Yard and Garden: June 28, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

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.

2015-07-30 16.59.34
Bindweed

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.

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Rust on a Pear tree

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.

 

 

Yard and Garden: May 18, 2018

Y&G Blog Photo, 2018

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 18, 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: Graham Herbst, Community Forester from the Nebraska Forest Service

1.The first caller of the show has moss growing on the soil of an area where he is trying to plant blueberries and asparagus. Is the moss an indicator of acidic soils? He has used a pH meter and it all reads at 7.0 pH. How can he get the right soil conditions for these plants?

A. Moss does like living in acidic soils, but it will grow in most any location that is moist and typically shady. To know for sure how the soil pH is, it would be most accurate to get a soil test completed. Do a separate test for each section of this garden to know what is best for the blueberry area and what is best for the asparagus patch. Understand that blueberries do not grow well in Nebraska due to our weather and our basic soils. The soil would need to be amended around the blueberries every year to ensure the acidic soil they prefer.

2. A caller sprayed the lawn with a weed killer with crabgrass control 10 days ago. Can he go back in now to apply a fertilizer with a weed killer in it?

A. Without knowing the ingredients in the crabgrass control and weed killer it is hard to tell, but it if there is a weed killer in both the crabgrass control and the fertilizer it would not be advised to use both. It would be best to go in with just a fertilizer now and avoid the weed control for now. It is recommended to wait at least 2 weeks between applications of herbicides.

3. This caller divided and transplanted hostas last year, they are not growing as large as they had been before they were divided. Should anything be done to help them grow larger?

A. Give them time to get over the transplant shock and to build their roots back up. You can fertilize them as well to help them grow healthier. A general fertilizer for perennials would be helpful, a 10-10-10 fertilizer would benefit.

He also wanted to know if it is too late to transplant lilies this year?

A. It would still be fine to transplant lilies this year. Just make sure on very hot days you keep the plants watered.

4. A caller has a native grass patch that now has volunteer plants of Siberian elms and cottonwoods. How can these tree saplings be controlled without harming the grass?

A. If they are small and the population isn’t too high, mechanical removal can be beneficial. They shouldn’t regrow from a sapling. He could also use 2,4-D or a product containing triclopyr as a stump treatment for the saplings to ensure no regrowth occurs.

5. This caller has boxwoods that turned brown over the winter months. What can be done about this?

A. This is likely due to winterkill. Evergreen plants still transpire through the winter, if that transpiration exceeds the amount of moisture the plant takes in through the winter, desiccation can occur. Prune out the brown areas. As long as there are still green leaves on some of the branches, it should grow back.

6. A gentleman has a wildflower prairie area that is getting grasses and weeds coming in. What should be done at the end of the season with this wildflower garden to help reduce the weeds?

A. Mowing the weeds at the end of the season will help reduce the seedheads of weeds. You can also continue to add new plants to compete with the weeds, taller weeds will be most effective. For more information, visit this NebGuide on Wildflowers for the Home Landscape.

Wildflower Collage
Wildflower Photos from the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum at: arboretum.unl.edu/wildflower-week

7. A caller received a black chokeberry with a collection of plants. What is that plant? How should it be grown?

A. This is a nice, multi-stemmed large shrub that can grow up to 3-6 feet tall. It is a great plant for full sun and it produces berries, also called aronia berries, that can be made into jams or jellies but it is typically not eaten raw. Here is an article from the UNL Community Environment website with more information on Chokeberries

8. Is it ok to transplant a lilac shrub now?

A. It would be better to wait to do in the fall rather than right now. The lilac could be cut back to no more than 1/2 the size of the plant before moving, to make it more manageable. Do not cut it back to the ground for a few years to allow the plant to work more on building roots than on growing.

9. This caller has a double weeping cherry tree that has developed a frost crack over the majority of the trunk and now it is not leafing out. What can be done to save the tree?

