The Gardening Show

Dr. Dean Krauskopf
Dr. Dean Krauskopf

Dean is off the air for the season. Have a great winter and listen for The Gardening Show in the Spring. 
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The Gardening Show

  • The Southeast Michigan Bromeliad Society and the Michigan Cactus & Succulent Society will be presenting their seventh annual join show at the U-M Mattaei Botanical Gardens on September 15-16, 2018. Hundreds of plants ranging from the beautiful to the bizarre will be on display. Society members will have plants available for sale. Hours are 10-4:30 both days. Admission is free.

    Ronald in Detroit is fighting crabgrass in his lawn.

    There are quite a few different goldenrod species in Michigan.

    Drought in Michigan expands.

    Fall webworm.

    Slime mold on turfgrass.

    Jim in Southfield must get rid of thistles in his lawn. Applying either glyphosate or triclopyr in mid-September and again the first week of October will kill the roots, however, with as large an area that’s infested I would suggest renovating the lawn

    Teddy in St. Clair Shores is also fighting lawn weeds, in this case creeping Charlie and clover. Apply a labeled herbicide in mid-September and again in October if called for on the label will significantly reduce the problem. Again, lawn renovations would be a good option.

    Teddy‘s neighbor used glyphosate near her arbor vitae which are now browning. It’s too early to tell how much damage has occurred, sometimes plants do recover from accidental exposure, but next spring will tell if they survived or not.

    Teddy also wanted information on hydrangeas and here’s a new bulletin from The Ohio State University.

    The tips of Teddy‘s saucer magnolia were dropping off. I would look for tooth marks – most probable pest is squirrels. Try applying a repellent to see if they stop.

    R. David in Birmingham has a old maple which lost a limb 25 years ago. The cut surface was sealed but now the seal has loosened and there are holes in the area. I think you are dealing with carpenter ant damage which has probably been occurring since the original damage. With a tree this large and a history of damage I suggest contacting an arborist, especially since the structural integrity of the tree may be compromised. You can find an ISA certified arborist here.

    Vincent in Livonia is dealing with an oversized Japanese maple. Here’s information on pruning and transplanting Japanese maple trees.

  • More areas of Michigan are abnormally dry or in drought.

    Jesse in Plymouth wondered about dollar spot in the lawn. Turf diseases are difficult to diagnose just by symptoms (ask any plant pathologist) so I suggest sending in a sample to MSU before doing any chemical applications. An application of 1/2 pound of Nitrogen per 1000 square feet now would be of benefit. Use a fast release (traditional) formulation instead of a slow release product. The Smith-Kerns Dollar Spot Model is on Enviroweather which will give you a warning when environmental conditions favor disease attack. 

    Late blight has appeared in potatoes and tomatoes.

    Is my lawn dead? Dr. Kevin Frank.

    More on Brown Marmorated Stink Bug and its’ damage to tomatoes.

    Enjoy the beauty of spider webs with your morning coffee.

    Oleander/milkweed aphid.

    A new sweet corn pest.

    Watch out for blister beetles.

    Marestail is a difficult weed to control.

    Porcelain-Berry the next Kudzu?

    What’s eating my milkweed?

    The Southeast Michigan Bromeliad Society and the Michigan Cactus & Succulent Society will be presenting their seventh annual joint show at the U-M Matthaei Botanical Gardens on September 15-16, 2018. Hundreds of plants ranging from the beautiful to the bizarre will be on display. Society members will have plants available for sale. Hours are 10-4:30 both days. Admission is free. 

    Gary in Waterford’s lawn doesn’t look good even though he’s been watering and feeding it. Even lawns given good care such as Gary’s have been severely stressed by the weather. I would suggest contacting Oakland County MSU Extension or MSU about sending in a sample. Also, most stressed lawns would greatly benefit from an application of 1/2 pound of Nitrogen from a fast released (traditional) fertilizer. Don’t use a slow release product because the Nitrogen won’t be available fast enough to benefit. 

    Ronald‘s neighbor’s mulberry tree drops so much fruit into his flower beds that his plants die. Here are some suggestions; work with your neighbor to prune the tree to remove as many limps over your flower bed as possible. Use a 2-3 inch layer of mulch in the beds and then rake them every few days to help compost the fruit. Florel can be applied to the tree right after flowering to prevent the fruit from developing. 

    William in Bay Village, OH is trying to kill sumac growing in his garden. Sumac spreads by seeds and from the roots so cut the plants back before flowering to prevent seeding. Apply materials containing glyphosate or triclopyr to the foliage in mid-September and again two weeks later to kill more of the roots. 

