Ronald C. Smith, Horticulturist
NDSU Extension Service
Q: I just read Hortiscope and it reminded me to ask if you have ever
addressed the new requirements of all applicators to be commercially
certified. We are getting calls from homeowners for recommendations of lawn
and garden applicators and I believe most agents have taken the position
that they won't recommend an uncertified operator. Here in Devils Lake we
currently have no certified applicators, but I still tell callers not to
hire anyone but a certified applicator. Just thought your column would be a
good place to give people a heads up. (Devils Lake, N.D.)
A: Following are the certification requirements. We want them
certified, not in jail!
Commercial Pesticide Certification: A commercial applicator, dealer, or
consultant is "any person who engages in commercial application,
sale, or recommendation of pesticides or commercial employment of
devices." To become certified, a commercial applicator, dealer, or
consultant must pay the certification fee, pass an open-book monitored
core and category exam(s), and demonstrate proof of financial
responsibility or have the proof of financial responsibility waived.
What follows are descriptions of the major categories of certification
for non-agricultural use:
- Home, Industrial, and Institutional Pest Control--includes
applications, recommendations, and merchandising of pesticides in, on,
or around food handling establishments, human dwellings, public or
private institutions, warehouses, grain elevators, and any other
structures or adjacent area, for the control of pests.
- Ornamental and Turf Pest Control--includes commercial applications,
recommendations, and merchandising of pesticides to control pests in
the production and maintenance of ornamental trees, shrubs, flowers,
- Public Health Pest Control--includes commercial applications,
recommendations, and merchandising by state, federal, or other
government employees, working under government contract, using
pesticides in public health programs for the management and control of
pests having medical and public health impacts. Including municipal
and other area wide mosquito control programs.
- Right-of-Way--applications, recommendations, and merchandising of
pesticides to control pests in the maintenance of public roads,
electric power lines, pipelines, railways, right of ways, parking
lots, or other similar areas.
- Greenhouse--includes applications, recommendations, and
merchandising of pesticides to control pests in a greenhouse.
Materials for the exams are provided by the NDSU Extension Service
Pesticide Program. To obtain these materials, contact your county
extension office, the NDSU Extension Pesticide Program, or request
materials from the NDSU Extension Pesticide Program web page at: http://ndsupesticide.org
Training sessions are not required, but are extremely helpful for
passing the certification exam(s). The NDSU Extension Pesticide Program
conducts statewide training sessions each winter/spring. Information on
the training sessions is mailed annually to all commercial pesticide
certificate holders. For further information contact your local NDSU
county extension office, NDSU Extension Pesticide Program, or access the
NDSU Extension Pesticide Program web page http://ndsupesticide.org
Once a person has met the certification requirements, a certificate is
issued to the individual in the appropriate category. The card has the
applicant's North Dakota pesticide Identification number, name and address
of certificate holder, category(s) certified, and expiration date of each
certified category. Certifications are valid for three years. All
categories expire on April 1 of the year indicated on the card.
Q: I know that rust is talked about in asparagus, but is there a form of
root rot that affects it. I understand that a patch in this area appeared
completely rotted. Could too much rain and standing water do that too?
A: You bet! That's why when setting the crowns initially care is taken
to assure good drainage conditions. There will never be a better
Q: I purchased a Christmas cactus at Christmas and would like some basic
information on how to care for it (when to fertilize, how much sun, east,
south etc.) so that it will bloom again. I have been pretty much leaving it
alone, only watering maybe once a month. (Fargo, N.D.)
A: This plant is daylength sensitive - at least it is supposed to be!
What this means, is that it sets the flower buds in the fall of the year
with shortening daylight hours. This means that you need to give it more
than 12 hours of continuous darkness starting at the end of September to
have it flowering around the holidays. Once the buds become visible,
daylength is no longer critical.
East facings are generally best; fertilize during active growth
periods, and don't over water. Following all of this may get the plant to
bloom, but I have known people who have done nothing along these lines and
the plant blooms beautifully right on schedule!
