Green Industry Resources
Hort Update- Seasonal Information for the Green Industry
Show Questions -- July 12, 2012
1. Our first viewer is asking if there is an earthworm-friendly treatment to kill grubs in the lawn?
a. Yes, most of the standard treatments we will use for grubs in the lawn are not toxic to earthworms. Treatments like Sevin and few others are toxic, but many of the newer ones, Merit, and one called Acelepryn is in the Scotts GrubEx product line is a great choice.
2. The second part of the question is a viewer whose lawn has become lumpy in one area. They are suspecting it is moles; what would be a good treatment?
a. If it is moles, they are after the earthworms. 70% of their diet is earthworms, so if you are promoting earthworms you are promoting moles. There are several live traps on the market that work well. As far as a toxicant, there is one that is usually used by the professionals but it is sold as TomCat, and they look like gummy worms. Follow directions exactly.
3. How do you get rid of fungus in mulch?
a. When you have mulch it is just a natural process. If you don’t want to have fungus, our recommendation is to use cedar or cypress mulch. Also keep in mind some types can be poisonous. The ones that look like vomit would be slime molds; they are not favored by any particular type of mulch and are not toxic. They can be washed away by a garden hose and can reoccur.
4. This question is about buying trees on sale and how to keep them alive in this heat?
a. This is the worst time of year to plant a tree. If you are set on buying one on sale, purchase it, take it home and mulch it in until the weather cools down. Put them in shade and pile mulch around the base of the container so that the container is covered. If you decide to plant it, water is a big factor. Dig a wide hole, loosen the soil, mulch it well, and then water very frequently to keep the plant from drying out. It would be best to wait until September.
5. Define what a weed is.
a. A weed is a plant out of place. To a farmer a weed is a plant that hasn’t learned how to grow in rows. A rose in a cornfield is a weed.
6. A viewer has a hibiscus with what they think has mealy bugs. The plant has infected other plants in the area. What do you use to treat mealy bugs?
a. Generally we see them during weather that is more moist---not this hot, dry weather. You can treat with any insecticide even neem oil. Permethrin or Eight would also be effective. Be sure to spot treat a few leaves first, since the plant can be sensitive. It might be white flies since hibiscus are subject to that. Try spraying off the bugs with a hard spray of water.
a. Who is a friend and who is a pest. It is squirrel damage to trees. Sometimes it is territorial marking and it could be needing moisture. Put out a bird bath and you can try a repellent. You can mix vegetable oil with hot peppers and paint it on the area or use a commercial repellant.
8. A viewer has a problem with their zucchini plants. The fruit starts to set, then the plant gets soft and the fruit falls off. They are watering it well. There is no evidence of insects. Is it ok to apply sevin?
a. There is a disease that can cause it, which is botrytis fruit mold. If you see a fuzzy growth, it could be that. Also make sure you are watering in the morning, not the evening and make sure you are mulching well. It could also be blossom end rot or poor pollination.
Sarah: You can get fruit to come on but then fall off quickly because it won’t grow right. The high temperatures will help contribute to that by not allowing proper germination.
9. The questions have to do with our longer growing season this year. How do you keep flowers blooming and should you cut back mums this time of year?
a. With the coneflower, the best way to keep it blooming is to prune off the flowers to keep them producing. If you have a plant such as salvia with flower spikes, cutting those spikes off will also help them to re-bloom. With mums, the rule of thumb, is to pinch them off until the 4th of July. Then they will bloom in the fall. If you haven’t pinched them off by now, probably let them go.
10. We are getting a lot of questions regarding Japanese beetles. The viewer has them around their koi pond.
a. All the products we would use to control Japanese beetles would be highly questionable to use around the pond. They would be toxic to fish. I do not recommend Japanese beetle traps but you might try a baited trap 20 or 30 feet away from the pond to draw the numbers away from the pond. There are plant materials you can purchase for your pond that don't attract the beetles. The ones that they ARE eating this year? Don’t put those in your pond next year. Fish like Japanese beetles; if you can get them to fall in, the fish would eat them.