    David in Warren wondered about fertilizing his lawn every month. As long as you are applying the recommended total amount per year in equal amounts and applying adequate water there should be no problems. However, there are less intensive ways to have a good looking lawn

    Ilene in Troy‘s 50-year-old back lawn was becoming sparse. She had the trees and shrubs trimmed to increase light and was wondering about reseeding. If there are a lot of weeds growing it might be better to kill everything off and reseed or resod. To reseed into existing turf, I recommend slit seeding

    Heather in Toledo called about adding compost or compost and cow manure to her flower beds and because of time I didn’t give her a complete answer. The way to start is to have your soil tested for nutrients and organic matter. Compost is used as a source of organic matter but also contains small amounts of nutrients depending upon the source of the material. You could mix a small amount of compost with your soil and have that analyzed to get a better picture. Composted cow manure is a good source of Nitrogen but tends to be higher in Phosphorus than is needed by most soils. One major problem occurs in heavy clay soils, where adding large amounts of compost set up what I call a bathtub. Water quickly penetrates the porous amended soil by then can’t drain away in the clay so that water builds up in the bottom of the bed and drowns the plant roots. The solution is to incorporate less compost of install drains in the bottom of the bed.

  • Raker’s – Roberta’s Young Plants – Open from 9 – 4:30 pm, Monday – Friday through August 24th.

    Along with extensive sponsored areas, comparing the following:
    Hanging Baskets: Ipomoea, Euphorbia, Lantana, 175 varieties of Trailing Vegetative Petunias. Also, Gerbera, African Marigolds, Lantana, Zinnia, Argyranthemum, “Sun” New Guinea Impatiens, 120 varieties of Verbena. Showcasing shade alternatives to replace Impatiens walleriana.

    Four Star Greenhouse (Proven Winners).  Over 50 different hanging basket combinations and over 50 upright combinations on display. Stroll through our shade beds, check out the full sun beds, and see how the new varieties compare to your favorite Proven Winners. Please call (734) 654-6420 for more information or to schedule a visit.

    MSU Horticulture Gardens – Hundreds of new varieties compared to old standards. Download the trial booklet and mark the new varieties that you’ll plant in 2019

    Caston Thomas of the Internet Advisor program will be my guest next Saturday to talk about new gardening apps.

    While rains last week helped, many are still dealing with drought or abnormally dry conditions

    Yellownecked caterpillars

    Ruby Spice’ Clethra (Summersweet): A scent of summer.

    Common bagworms

    Even if you are sure you know where your utility lines are checked with Miss Dig before doing any digging

    Pete in Dearborn wanted to get rid of some invasive mint. While solarization would probably work, it isn’t especially attractive, so digging the plants out may be the best approach. A heavy layer of mulch afterward will help prevent regrowth.

    Bruce in Milford wanted to get rid of the water running off his driveway. He was thinking of a type of French drain however a rain garden  would also be effective.

    Don asked about his Hibiscus. Here’s information on the tropical type and the perennial

    Lynn in Troy was interested in the oakleaf hydrangea

    Jan was interested in black walnut tolerant plants

  • Unless you were lucky enough to get rain, the drought pattern in Michigan is much the same as last week.

    Spotted wing Drosophila control for the home gardener.

    Powdery mildew information.

    Downy mildew reported on cucurbits in Michigan.

    Consider planting a Kentucky coffeetree.

    Jumping spiders – a valued predator in the garden.

    Rose rosette disease.

    Edith in Northville wanted information about hydrangea care. Here’s a new bulletin from The Ohio State University. You can also find information here.

    A wisteria was taking over Scott in Troy‘s mother’s neighborhood. Here’s how to root cuttings and here’s information on pruning.

    Beth in Maybee‘s email reminded that the sap of all three members of the hogweed group, Giant Hogweed, cow parsnip and wild parsnip can cause skin burns. However, there isn’t as much of the active ingredient in cow and wild parsnip, so they are less likely to cause severe problems. Here are some resource links with more information: Resource 1, Resource 2 and Resource 3.

    Sandy in Troy‘s Japanese maples was higher than her house. Here’s information on pruning.

    Billy in Hillsdale was correct to remove black walnut limbs with weak crotch angles. Here’s information.

  • Eileen from Pontiac wondered how to dry hydrangea flowers.

    Chet from Troy‘s burning bushes was covered with webs and then the leaves dried and turned brown. The first possibility is two-spotted spider mites but the webbing starts on the underside of the leaf. The second and more serious possibility is euonymus web worm.

    Drought monitor: Same pattern as last three years with parts of Washtenaw County, Lenawee, Jackson, Calhoun, Ingham counties in drought. Not into Oakland and Macomb counties yet. 

    If you or a neighbor are growing cucurbits consider becoming part of the squash bee survey sponsored by MSU’s Entomology Department.

    Mossy Rose Gall.

    Jim in Ashtabula, Ohio wanted to get rid of the weeds in his flower beds. The first step is to identify what is infesting the beds. Annual weeds can be controlled by physical methods. I suggested using a push hoe or something similar. A layer of mulch will prevent regrowth or reseeding. For perennial weeds application of a herbicide such as glyphosate in mid-September using an applicator is usually effective.

    Wendy in Romeo is fighting what sounds like field bindweed in her lawn. In lawn areas not mowing the area beginning in September will allow the plants to develop enough leaf area so that any broadleaf herbicide labeled for lawn use will be very effective. 

    Raymond in Detroit thought he had found Giant Hogweed at a friend’s cabin. Giant Hogweed is quite dangerous, and any sightings should be reported to the Michigan DNR.