A. The lack of leaf development may not be due to the frost crack. If a callus has begun to form on the frost crack, that is a good sign. Once the frost crack has developed, there is nothing to do to fix it. The lack of leaves could be due to cold damage from the winter, but not necessarily the frost crack. Give the tree some time to see if it is just late coming out of this long, hard winter. Don’t fertilize it now, it can do more damage to fertilize an already stressed plant. Scratch the bark off on some of the smaller twigs, if it is green underneath, the plant is still alive, if it is brown, the plant is probably not going to survive.

10. How long does it take for a pear to start producing fruit? This caller has one that was planted in 2015 and has not yet bloomed more than just a couple of blooms.

A. It can take pear trees up to 10 years to start flowering and producing fruit, but the can begin this as early as year 3.

11. A caller has a snowball bush he would like to transplant. When is the best time to move this plant and how is it done?

A. Fall would be the best time for this. To be most successful with this transplant, dig up as much of the rootball as you can and only cut the plant back up to 1/2 the size that it is now. When replanting, dig a hole just as deep and twice as wide as the rootball and backfill with the existing soil from the new location.

12. The last caller of the day has a sawtooth oak that was planted last year. As soon as it was planted it dropped all the leaves but regrow them through the summer last year. Now, the tips of the branches seem to be dying back and the tree is suckering at the base. He mulched the tree in and he waters slowly for 10-15 minutes every 2 weeks or less. What is wrong with the tree and will it survive?

A. The water amount is sufficient, but more often would be beneficial to the tree. Water a newly planted tree for about 15 minutes once a week. This tree is likely facing some problems with transplant shock, but should be coming out of that. The oaks are slower to come out of dormancy this year. Give the tree a couple more weeks then prune out the tips that have not developed leaves while the rest of the tree has.

Yard and Garden: May 11, 2018

Y&G Blog Photo, 2018

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 11, 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: Dr. Paul Read, Professor of Viticulture, UNL

1.The first caller of the show has asparagus beetles. How can they be controlled?

A. Use a dust or spray formulation of Sevin to control the beetles. When using chemicals around vegetable or fruit crops, be sure to pay attention to the PHI listed on the chemical label. The PHI is the Pre-Harvest Interval which indicates how much time must pass between the application and harvest to avoid pesticide residues. You can also hand remove the insects, destroy them in a bucket of soapy water after removal. The asparagus beetle should be controlled because they will lay their eggs on the asparagus as it grows which can reduce the saleability. Also, their feeding can reduce the amount of ferns produced which can weaken the plant.

2. A caller has a Bing cherry tree that has been planted in the landscape for a few years and it is not growing and seems to be dying. What is wrong?

A. Sweet cherries, including Bing Cherries, do not grow well in Nebraska weather. For cherries in Nebraska, tart cherries will grow here and do best.

3. This caller has grapes that are not taking off that are in their second year of growth since planting. He has 2 varieties, but not sure which varieties they are. What should be done to get them growing better?

A. Grapes are self-pollinated, so only one variety is necessary. It would really depend on what varieties this caller is growing to know for sure what is wrong with them. They may not be the best choices of varieties for this area. For a listing of good varieties to choose from, visit the UNL Viticulture Program website. For good general care: the plants should be trellised and will be productive by the 3rd year. Water is very important for establishment in the first year. It would be beneficial to mound the soil around the base of the plant during the winter to work as insulation.

He also wanted to know if he could move strawberries into an old baby pool? Would this be enough space for the plants to grow?

A. They would be best grown in the ground, but could live in a baby pool as long as there are drainage holes in the bottom of the pool so the soil doesn’t get saturated.

blossom end rot zucchini
Blossom End Rot on Zucchini

4. How do you deal with blossom end rot in vegetable gardens?

A. Blossom end rot is due to uneven watering. It is technically a calcium deficiency, but the calcium is there it’s just not available to the plant due to the water issues. Even watering is going to be key, it is just hard to do in Nebraska when we face drought periods in between heavy rains. It is just best to water the plants 1 inch of water per week over the week to ensure even, adequate watering. Typically, when we see blossom end rot, we only see it for a couple of weeks early in the season, it is not usually a season-long condition.