11. This is an insect. A large beetle about 7/8 of an inch long and about ½ inch wide. Shell is not shiny. Sort of dark green. Buzzing around different plants. What might this be?
a. That’s probably a Green June beetle. They’re large and they’re attracted to fermenting fruit. We’ll see them around apple trees, fruit trees, and compost piles, because they’re looking for that organic matter. They’re harmless. Turns out that the immatures are the grubs. Actually a little further south can be a problem in lots by damaging the turf. They’re pretty and really don’t cause any serious injury so you can just sort of ignore them. Not much you can do about them anyway.
12. They have a brick house with a covered patio. The bats are loving it underneath that covered patio. And they’re defecating all over the place. How would they shoo bats away is actually the words they used.
a. Just to elaborate a little bit. What you cannot do is take a bat from one area and just move that one bat to another area and think he’ll stay there. You can move bats by deterring them from one area and get them to a bat house, or something like that, as a colony. But they have to kind of pick that area---or move on their own. If you move a bat out of one attic to your house, it’s going to migrate back to that attic. To answer the question, we have a great NebGuide on bats. If they’re underneath the overhang, they’re probably coming after insects at night. So if the lights, if they’re on, attracting moths, it’s kind of like saying, “Eat at Joe’s, Eat at Joe’s” and come on over here and feed. And, of course, after you feed you have to defecate. So maybe use a light that doesn’t attract insects at night or not have a light on at all. Or just use some bird netting hanging down from the roof so they can’t go to those corners to roost after they feed.
13. We have a lawn question concerning summer patch. They’ve been tracking this for a couple years. Last year it came in on June 30th, this year it was July 10th. And it seems like it always comes right after their lawn company comes out and puts down a fertilizer. The lawn care company is telling them not to spritz it in the midday to help it get through the stressful summer, and our Neb Guide says something other than that. The lawn company is suggesting a spring application of a fungicide for summer patch. Big question. Can you elaborate on that?
a. Summer patch is one that actually quite a few of our viewers may be seeing at this point. It’s the disease that shows up in the summer. The damage is to the root system, though. The spring fungicide application is definitely the right thing to do. Not really doing any treatment now. But the only thing different there would be to possibly syringe that turf because you are trying to keep turf alive that has a very small root system. So that’s the only thing I would contradict there. Daily syringing to keep it alive. Try to manage turf that has basically an inch and a half root system. That’s what you’re trying to do to get it through the summer. Then this fall you could look at possibly overseeding and aerating it if it thins it out significantly. And then it is correct to treat in the spring. You don’t need to treat your whole landscape, but you will need to treat at least an area that’s defined that’s in full sun.
14. We have a question about compost. Is waste from cattle feed lots good for compost? And how about the liquid that gathers in the low spots around the feed lot? Can you throw that into the compost pile, as well?
a. You could. You could use those things for compost. But if you’re planning to use that compost in a vegetable garden, you need to leave at least 120 days between the time when you collect that material until the time when you apply it in a vegetable garden because there are some bacterial issues that we’re worried about with that. But other than that it could be used in compost, yes.
15. Cinch bugs in zoysia grass. What to use and what would be the timing?
a. Cinch bugs that we have are the western cinch bug. Buffalograss is the preferred host, Zoysia grass is a very close second. So if you’re seeing brown spots in zoysia grass, it’s probably important to go out and check to see if there’s any cinch bugs. Cinch bugs can be controlled really very effectively with a spray of Bifenthrin. There’s a lot of products out there, but far and away, Bifenthrin (which would be Telstar in the commercial market) would be the product of choice. Right now, we’re just sort of into the beginning of that second generation so it would be a really good time to treat. Once you’ve confirmed the presence of the cinch bugs, then go out and treat. There is a good Neb Guide called "Cinch Bugs in Buffalograss and Zoysia Grass" that’s available at the Extension publications website.