Q: I have a question about transplanting oak trees. We planted some oak
tree seedlings (that our girls brought home from school) at the end of the
garden about 10 years ago. One is now about 6 feet tall and the other one is
about 8 feet tall. We would like to move them to a different place in the
yard. Can this be done when they are this large? When is the best time to
move them? And, can we do it manually, or do we have to try and find a tree
moving service? (Fargo, N.D.)
A: The older and larger, the more difficult to transplant. Now is not a
good time to do it; early spring being the best time. If you have had no
experience in moving trees of this size, then you'd be better off hiring
it to be done by someone who knows what they are doing. For example, with
next spring before leaf-out being the time to move the trees, the tree
mover should come in now during this growing season and root-prune the
trees. This will greatly lessen the transplant shock that the trees will
go through, and give them a better opportunity to survive.
Q: I was wondering if you could tell me when is the best time to
transplant ferns. I think they are called cinnamon ferns. (Morris, M.N.)
A: The best time is in early spring, but I have witnessed (and done it
myself!) successful transplanting in summer. It all depends on the TLC you
can give it. I suggest making sure it is well hydrated the day before, and
either on a cloudy day, or toward the evening hours, dig the fern up with
a generous ball of soil and move it to the new location, watering in well.
I am not familiar with the variety of fern you mention.
Q: Could you tell me if the berries of the Schubert crimson chokecherry
are edible and good for jelly making? (E-mail reference)
A: You bet! And, I am told, they make a pretty good wine as well.
Q: I read the question and answer about the crepe myrtle that changed
colors. I have a friend whose white crepe myrtles have gradually changed to
a lilac color. They began changing last year, and the plant had white blooms
as well as the light purple ones. This year the plant has all purple blooms.
I was wondering if you have discovered new anything about this. (E-mail
A: No! I'm hoping somebody out there can tell me! I can make all kinds
of guesses -- chimera, sport mutations, etc., but I certainly don't know
for sure, and none of my references give me any information on concerning
that characteristic. Sorry.
Q: I purchased an Idaho locust tree. It is about 12 feet tall. Yesterday,
a high wind came along and broke the tree in half. The tree had been staked.
Is there any way of saving this tree or starting growth from what is left?
A: Consider the tree a loss. I am against staking trees for the reason
you cited. True, trees will lift in high winds, but they can always be
reset. Staking creates a fulcrum that just doesn't give, resulting in what
you experienced. Start over -- you'll be a lot happier with the results.
Q: An individual told me that their clematis plant along the deck has
damage to the leaves. The leaves are curly and black around the edges. The
plant is still blooming. I was wondering if heat is causing the problem
because the plant is near a heater vent, and they do not withstand heat to
well, correct? We have been dry in this area, so I find it hard to believe
it is a fungus. (Steele, N.D.)
A: Clematis like early morning sunlight (east exposures) best. They
also like to have their root systems kept moist and cool, which is
accomplished with generous organic matter mulching.
You are likely correct; the plant might be responding to excessive
Q: At one time my parents had a "flowering twin sister bush" or
tree. It had two little white flowers in the spring and produced two little
red or orange berries in the fall. Can you tell me it's proper name or what
it was? (E-mail reference)
A: No idea. Perhaps one of our readers will know and pass the
information on to me.
Q: We are just developing a lake lot on West Battle Lake. One of the
basswood trees that we planned to keep has developed problems this spring.
This year the tree (about 20 feet tall) developed lots of buds but they have
not leafed out. The branches still seem to be alive but we don't know what
to do with it. It is located about 10 feet from the shore; the land is very
sandy. There is another basswood about 15 feet farther inland that is doing
beautifully. Last year the water level was extremely high and I wonder if
the roots just have had too much water. Should we cut it down or wait until
next spring and see what happens to it? There are other assorted trees
closer to the shore, elm, cottonwood, etc. that are doing all right. (E-mail
A: This is a good ecological lesson: the elm and cottonwood will
tolerate shifting water table levels much better than basswood trees will.
Those that do are known as riparian species. I suggest waiting until next
year to see if the tree will recover. If not, take it down.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note to e-mail correspondents: please identify your location (city
and state) for most accurate recommendations.
Source: Ron Smith, (701) 231-8161, email@example.com
Editor: Gary Moran, (701) 231-7865, firstname.lastname@example.org