SHARPSHOOTER SPADE WILL GET RID OF CRAPE MYRTLE SPROUTS
Dear Neil: I removed a crape myrtle tree and got most of the roots. Now I am getting sprouts coming up in my lawn and flowerbed. How can I deal with them?
A: Since the mother tree is now gone, you could apply a broadleafed weedkiller spray specifically to the young sprouts if you can get a clear shot at them with a hand-sprayer. You’ll have to be very careful, however, if there are other flowers nearby. I’d recommend using a foam rubber paintbrush to apply it specifically to the crape myrtle sprouts. Honestly, because these have come from larger original roots, the spray may take several applications, if this were my landscape, I’d probably just dig with a sharpshooter spade and remove them some day immediately after you have watered. You won’t have to cut them more than a couple of times to let them know they’re unwanted.
Dear Neil: Why would leaves on my 4-year-old oak be turning rusty brown and falling off?
A: You probably ought to take a sample to a Texas Master Certified Nursery Professional. Ideally you would want the sample to be of 12 or 18 inches of stem with the affected leaves still attached. Often, when leaves turn yellow or brown and fall, the problem is actually in the trunk or roots. It could be that one of the gall insects has affected the ends of some of the branches (no major harm and no remedy), or it could be that lace bugs have attacked the foliage. In the last case, however, the leaves are more of a speckled tan and they do not fall early. Someone needs to look at a sample of your tree.
Dear Neil: How can I control wild grape vines that are growing over our trees and shrubs? If I cut them, they just grow back.
A: There is no herbicide that is that specific — that you can apply to grapes and not have it also harm trees and shrubs. The best way is to dig the grapes out entirely. If that’s not possible, you can cut the vines off near the ground. Then, drill small holes into the stumps and use an eyedropper to fill the holes with a broadleafed weedkiller. It will soak into the wood of the stump, and it will be carried throughout the root system. If you have any regrowth, you can carefully spot-treat it when it’s only a few inches tall. Apply the same broadleafed herbicide, taking great patience not to let it drift onto the shrubs’ leaves or trunk.
Dear Neil: My Stella d’Oro daylilies produced seedpods. Can I grow more plants from them?
A: They will definitely germinate, and they will definitely give you daylily seedlings. However, they will not be Stella d’Oros. It is a hybrid selection that is propagated by division or by tissue culture (without seeds). Hybrid plants do not reproduce “true” from their seeds.
Dear Neil: We’re from Pennsylvania originally. We wanted nice maples, so we planted several October Glory trees. However, instead of being the red we wanted, they have consistently been yellow. We’d like to find the best red variety for Texas.
A: Drummond red maple is a standard of excellence in Texas. Shantung maple is another. Both are best suited to the eastern half of the state, and both should give nice red fall color reliably. That said, a reminder that Texas is not noted for fall color like you saw in Pennsylvania. Chinese pistachio and Shumard red oaks are two fairly reliable species to consider beyond the maples, and they’re suited to larger parts of the state. Finally, a suggestion from one who grew up in College Station, then found himself in northern Ohio after college. I landscaped our home there using plants that I had known in Texas. In doing so, I bypassed a lot of great Ohio plants I should have been using. Coming back to Texas, I made it my point to warn people of doing just the opposite — of sticking with plants from the North, when some of the Texas counterparts would be better options.
Dear Neil: Our non-fruiting pear tree’s trunk split several years ago. Most recently its leaves have started to turn yellow and now they are dropping. It appears to be dying. We’ve watered it deeply. We had to remove the lowest branches because it outgrew our expectations of it. It seems to have borers, and the nursery suggested some type of insecticide. What would you recommend?
A: In a heartbeat, I would recommend that you take it out and replace it with a new tree species. That tree has already given you its best service. Ornamental pears’ life expectancy in our landscapes probably averages 10 or 12 years. When they split, as all are likely to do, it’s usually at that rough age, and the trees just go downhill from there. Little Gem magnolias are good replacements, although Teddy Bear magnolias might be a better match for the size you have available.
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