Yard and Garden: June 14, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 14, 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: Dr. Paul Read, Professor of Viticulture, UNL

1. The first question of the show was what to do to get rid of borer bumble bees that are burrowing into the framing of a shed?

A. These are carpenter bees. Carpenter bees are a good pollinator insect. If they aren’t damaging the structure of a building, they can be left alone. However, if they are digging into framing for a shed or other building, filling the holes in with wood putty should work. Otherwise, you can spray a little sevin in the holes as well. You might also try putting up a Bee Hotel that may be more desirable to them than the structure of your building. View this article on Carpenter Bees for more information. View this NebGuide on Creating a Solitary Bee Hotel to learn how to build and place a bee hotel on your property.

He also wants to know what likes peas? His plants bloomed and then something ate the top third of the plant off. What would do that?

A. This could be deer, rabbits, or squirrels. These are all difficult wildlife to control. Fencing 2 feet high around them will keep rabbits out, the fencing needs to be 4 feet tall to keep deer out. Squirrels can climb the fence, so they are more difficult to manage in the garden. For more information on controlling squirrel damage, view this NebGuide on squirrels.

2. A caller has 4 peach trees, 2 have been producing fruit while 2 have not. Are there male and female peach trees? When will the other 2 produce?

A. Peaches are not male/female trees, they have perfect flowers and are self-pollinating. If they aren’t flowering they are not mature yet. Once they begin flowering they will produce fruit.

3. Are cedars asexual trees?

A. Cedars are dioecious, meaning that they have male and female flowers on separate trees. You can see the difference in the trees in the spring when one tree looks brown while the next tree is green.

4. This caller has roses with holes in the leaves. What is causing this?

A. This is due to rose slugs, which is the immature form of a sawfly. Rose slugs are not terribly damaging. They can cause some defoliation early in the summer months but only for a few weeks and the damage is minimal. Spraying for rose slugs could harm pollinators while the plants are blooming.

Roseslug Collage
The picture on the left shows the rose slug on the underside of the leaf. The picture on the right shows the damage from rose slugs.

5. A caller just planted some gooseberry bushes. What care should be given to them now? Do they need to be cut back annually?

A. Gooseberries require minimal care. Cut out any damaged canes each year, but otherwise, leave them alone.

6. This caller was wondering about a plant called ‘Thuja’. Will it grow ok here?

A. Yes, Thuja is the genus for arborvitae. Arborvitae will grow fine here, but it can be problematic in cold snap winter conditions. They get a lot of winterkill. A local nursery will have varieties that are better suited to our environment than those found in a mail-order catalog.

7. A caller has an American Elm that is dying. Last summer it lost all of it’s leaves early, now the tree looks dead on portions. What is wrong with it?

A. This could be from Dutch Elm Disease. There are still elms in the area that have made it through Dutch Elm Disease, but the disease will catch up with them and kill them. There is no cure or anything you can do to save a tree from Dutch Elm Disease. Remove the tree.

8. This caller has a 14 year old maple tree with branches hanging on the ground making it difficult to mow around. Can those branches be cut back now?

A. Yes, it would be fine to prune it back now. This time of year is beneficial because the wound will seal up quickly with the active growth of the tree. Be sure to make a good pruning cut. For tips on how to make a good pruning cut, view this article from Sarah Browning on Pruning Deciduous Trees.

9. A caller has a rose bush that bloomed good for a while, now it has started to die. The leaves and flowers are wilting. She waters 1 inch per day. What is wrong with them?

A. Watering the plants 1 inch of water a day would be excessive. It would be better to reduce that down to 1 inch of water per day, especially with all of the rain we have been seeing lately. Be sure to add a 2-3 inch layer of mulch to the plants. Don’t fertilize them right now, fertilizing a stressed plant can further stress it.

10. This caller is looking for a source for corn gluten meal for weed control.

A. Try looking at local nurseries like Campbell’s or Earl May. Be careful with corn gluten meal, if too much is applied it can kill desirable plants.

11. A caller is using rural water now instead of rural water that they had used before moving. The rural water smells like bleach, will it hurt the plants? Also, she adds manure every year to it, is the soil causing problems to the plants?

A. The water shouldn’t affect the plants. If there is a concern, you can get the water tested to ensure that it is safe for consumption. Also, be careful just adding manure every year. It would be a good idea to get the soil tested prior to just adding more nutrients. Nutrient levels that are a little high can be just as detrimental as low nutrient levels.

12. The last caller of the day started his tomato plants in the upside down planter. Should he put a cage around them?

A. That wouldn’t be necessary because the plants are going to naturally grow upward. Cages are used on the ground to keep our plants from falling over, these would be held up by the planter.

Yard and Garden: June 7, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 7, 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: John Porter, Urban Ag Program Coordinator with Nebraska Extension

2019-06-07 10.05.021. The first question of the show was from tomatoes that had odd shaped leaves. What would cause that?