    Patty in Southfield has grass growing between brick pavers. I don’t suggest using herbicides in these cases because the materials aren’t held by the pavers and can wash into adjacent areas. I suggested using a flamer. Don’t use them when the area is very dry to prevent the fire from spreading and when the pavers are damp because the steam inside the porous material can expand and crack the paver. 

    Don in Ortonville‘s holly suddenly dropped their leaves. Since the plants had been planted for only six months, I suspect the roots hadn’t moved into the surrounding soil and the plants became severely water stressed. Another possibility is a heavy spider mite infestation, but webbing should be evident on the undersides of the leaves. Here’s more information.

  • Grasshoppers are starting to appear.

    Stressed conifers

    BeeTV from Baily Hall on MSU‘s campus.

    Kent in Trenton is establishing a new lawn this fall and was interested in turf-style tall fescue.

    Tom in Pleasant Ridge found a white way substance on his Rhododendrons. Most likely it’s dust from the I-696 construction by scale is also a possibility. 

    Mike in Wauseon Ohio (I apologise to Mike and all listeners for not being able to properly pronounce Wauseon) wondered about the white substance on the trunk and limb dieback on his pine trees. The symptoms most closely fit Cytospora canker which attacks spruce and sometimes larch. Here’s how to identify pines, spruce and firs and here’s information on Cytospora.

    Jim in Holt‘s maple was redeveloping it’s root system after a girdling root was removed. Extra watering using deep root watering or soaker hoses may help the tree recover. 

    Blake in Monroe‘s tree trunks are covered in a fuzzy green fungus. Because the trees are mature and the large canopy provides a high moisture area I think this is lichens which don’t harm the tree.

    Dan in Jackson wondered about pruning the yews around his house. 

    Tom in Brighton wanted to plant shade trees around his home. 

  • Identifying Cicadas by their song.

    The abnormally dry areas in Michigan are expanding.

    Lacewing populations increasing – a very good thing.

    White pine weevils damaging many conifers and scouting for gypsy moth egg masses.

    Check your veggies as well as ornamentals for thrips and twospotted spider mites.

    Great Lakes IPM is a good source for pheromones and other IPM materials.

    Dormant lawns.

    Robber flies: The F-22’s of the Insect World.

    Flies are pollinators.

    Wheel bugs – important predators.

    Sand wasp enemy of Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs? 

    Carol in Sterling Heights had removed the lower branches of her spruce due to what I think was spruce decline and wondered about adding coil underneath the tree. Here’s information from Texas A and M.

     Jim in New Vienna Ohio wondered about the difference between potting soil and potting media.

    Jeff in Port Huron wondered about using the waste of water from his koi pond on his flowers and vegetables. I don’t see a problem unless you’re using a algaecide containing copper ir a quaternary ammonium compound which over a period of time can harm plants. There could be a concern splashing water containing fecal material on leafy greens in the garden. I would avoid using the water on such crops and carefully wash all produce before eating. 

    Jerry in Saline described the symptoms of blossom end rot in his tomatoes. Here’s how to reduce the incidence of the problem.

    John in St. Clair Shores wanted information on broad mite control on cannabis.

  • Releaf Michigan Executive Director Melinda Jones talked about her organization and the Big Tree Hunt.

    The Sunset Garden Celebration at MSU’s Tollgate Farm, Saturday, July 21, 4-7 pm is a great opportunity to pack a picnic and enjoy beautiful gardens, music, education and vendors. Free but no alcohol or pets. 

    Check the nearest Enviroweather monitoring site to see how often you have to water. Also watch the University of Nebraska’s Drought Monitor site to see into what category your area falls.

    One of the keys to a healthy lawn is mowing at the correct height

    Milkweed bugs have appeared.

    MSU’s Firewise tips.

    Twospotted spider mite can cause leaf drop and branch death for many plants but Dwarf Alberta Spruce, pyracantha, and burning bush a very susceptible. The article suggests using spray oil to control these pests but make sure you use Ultra Redefined Spray oil or one of the organic oils and don’t spray when the plants are stressed or it’s above 70 degrees. Another approach is to direct a high-pressure water spray to the underside of the needles or leaves about once a week. This will physically blow off mites from the leaves and the high humidity reduces egg survival. 

    Squash vine borer.

    Asiatic of Oriental lily – how to tell.

    You should be able to hear the cicada song soon – along with cicada killer wasps.

    Fluffy planthoppers.

    Watch out for magnolia scale.

    Is my tree infested with ghosts? Southern Masked Chafers adults starting to fly.

    Spreading Ornamental Plants, Virtues and Vices from Purdue.

    Edward from Shelby Township wondered the best way to trim a Blue Spruce and when to do it. Usually we don’t prune spruce except to remove broken branches or branches killed by Cytospora canker which is best done in winter. Another cause of branch death is spruce decline which is complex of diseases. To shape young trees part of the expanding shoots (called candles) can be removed in the spring. 

    Randy in Port Sanilac just put in a new lawn and was wondering how often to water and when to mow for the first time. Here’s more information.

