Green Industry Resources
Hort Update- Seasonal Information for the Green Industry
Show Questions -- June 21, 2012
1. A viewer made a very interesting comparison between what they thought might have been a sunflower or was it a catalpa near the house. They noticed the stem was getting a little bit woody instead of being fuzzy, and this is, indeed, a catapla that has seeded itself from nearby.
a. They can dig it up in the fall, if they don't want to kill it with an herbicide.
2. This would be a Japanese Beetle question! A viewer never had them until this year. They're attacking the open roses, of course, and eating them, and they want to know how to get rid of Japanese beetles.
a. You can hand-pick them, if you're really ambitious---make sure you get them all. You can get pheromone-baited traps. Those usually only work for the males. You can put carboryl on them, if you want to sacrifice some of your plants. But if you're non-chemical, you're left with hand-picking.
3. Lowell, we had a viewer send us a little sample. She is in York, and she has this weed that is actually, unfortunately, in her strawberry bed. So her question is: what is it, how to get rid of it, and particularly in the strawberries or any ornamentals?
a. Unfortunately, in the strawberries, it gets to be difficult. This is a wild strawberry. It's a perennial. I believe it has stolens or stem structures that go along the ground, and you can see the three leaflets there on the screen right now, and because it's in the strawberry patch, it's not really possible to remove it chemically because there's not anything selective that will remove this plant from the strawberries. So, in this case, unfortunately, they are left with hand-weeding or hand-pulling. Now, if this is invading a lawn or turf, again, it's a perennial. Applications in the fall would be best; spring, second best. Use a product that has triclopyr in it and be persistent about control.
Kim:I know it is really aggressive in turf; it's showing up more and more, we're getting more questions about that particular plant.
4. Kevin, a couple of questions about cottonwoods. Some people love them, others don't. We have a viewer in Cozad who had a branch blown out of a cottonwood in the front yard. When they cut the wood, they found a lot of discoloration. They don't want to cut the tree down. The second viewer, in Lincoln, has a cottonwood that has a very large, almost wet-wood wounding at the base of the tree. So any suggestions without actually sending an arborist out?
a. We like to call cottonwoods self-pruners. They like to drop limbs whenever they get stressed and, whatever is causing the stress, their first response is to shed a trunk or a stem, and that might happen with a storm. Discoloration of the stem and the trunk sound like it could be pathogenic and the thing is, if you live in an urban area and this tree is above your house, sad to have to cut out a tree, but you may want to cut it down for safety reasons, because it will drop more, and especially with a wound.
Kim: So get somebody out there to do the evaluation on the tree?
5. All right, Dennis, this is fun. This viewer has a lot of wren houses and they have a little frog living in one of the wren houses. They don't know whether the frog is eating what the wren is bringing and they've never heard of anything like this before.
a. Well, in Nebraska, we have one tree frog, Hyla chrysoscelis, which is the False or Gray tree frog (it can be green or gray) and it would love to live in the wren house, where there is moisture, and I'll bet the wren is feeding itself or baby birds. And the frog is taking advantage of the tiny moths or grasshoppers or if the wren drops something, I'm sure the frog will eat it. They can live together, no problem!
Kim: That's really kind of fun! To think about a frog in the wren house.
6. This viewer has, beetles, she thinks, that are eating her petunias. She picks them off, but they fly back. She doesn't want to kill them. She wants to know if there are any non-pesticide or home remedy options she can use to repel beetles? This is in Omaha.
a. They're likely Japanese beetles. There are no home remedies other than your hands to take care of them.
7. Lowell, this viewer has fine textured turf that they think is bluegrass; then they have this wide-bladed stuff taking over sections of the yard. They want to know what it is and if they can prevent further invasion?
a. I believe the coarser blade is a fescue. It's probably an off type or an old type of fescue and it can be kind of ugly in the finer bladed turf. Now, because it's a fescue in another cool-season grass, unfortunately, there's not an herbicide solution to remove one selectively and keep the other. So folks typically have two options. One is to spade or trowel out the unwanted fescue and then re-seed desirable bluegrass in that spot or to use Roundup on the fescue and overseed those spots. Those are the two best options.
Kim: Or just mow it and enjoy that it's something green. It's diverse.
8. Kevin, we've been answering "what in the world is wrong with my daylily" questions for three weeks. We've a number of viewers send in images of lilies and daylilies with yellow leaves and dying tops.
a. That's correct. I did get a clue in the lab the other day, again: we think there's probably environmental issues to blame here, but one thing I would ask the viewers to do is to check their daylilies and check the flowering stalk, just go and pinch it. If it's dying and it's kind of squishy, it's possible that it's what I saw in the lab the other day, which is a bacterial stalk rot. I always feel like I'm the deliverer of such evil news, but you've got to get rid of the plant. Follow that flowering stock, you'll have to dig a plant up. It's going to be wrapped in leaves. Unfold all the leaves, get to the base. If it's brown and smells terrible, and then get rid of the plant. thank you.
Kim: Unfortunately, I'm glad you said that, because daylily leaves do yellow under stress conditions.