A. This is from herbicide drift. Tomatoes are very sensitive to drift from 2,4-D or Dicamba products. They should grow out of the damage, however because we don’t know exactly what product hit these tomatoes there is no way to know for sure when the product will be out of the tomatoes. I can’t say when or if these tomato plants will be safe for consumption this year.

2. A caller has moths in his house. He had brought in a sample previously for us to identify. What kind of moth is it and how can he get rid of it?

A. This insect is an Indian Meal Moth, a common pantry pest. This could have been brought in with foods purchased at the grocery store. Be sure to store all products containing cereal, grain, rice, flour, or pasta in air tight, insect proof containers such as canisters or Tupperware containers. Things like cake mixes or flour can be stored in the freezer. Clean up all cabinet shelves from crumbs. Discard infested food products. For more information on Pantry Pests, visit this website from Lancaster County Extension.

3. This caller has hosta plants that are getting holes in the leaves. What would cause this?

A. This is likely from slugs. They can be controlled by pushing a shallow container into the ground near the hostas so that the top of the container is at soil level. Fill the container with stale beer and it will attract the slugs so they fall into the container and die. You can also put cardboard over the ground at night and then pick it up during the day to kill the slugs underneath. There is also a product for slug control, called sluggo.

4. A caller has pampas grass that is dying from the center and would like to kill it. How can that be done?

A. If the dead center is what is bothering you, dig up the plant and divide it into multiple smaller plants. Pampas grass often gets a dead center with age and just needs to be divided. If you still want to kill it, cut it short and spray it with roundup or other glyphosate product to kill it over time. You can also try cutting it back and keeping a layer of mulch on it to smother the plant to death.

5. This caller has a maple seedling forest in their lawn. What can be done to kill all these maple trees?

A. Keep mowing over them, they will die. They don’t have enough roots to keep living after being mowed off.

6. How fast will maple seedlings to grow, if he decides to try to cultivate one or two of these seedlings for a new tree?

A. They are tiny, so it will take quite a while, but it can be done. However, these seeds are most likely from silver maples, that is more of a weedy species of maple tree. They grow easily and fast and therefore often break a lot of branches in storms. There would be better maple choices than silver maples such as Sugar maple or Red maple.

7. The next question came from another walk-in listener who brought in a weed for identification.

A. This is goutweed which is also called Bishop’s weed. There are ornamental varieties of this plant. However, if it is growing where it was not planted it is a weed and glyphosate or Roundup will work on that. If it is below 80 degrees for three days, you can spray 2,4-D. Don’t spray 2,4-D if it is too hot or humid because it can turn into a gas and move to non-target plants.

Spruce cone, Tom DeGomez, Univ of AZ, Bugwood
Blue Spruce Cone, Photo Courtesy of Tom DeGomez, University of Arizona, Bugwood.com

8. A caller has a spruce tree that is 30 feet tall. At the top of the tree it had red structures that now look like bagworms. She sprayed. Are those bagworms and should she spray again?

A. These are actually the cones of the tree. There are male and female cones on spruce trees. The cones can start out pink and then turn into a cone and the other cones are smaller. It is too soon for bagworms to be out this year. So you will need to spray for bagworms again in a couple of weeks when they hatch if you also have a problem with bagworms.

9. The next caller has a peach tree that was a volunteer from a seed pit. It now is loaded with peaches developing on the branches. Should it be thinned?

A. Yes, they should be thinned. Too many peaches on the branch can pull the branch down and break it which would be very damaging to the tree. Also, if you thin the peaches it can increase the size and sugar content. Thin them to only one per cluster and one peach every 6-8 inches along the branches.

10. A caller planted a new yard this spring. Now he has noticed a weed with a small yellow flower growing in it. What can he spray on his lawn to control this weed?

A. This could be either black medic, sorrel, or a sweet clover. These weeds are all controlled best in the fall of the year with a 2,4-D product. You can spray the entire yard in mid-September and again in mid-October for best control. Spraying now could be too hot causing the 2,4-D to turn into a gas and move to non-target plants. Also, spraying now won’t get a full kill on the plant, it will just burn back for a while.

11. This caller wants to know how to control voles in his lawn?

A. Place snap-type mouse traps in the runs of the voles. Place them perpendicular to the run. They can be baited with peanut butter or nothing at all. If there are neighborhood cats around, place a box with small openings on both ends around the traps to avoid harming the cats.

He also wanted to know why the needles on his pine trees are brown?

A. This is likely from Dothistroma needle blight. For best results the trees should be sprayed with a copper fungicide in mid-May and again in mid to late June. Spraying now would help reduce the spread, but spray earlier next year.

12. A caller wants to know why if he has plastic landscape sheets covered with mulch that slugs can get through that? Also, where can you buy sluggo?