    Walter in Southgate is fighting either the cultivated morning glory or “wild” morning glory which is better named field bindweed. The plants are very similar, but morning glory stems and leaves are larger, and the flowers are blue or purple. Field bindweed leaves are about 2 inches across, the flowers are white, and the stems are very small, almost like threads. Since Walter said the flowers were purple, it’s more likely morning glory. Both plants are extremely difficult when growing among the other plants. Follow the directions in the material on field bindweed for control of both plants.  

  • Square Foot Gardening Day was July 1, Mel Bartholomew developed the square foot gardening technique which has transformed many gardens. 

    I haven’t ordered this, but it looks interesting Pop Chart Labs American Blooms Poster $29.00. MSU Pollinator Champions On-Line course is self-paced and free. There is a small fee to become a Pollinator Champion

    Spotted wing Drosophila increasing. 

    Turf care tips for golf courses may also apply to intensely managed home lawns. 

    Many lawns are beginning to go dormant. Here’s is information on how to maintain your grass during this time.

    Sunflower Head Clipping beetle attacking a range of plants. 

    There is an American Lotus.

    Cedar-quince rust on Callery Pear.

    Sedum Flea  Weevil.

    More information on Entomophaga maimaiga control of gypsy moth.

    Willow pinecone galls.

    Bob in Rose City‘s hollyhocks were being attacked by what sounded like Hollyhock Weevil but could also be sawflies of Japanese beetles. Rust can also be a problem. 

    Jim in New Vienna, Ohio wondered how to protect his potted rose tree during winter. I suggested he put it in an unheated or very cool area in his house after the leaves dropped in the fall. Here are techniques for protecting roses planted in the ground.

    Kevin from Rochester Hills wondered if it was possible to grow a California Coastal Redwood or Giant Sequoia. The California Coastal Redwood has very specific growth requirements that restrict its range to within 50 miles of the Pacific Coast and I don’t think we could meet these needs in Michigan. The Giant Sequoia is hardy to zones 6-8 so the Metro Detroit area is at the lower end of its low temperature tolerance, but it should be OK in a protected micro environment. The largest Giant Sequoia in Michigan is located in Manistee. The Dawn Redwood does well in Michigan

    Mary Anne in Waterford’s condo association wants to replace trees on their property. They have developed a list of criteria for the new plants including disease and insect resistance, spring and fall color, screening etc. These are the steps I would suggest for selecting the plants.
    1. Perhaps the most important is to learn from what happened to trees that were lost or damaged. What is the soil type, how rapidly does water drain away, exposure to winter winds, irrigation, etc. This will determine the limitations of each area. 
    2. Avoid overusing one genus or species. We planted a blue spruce for years because of its beauty. However, our climate has become hotter and dryer which has stressed the trees and a disease complex has evolved that is killing them throughout the area. This is an opportunity to enjoy the extremely wide range of plant material available and avoid another massive loss. There is a wide range of information on the internet.  Reference 1. Reference 2. Reference 3. Reference 4. I also like Eastern Trees, Perterson Field Guides; National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees; Trees of Michigan, Lone Pine Press; and Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, Dirr. 
    3. Remember there is no perfect tree for each site, weigh the pluses and minuses carefully. 
    4. Patience can save you a lot of money. Smaller transplants will usually catch up to larger, more expensive specimens within three to five years. 
    5. Work with a professional. There are many fine nurseries in the Oakland, Genessee County area. Size of the nursery doesn’t determine the expertise of their people. Ask for references, visit sites they have designed/installed and enjoy the process. 
    6. Determine a three-five-year planting plan to ensure that you new trees aren’t damaged by an unusually hot, dry bummer or cold winter.

  • Kim Parr Director of the Crocker House Museum, 15 Union Street, Mount Clemens, was my guest talking about the Crocker House Garden Walk and Breakfast Saturday, June 30. Twelve gardens will be on the tour this year. For more information and to purchase tickets call 586-465-2488.

    Deer Flies and Mosquitoes are out.

    I saw the first lightning bug this week. Here’s a wonderful picture of lightning bugs in Southern Michigan.

    Stems of Mike in Novi‘s roses are dying. The most common cause is Rose Canker

    Deborah in Detroit wanted to find Four O’Clock flower seed. Seed should still be available in garden centers and even grocery and big box stores. Here’s more information.

    Let’s all take a deep breath and read this very good article on Brown Recluse Spiders by MSU’s Howard Russell.

    Giant hogweed, while dangerous, is very rare in Michigan. Here’s more information.

    Bob Tritten, MSU Regional Fruit Educators found the first Japanese beetle of the season.

    Spittle bugs, spruce bud scale and imported rose sawfly

    Imported Rose Sawfly is attacking my roses.

    More on gypsy moth.

    Gardens as a reflection of history and culture by Heidi Lindburg

    Dodder is a parasitic plant that is very hard to control. 

    More on lace bugs.

