Each week I get great gardening info from friend and colleague Ron Wilson of Natorp’s, so though this season I’ll try to post some of the questions from his readers here. Really timely stuff!
“I am trying to do more natural gardening and was hoping you had a suggestion as to an insecticide that I might use in the garden.” -Insecticidal soap, Horticultural oils, Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew, Bt, and Diatomaceous Earth are a few to consider using, BUT, remember that these are still pesticides and you should use them only as needed, and of course, when the bees are not active. Diagnose what you have, determine amount of potential damages if not treated, then determine which spray is best for the control, read the label, and follow the instructions. By the way, one of my favorite insect controls is a hose and a strong stream of water.
“We were thinking about growing figs in containers. Does that work here?” -Absolutely! Been growing Black Mission figs in pots for several years! Right now, we have Brown Turkey, Celeste and LSU Purple figs in stock, all perfect for growing in containers (brown turkey and celeste in ground too, as long as they are provided good winter protection)
“Why does my maple leaves have little warts all over them?” -That’s a gall, and there are several types which caused by a small mite stinging the leaf buds. The leaf forms a nice little house around the insect’s eggs, they hatch out, goes away, the gall dries, falls off, and leaves a small hole in the leaf. Again, leaf galls will not kill the tree, rarely to never sprayed for, and is pretty much aesthetic. (That means it looks funny!) Oaks get them, as well as many other types of trees. Again, if you’re not sure, you can always take a leaf sample to one of our garden stores and someone can identify the problem.
“When my mums are growing, aren’t I supposed to be doing something to them like cutting them back?” -Why, yes, yes you are! Pinching your mums between the time they’re 6-8 inches tall, until around July 15th or so (usually 2-3 pinches is all that’s needed), you’ll keep those garden mums more compact, fuller, and have a lot more flowers in the fall. As a matter of fact, some early blooming varieties will start flowering soon if they’re not pinched back to delay the flowering process!
“Do you know of a way to kill mushrooms that keep growing in the moist spots in our mulch in one of our beds, preferably a natural way if possible?” -Yes I do. Kick them, stomp them, hand pick them, mow them (in the lawn), or get out your 9 iron and practice your golf swings. Hey, they’re already teed up for you! All ‘natural’ controls. Sorry, but no actual controls for mushrooms besides physical removal. They’re all a part of the decomposing process.
“When do I prune my lilacs?” -Try to prune them (if needed) within 2-3 weeks after they finish flowering, to help ensure flowers again next year. Remember, prune plants that bloom in the spring after they finish flowering. And with the lilacs, it’s ‘soon’ after they finish flowering!
My roses are developing spots and holes in the leaves. Any idea what this is? I don’t see any bugs.” -Right now, we’re getting samples and questions about rose leaves having either window panes type holes or complete holes in the leaves, but no bugs to be seen. Well, chances are that’s the results of the rose slug. Rose slugs are actually in the sawfly family, and there are multiple generations each year. They look like very small caterpillars (at the early stages are very hard to see), and feed on the underside of the leaves, causing the window pane effect from the younger slugs, to skeletonization as well as the large holes as the larva mature. Control for the rose slugs includes 1.) Hand picking the infected leaves (with saw fly larvae on them) and destroying the leaves, 2. Repeated foliar sprays as needed, using Insecticidal Soaps or Horticultural Oils, and be sure to spray the undersides of the leaves, or 3.) By applying a systemic insecticide, the foliar sprays combined with the systemic applications are usually most effective in control.
“Is it safe to spray a weed killer in the landscape beds to kill the weeds? Won’t it kill my landscape plants?” -Use a non selective herbicide such as Roundup /or Killzall, and only spray it on the weed. These products only spread thru the plant and roots, but not thru the soil. Keep the spray on the weeds, and your landscape plants are safe. Remember, also using a pre emergent herbicide like Preen or Dimension will help stop weed seeds from growing in your landscape beds. Pre emergent for the seeds, Roundup for the weeds. (And lawn weed killers are for the lawn, not landscape beds). Also, for grassy weeds, you can use Over the Top or Grass Beater in the landscape beds, without harming the plants!