust disease, Cedar-Hawthorn Rust. It is more common in years following a wet spring. The timing for management is in the spring, May and June. See this NebGuide on Cedar-apple rust and related rusts of apples and ornamentals.

7. A caller has started corn, watermelons, and cantaloupe indoors from seed. The seedlings are getting quite large. Can they be transplanted outdoors now?

A. Unfortunately it is still too cold to plant these crops outdoors. These are warm season crops that should not be planted until early May after the frost-free date. These crops could be direct seeded at that time or transplanted but they tend to not do well as a transplant.

8. A caller has 2-year-old rhubarb plants that have come up and have thin, limp stalks. What is wrong with the rhubarb?

A. This could be due to crown rot. Rhubarb is very sensitive to high moisture soils and will often develop a crown rot in these situations. Those plants that have limp stalks should be removed and you can replant in a new location where it has more well-drained soil.

Bagworm4

Bagworm

9. When and what should you spray for bagworms?

A. May-June is the time frame for treating bagworms. It is best to spray them when the new bags are 1/2-1 inches long. Longer than that and they won’t catch as much of the pesticide to die as well. For spray choices, any general insecticide will work, but using Bt would be the least damaging to other insects because Bt only affects insects in the Order of Lepidoptera which includes butterflies, moths, and skippers.

10. A caller has Asparagus that has a green moss-like structure growing on top of the ground around it. What is it and what can they do for it?

A. A picture would be helpful in identifying this pest. If it is actually a moss, they may look into the water in the area because it is likely that it is too wet. If it is a weed, pull or hoe the weed and then add a layer of mulch to prevent further weeds from coming in.

11. This caller wanted to know what to do to grow bigger onions and if they should put Epsom salt on their tomatoes to help them grow more?

A. These onions are growing 3 inches apart, they should be spaced out more for larger sized onions. Place plants or sets 1-6″ apart in the rows, and 12-24″ between rows. For bulb production, plant onions in early spring. The number of leaves that form prior to bulbing determine the ultimate onion size. Since bulbing in each cultivar is triggered by a specific daylength, early planting is the most effective method of increasing bulb size, by allowing more time for leaves to form. If the onions do not grow well before bulb induction, the final bulb size may be smaller than desired. Avoid sets more than ¾ inch in diameter because they are likely to produce seed stalks.

As for the Epsom salt on tomatoes, no you should not apply this to your soil when you plant tomatoes. Our soils have a sufficient amount of magnesium and sulfate, which are the 2 ingredients in Epsom salt, so there is no need to apply more. If you need fertilizer, use a general fertilizer from the nursery or garden center.

12. A caller has a Japanese maple that was injured last May when the leaves curled up and fell off. The leaves never regrew through the summer last year. Will it come out of it?

 A: If it happened that early in the year last year and didn’t put on new leaves, it may be dead. Give it time this spring to green up. You can check if the tree is still alive by scraping the bark on a branch, if there is green underneath it is still alive, if there is brown it is dead.

13. What can you do to manage windmill grass?

A: Windmill grass is a perennial weed. You can use roundup and overseed or use a product containing mesotrione or Tenacity that will not harm your turf. Use the Tenacity in the late spring.

14. This caller wanted to know what to use for a pre-emergent herbicide in a strawberry patch?

A: Preen that is labeled for use in a vegetable garden would be allowed in a strawberry patch. The best control for weeds in strawberries would be to use mulch.

15. Can you use plants to repel insects?

A: Some plants may deter a few insects for a short time, but no, the plants are not concentrated enough to work against the insect pests.

16. A caller has an arborvitae that turned brown on the North side last fall. Will it be ok?

A: This could be due to bagworms or due to environmental stress. Arborvitae trees don’t like the sudden cool down in the fall and it can cause part or all of the plant to die quickly. Unfortunately, if the tree has turned brown all the way back into the trunk, the tree will not regrow on that section. Removal and replacement may be a better option for this plant.

17. This caller wanted to know when they can reseed their lawn and with what?

A: Mid to late April is the best time to reseed a lawn in Southeast Nebraska. Reseed with 100% Turf-type tall fescue or 100% Kentucky bluegrass or a 50% mix of each.