9. A Plumfield viewer has gophers, with 13 stripes. They bought the house in March; it was vacant for three years. They have over 100 holes. What should they do?
a. If it's open holes and 13 stripes, it's a 13-stripe ground squirrel. I'm going to go with 13-line ground squirrel, which is a small woodchuck, not a ground squirrel. They have a very simple hole. One hole goes down, only about two or three foot, and comes back 20 feet later. Find the holes, put water down one, get our NebGuide--it shows you how to build a trap, he will come right up the other hole, and you've got him trapped. (http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/pages/publicationD.jsp?publicationId=1204) I always talk about the time I did this on the golf course. Caught nine in an hour.
10. We have a picture for you, Wayne. This is a follow-up. We had a question last week about a compact viburnum hedge that was dying and the viewer now says they cut more of the dead area out of the hedge and they found several, as in 20, of these creatures in the cart and they wonder if this is what was is causing the death of the stalks?
a. I want to say this is a great picture. The one on top, that's a female. These are earwigs. That one's a female. You can tell by the shape of the pincers on the back end. The males have rounded ones, the females don't. They can cause problems with some plants, namely fruits that are over-ripe. They're usually not a problem. They're probably just hanging out in there because it's shaded, there is probably dead material they'll eat on, and it's protected from things like birds.
Kim:This has nothing to do with the death of the viburnum canes?
11. This is a viewer who had a portion of their sod lifted to run a new electrical feed. Replaced the soil and there is a 1-3 inch depression, of course, where the soil settled. They're wondering whether they can go ahead and just top-dress that with soil and let the turf grow through it, or do they need to pick that up and re-establish soil before that turf will succeed?
a. Yeah, if they don't want the depression there, I think they would probably need to create a flat surface there to re-seed a turf into and we're at a tough time for seeding a cool-season turf like Kentucky bluegrass, so this actually may be something that they want to consider doing in the fall after we get past the summer heat and have some time to think about that. But top dressing over an established lawn is probably not the best idea. They can probably put a little bit on there but you certainly don't want to over-do it.
12. Kevin, this is a Cherokee, Iowa viewer who has tomatoes with blossom end rot. They've been told they can spray with a calcium spray but now they say the leaves seem to be dying. They wonder what's up with that. They don't say what kind of variety it is.
a. Well, they're right about blossom end rot being caused by a calcium deficiency. Spray calcium, have the plant take it in through its foliage. What they do is attach some kind of surfactant that burns the leaves so the calcium can get into the plant. It will save your fruit possibly, but your leaves are going to look terrible. That sounds like what's going on. The best thing to do is to keep even watering. Plants, tomatoes, can only get calcium when the soil is wet. Do that or add a calcium-supplemented fertilizer.
13. Can he or she combine herbicide and grub control together to use on lawns, to do two things at the same time, I think.
a. Sure, yes, they can do that. Unless the label of either product specifically prohibits that, mixing insecticides and herbicides can be done. Now, the question is, is what they're going after with the herbicide at the right stage as treatment for the grubs, and are we at the right treatment stage for grubs.
Wayne: In a normal year, I would say yes, but since we are in this really odd pattern---three weeks ahead of everything pattern, we are past time.
Lowell: So in that case, yes they could combine but it's probably not the right time to actually combine both of those.
14. We have another tomato question. Sounds also like blossom end-rot. It's a Roma type; the tomatoes are turning black on the bottom. When they're picked, the black tends to disappear. Now, they don't say whether it disappears because they slice it off with a knife.
a. That's kind of a magic trick. Usually when tissue turns black like that, it's dead and you can't bring it back to life, so it sounds like some kind of a post-harvest ripening. I would imagine it is some kind of a deficiency of something or the cells havn't finished putting themselves in order with the right chemicals yet. If it's healing itself, I guess.
15. We have a viewer in Omaha that has bull snakes. They live near a man-made lake and the snakes are four to five feet long. They want to keep the bull snakes out of the yard and they want to know if they can swim.
a. Yes, all our snakes can swim on top of the water and also go under water for a short time. Only our water snake, which is non-dangerous, nonvenomous, can stay under for 20 minutes because they have extra long lungs. Bull snakes are after rodents, so if you get rid of the rodents, they will move on. They also eat moles and pocket gophers and thirteen line ground squirrels. If you eradicate those rodents, the bull snake won't have food and will go to another location. It's tough to keep them out. You can try burying a quarter-inch mesh in the ground about 4 inches and extend above the ground about 2 foot, and on a 40-degree angle toward the house where you don't want them to go.
16. What attacks sweet corn?
a. Deer and raccoons love sweet corn. If you have less than an acre and you can use an electrified fence, one strand, at about three feet. Of course deer can go over it, raccoons can go underneath. Put one strand, and every three feet put a piece of foil with peanut butter in it. They will smell it and touch the fence and it will knock them back. Use a cattle type electric fence with a battery. It's the easiest, quickest way to keep deer and raccoons out of your sweet corn.