A. The plastic and mulch make for a good environment for the slugs. They are able to hide under that during the day where it is dark and cool and they can climb out through the holes around the plants. It would be better to remove the plastic. Sluggo should be available at hardware stores, it is a granule product.

13. This caller has 2 Asian pears with ants and wasps in the fruit. The fruit also turns brown and fall off the trees. What is causing this and how can it be controlled?

A. The ants and wasps are not related to the fruit falling from the trees. The ants and wasps are also not harmful to the fruit development. The ants may be on the tree if there are aphids on the tree. Aphids produce honeydew as an excrement and the ants follow the aphids around to feed on the honeydew. The fruits falling from the trees could be from brown rot caused by weather conditions. Use a copper fungicide or orchard fruit spray with fungicide to help prevent this from occurring.

14. Can you divide and move lilacs?

A. This type of plant wouldn’t divide well. However you can start new plants by layering which is where you pull down on one branch and stake it into the ground nearby until it produces roots. Once the roots develop, you can cut it from the main plant and move it to another location. Lilacs can be transplanted, but it should be done in the fall.

15. The final caller of the show has peach trees with a lot of peaches. As they are maturing, they get a brown mold. What is causing this?

A. This is a disease called brown rot. It can be controlled with fungicide sprays. Apply the fungicide multiple times through the season. You can use an orchard fruit tree spray through the growing season every 10-14 days to control insect and disease issues.

He also wanted to know what to do when planting rhubarb to ensure success?

A. Plant it in well-drained soil because rhubarb gets root rot if it sits in water. Add compost when planting for fertility. Plant it so the crown is a little above the ground level, it often gets planted too deep which can cause crown rot as well. Other than that, it is fairly easy to grow. Be sure to wait 3 years before harvesting from the plant to allow the roots time to become fully established.

 

Yard and Garden: May 31, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 31, 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: Kyle Broderick, Plant Pathology Extension Educator, UNL

1. The first caller of the show wants to know how to control sandburs without chemicals to avoid harming birds and squirrels?

A. Sandburs can be controlled with pre-emergent grass herbicides in the spring or post-emergent herbicides for grasses such as Roundup after they have germinated later in the spring. All pesticides are approved by the EPA to ensure safety for wildlife and birds as long as they are handled correctly, but it is a personal preference for use of chemicals. Integrated Pest Management should always be used to help be the most effective and to be the most economical. For sandburs, hoeing or hand pulling can be effective to keep seed from producing for next year. Also, if you can get something else to grow in that area, that will help to outcompete with the sandburs. If the soil is compacted and sandy, where sandburs prefer, it might be better to add organic matter to the soil to improve the growing location for turf or other plants.

2. This caller wants to know how to get rid of carpenter bees?

A. Carpenter bees are a good pollinator insect. If they aren’t damaging the structure of a building, they can be left alone. However, if they are digging into framing for a shed or other building, filling the holes in with wood putty should work. Otherwise, you can spray a little sevin in the holes as well. You might also try putting up a Bee Hotel that may be more desirable to them than the structure of your building. View this article on Carpenter Bees for more information. View this NebGuide on Creating a Solitary Bee Hotel to learn how to build and place a bee hotel on your property.

India Meal moth sitting on wall with rule for size comparison.
Indian Meal Moth Adult by a Ruler. Photo by Vicki Jedlicka, Extension Assistant

3. An insect was brought in for identification and control methods.

A. This insect is an Indian Meal Moth, a common pantry pest. This could have been brought in with foods purchased at the grocery store. Be sure to store all products containing cereal, grain, rice, flour, or pasta in air tight, insect proof containers such as canisters or Tupperware containers. Things like cake mixes or flour can be stored in the freezer. Clean up all cabinet shelves from crumbs. Discard infested food products. For more information on Pantry Pests, visit this website from Lancaster County Extension.

4. A caller has spots in the yard with a small depression that has a powdery material and what looks like the remnants of a mushroom. What causes this and can it be controlled?

A. This could be from a puffball. Puffballs are a type of mushroom that when they become mature many spores will puff out of the structure that does not have a stalk like traditional mushrooms. After it has puffed, the pieces left behind are leathery and dark brown to black in color. Puffballs can get into a lawn from low fertility and from decaying tree roots or other organic matter. Maintain good lawn care practices and maintain adequate Nitrogen fertilizer that will help to break down woody tissues. Dig out the puffballs as they are seen in the area.

5. This caller has a maple tree that had a great deal of seeds dropped this spring. Now, there are millions of tiny maple seedlings growing in the lawn. What can be done to kill these seedlings off?

A. In the lawn, just continue to mow, the maple tree saplings will not be able to continually regrow and will die. In a garden setting, it would be best to hand pull or hoe out the seedlings. In a garden, careful applications of Roundup could be used as long as desirable plants are not sprayed. Mulch will also help to kill off the seedlings in garden locations.