5. A caller wants to control the dandelions in her lawn and also reseed. How can she do this safely?

A. We are really ending the window of opportunity for reseeding a lawn this year. It is difficult to get turf established when temperatures start to rise in May. Dandelions are best controlled in the fall with a broadleaf herbicide. At this point, the timing for both control of the dandelions and overseeding the lawn would be around the same time. However, you should not overseed the lawn and use herbicides at the same time or the herbicides could injure the turf seedlings. Tenacity, or a product containing Mesotrione can be used at seeding to control broadleaf weeds and not injure the grass seedlings. I would advise using this tactic in the fall or to overseed in late August to mid-September and allow the grass to grow enough to be mowed 3 times and then use a late fall application of a 2,4-D product to kill the dandelions. If there is time for a second application of the 2,4-D at least 2 weeks after the first application and into the early part of November, that would be most beneficial.

6. This caller has plum trees and elm trees growing in their peonies. What can be used to stop the regrowth of these weedy trees without harming the peonies?

A. The safest option would be to cut the trees off then paint glyphosate (Roundup) on the cut stumps shortly after pruning. Be careful to not get the glyphosate on the peonies to avoid damage to them. I would advise against using 2,4-D in this situation to avoid volatization of 2,4-D and causing problems to the peonies.

This caller also wanted to know if she can use Grass-B-Gon products in the peonies and iris’ to control grasses growing in the plants?

A. Yes, this is labeled for use in broadleaf plants to kill grasses.

7. A caller wants to know what she can use for weeds in the asparagus patch?

A. mulch is going to be the best option for any type of weeds in asparagus. Our herbicides are not labeled for use in this vegetable crop. After she is done harvesting the asparagus for the year, she can cut it back so all green growth is below ground and glyphosate (Roundup) can be used over the bed. This could be used in the fall after the season, followed by mulching the plants in to reduce new growth.

8. This caller has a disease on his pine trees. Is it too late to spray the trees to prevent the disease?

A. This is likely either needle blight or tip blight. The timing for spraying for needle blight is in mid May as the needles are emerging, with a second application in mid to late June, so it would be the correct time to spray for this disease. If the disease is the tip blight, the timing for spraying for that is in the third week of April, just before the needles emerge with a second application 7-14 days later. You would be past the prime window for this disease, but it would still be beneficial this early to treat for this disease as well to avoid too much spread of the disease. With the spring as cool as it has been this year, most things are pushed back a bit and fungicides would still be beneficial for these trees.

9. A caller asked why tordon could not be used for the weedy trees in the peonies that caller #6 asked about?

A. Tordon will kill the peonies as well. Tordon is a mobile chemical that can get from the roots of these trees and into the roots of the peonies, killing them as well. Also, Tordon is not labeled for use in a landscape setting, it is only labeled for roadsides and ditches.

10. This caller has 2 viburnums that are growing in her yard. One has leafed out fine but the other leafed out only part of the way and has now stopped emerging from winter dormancy. Will it be ok?

A. Don’t give up on the plants too soon this year. The spring has been quite cold and unusual for our plants. The general recommendation is to wait until June 1st before determining death in the plants. Because it started growing, it is likely that it will be fine. Make sure that the plant is getting plenty of water to help it pull through. If the plant begins to sucker from the base, this could be a sign that the top had cold damage.

11. A caller has 2 ornamental grasses that haven’t greened up yet. Will they survive or are they dead?

A. Just like with the viburnums, give the plants time to come out of their winter dormancy. Many of the ornamental grasses have not begun to green up this year yet. Wait until June 1st before deciding to destroy the plants that may just be slow to come out of dormancy this year.

12. This caller’s lawn is brown and pulls up with no roots attached. Could it be grubs?

A. If there are no roots attached to the grass, it is most likely due to grubs. Grubs can be managed with a grub control product applied to the grass in mid-June. For the grass that died, you can overseed the area in late August to early September.