    Renee from Royal Oak is fighting bishop’s weed. While it is satisfying to cut it off and treat with herbicides, this won’t control the rhizomes which sprout back. Since the most effective herbicides enter through the leaves (not the stems) and translocate down to the rhizomes in the fall, I suggest cutting the vines back until August and then let them grow to provide plenty of leaf surface. Apply a herbicide containing either glyphosate or triclopyr to the leaves beginning in mid-September\, then again at the end of the month and then two weeks later. You won’t see much damage this fall but next spring you’ll see how effective it was. If the plant has spread to neighboring yards thi should be a group effort or it will just move back and forth between yards.

    Tracy from Ypsilanti wonders how and when to prune her Japanese maple.

    Jimmy from China Township thought lichens were killing his spruce limbs, but more likely Cytosora canker or spruce decline is attacking the tree and allowing you to see the lichens. Samples should be submitted to MSU for positive identification. 

    Don in Jackson‘s boxwoods had a lot of winter damage and he was wondering how deeply he could prune. Other possibilities for the dieback are Volutella blight and boxwood leafminer

  • An easy way to tell when to water hanging baskets and pots is to lift them; water when they feel lighter than right after watering. If you have ceramic or clay pots, tap the side, if it rings it’s time to water.

    When planting media dries, it shrinks. If you water only once, a lot of the water will run off around the edge and not wet the media. Water and then wait 10 minutes or so for the media to swell and then water again. 

    June apple drop is occuring which is a natural process where the tree balances the amount of leaf surface against the number of fruit.

    The conditions are right for Powdery Mildew.

    Peach leaf curl can be a real problem.

    I’m seeing a lot of browning turf especially on slopes. This is due to water stress where water has run off rather than soaking in and mowing too close.

    Maple petiole borer, four-lined plant bugs, rose chafers, carpenter bees.

    Squash vine borer.

    Potato late blight forecaster.

    The leaves of your hawthorn (Crataegus spp.), serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.), Cotoneaster spp. and firethorn, (Pyracantha coccinea) looking weird? Could be Hawthorn lace bug damage.

    Bagworms may become a problem.

    Scarlet oak sawfly feeds on a wide range of oaks.

    Birds nesting in your mulch or is it the Birds-Nest Fungus?

    Cedar-Hawthorn rust, Cedar-Apple Rust, different but related.

    Leaf-fold galls on oaks and black locust.

    Fall webworm showing up.

    Willow sawfly, Imported willow leaf beetle and Willow leaf gall mite.

    Jerry in Livonia is fighting ground ivy.

    Mike in Melvindale has been trying to get rid of a groundhog. He may be able to get a live trap from Animal Control or call in a licensed pest control company

    Mary Anne in Beverly Hills has weird looking things in the mulch. Sounded like slime mold, but MSU’s Diagnostic Services, should be contacted about how to submit a sample just to make sure.

    Mary Anne also asked about the best time to water her lawn. Usually the only criterion is the turf must be dry before dark. I suggested 4 am because of the stable water pressure but you need to put out containers to make sure the system is working unless you enjoy getting up that early. From a physiological viewpoint, the best time to water is during the hottest part of the day, 11am-2pm to cool the turf, however for a healthy lawn this isn’t a big deal.

    Scott in Warren was finding lots of Boxelder bug nymphs and adults. I suggested spraying with insecticidal soap but any mild pesticide should work. 

    Brian in Troy‘s azaleas were infested with what sounded like azalea bark scale. Because control varies with the type of scale, MSU Diagnostic Services should be contacted about submitting photos/and or samples.

  • June 18-24 is National Pollinator week. Bee Palooza will be held Sunday, June 24, 1-4 pm at the MSU Horticulture Gardens. Also visit the MSU Bug House. Biology on Tap will be at 7:30 at The Loft in Lansing on June 20. You must be over 21 for this one though.

    Want to learn about integrated pest management or update your skills? MSU is offering the Integrated Pest Management Academy online and at a very reasonable cost.

    Cedar apple rust is showing up on cedars and apples.

    Don’t plant trees too deeply and stake them correctly.

    Michigan strawberries are ripening! Here’s this years U-Pick Guide.

    Canada thistle turning white? I love it.

    Galls and their hosts.

    A new non-native invasive pest, Spotted Laternfly.

    You are the expert on what’s going on in your yard. If you see something strange report it to the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network

    Susan in Detroit was trying to get ride of Tree of Heaven. Cutting the stems encourages sucker formation which favors the plant. Herbicide applications in September-October will help. Note: the article suggests beginning applications in August. I suggest mid-September since the trees are in the city and won’t begin translocating the material into the roots until later than trees in less urban locations.

    Richard in Sterling Heights was trying to identify the grass invading his lawn. This site from North Carolina State is very easy to use. Once the problem is identified go here for control information. 

    Wayne in Garden City cut down a mulberry growing between two fences, but shoots keep coming back. Applications of glyphosate or triclopyr containing herbicides during the summer will burn the shoots back, but to get control allow the shoots to grow during August and then apply the herbicide mid-September, early and late October.

    Will in Jackson is battling Creeping Charlie and was interested in grasses that would grow in a shady area. Here are some grass alternatives for the area.