6. Are bagworms out yet?

A. No, they haven’t been seen emerging yet. We are behind a little this year due to the cooler weather. Be checking often for emergence in your trees.

7. A caller has an ash tree that had green balls develop last year on the tree. They are still on the tree, what can be done about these? Should she be treating for Emerald Ash Borer?

A. The green ball structures are from an ash flower gall. This gall is from tiny eriophyid mites that feed on the flowers in the early spring. These galls can stay on the tree for more than one season, so these on her tree are likely from last year. Treatment is not necessary because these galls are an aesthetic issue and will not harm the tree. If treating the tree, sprays with sevin could be done in the early spring as the flowers develop. As for Emerald Ash Borer, it is best to wait until the borer is found within 15 miles of the tree to prevent excess damage to the tree and to avoid using chemicals for an insect that hasn’t been found in the area. Watch for signs of EAB in your tree and consult an arborist or your local Extension Office if you see these signs. Damage from EAB consists of: top dieback, bark falling off the tree, D-shaped exit holes, increased woodpecker damage, or increased suckering at the base of the tree.

Yard and Garden: May 24, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 24, 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: Donnie Engelhardt, Assistant Manager of the Little Blue NRD

1. The first caller of the show has what he suspects is foxtail in his lawn. He has used pre-emergent crabgrass control and it has not helped. How can he control it? He is also having trouble with zoysia grass on the east side of his house where this foxtail is growing. What can he do to improve zoysia?

A. If this is foxtail, crabgrass pre-emergent herbicides should work on it. I would assume that it may be something else if that didn’t work. This could be little barley, which is a winter annual weed that would be seeding now while the foxtail would not be yet. Little barley is often confused with foxtail, especially this time of the year. For more information on little barley, visit this article on Little Barley from Turf.unl.edu

As for the zoysia grass not growing, there could be a lot of issues with this. If it is on the East side of the house, it may not be enough sunlight for zoysia. Since this is a warm season grass, it is very crucial that the grass gets enough light and it is warm enough for best growth. Also, fertilization schedules would be quite different from cool season turf. Zoysia grass should only be fertilized in the summer months. Warm season grasses really only need up to 2 fertilizer applications per year, if any. Fertilize in later May-June and again in July-August. If fertilizing in the spring and fall, this can harm the zoysia grass.

2. A caller wants to plant either a peach tree or a cherry tree. Which will be better and do either of them get cedar-apple rust?

A. Neither peaches nor cherries will get cedar-apple rust. If you are planning on planting just one, for the growing conditions in southeast Nebraska, you would have more luck with a cherry tree. Peaches are not long lived in Nebraska due to our weather conditions. According to John Porter, Nebraska Extension Educator, “Peaches often have cracking due to rapid freezing and thawing. It can be pretty severe when the fluctuations are large and often. This leads to the gummosis and also damage/death of branches.  Its one of the reasons peaches aren’t well suited for Nebraska.” If cherry trees are chosen, tart cherries are best. Bing and other sweet cherry types will not grow in Nebraska.

3. This caller wants to know when he can plant his asparagus?

A. Asparagus is typically planted in the early spring with other spring crops such as broccoli and carrots. However, with the weather as cool as it has been, it would still be fine to plant it this year. Get it in the ground soon and make sure that the soil remains evenly moist in the hot, dry part of the summer.

4. A caller has an established wind break but mowing now is difficult. Can he prune the branches up so he can mow under the tree without damaging it?

A. Trimming dead branches around the bottom of the tree would be fine, don’t go too high or it will not be as effective as a windbreak. If the branches are still alive and full with needles all the way to the ground, it wouldn’t need to be mowed because the turf will die under that condition.

This caller also wondered about using a granule on the ground around trees to control bagworms?

A. The granule chemical controls he is referring to would be those containing imidacloprid. Bagworms are not a listed ‘pest controlled’ on the imidacloprid label so it is not a legal practice to use it on them. It is best to stick with chemicals such as Bt or Tempo for control of bagworms. Spray them when the bags are up to 1/2 inch in length for best control. I would assume that will be a little later this year due to the cooler spring.

5. What are the benefits of letting asparagus seed out?

A. Asparagus is a perennial crop that needs to have the season of growth to build a bigger, stronger plant. All of our plants need time to grow and build sugars for root expansion. Since we cut off all the asparagus through the beginning of the season, we need to allow them to grow through the rest of the summer.

6. Is it too late to plant strawberries or summer bulbs?

A. It is best to plant strawberries in the early spring. They could still be planted yet this year, but some varieties may not produce this year. Planting this late would cause problems getting the plants established, so be sure to mulch them and water them frequently until they are established. June bearing varieties would be past the bloom time and would not produce this year, but you could plant them to get them established so you can have a harvest next year. If planting everbearing this late, they may still produce later this summer. It would be best to cut off early season flowers that may develop to allow the plants to become more established before harvesting later in the summer after the plants are more established. Summer bulbs are best planted after the chance of frost for the year has passed. You would be past that now and still be in good time to get the bulbs into the ground. It will be later before they start to bloom, though.

green-asparagus-pixabay7. A caller wanted to know what type of manure would be best for asparagus fertilization?