13. A caller has a patch of rhubarb that is not growing much and is going to seed early. What can be done about that?

A. Rhubarb will start sending out seed-stalks in warmer weather. Some varieties, though, are more prone to send out seedheads early in the season. Cut off the seedheads as you see them start to form to push energy back into the roots and leaf production rather than into seed production for the plants.

This caller also wanted to know if you can root lilacs from a cut branch?

Lilacs are difficult to get to root. The best chances to get it to grow would be to take a piece from the base of the plants that has roots attached to it already. Divide the plant by taking a section off the side of the plant would be best.

14. What would be a good choice for an organic weed killer for dandelions?

A. If the population is manageable, hand removal would be the best organic choice. There are other products such as corn gluten meal and dried distillers grains which are used for pre-emergence weed control. According to the University of Minnesota, ‘It should be noted that any claimed herbicidal effects of Dried Distillers Grains have not been proven or verified as they have been for corn gluten meal’. For post-emergent organic weed control, vinegar can be used, but it is non-selective so it needs to be used as a spot spray. It is important to remember, that bees love dandelions and a small population can be tolerated and helpful for our pollinators.

15. The final caller of the day wants to know about mulching her garden. She uses straw but wheat comes with the straw mulch. What can she do?

A. Straw mulch can bring weed seeds with it, but it does make a great mulch for a vegetable garden. It would be best to shake the straw out over a tarp before applying it to the garden to pull most seeds out of it. Also, using older straw would help so that the seeds would have all germinated before use. Grass clippings make another great garden mulch. Just make sure that the grass was not treated with a pesticide before applying it to the garden. The pesticide label will tell you if or when those grass clippings can be used on a garden again this year. Grass clippings do break down quickly, so it is best to reapply this mulch often or the weeds will poke through.

Yard and Garden: April 13, 2018

Y&G Blog Photo, 2018

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for April 13, 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: Kyle Broderick, Coordinator of the Plant & Pest Diagnostic Clinic at UNL

1.The first caller of the show wants to know when is the time to trim roses?

A. Anytime now would be good. When the show aired, snow was predicted for over the weekend, so it is advised to wait until the snow has melted before pruning the roses to avoid damage from cold weather.

This caller also has moles, how do they get rid of them in the yard?

A. Harpoon traps work best for moles. To help the trap work better, stomp down a run 2-3 times before placing the trap in the run. This shows that it is an active run and it will lead the mole to continue to pop the soil back up after you knock it down. For more information, visit the UNL Wildlife site and choose the NebGuide on Moles

2. How do you kill grass growing in peony plants

A. Fluazifop is the active ingredient found in Grass-B-Gon products. This will kill grasses and not harm ornamental plants. It can be sprayed right over peonies and iris’ and other ornamental plants. Be sure to not spray your turf or ornamental grasses with this product as it will kill any grass it contacts.

3. A woman has a substance on her artificial turf. Is it mold or moss?

A. It would be moss if it has a green color, but if it is more of a black color, it would be mold. Dry out the area to reduce the problem. You can also clean the artificial turf with a vinegar solution.

4. A caller has an apricot tree with blossoms that are starting to show color. Is there anything that can be applied to protect it from the frost, snow, and cold temperatures in the forecast for the weekend?

A. There are no sprays to protect the fruit tree from cold damage. Watering the tree prior to the cold weather can help protect it because trees use moisture to protect itself in cold weather. This is the reason that peaches and apricots have years of low production, they tend to bloom earlier than the frost free date which will cause cold temperatures to damage the developing flower buds.

This caller also wants to know if they should spray their trees for pests now or if they should apply preen in their gardens?

A. No on both of these questions. There is snow and rain in the forecast which will wash the pesticides off the trees. It is too early to use preen because it stops the germination of annual plants. Winter annual plants emerged last fall and summer annual plants won’t germinate until the soil temperatures have warmed up more. Applying preen too early in the season will cause it to break down sooner in the summer allowing later germinating summer annual plants to emerge once the preen is gone for the year. It is best to wait until soil temperatures have warmed up closer to when the seeds will germinate.