Roch: When people see buffalograss fade a lot they think "Oh no, it’s a native and it should be doing fine," but they need to be aware that there is a pest that hits it pretty hard.
16. These people have skunks. What do you think they want to do with them? They’re underneath the porch and it’s a whole family.
a. Wow, that’s a stinky problem. The best thing is actually to either hire somebody or very carefully (and we do have a Neb Guide on skunks) remove them. Probably box-trap them and have them euthanized. With the amount of rabies with skunks and a lot of problems, it’s best not to touch them or get your hands near the cage. Box trap them—usually with an opaque box trap—the plastic type. I always get excellent luck using chicken innards and eggs as bait. There is no repellent. So you have to physically remove them and you can’t translocate them. Having them euthanized is your best way to go.
17. We have a couple pictures of grapes. They show some sort of rot or spot. What might be going on with these plants?
a. You can see that they’re not maturing. They’re just rotting. It’s a fairly common disease. That’s a fruit rot we see in grapes—black rot. It will also produce spots on the leaves. It’s always going to be there. To manage that would be to get on a really good fruit spray program for your grapevines. That is going to be the best way to do it. You can’t really do a lot right now because you have so much inoculum and everything going on. In the future, I’d really recommend a good spray program with a fungicide and it will usually have an insecticide, as well.
18. Clematis in Columbus. They planted last fall. They were doing really well. Came out of the winter fine, but now about half the clematis is brown. The other half of the plant is green or going on the edge of brown.
a. Clematis are kind of touchy plants. They’re a little bit difficult to grow in a landscape. I’m wondering since this plant is newly established and it only has been in the landscape a year, if it’s struggling with the weather conditions we’ve been having. Clematis likes a nice, even moisture in the soil. They don’t particularly like hot temperatures. They like to have cool roots. So I’m wondering if there are some environmental things going on here. That would be my guess. Make sure it stays well watered—at least one deep soaking a week while the temperatures are in the 90’s. Make sure that it is well mulched with some nice woodchips at the base. But there could be some other things because clematis can be kind of problematic.
Loren: There’s definitely some crown rots we see in clematis that can result in individual vines dying. But if it’s a newer plant we typically wouldn’t see that.
Fred: Not very many insects on clematis—just general feeders.
19. An Omaha viewer has raspberries with black bugs on them. Hornet-like bug that buzzes in and around the raspberries. Is it a pollinator or is it a bad guy?
a. I think it’s a pollinator. It might be blister beetles. There’s one called a bumbling flower beetle. And it’s a pollen feeder. It sort of fits that description. They’re typically a little bit more brown. But if the viewer isn’t seeing any damage to the leaves or to the fruit, I wouldn’t worry about them.
20. A snake question: They don’t mind the garter snakes but they want to keep them off the steps and the porch of their house.
a. They’re probably thermo regulating, getting that heat they need to digest their food. Look around the porch, around the edges of the porch, for any cracks or crevices in the concrete or next to the foundation. Stuff coarse steel wool in those cracks and then caulk over it. Also, if there is a lot of tall grass or hiding places near the stoop, try to eliminate those. There is no repellent that I think is very efficient for working for garter snakes. All that we tested were not that efficient. So it’s a matter of getting rid of the habitat around the stoop.
21. This is in Prague, Nebraska. Blue spruces. Have lost three trees in windbreaks from the top down. Needles turn brown and fall off. Is that a disease?
a. If it’s from the top, if it’s a large portion of it, we do see cankers in spruce--particularly with the drought and dryer conditions. It could definitely be a disease. I’d look for any swollen areas or areas where you see a lot of sap running on the main portion of the trunk. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do if that’s the case. If not, I would recommend taking a sample to the local Extension office.
22. In Norfolk the string beans, pole beans, there’s absolutely no blossoms on them. Is that because of the heat or what else might be going on?
a. It certainly could be heat related. Although we often will see plants continuing to bloom under high temperature conditions, the flowers just won’t set any fruit. If the plants are vigorous and healthy, keep watering them well. I think once temperatures moderate, you’ll see plants starting to set more.