A. Cow, chicken, or pig are good manure options for the vegetable garden, asparagus included. Fresh manure should be applied in the fall to allow time for the bacteria in it to break down before harvesting. For food safety guidelines, fresh manure needs to be applied 120 days prior to harvest, which means the fall in Nebraska. If it is composted manure, it would be fine in the spring.

8. This caller has apple trees. Last year the apples turned moldy while they were still on the tree. What would cause this?

A. There are a lot of different types of diseases that can lead to moldy apples. It could be from apple scab, sooty mold, powdery mildew, or black rot. Using an orchard fruit tree spray through the season would help reduce these diseases. Also, be sure to clean up infected fruits and leaves at the end of the season to reduce the incidence of disease from one year to the next.

9. A caller wants to transplant some foot-tall cedars from his pasture. Is it too late or can this still be done now?

A. It is getting quite late in the year to transplant trees. The concern is for when the shift from spring-like weather to summer hot, dry weather will occur. Typically June starts getting very hot and dry and a newly transplanted tree would not have any root system to get water if it gets dry. It might be better now to wait until fall, September or October. If the trees will be moved to a location where they will be watered adequately, it would be ok, but for best results now, it would be advised to wait until cooler temperatures return in the fall.

10. This caller has a lawn that is thin and weeds are starting to take over. When should he reseed this lawn? Would it be better to just kill it all off and start from scratch?

A. At this point in the year, it would be best to wait until the fall to overseed or reseed lawns. The turf will come up but it will likely get too hot and dry for it this summer, which will be here before we know it. It would be best to just overseed and thicken up the grass that is already established rather than kill it all off and start over. Starting from scratch takes a lot of time and it can be quite difficult. It would be easier to already have something covering the ground while you overseed to keep the weeds down. If weeds are a problem, you can use a mesotrione product, often found in Tenacity, at seeding this fall to kill the weeds when you overseed.

11. A caller wants to know if you can prune a magnolia now to reduce growth? Also, can the suckers around the base of the tree be removed now?

A. Yes, the magnolia hasn’t produced flower buds for next year yet, so it would be fine. Suckers can be removed anytime through the season. Suckers are growth that takes energy from the tree and have no real purpose so it would be best to remove those as they grow before they get too big.

12. Can a bee house still be hung outside yet this spring or is it too late to get much activity?

A. Yes, you would still be fine. These solitary bees are still out moving around. For next year, it would be better to have it out in April. For information on building your own solitary bee hotel, visit this NebGuide

13. The last caller of the day has apricot trees that are just for wildlife consumption. These fruits have not yet fully developed but many of them fell to the ground in storms recently. Her dog is now eating those fruits that have fallen. Is that toxic for dogs to eat them?

A. After discussion with a local veterinarian, the pit is the part of the apricot or peach that would be toxic to the dogs. If these are immature apricots, the pit would not be developed and it shouldn’t harm the dogs. That being said, it might be best to clean up these dropped fruits to be safest.

Yard and Garden: May 17, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 17, 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: Kathleen Cue, Dodge County Extension Educator

1. The first caller of the show has a bur oak and a pin oak that have both been very slow to green up this spring and now have turned brown. Is there something wrong with the trees?

A. The browning of those trees is most likely due to the formation of catkins, which are the flower structures of the oak trees. Those turn brown when they mature then will fall from the tree. It may look bad, but it is normal for the tree. They are slow to green up this year due to the cooler spring we have had, they will be fine.

2. A caller has a fishing pond that now has a layer of moss on the edge. He sprayed it with copper sulfate in mid-April and that seems to have not worked for this. What can he do to control it?

A. Copper sulfate is a recommended product for controlling this type of algae on a pond. It can be used when growth first becomes visible. Be careful applying too much of this in one season because it can cause a fish kill if sprayed in too high of a dose. However, when this caller sprayed, it may not have been actively growing so the copper sulfate would not be as effective. A second application could be applied now that it is actively growing. Another way to control this would be to use a rake to pull the majority of this algae out of the pond without having to reapply the chemicals and not risking any problems with the fish.

3. This caller has miniature Iris’ that are now done blooming but they need thinned and divided. Can this transplanting be done now?

A. Yes, it would be fine to divide and transplant these Iris’ now. It would be best to cut off the seed heads prior to dividing so the plants put energy into producing roots not into seed development. Be sure to keep the ground evenly moist after this because the plants will not have a good root system in place, but don’t overwater.