Ant mounds from YandG listener
Larger Yellow Ant Mounds

5. This walk-in listener has mounds that developed in their pasture area after they burned it this spring. What are the mounds from?

A. These mounds developed from ants. Upon closer inspection, Jim Kalisch from the UNL Entomology department, has determined the ants are Larger Yellow Ants. The mounds will persist as long as the land is not tilled. The ants favor building their nests in clumps of bunchgrass, as it provides stability and protection, and the ants tend root aphids on the bunchgrass roots underground. If the mounds are not desired, tilling the ground will reduce the mounds.

6. Can preen be used on asparagus before it emerges?

A. Yes, preen only stops the germination of annual seeds. Asparagus is a perennial plant coming back from the roots, so it will not be inhibited from growth if the preen is applied before it comes up. Make sure you are using the preen that is labeled for use in asparagus, not the general preen that is used in ornamental plantings.

7. A caller has grubs in his vegetable garden space. What should be done about that?

A. A few grubs in the garden won’t be problematic. Mostly, grubs are only damaging to potatoes and not our other vegetable plants. If the population is high enough and damage is occurring, the vegetable garden would need to be moved for a year to treat with chemicals that are not labeled for use in a vegetable garden. There are no products available to treat grubs that are labeled for use in vegetable gardens safely.

8. This caller is taking care of a planting of hostas for the first time. What does he need to do to clean up the space?

A. Hostas die back to the ground every year, so once the weather is a little warmer more regularly, these plants can be cut off at the ground level to remove all of the dead leaves and plant material from last year. Make sure to refresh the mulch to 2-3 inches deep with new organic mulch. If the plants are too big, they can be divided and replanted in other locations. Depending on the size of the plant it can be divided into 2, 3, or 4 parts to replant in other locations or to share with friends. To divide the plants, dig them up and use a spade to cut it into pieces that are then replanted.

9. A caller has white pine trees that were transplanted last year that are now turning brown on the ends of the branches. What is causing this?

A. This could be due to a combination of transplant shock and winter injury. Fall watering will help protect newly planted trees from winter injury. Water these trees well throughout the season and they should improve over time.

10. This caller has an angel wing begonia that is overwintered indoors each year. Can it be placed outside during the summer months?

A. Tropical-type plants, such as this begonia, will not take temperatures below 50 degrees F, but they can live through our summer months. Once the temperatures are consistently in the 50’s and warmer, the potted plant can be placed outside. To prevent breakage of the branches, it would be best to place the planter in a location that is protected from high winds. Next fall, before the temperatures move too cold at night, move the plant back indoors to keep it alive through the winter. Spray the plant with an insecticide before bringing indoors to keep insect pests outside instead of bringing them indoors with the plant.

11. A caller has scrub elm trees that have started growing up in the asparagus patch. What can be done to kill the elm trees?

A. Right after cutting the elm off, paint the stump with a straight 2,4-D product. Don’t use tordon or triclopyr products as these can get into the roots of the asparagus, killing it. Treat the stumps early in the season before temperatures reach 80 degrees F to avoid volatization of the product and causing possible harm to the asparagus.

12. This caller has gnats from houseplants in the office. How can they control them?

A. These are likely fungus gnats from the houseplants. If you know when the gnats first appeared and you can link that to the appearance of a new houseplant, remove that houseplant to remove the majority of the gnats. Houseplant insecticide sprays can also be used. Repotting the plants, removing the majority of the soil from the roots will also help.

13. The last caller of the day wants to know how to control grass in a well-established asparagus patch?

A. You can spray the bed with glyphosate (Roundup) before the asparagus has emerged and no green from asparagus is present, but the grass is green. It would also be best to apply mulch around the plants to reduce new weeds from emerging.