  • Marie Osborne of WJR‘s news department lost her son John to an undiagnosed heart condition. John was the Pit Master at Slow’s Bar BQ and cooked for many other venues in Detroit. The Osborne family has established an endowment at Schoolcraft College to help culinary students continue their studies. Slow’s has added the “Plaid Pig” sandwich to their menu in John‘s memory to support the endowment. If you are unable to go to Slow’s, please join me in donating to the cause

    The leaves of Paul from Monroe‘s maples are turning black, curling up and falling off. The trees have a history of black spots on the leaves. I think his maples are being attacked by maple anthracnose fungus. The reoccuring black spots are most likely Maple Tar Spot. Neither issue is a threat to an otherwise healthy tree. Here’s more information.

    The recent heavy rains and high winds are ideal for the spread of Fire Blight bacteria.

    Spittlebugs are appearing on a wide range of plants.

    Colorado Potato Beetle is not only a pest of potatoes but will also munch on eggplant and pepper. 

    Row covers are an excellent way to prevent insect damage. 

    Caterpillar pests in cole crops.

    I haven’t seen any Four-lined plant bug yet, but they will soon appear. 

    Lady Beetle larvae feeding on magnolia scale.

    Red mites everywhere? 

    Keep an eye out for Calico Scale crawlers.

    Bagworm damage starting.

    KnockOut Roses were introduced in 2000 as a low maintenance, sustainable rose. Now there is a group, American Rose Trials for Sustainability, trialing many other roses for low input and sustainability. 

    When peat-based media dry severely, they are difficult to rewet. Here’s more information. While the article mentions comercial wetting agents, I have found that just enough hand dishwashing soap for a little suds added to a gallon of water works well. Only apply once.

    Dan from Perrysburg, Ohio‘s hostas had white areas in the leaves. One possibility is frost damage, another is sun scorch, but the most likely is slug damage

    Linda from Grosse Pointe needs to enlist her neighbors in her battle against Creeping Charlie.

    Toni from New Boston was concerned about an oak tree over her gazebo that seems to be leaning a little. Contacting a certified arborist is the best approach. No pruning should be considered until after a killing frost because of the risk of oak wilt

  • MSU Tollgate Garden Volunteers Spring Plant Sale, 9 am – 2 pm, Saturday June 2nd. Meadowbrook and 12 Mile Roads.

    Living Local – Next Seasonal Favorite, Monday June 4th 6 pm-8 pm. Sponsored by Jackson County Agriculture Council, Grand River Brewery and MSU Extension. Cooking demos highlighting local ingredients, suggestions for pairing with select beers and vote for your favorite dish which will be featured on the menu. 

    Creeping Charlie, apple scab and tent caterpillar. Oh, My.

    Here’s more on Eastern Tent Caterpillar.

    Check your gardens for volunteer potatoes and help reduce the spread of late blight.

    Some help with keeping your lawn healthy from Dr. Kevin Frank

    Temperature not the calendar determines when to plant.

    Oak “apples” easy to see but cause little harm.

    Pachysandra dying out? Could be Volutella.

    A common invasive plant, Autumn Olive.

    Spring wildflowers – a great reason to go walking in your back yard or nearby park.

    The University of Michigan’s Nichols Arboretum has the largest collection of herbaceous peonies in North America and they are starting to bloom. 

    Fred in Indiana asked about what to plant near his door that would attract hummingbirds but not bees which started a lively conversation. Scott from Lapeer who is a bee keeper stated that red flowers are not attractive to bees as other colors. He also pointed out that MSU has lists of plants attractive for pollinators that if planted away from the door would be more attractive to bees than other flowers. Judy in Franklin has noticed bees working on Major Wheeler honeysuckle and someone suggested red cannas. Bev in Vermillion Ohio probably had the best suggestion. Don’t plant flowers near your door or patio and use feeders to attract hummingbirds. Note: I’ve seen bees feeding on hummingbird feeders but only when other sources of nectar aren’t available. 

    John in Clinton Township wondered about using pendimethalin, a preemergence herbicide, in his garden. Pendimethalin has a label for use in gardens and works well around transplants but will prevent vegetable seeds from germination. For more information go to the company’s website.

    Jason in Taylor has been controlling weeds in his large garden using tillage and mulch but wondered about using glyphosate or other herbicides. I suggested using these materials only in the fall after the vegetables are harvested to remove weeds for the next spring. If there are large areas of weeds that have to controlled during the season, materials that burn down the tops of the plants such as Bonides BurnOut would help. Note Bonide is a long-time sponsor of the Gardening Show and there are products from other companies that would also be effective. 

  • Don’t be tempted to lower mower height to keep up with grass growth. You will stress the plant and encourage weed growth. 

    Crabapples at the Secrist arboretum

    Rainy, cool weather is ideal for apple scab attack

    Apple scab resistant crabapple varieties

    Cabbageworm moths are laying eggs on cabbage and other crucifers. 

    Boxwood leafminer can cause serious damage

    Watch out for “Frass toothpicks” on newly planted or stressed trees. They are indicators of Ambrosia beetle attack

    Oystershell scale eggs are hatching soon so get ready to apply control measures. 