4. A caller was gifted some spring-blooming bulbs that were purchased last fall. Can they be planted now?

A. It is best to plant spring-blooming bulbs in the fall. They could be stored over the summer in paper bags with peat moss in a cool, dark location such as a basement and then they can be planted in the fall like normal. However, because they were purchased last fall, it would be best to plant them now to let the roots grow over the summer months. There is not a guarantee that the bulbs will survive with either of these methods, but they will likely dry out if left out of the ground for a year.

5. This caller has pine trees that died due to pine wilt. He now has volunteer scotch pines coming up in the pasture, will they be immune or resistant to the disease?

A. No, all scotch pines will be subject to the disease, they will not become resistant. Volunteer scotch pines can survive for about 10 years before the disease affects them.

6. A caller has Iris’ that look good and are starting to bloom, but all of a sudden all of the leaves have spots on them. What is it and what can she do to manage it?

A. This is most likely from Iris Leaf Spot, a fungal disease. This is best controlled through sanitation such as removing infected leaves and cleaning up all of the leaf litter in the fall to remove the overwintering site. Also, be sure to water from below the plant rather than over the foliage. If the plants have grown together, it would be best to space the plants out more by dividing and replanting. Fungicides can be used when these practices are not working. Copper fungicides would be best.

7. This caller has a sunset maple that is about 25 feet tall and one half of the tree turns red earlier in the season in the fall while the rest of the tree stays green. Now that side of the tree that turns red first has very heavy seeds and isn’t looking very healthy. What, if anything, can be done for this tree?

A. Stress will cause a tree or even a portion of a tree to go into early fall color. Stress is also one of the reasons that we are seeing the heavy seed production this year in maple trees. During the discussion, it turns out that there is a stress fracture and included bark on the trunk due to co-dominant branches. In this area, there is likely decay and that is problematic on the tree. There is no good way to fix this on the tree now that it is so large. One half of the tree could be pruned off to reduce the damage from the included bark and co-dominant branching. It would take a long time for the tree to recover from this and it will look a little odd while it is recovering from this pruning.

8. A caller reseeded their lawn last fall. It was planted so it got hit by frost and did not survive. Can he spray his lawn and reseed now?

A. The weeds can be sprayed now, but it is a little late now to overseed for this spring. The fall seeding was a little too late and with the early snow we had in October, the grass was not able to survive at such a young state of growth. A similar situation would happen if seeding now, but with heat instead of cold. It would be best to overseed in late August to early September to ensure good growth before frost. For now, he could cover the ground with an annual ryegrass to keep the weeds down. When he does overseed in the fall, he can use a mesotrione product such as tenacity at seeding without harming the seed and killing off the weeds.

9. Can daylilies be planted on the south side of the garage or will it be too hot for them there?

A. Daylilies can be planted in full sun on the south side of a building and they will thrive in that location. They are tough plants. It would not be too hot for them there.

10. This caller has small holes around his sweet corn. Sometimes the seed is gone and sometimes the new plants are cut off at the ground level. What would cause this?

A. This could be from a couple of things. The plants being cut off at the ground level could be from cutworms. Cutworms can be controlled with sevin sprayed or dust sprinkled around the base of the plants. It could also be from voles or even turkeys. If voles, a snap mouse trap can be used in the runs or around the plants where they are seen. If turkeys, there isn’t a good control for them. The problem shouldn’t last the whole season.

knotweed, kim starr, starr environmental, bugwood
Prostrate Knotweed photo by Kim Starr, Starr Environmental, Bugwood.org

11. Finally, a listener texted a picture of a lawn weed to the radio station and wanted to know what it is and how it can be controlled?

A. This is knotweed. It can be controlled with a 2,4-D product.

 

Yard and Garden: May 10, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 10, 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 Hosts: Kevin Christiansen, Horticulture Instructor at SCC Beatrice & Chelsea Tietjen, Agronomy and Entomology Instructor at SCC Beatrice

1. The first caller of the show wants to know when to start spraying his apple trees with the orchard fruit tree spray? He also wants to know if it is too hot here to grow cabbage because it is hard to get a harvest?

A. Orchard fruit tree sprays will combat both insect and disease problems on fruit trees. Sprays should begin as soon as pink is seen in the buds, but should cease during blooming. Since this caller hasn’t begun spraying yet, it would be fine to just start as the blossoms are falling off the tree. You want to allow the pollinators to come to the tree without harming them, so no sprays should be done while the trees are blooming. This spray should be applied every 10-14 days through the growing season, up until harvest.

As for the cabbage, it should be fine growing here, but some years it can get hot quickly and that can cause our cool season crops to bolt. Cabbage may be better grown in the fall due to the quick warm up in spring that usually happens here in Nebraska. For more information on growing cabbage, visit this article from Lancaster County Extension.

2. This caller was wondering if we would see bagworms later this year than most years due to the colder weather? He also wondered what is the best control for them and when to control them?