17. This viewer had little black bugs outside the patio door, now they're inside. They are pinpoint and dish soap seemed to work for a little while. They don't know what they are and don't know hat else to do.
a. I’ve been having a lot of calls on these things. These are springtails; they like eating decomposing, organic matter, mold---things like that. There's not a lot you can do about them specifically other than try to take care of their food source. If they're outside, maybe there is mulch or something rotting.
18. This is a Sumner, Nebraska, viewer. They have a fescue lawn. Every year they get small patches of a fine-bladed turf, growing in the fescue. Round patches that vary in size from one to three feet and that die and they're wondering what that is and is there anything they can do to stop that from happening.
a. Without a sample, it's difficult to know what it is but we can talk about a couple things. If it dies in the heat of the summer, it's probably an annual grass and their fescue lawn it doesn't do a good job of filling in. So they need to over-seed in those areas to try to displace this undesirable grass, whatever it is, with a desirable fescue type of species. But it's difficult to recommend specific treatment if we don't know what the grass is. But if they know it's an annual, then that at least gets them down the road a little bit to a solution.
19. This is a viewer in Lincoln who has 'Prairie Fire' crabapples, newly planted, inch caliber. They bloomed fine. The leaves are turning orange underneath and green on top.
a. It just seems that if there's no yellowing or browning necrosis and it's not in patches, if one side is different from the other, it sounds like a nutrient thing. That happens a lot with young transplants. If it was something pathogenic, we would probably see crinkling of the leaves or patches of discoloration.
Kim: I would suspect since it is new, it's a bad year to be a tree, as you said. Just make sure you're watering your transplants very, very well.
20. This is a North Platte viewer who has snakes that shed their skins around his yard, and he's wondering if it's possible to identify snakes by the shed skin?
a. Yes, you can tell. I can tell you the species, it's sex just by the shed skin. If you take herpetology here at the University of Nebraska, you will learn how to do that. Send us the skin, and we'll tell you what species it is.
21. An Ashland viewer has lilies and there are holes in the stems and a worm and they're falling over. What kind of stalk thing could be in lilies? I'm guessing it's Oriental or Asiatic.
a. I'm not sure what the species would be. My guess would be to take care of it: nice, thin wire if you want to feel really good about scrambling up inside the stem. If it's burrowing inside the stem, you're probably going to lose that stem anyway.
Kim: So cut it off below that point potentially so you don't lose the rest of the plant.
1. Fred told us last year that orioles and finches like grape jelly, and they put it in saucers. How do you keep other things out?
a. They get a ton of ants. You can’t really keep other things out, unless you put it in a fence and they can take it out of the fence and hang it.
2. A viewer has a green snake with a yellow underside, about the size of a quarter around, and it's two-feet long.
a. Yellow-belly racer---benign.
3. We have a viewer who wants to know what to get rid of all the hoot owls because there are too many of them.
a. Protect it, and why is there too many? They eat rodents. I don't think there's too many.
4. We have a creature that chewed a little tiny holes in garden hoses, almost turns them into soaker hoses.
a. Ground squirrels love to do that. It's dry, they want the water, and they chew through to it. They do a lot of irrigation damage.
5. Where should a bat house be hung?
a. On the south side, about 12 foot up. Preferably on a building and not a tree.
1. Viewers all across the state have had issues with their clematis. Yellow foliage, brown spots, dying from the ground up. Any ideas?
a. I can't pinpoint it, but it's either bacterial or fungal, both of those like to work from the bottom up.
2. The blossom end is rotten on pears. Is there a fruit disease of some sort that would do that?>
a. There are a couple. It depends on what the rot looks like. If it's really, really dark colored, it's possibly fireblight. If it's fuzzy, it could be botrytis.
3. What causes the big Stanley plums to shrink and drop?
4. We have a viewer in Newman Grove who has zucchini that grow three or four inches and turn soft. What causes that?
a. Turning soft is bacterial, so possibly a bacterial rot of some kind.
1. When do we control nimblewill and with what?
a. It can be done now; two options: one would be to use glyphosate, that's going to kill it, or use Tenacity, a professional would have to do that.
2. Is it time for a second application for a pre-emergent in June and what is "plus 2"?
a. A second application can go on now, we have moisture, you may get some germination, that would be a good thing. The "plus 2" means there is probably some fertilizer or something like that in the product. Read the label to find out what it is.
3. The longest day of the year has come and gone. What about nutsedge control?
a. We typically recommend nutsedge control before the longest day of the year. If they really want to get rid of it, they can use a contact herbicide now, such as Basagran, but just realize you may get more regrowth.
1. Two viewers had questions about stalk borers in their tomatoes. They want to know how you can control stalk borers.
a. Sounds like pruning it out, almost.
2. Viewer in Kearny has tiny little jumping black bugs against their patio door. What are those and how do you control them.
a. That could be a lot of things, probably flea beetles, and use any of the home spray products on the affected surface; read the label.
2. Some insect is eating everything purple in their garden. Do you know insects that have purple preference?.
a. I don't know of any that have purple preferences. One has a white preference, and that's the sand chafer.
3. European corn borers, are they in the garden right now, and what do you do?
a. You can find them now. If they're not burrowed into the stalk or the ear, you can use BT right now, that would be a good way to go about that.