    Tips for reducing mosquito attack

    Ed from Brighton wanted to rejuvenate an old MacIntosh apple tree in his yard. Here’s information: Apple scab resistant crabapple varieties

    Ken in Livonia wondered how long it would take for his MacIntosh apple that he grew from seed to fruit. Since a seed propagated plant has new genetics, it’s hard to predict but he might get the next great apple variety

    Pete in Dearborn wasn’t having any luck growing poppies. Sounded to me like too little light or too much water. 

    David in Fenton wanted to remove ground cover that was moving into other beds. I suggested using a “burn down” material such as Bonide’s BurnOut periodically during the summer to weaken the plants and then either a material containing glyphosate or triclopry beginning in mid-September and then again in early October to kill the roots. 

    William in Washington has an ant problem in his lawn. Ants are usually not a lawn problem unless the grass has thinned out because of salt damage or other factors. In this case thickening the grass by proper watering and fertilization will correct the problem. The major exception is the mound ant so submitting a sample to MSU is the first step in control. 

    Toledo’s Flower Day Weekend is May 26-28 at the downtown Farmer’s Market. 

  • Moving frequency and height has a great effect on your lawn’s health. 

    Forsythia had a hard winter, but the Eastern redbud is in full glory.

    Rainy, cool weather is ideal for apple scab attack.

    The Ohio State University Secrest Arboretum in Wooster, Ohio has one of the largest collection of crabapple varieties in the US. 

    The 51st Flower Day at the Detroit Eastern Market is Sunday, May 20.

    Last summer’s drought may have caused winter injury on a wide range of plants according to Dr. Bert Cregg.

    Check for Weir’s cushion rust on your blue spruce.

    Black cutworm starting to show up in many young sweet corn and tomato transplants.

    Seedheads and weeds are showing up in your lawn.

    Roses too had a hard winter..

    Don’t park under a tree infested with calico scale. .

    Boxwood snap, crackle and pop. Could be boxwood leafminers

    Which varieties will do well in my garden? Check out the MSU Trial Garden Results and All America Selections.

    Jon in Taylor needs to move a climbing rose and daylily. The easiest way is to use a spade to cut down 8 inches around the plant as far away from the stem as possible (watch the weight of the root ball). Then start digging across from one side, so you are under cutting the root system. As you cut across slide a sheet of 1/2 or 3/4 inch plywood underneath. As soon as the root ball is free, move the plant either to a temporary hole or a container if it will be replaced in the original hole within a few days.

    Bill in Utica was finding large black ants in his home. These could be carpenter ants, which can cause significant damage. Since there are several types of ants that resemble Carpenter ants, the first step is to submit a sample to Macomb County MSU Extension or Diagnostic Services on campus have them identified. 

    Art in Newport put compost in his new beds. I suggested contacting MSU’s Soil and Plant Nutrient Laboratory to see if a compost of traditional soil test would be more appropriate for determining the nutrient status and pH of the compost. 

    Kenny was fighting weeds in his lawn. The first step is to identify the weed.

    Elaine from Northville was wondering why her forsythia didn’t have many flowers. I think it’s related to the drought we’ve experienced for the last 3 summers and the up and down temperatures this winter. Pruning might also help. Dandelions were also a problem. A key way to thicken your lawn and reduce weed infestations is by fertilizing correctly

    Mary in Britton’s Eastern Redbud has cracks in the trunk

  • National Rain Garden website and app from University of Connecticut.

    The time to control Lawn Violets and Creeping Charlie is coming up soon.

    Enjoy the flowers and then control dandelions.

    Reduce the risk to pollinators when applying pesticides to fruit crops by following these guidelines from Dr. Rufus Issacs.

    Grub control recommendations from MSU.

    Oak wilt: a major threat.

    Elm Flea weevil damage will start showing up soon.

    Find the average frost free date in your area on this table from the Michigan State Climatologist Office.

    Yolanda from Ohio wondered why the oranges from her sister’s trees wasn’t as sweet as expected. Here is more information

    The bark on Anne from Allen Park‘s Japanese maple was being pulled off, probably by birds. The first thing to do is trim any loose fibers from the edges of the wounds and then apply something like Tanglefoot. Repellents that work by smell or taste aren’t effective on birds. Another approach would be to scare them off using rubber owls (the ones that move work best), rubber snakes or hanging old CDs from the branches. 

    Randy from Port Sanilac’s lawn was very bumpy. Part of the problem may be the type of grass. The first step is to positively identify the grasses and this key from NC State is easy to use. Another option may be topdressing the low areas.

    Keith from Ann Arbor’s daisies and hostas were doing well but wondered if there was anything he should do this spring to increase the bloom time. Since the bed is next to a fertilized lawn area I suggested not fertilizing this spring and perhaps dividing them

    Mary from Dearborn’s dog was attracted to the rose fertilizer she used in the past. I suggested using common fertilizer such as 12-0-12 twice a year or a slow release fertilizer such as Osmocote or similar products every spring. You could also apply an organic that doesn’t contain blood meal such as Milorganite

  • Daedre McGrath, Manager of the Trial Gardens at MSU’s Horticulture Demonstration Gardens was this week’s guest. She talked about the process of evaluating the plants entered in the Trial Gardens and her results can be found here

    Temperatures have been much colder than normal but if the soil has dried out enough cole crop transplants can be planted now.