A. It is likely that we will see bagworms a little later this year due to the cooler spring we have had. They will hatch at different times in the year because their hatch is weather dependent. Starting in late May, check weekly for the small bags to begin to show up on the trees. When the small bags show up and until they are up to 1/2 inch in length you can spray. Tempo or Bt would be best for control.

3. A caller has lilacs that were planted 2 years ago. They were a small cutting at 1 inch tall when they were planted and now they are only 4-6 inches tall. What fertilizer can he use to get these to grow faster?

A. Mulch would be a better option for these plants since they are so small. This would protect them from weed competition and from accidentally being mowed over and would do much more for the plants than fertilizer would. It would also be a good idea to put a fence up around them to prevent rabbits from chewing them off since they are so small.

4. This caller has cedar-apple rust that is showing up on his cedars. He has sprayed his apple trees, but does he also need to remove the galls from the cedars?

A. The galls will not hurt the cedars and as long as you sprayed the apple trees, that should be sufficient. Pulling the galls off won’t stop the disease for future years because the spores can spread up to 2 miles so they will come from other cedar trees.

5. A caller has a rhubarb plant that is flowering and not producing the stalks for consumption. What can be done to improve stalk production?

A. Cut the flower stalks off at the bottom of the stalk. These flower stalks take energy from the plant. The energy is moved from the leaf production to flower production. The abnormal weather this spring has caused rhubarb to flower more this year than other years.

6. When do you prune snowball bush and lilacs?

A. After they complete blooming this spring, remove 1/3 of the stems at the base of the plant. Remove the largest, least productive canes and leave the smaller, younger, more productive canes.

This caller also wondered what do do for the purple flowering weeds and dandelions in the yard?

A. The purple flowering weeds are henbit. They are a winter annual and will soon die when the temperatures warm up, likely in the next week or so. There is no reason to spray them now. Dandelions are best controlled in the fall with an application of a 2,4-D product. Spray them in the middle of September and the middle of October. The later application in the fall will also help kill henbit as it emerges in the fall to reduce the population for next year.

7. A caller is building a raised bed in his landscape. Does he need to put rock at the bottom to help with drainage?

A. No, it wouldn’t be necessary to add rock to the bottom of a raised bed to help with drainage. Raised beds are built up on the sides with an open bottom. That will be drainage enough for them. Be sure to use good quality soil and some compost, don’t use soil from your yard.

Buckbrush, Steven K. UNL
Buckbrush Photo from Steven Knezevic, Extension Weed Management Specialist, from Cropwatch.unl.edu

8. How do you control buckbrush in the pasture?

A. According to the Guide to Weed Management from Nebraska Extension, 2,4-D will work on buckbrush in the pasture. For more information visit this cropwatch article.

9. This caller has lillies that are not growing well. The daylilies are short and blooming but they are not growing big at all. Other plants in the bed are fine and these daylilies in other locations are growing larger. What is causing the problem?

A. This may be a soil issue. It might be good to do a soil test. It could also be that the soil is compacted more in that location that are constricting the roots and limiting growth. Add some compost to the soil and work it in around the plants to try to reduce the compaction. A general fertilizer could be tried as well. It also could be that the plants are maybe planted a little too deep. It might be helpful to dig up the plants, add compost or manure to the soil, and replant the daylilies a little higher in the soil profile.

10. The last caller of the day had 2 questions. She is rejuvenating her landscape beds, should she use landscape fabric in them? Also, she has a trumpet vine growing on a trellis that has a lot of dead branching in it, what can she do to remove the dead growth and rejuvenate these vines?

A. Landscape fabric is not necessary in the beds. Landscape fabric can restrict the movement of moisture into the soil and harm the plants. Also, soil and weeds can move in on top of the fabric which defeats the purpose of using it. Finally, if you ever want to change that bed in the future, the landscape fabric is very difficult to remove.

As for the trumpet vine, it can be cut back heavily, but it would be best done early next spring rather than now because it is getting a little late this year. Remove the old, unproductive growth and leave the smaller, healthier growth.

Yard and Garden: May 3, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 3, 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: Dick Campbell, Owner of Campbell’s Nursery

1. The first caller of the show has holes in his lawn that are about the size of a pinky, what would cause that?

A. This could be from either earthworms or wolf spiders. Neither of these will harm our lawns, in fact they are both beneficial. Earthworms break up the soil and add compost back into our soil. Spiders will feed on problematic insects.

2. A caller was wondering about a homemade weed killer that has vinegar, dish soap and epsom salt in it?

A. It is not advised to go with homemade weed killers because there is no research to help with rates, timing, PPE, or other environmental and health risks associated with them. It is best to use IPM to control pests using mechanical and cultural practices first then turn to pesticides that have been approved from the EPA.

3. This caller is having difficulty with a redbud that isn’t blooming. It is 6-7 years old and in full sun, but it isn’t blooming yet. Why is that and can he do anything to get it to bloom?

