Questions on: Bridal Wreath

Ron Smith, Horticulturist, NDSU Extension Service

Q. I've not written to you before, but I turn to your columnbefore any other on Fridays when the Farmers' Forum arrives.May I ask a few questions, please?

(1) Do small evergreens like lots of water? I bought twosmall (about 1 foot high) bushes earlier this summer. Idelayed transplanting the bushes, but they seemed to thrive and then suddenly both died. Someone told me I need to use Miracid on evergreens, but perhaps I bought the product too late. I did water the bushes a lot.

(2) I wonder why my 15- to 18-year old Bridal Wreath died back to the ground. It is a foundation planting and was huge and gorgeous until three years ago, when branches began to die. All branches are now dead, but new growth is coming from the ground. Should I use Miracid?

(3) My beautiful 12-year-old white old-fashioned lilac bush (about 9 feet tall) is dying. Several large branches have leaves that are totally withered and brown. I began to notice the withering about Aug. 1. Might I have overwatered?

(4) My dogwood bush looks rather sick, too. The leaves have strange spots on them.

(5) I have an old (about 25 years) phlox that flourished and produced beautiful rose-colored flowers until about four years ago. Now, it begins with green sprouts (in the spring) but fairly quickly the stacks become brown and shriveled. It does not get much sun.I would appreciate any suggestions you might make. I'm hopeful you will continue your column. (Fargo, N.D.)

A. Oh, brother! Your questions could launch a thesis! I'll do my best to provide you with direct, accurate answers based on what you have told me.

1.Evergreens do not do well under continuously wet conditions. They are generally upland plants, able to survive extended waterless periods. You most likely killed them with too much kindness.

2, 3, & 4. Spireas should be pruned each spring to remove the oldest woody canes; lilacs are hosts to borers and scale insects, and at least a half dozen fungal diseases, any of which could be causing the symptoms you describe. Ditto for the dogwood.

5. A phlox plant that is 25 years old? That has to be a world record! Dig and divide, reset in sunny locations. I am surprised powdery mildew and spider mites didn't take their toll. Fertilizing with Miracid or Miracle-Gro certainly won't hurt anything. While it will help plants along, it won't resurrect the dead ones.

Thanks for writing and for the nice comments.

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