Squash bug-NH-pic monkey

18. A caller asked what to do about squash bugs in their vegetable garden?

A: Fall sanitation and cleaning up the garden will help a lot to reduce the eggs in the soil around your garden. When they do start coming out in the summer, you can use sevin, eight, or bifenthrin to control them. You will have to spray every 10-14 days through the growing season. Watch the Pre-Harvest Interval to know when you can harvest after spraying a chemical on your plants. You can also smash or remove the eggs you see which are tiny, football-shaped bronze colored eggs on the underside of the leaves typically found in the crotch of the leaf veins.

Problems in the Garden

Now that summer is in full swing, our gardens should be growing well now. It is at this time of the year when we always tend to see many different diseases and environmental conditions on our vegetable garden plants.

blossom end rot zucchini

A zucchini developing with blossom end rot

One of the most common problems we see early in the growing season is blossom end rot. This is an environmental condition where the end of the fruit that is not attached to the plant begins to rot away. It starts as a flat, dry, sunken brown rot on the blossom end of the fruits. Gray mold can occur in this rotten spot of the fruit, as it progresses. Blossom end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency while producing fruit. In Nebraska, there is rarely a lack of calcium in the soil, but calcium needs to be dissolved in water to be absorbed into the plant, so, it often occurs in conditions of dry soil. Blossom end rot can occur in tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, or watermelons.

Drought stress, low daytime humidity, high temperatures, and rapid vine growth favor blossom end rot. Applying calcium to the soil or to the plant is not beneficial. It is best to just maintain consistently moist but not saturated soil. It will also help to use organic mulch near the base of plants to keep the soils moist. Often the first ripe fruits are affected and later produce is fine. Remove infected fruits at the beginning of the season and later ripening fruits should not be affected.

Scorch is another problem we often see in the summer months, especially when the temperatures range as high as it has been recently and rain is scarce. Currently scorch has been found on bean plants. When scorch appears on our plants the edges of the leaves will turn brown and papery. Wilting and leaf scorch can be reduced with regular watering during prolonged dry periods. Mulching around the base of plants will hold moisture in the soil.

Squash bugs and squash vine borer are seen in our gardens every year. With squash bugs, we will see yellow speckling on the leaves and feeding damage can appear on the fruits. You may also see rusty colored eggs on the underside of the leaves that can be removed and destroyed. With Squash Vine Borer, rapid death and wilting of the plants will occur, once they are found in our plants, there is no cure.. These pests feed on plants in the cucurbit family, which includes zucchini, squash, cantaloupe, watermelon, cucumbers, pumpkins, gourds, etc. Squash vine borer can be controlled by wrapping the stem of your plants with aluminum foil or a toilet paper or paper towel tube to stop the females from laying their eggs on your plants. Other controls include Carbaryl (Sevin), Permethrin (Eight), or bifenthrin (Bifen), or Bt for the squash vine borer. This will need to be reapplied every 10-14 days throughout the growing season. It is best to switch between at least two of these products to avoid resistance from developing. Always follow the label recommended rates and follow the pre-harvest interval listed on the label when harvesting fruits and vegetables after using chemicals. Spray the undersides of the leaves and the base of the plant thoroughly. All sprays should be done later in the evening to avoid damage to bees and other pollinators.

The information for this article came from Nebraska Extension’s Hort Update. This is a monthly news column covering seasonal information for Nebraska’s green industry professionals. It is produced monthly throughout the year by Nebraska Extension Educators from across the state. You can subscribe to this newsletter by going to hortupdate.unl.edu and selecting “subscribe” from the top tabs. You can also get there from the Gage County Horticulture Page from gage.unl.edu

Yard and Garden: June 10, 2016

Yard & Garden for blogThis is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 10, 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: Paul Hay, Gage County Extension

1. The first caller of the day has a small Dwarf Alberta Spruce that is turning brown. What would cause this?

A. This would be from spider mites. This particular tree species is very susceptible to spider mites. They can be controlled with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils, or a general insecticide such as a permethrin product.

2. This caller wanted to know if it was still ok to apply the second fertilizer application for the lawn?

A. Yes, you can do one around Memorial Day. I would suggest waiting until after this heat wave passes through and make sure the lawn is well-watered when you do fertilize, so you don’t fertilize to a drought-stressed plant which can cause leaf burn.

3. What would cause Clematis leaves to turn yellow, the plants still bloomed fine this year?

A. Clematis has a problem with Iron chlorosis. This could be iron chlorosis which can be treated with an iron fertilizer.