A. Some varieties of redbuds take a few years before they will start blooming, it could just not be fully mature and ready to bloom yet. Transplant shock can also set the blooming cycle back. It should be over that soon. Also, if it is in an area where the lawn around it is getting a high amount of nitrogen, that could push the tree to leaf out and not push energy into flowering. Give it time and reduce the nitrogen fertilizer applied around the tree.

4. A caller has 2 lilacs. One is blooming fine, while the other is blooming only on 2 branches and the other branches seem to be dead. What can she do about this lilac?

A. A rejuvenation cutting will help to renew this shrub with only 2 live branches. You can cut the entire shrub off at about 6-8 inches above the ground. The new growth will be healthier and it should leaf out better and throughout the whole shrub. It may take a couple of years to rebloom after this rejuvenation cutting, but it will be better in the long-run. Also, be sure to remove any grass growing right up around the trunk of these shrubs. Add a nice 2-3 inch layer of mulch and keep the grass competition out away from the shrubs.

5. What is the best decorative/flowering tree for Nebraska?

A. There isn’t really one that is better than the others, there is a long list of great flowering trees. Crabapples are great spring flowering trees. Make sure that you pick one that is resistant to cedar-apple rust and apple scab. Serviceberries make a great flowering tree or large shrub for any landscape with berries for the birds in the fall. Redbuds are a favorite among many and there is a whitebud which is just a white flowering variety. Magnolias are amazingly beautiful, but they need to be planted in a somewhat protected location to help with flowering in those years with a later frost. Flowering pears can be used, but choose Chanticleer or Cleveland Select to avoid problems with branches breaking due to tight branch crotches.

This caller planted a redbud 6 years ago, but it has since died. What caused that?

A. It turns out that this tree wasn’t purchased from a local source and may have been shipped from the south, which was common with redbuds a few years ago. Once they were moved into Nebraska, they couldn’t tolerate the conditions that were so much different from where they were started and sourced, which was typically the South. This is why it is best to purchase trees from a local grower or a grower that is at the same latitude or further north than where the tree will be grown.

6. Where can you get buffalograss seed or plugs?

A. Campbell’s nursery has both seed and plugs available for purchase, as does Stock Seed Farms in Murdock, Nebraska. Buffalograss is a warm-season grass and shouldn’t be planted until late spring so later May would be ideal. It can be seeded until mid-August so long as irrigation is provided to help with establishment. Soil temperatures need to be 60 degrees F before buffalograss seed will germinate. Plugs should be planted at this time as well.

7. A caller added a raised bed around the tree about 5 years ago and heard us discussing how that shouldn’t be done. What can be done now?

A. Adding a raised bed around an existing tree can end up suffocating the tree. Before the raised bed, the tree was planted at the correct depth, after the raised bed, the tree is too deep. It will take between 5-10 years sometimes before any damage starts to show up in the tree. It is likely that once the tree does start to react to this change, you will see top dieback. You can try to remove the excess soil now, but it may be too late, the tree may still die.

8. When do you spray for bagworms?

A. They will hatch at different times in the year, it is weather dependent. Starting in late May, check weekly for the small bags to begin to show up on the trees. When the small bags show up and until they are up to 1/2 inch in length you can spray. Tempo or Bt would be best for control.

9. This caller has an area on the north side of their house in full shade that she would like to plant shrubs into. What can of shrubs can she plant in full shade?

A. There are some euonymus shrubs that could be planted there. This is the same genus of plant as burning bush. Summer sweet would grow well in the shade. If there is some sunlight, many hydrangeas would grow well there.

Termites
Subterranean Termites, Picture from UNL Entomology

10. A caller has concerns about termites coming from wood mulch. Will termites come from the mulch into the home?

A. It really isn’t a concern that termites will be brought in with mulch. The termites would be either cut up with the mulch or they would dry out quickly in those small pieces of wood. They have a soft body and will dry out quickly if not within soil or wood. If the wood mulch is piled up so high to where the mulch is touching wood siding, it can be a pathway for the termites to enter the home. However, mulch is recommended to only be 2-3 inches deep and most concrete foundations will go higher than that. Also, if you have had termites in the past, you should be working with a pest control company for termite control and the chemicals will manage the termites from the mulch.

11. The final question came to us from a Facebook post. This caller has a spot in his lawn that had a sidewalk in 1993, but even still it seems to dry up quickest in the summer and you can see a visual difference in the area where the sidewalk was in comparison to the rest of the grass.

A. This soil was severely compacted to add the sidewalk and still has not gotten better. They also add sand to build concrete on top of. I would suggest aerating annually and spreading compost over this area after the aeration. Over time, this will help to loosen the soil and to add organic matter back to the soil. Otherwise, you can dig it all up again and put in new soil that is high in organic matter and reseed overtop of that which would be much more work.