1. When should I harvest dill and how can I store it?
a. You want to wait until the seeds turn brown. Then you cut the stems and dry the bunches. And they’re ready to store.
2. Is it too early to start a fall garden?
a. A little bit. You probably want to wait until the beginning of August.
3. There aren’t any potatoes in my hills. And they planted them in April. Why would that be?
a. I would think it’s probably a watering issue, unless you’re dealing with really, really compacted soil. But I would just get out there and get the water going.
4. How many years does it take to get asparagus from seed
a. From seed it’s going to take you an extra year. You’re probably looking at three to four years to harvest.
5. A maple was damaged by equipment. Bark was stripped. I think probably a string trimmer or maybe something running into it. Can I paint it or wrap it?
a. No. You don’t want to do either. Don’t paint it or wrap it. Just leave it bare, let it dry off, and it will seal off on its own.
7. Should I renovate my strawberry patch now, or in the spring, or in the fall?
a. It would have been best if you would have renovated it right after you were done harvesting which probably would have been the end of June. At this point, in this hot weather I really hesitate. So I would say wait until September and then do the renovation at that time.
1. Any way to control rust on green beans before it ruins the beans?
a. The only way to do that is to avoid overhead irrigation like we talk about with everything. Also, you can also use a fungicide on those, but you need to watch the pre-harvest interval when you make that application.
2. Powdery mildew showed up overnight on goldenrod. What did I do?
a. With powdery mildew that is something that tends to occur as those plants get older a lot of times with ornamentals. Also after we get past the longest day of the year we tend to see more powdery mildew. You can use water, overhead irrigation on that. It’s going to be really difficult to manage though.
3. My heirloom tomatoes are cracking on top. What should I spray on them?
a. Cracking tomatoes. Nothing to spray, just make sure the water is uniform.
4. Hostas have a fungus or mold on the base of the leaves. Will it spread to other hostas?
5. My feather reed grass has brownish blotches on all the leaves. Is this a disease?
a. Brownish blotches. Yes, there are rusts that effect reed grasses.
6. Anything they can use to cure it?
a. They can, yes they can. With the reed grasses you will see rust on them. It will typically be there every year. We always say avoid overhead irrigation. You can use a fungicide. It’s not going to kill it though, so I wouldn’t really worry too much about it.
1. Do I need to treat city water before I fill my pond so my fish/turtle don’t die?
a. Yes you do.
2. What would you treat it with?
a. There’s plenty of products that allow you to get rid of the chloramines.
3. Can bats be caught and moved to a new home?
4. Can a snake cause a dog to foam at the mouth?
a. No, a toad will though.
5. If a toad does it, is it dangerous to the dog?
a. It can be. It’s a bufotoxin which is kind of like LSD. So he’ll be a happy dying dog.
6. How can I keep animals from tunneling in my rock wall?
a. It depends on the animal. Putting a lot of heavy gravel in those tunnels will help detour a lot of them.
7. How far east do prairie dogs live?
a. The farthest east in Nebraska is near Doane College. There’s one near Crete.
8. Just one?
a. There are a couple prairie dog towns in the north that are near the Missouri River.
1. Do the hot dry temperatures destroy the pollinators for fall?
2. Is an insect causing the dime-sized holes in the lawn?
a. Sure. It could be cicada killers. Cicadas. Either one.
3. How do you get rid of dogbane leaf beetle?
a. Probably need to knock it off. Spray it with something like Permethrin, Sevin.
4. Should I spray the mulch or the tops and bottoms of the leaves for squash bugs in zucchini?
a. If you have squash bugs there, you want to spray the undersides typically.
5. I have scale on my wintercreeper. What can I do?
a. You need to control them when the crawlers are out. The best way to do that is to use a tap test. Go out probably in May, maybe in July. Tap them out and look for the little yellow crawlers. And that will be the time to treat.
6. What can I spray on firewood before I bring it in to kill insects?