2015-09-22 18.45.39

Squash bugs on zucchini

4. A caller wanted to know what the best control for squash bugs in the garden would be?

A. Squash bugs will become active soon. Look on the underside of the leaves of your cucurbit plants such as cucumber, zucchini, squash, pumpkins, and melons. Squash bugs lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves. If you find the eggs, squash the eggs or remove the leaves. You can also spray for them. Spray on a rotation of every 10-14 days throughout the growing season. Switch between at least 2 of the following: sevin, eight, or bifenthrin.

5. This caller has rocks near the lawn and near some trees. There are weeds growing up through the rocks. Can glyphosate, or Roundup, be used around these trees?

A. If the trees are not close enough to be spraying directly on the trunk or leaves, then it will be fine. Glyphosate is not mobile through the soil like some chemicals.

6. This caller wanted to know what to do about the gnats outside? He cannot go outside right now without being attacked by gnats.

A. There is no longterm cure for gnats, much like mosquitoes. Using bug sprays, especially those containing DEET, will help the most. If you have an outdoor event coming up, you can treat the lawn and surrounding plants with sevin or other general insecticide, but these will not last for more than 2-3 days.

7. Is it too late to plant sweet potatoes? What can you do about grasshoppers in the landscape?

A. No, it is not too late to plant sweet potatoes. This is a warm season crop that really doesn’t like the early spring planting. They will do fine if planted in late May to early June. For grasshoppers in the landscape, they can be sprayed with any general insecticide. If in or nearby the vegetable garden use sevin, eight, or bifenthrin for safety of the produce. Be sure to spray the insecticides in the ditch, roadside, and fence rows where grasshoppers are found in high numbers.

8.  This caller has hemlock in the pasture. Is it poisonous? How can he control it so his cattle don’t eat it?

A. Yes, poison hemlock is poisonous if eaten, not if it is touched. Cattle can be poisoned by it, but they typically don’t eat the poison hemlock if there is an alternate food source. Use 2,4-D or Grazon in the pasture to control poison hemlock or dig it out.

*Don’t use 2,4-D this late in the season around landscape plants and never use Grazon or other products that contain Tordon in a landscape setting.

9. A caller has common mullein in his pasture. How can it be controlled?

A. Common mullein is best controlled with 2,4-D or Grazon. Make sure you spray down into the heart of the plant to get the chemical past the hairy leaves. It is best to spray the smaller plants, it would be too late to spray the larger plants that already have a flower stalk on them. Removal of the flower stalks will help reduce seed production from the full grown plants.

10. This caller has a 16 foot river birch that was planted last fall. Now the leaves have turned yellow and are beginning to fall off of the tree. Can it get too much water? What would cause this problem? She hasn’t been watering the tree much yet since it was planted in the fall.

A. Yes, plants can be overwatered to cause death. Newly planted trees need to be watered because they have no root system developed. A tree that was transplanted at this large of a size is going to have a great deal of transplant shock to overcome. Water was sitting in the hole when the tree was planted, so there may be an issue with water draining from the location. Use a probe or long screwdriver to see if the tree needs water. Push the probe into the soil 12-18 inches, if it goes in easy it doesn’t need water, if it is hard to push the probe in very far, the tree needs to be watered.

11. The final caller of the day wanted to install an electronic timer for watering his garden. What would be the best time to set his timer to water his garden?

A. 4 am-10 am is the best time to water any plants. This helps to water the plants while they are already wet from the dew period. It also helps to water early in the day so that the plants will dry out before night. Plants that are wet and cooler overnight introduce a great environment for diseases to occur. To reduce diseases, it is best to water early in the morning.

Yard and Garden: April 3, 2015

Yard and Garden Green Logo

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for April 3, 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: Mark Harrell from the Nebraska Forest Service

1. Caller had grown tomatoes in the past that were growing in his basement and they were not growing well, what can he do to improve the growing conditions?

A: Increase the light intensity on the plants. Use one warm and one cool bulb in a utility light and keep that light 6 inches from the plants as they grow and keep the light on them for 14-16 hours per day. Also try to increase fertilizer use by applying it to the plants according to label directions. With new seedlings, use only at a half strength for the first few days after a plant has germinated.

2. Caller had Honeyberry Bushes that were growing for 3 years and they didn’t seem to have grown very much over these years, what might be causing this lack in growth? They are planted where the soil was brought in to build a building on.

A: It seems like the soil may be constricting root growth and then in turn would be restricting above-ground growth. It might be best to try to replant these in a location with less compacted soil.

