Dakota State University -- NDSU Agriculture
7 Morrill Hall, Fargo ND, 58105-5655, Tel: 701-231-7881, Fax: 701-231-7044
Ronald C. Smith, Horticulturist
Q: I am sending you a branch from the top of one of our spruce trees, which is getting more brown by the day and spreading downward. The trees near this one are okay so far. What could be causing the problem? Can we arrest it in time to save the tree, and what about the contagion possibility to the nearby trees?
Q: Have you ever seen the Christmas rose (helleborus niger buis) growing in this area? I planted one last year and it didn't survive. It is supposed to be hardy in zone 3. What kind of soil do they prefer? (E-mail reference)
Q: We have a giant snowball bush that we would like to prune into something more manageable. I have read that we should do this pruning after the first hard frost of fall, but have also read to do it immediately after the flowers are finished blooming, which is early summer. I did some pruning a couple of years ago in the early summer and wherever I pruned it appears those stalks are now dead (no foliage at all!). Am I slowly killing this plant? Is it worth saving when it is very, very woody? Also, I have a lilac bush which I inherited from my sister-in-law's back yard via pulling up some roots. It is a beautiful bush (now about 3 feet tall) but only produces foliage, no flowers. Is there something I can do? It is in full sun with good drainage. (E-mail reference)
Q: I enjoy listening to you on "Hear It Now" and have a question. Our front lawn in Minot needs to be re-done. Is it possible to have a lawn without too many weeds without using 2,4-D all the time? We don't like to use many chemicals and poisons, and I'm wondering what to ask for when we hire someone to redo our lawn. Is it important to have a deep layer of topsoil before we do the seeding or sodding? ( Minot, N.D.)
Q: Approximately two years ago we removed a large diseased maple tree from our front yard. Since that time we have had an abundant crop of mushrooms. We have been unable to keep them under control and would welcome any suggestions that you may have. They are affecting the lawn. (Jamestown, N.D.)
Q: I had a few questions about planting some Colorado blue spruce evergreens. I was planning on ordering the 5-year-old transplants out of Pennsylvania. I was just wondering how late I could plant the trees, and how well they would grow in North Dakota after being raised in Pennsylvania. Also I was wondering how late the growing season lasts. (Jamestown, N.D.)
Q: I have a crabapple tree that has a ton of fruit on it. The problem is we don't use the fruit. Is there a spray that you can use to keep the tree from bearing fruit? If not, is there any other method short of cutting it down, which is what we will have to do if there is nothing we can do to control it. (Grafton, N.D.)
Q: I'm never sure what annuals should be deadheaded. I know petunias should be. What about million Bells, stock, geraniums? (E-mail reference)
Q: Why doesn't our Dropmore honeysuckle bloom? (Fargo, N.D.)
Q: I don't know what the stuff is called that drops from trees as they are leafing out. That stuff remained on a new planting around a farmstead. The trees are dead this year. They are 3 years old. Is there a disease affecting the tree and would it be causing death? (Ellendale, N.D.)
Q: I have some 7-foot Colorado blue spruces that have developed needle cast disease. I just applied Daconil 2787. In the meantime I have planted more Colorado blue spruces 7 feet tall and some Norway spruce 5 feet tall. Would it be safe to spray Daconil 2787 on the newly planted trees? (E-mail reference)
Do you have a gardening or houseplant question? Write to Hortiscope, Box 5051, NDSU Extension Service, Fargo, ND 58105 or e-mail to Ron Smith at email@example.com. Note to e-mail correspondents: please identify your location (city and state) for most accurate recommendations.