    Just to make you feel the Spring has arrived here’s information on tomatoes.

    What is causing those holes in the ground? Could be Mining bees, an important pollinator.

    Dave in Macomb Township‘s yard is being overrun with what sounds like bentgrass. The first step is to positively identify the problem grass and this key from NC State is easy to use. If it is bent grass, Tenacity is very effective, but expensive and used in very small amounts so I recommend contacting a lawn care company to apply the material. If you want to reseed, you can kill off any leftover sod and slit seed directly into the old sod. If you want to resod, rent a sod cutter and get take off the old material, till the area and put down new sod. Dave also wondered about rolling a yard to get rid of soft spots. My concern with rolling is that too heavy a weight on moist soil can cause compaction that severely limits room development. If you decide to roll your yard, I suggest not adding any weight to the roller and make sure the soil has dried out at least 6 inches deep. 

    Matthew from Ypsilanti’s yard was very uneven. Adding (top dress) screened topsoil 1/2 inch at a time over a period of months will help. Here’s information. If moles are causing a problem here’s how to get rid of them.

  • Mike from St. Clair is fighting Creeping Charlie. (more info

    Thinking about reseeding your lawn; be careful using weed control products. Here’s more information from Dr. Kevin Frank.

    Having a tiger prowling your flower beds is a good thing.

    Removing a maple tree sucker and white pine decline.

    Preventing wild fires in your neighborhood. Information from MSU.

    Carol from Grosse Pointe called about what sounded like lichens on her hawthorn and other trees. Lichens are harmless and grow in moist, shady areas, including tree trunks. 

    Bob from Garden City was trying to get rid of some very aggressive Baltic Ivy without using glyphosate. You can use what are called “burn down” materials, some of which are certified organic. These materials don’t kill the roots so you should manually remove as much of the tops as possible and apply every time a new shoot appears. The goal is to starve the roots so they don’t regrow which takes time and persistence. 

    When looking for plant information one of the best resources are your local, family owned nurseries and garden centers such as Barson’s in Westland who are celebrating 38 years in business.

    Carol in Madison Heights was finding ants in her home and hoped they weren’t Carpenter ants which can cause significant damage. Since there are several types of ants that resemble Carpenter ants, the first step is to submit a sample to Macomb County MSU Extension or Diagnostic Services on campus to have them identified. 

    John in Troy‘s water garden is infested by muskrats. Since these are wild animals you should contact the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to see what you can do to prevent further damage. 

    Jan in Clarkston was wondering how to control Carpenter bees.

    Dave in Milford can’t get rosemary to grow in the house and neither can I. The University of Illinois recommends planting rosemary in pots if you plan to bring them inside and putting them in a cool, sunny location in your house. They are very sensitive to overwatering.

    Linda in Brownstown wanted information on irrigation systems.

  • Enjoy the MSU Student Horticulture Association’s Spring Show Saturday April 21 and Sunday, April 22.

    The MichiganGardener magazine is a wonderful resource for gardeners in Southeast Michigan. If you haven’t pick one up at your favorite garden center, you can read it on line.

    Was your grass flooded this winter? Here is information from Dr. Kevin Frank

    Haven’t sent in a soil test? There’s still time and here’s where to get the kit and here’s what the results mean. 

    Never planted a tree before? Here’s how.

    Thinking of planting tree fruit or small fruit in your yard? Here’s the latest information from MSU’s Diane Brown and Dr. Duke Elsner.

    Reseeding or resodding your lawn this spring? Get help from MSU’s Green Team.

    Help prevent the spread of oak wilt. Don’t prune.

    Want to become an Integrated Pest Management expert? Take a course at MSU’s Integrated Pest Management Academy.

    Spring can’t come fast enough? Visit a butterfly house

    Boxelder bugs have been plaguing many this winter.

    Beside tulips and daffadils, Hairy Bittercress is blooming.

    Your beds turning purple? Could be Purple Deadnettle.

    Time to control White Pine Weevil.

    Conifers turning brown due to winter damage. 

    The latest MSU information for controlling grubs in your lawn.

    Time to apply crabgrass preemergent materials? More information here.

    Boxwoods turning brown? Could be boxwood leafminer.

    Hidden Lake Gardens.

    Matthaei Botanic Gardens and Nichols Arboretum.

    Carol from Novi asked about the difference between “potting soil” and “potting mix”. While Bobbi pointed out these terms are using interchangeably, potting mix contains large peat moss particles (you can see plant parts) and amendments such as vermiculite or perlite; is quite light and porous; is sold by the cubic foot and is recommended for use in containers. The material in potting soil is very fine (can’t tell if it came from a plant); may or may not contain amendments; is sold by the pound and holds too much water to be used in containers. Here’s more information.

    It sounded like Linda from Troy‘s yard will need renovation. Here’s information on grass types, fertilization and other topics from MSU.

    Linda in Northville was being overrun with chipmunks although some of the damage might have been caused by voles.



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