Growing Concerns 515: Short reports

Spring!

Short report:

 

How do I germinate crocosmia seed?

It should sprout readily, in 2 to 4 weeks at 70 degrees.

Will my seed-grown apricot tree ever bear fruit?

It may need more time, or better fertilization.

What groundcover can replace lawn?

If you expect it to stand up to foot traffic and kids playing, stick with lawn to cover the ground.

My peace lily leaves turned black...

...the cold during your power outage is probably to blame.

The moles are terrible!

Set traps for them.

Do voles eat grubs?

Voles or "meadow mice" are plant eaters, chewing furrows into sod under snow, and gnawing bark off trees and shrubs to eat the cambium beneath. (Other animals help us by eating grubs...)

Reports of plants lost or badly burned over winter...

...so you know it's not something YOU did: red hot poker, butterfly bush, lavender, sage, thyme, heather, creeping phlox, mugo pine, yew, and holly.

Does zoysia grass work as well as the ads claim?

Howls of laughter from contributors and warnings to stay away from this very invasive grass that greens up only when it is very warm in June and goes dormant again when cool weather returns in September.

I want grass that grows more slowly.

Don't look to us for sympathy, other respondents say -- we're fighting just to keep grass alive the last few years!

Should I cut off discolored bergenia leaves?

Yes you can, or wait for them to shrivel and fall off as bloom finishes and this year's foliage comes in.

Squirrels are eating the buds off my rhododendrons!

You may need to fence in the shrubs, apply repellents or trap and move some squirrels.

Does mint work for pest control?

Dried mint leaves or mint oil can repel some insects. It won't kill them however.

'Carefree Delight' roses get black spot by late summer, what can I do?

If it doesn't show until late summer, those shrubs are fairly resistant and you can just look the other way.

Moth balls and cayenne pepper keep rabbits at bay.

Some contributors agree, others disagree.

When black-died Enviro-mulch fades, just add more?

There are dyes which can be sprayed on to renew the color. If the mulch, tough faded, remains thick enough then adding more is unnecessary and can be detrimental to plants.

Are pine needles okay as mulch?

Yes they are. Reports of "too acid" are not applicable in Michigan.

Can we grow hops vine here, for beer brewing?

Yes, but beware, it's a rampant vine!

How can I prune a weeping mulberry? A weeping cherry?

One limb at a time, removing what you don't like the looks of and cutting back far enough that this year's new growth will stay within the bounds you set.

Does ash borer kill mountain ash trees? Should I treat my ash tree for borers even if it's currently healthy?

Mountain ash (Sorbaria sorbifolia) is not related to the ash trees (Fraxinus species) being killed by borers. Only the common name links them.

Treating ash trees that are not yet infested with borers may help protect the tree. not enough is known yet about the efficacy of treatments. But doing something may be better than nothing, if the tree is very important.

Treatments are not one-time solutions but have to be repeated every year, indefinitely. They are best used as a means to keep an important tree for long enough to let its non-ash replacement grow.

Originally published 5/10/03