3. A caller has a Euonymus shrub that is growing along the east side of her home had a growth along the stems that is furry or hairy, what might this growth be?

photo

Euonymus sarcoxie plant with aerial roots photo from caller.

A: It seems that this is a species of Euonymus, called Euonymus sarcoxie, which is a variety that vines. This furry appearance is actually aerial roots that is normal for this and many vining species of plants.

4. A walk-in client wanted to know what they can do for preparing their garden to reduce the number of squash bugs that attack their zucchini plants in the summer?

A: Cleaning up the garden space in the fall will reduce the overwintering site for these insects to help reduce the number the following year. For this spring, it will be best to look for the rusty colored eggs on the underside of the leaves of your zucchini, cucumber, and pumpkin plants and remove those leaves and throw them into a bucket of soapy water. Also, use chemicals through the growing season. Carbaryl, Permethrin, and Bifenthrin can be used throughout the growing season, alternating between all of these chemcials. Read and follow all label instructions and be sure to watch the post-harvest interval (PHI) to know when you can harvest after applying these chemicals.

5. A caller wanted to know when the best time to spray for borers on oak trees would be?

A: The best time to treat for oak borers would be the end of May to the beginning of June and it should be repeated 2 weeks after the first application.

6. A caller wanted to know what would be the best control for weeds in an asparagus plot?

A: Mulch is a very good control for weeds in asparagus gardens. There is also a preen that can be used on vegetable gardens. Glyphosate products, such as roundup, can be used very early in the spring before asparagus starts to grow and late in the fall after the asparagus plants have been snapped off to a level below the soil line. Sarah Browning has a great article on many weed management tactics for asparagus at: http://lancaster.unl.edu/hort/articles/2011/AsparagusWeeds.shtml

7. A caller wanted to know when the best time for fruit tree pruning would be and when to start spraying the orchard fruit tree sprays?

A: Fruit tree pruning is best done in February and March of the year. You should start spraying the fruit tree sprays as the buds begin to swell and on a 10-14 day schedule for the remainder of the growing season. Do not spray the trees during the period when they are blooming and being pollinated or you may kill or harm the bees and other pollinators needed for the fruits to show up.

8. A caller was starting seedlings indoors and the leaves were beginning to turn yellow. Why are they turning yellow and what can be done to improve this situation?

A: Be sure to fertilize these seedlings regularly with a water soluble fertilizer, according to the instructions on the label. Make sure to keep the lights 6 inches from the plants as they grow and keep the light on them for 14-16 hours per day.

9. A caller had a tree that was cut down last year and has many ants throughout the tree stump, even still after the tree has been cut down. Why is this and what can she do to reduce the ants?

A: These are probably carpenter ants that tunnel through decaying or rotting wood. They were not causing any harm to the tree and they are not a concern for nearby plants. If control is desired, sprinkle Carbaryl dust on the stump of the tree.

10. This caller had 2 questions. She had an arborvitae that rapidly went from green to brown and dead. What would cause this? She also had some junipers that turned completely brown from the bottom up but the inside was still green. What would cause this?

A: The arborvitae most likely is having problems due to dry conditions and possibly winterkill. Make sure this tree has a good mulch ring, only 2-3 inches deep, and keep the soil around it moist, but not wet. The junipers also appear to have environmental problems that have caused this issue. There was a rapid drop in temperatures last fall and a warm and dry winter which could cause problems to this plant and many evergreens.

11. A caller had zoysia grass in her yard that has been declining over the years and is not as dominant in her yard now as it used to. How can she fix this problem?

A: She can try to plug her yard with more zoysia grass to get it established again in those other areas where the cool season grasses and other weeds have come in. She would need to do weed control in those areas before trying the plugging and during the establishment period of the zoysia grass to reduce competition. The plugs should be placed 6-12 inches apart and it should be done in the late spring to early summer to allow for best establishment.

12. This caller is looking to move a rose bush to save it from an area planned to be transitioned into a vegetable garden. What is the best way to do this?

A: This can still be done yet this spring. He can prune it prior to moving it so it is more of a manageable size. Take as much of the rootball as is possible. Keep the shrub well watered at its new location and don’t plant it any deeper than what it is growing at now.

13. A caller wanted to know when the best time to plant potatoes would be?

A: Anytime now would be a good time to plant potatoes. Plant potatoes when the soil temperatures are around 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

14. A caller wanted to know when the best time to prune a smokebush would be?

A: Late winter is the best time to prune a smokebush.