NDSU Extension Service
Q: Is there a chemical
treatment, such as a fungicide, that is available for lawns? I took down
two large cottonwood trees and I no longer have a lawn. Instead, I have
huge mushroom patches. (e-mail reference)
A: The mushrooms
will disappear over time and during drier parts of the season. The mushrooms
are a signal that the root system is decaying beneath the lawn surface.
Unfortunately, there is no selective material that can be used to wipe
Q: I planted an autumn
blaze maple four years ago. The tree has grown rapidly and is now about
20 feet high and 10 feet wide. A snowmobile clipped one of the lowest
branches of the tree in 2004. That spring, I sprayed some pruning sealer
over the torn area. During summer 2004, which was relatively cool and
wet, the leaves on that branch were fine. This summer, which was hot and
dry, the leaves on the damaged branch began to turn red in late July.
The process was gradual, so by the end of September, the leaves on that
branch were a deep red and just beginning to fall off, but the leaves
on the remainder of the tree were still green. I assume that the dry,
hot summer was too much for the stressed branch. In addition, this summer
some of the pruning sealer that I had sprayed on the damaged branch began
flaking off and small pieces of bark began falling off the damaged region,
so I sprayed some more sealer around the area. Would you recommend trimming
off the damaged branch at the trunk or should I wait to see if it mends
itself by next season? I'm concerned about the tree becoming infected
and about trimming a branch off such a young tree. (e-mail reference)
A: A maple growing
on a site for four years can tolerate the kind of pruning that is needed.
The tree wound dressing or sealer was not a good idea because it tends
to prevent natural compartmentalization (an oxygen requiring process)
from taking place at the site of the wound. Based on what you have told
me, I would suggest doing the necessary pruning between January and
Q: I have a schefflera
and a rubber plant that were flourishing until our recent move. The new
place has less light and the plants don't seem to dry out as frequently.
Recently, the schefflera started dropping several leaves a day. I've tried
to reduce watering because the soil is not completely dry on top. I'm
not sure if it is just the change in environment or something else. Is
it worth getting a grow light for the room? (e-mail reference)
A: The foliage drop
you describe is often due to sudden reduction in light intensity or
duration. The addition of a plant light (get one for foliage production,
not flowering as with African violets) would be a major step in reversing
this trend. As you have observed, reduce the watering to coincide with
the new environment. The soil needs to dry before watering again.
Q: Could you please
tell me if my lilies should be cut back for the winter? (e-mail reference)
A: Cutting back
the lilies is not necessary unless you want to do it for aesthetic reasons.
Q: I was reading your
Web column and ran across a question about planting baby spider plants
in a beta fish bowl. I had a spider plant over my fish tank that grew
a stem into the tank and produced an underwater spider (still attached).
It stayed that way for months before the plantlet accidentally broke off.
I planted it in the tank to see if it would survive, but it was dying
within a couple of weeks. I assume that it was receiving gas exchange
assistance from the above water parent plant while it was attached. (e-mail
Thanks for the information. I'm sure someone will want to try this.
Q: I have been searching
Web sites for answers on cutting back perennials. Some differ in their
information. Can you help or direct me to who may be able to give me the
correct advice? I have Annabelle hydrangeas. When do I cut them back and
how far? The same questions go for hostas, daylilies, sedum, Russian sage
and Karl Forrester grass. (West Fargo, N.D.)
A: The reason you
see differences is because gardening is a combination of art and science,
not a strict, must follow directions practice. Everything you listed
can be cut back in the fall after a good frost, or early next spring
before new growth begins. My preference is to clean everything up as
much as possible before the snow flies because it cuts down on vole
and slug populations snuggling in for the winter. Other people like
to leave plants, such as Russian sage and Karl Forrester grass, standing
until spring to add a little character to the winter landscape. Others
wait until spring because they don't have time in the fall to cut things
back. My very last use for the rotary mower is to set it as high as
it can go and cut down the herbaceous plantings (hydrangeas too). I
then take the mower in for servicing so it’s ready for next spring.
Q: I have tried looking
on the Internet and in older books for instructions on harvesting and
preparing amaranth. I can't seem to find anything. I have a few plants
and I was interested in experimenting and making flour. Do you have any
thoughts or recommendations? (Moorhead, Minn.)
A: Go to the following
- for information on the use of amaranth, which is a very healthy natural
grain. There should be enough information at these sites to keep you
and your family well fed for a long time. Enjoy!
Q: I had a client
call me with a question made for you to answer. His chokecherry tree is
leaking sap around the trunk. The fellow tells me that the sap has spread
about 4 feet away from the base. Any ideas on why or what to do? (e-mail
A: It could be borers
infesting the tree or a bleeding canker. If I had such a tree spreading
that much goop, I'd make one pruning cut, which would be at ground level.
Anything that is bleeding that much can't have much of a future!
Q: How late in the
year can I plant grass and expect good results? What are the best types
(blends of grass seed) to plant in the Wahpeton area? (e-mail reference)
A: I would encourage
you to visit my Web site at www.ext.nodak.edu/extpubs/plantsci/landscap/h1170w.htm.
Read the publication and if you have any questions, please get back
Q: How do I get a
pine cone to grow off my spruce tree? (e-mail reference)
A: First of all,
you don't get pine cones off spruce trees, you get spruce cones. Either
way, it is not the cones you need, but the seed within. You need to
put a paper bag securely over the cones while they are still closed,
but have been fertilized by the male cones. When they are ripe, the
cones open and disperse the seed. You then can collect the seed and
plant it where you want, allowing the winter weather to break the dormancy
Q: We received about
6 inches of rain last night and expect about 3 more today. My spruce trees
are under water. Should I be concerned or will they make it through once
this all dries up? They do sit in a low-lying area next to a culvert.
(Saint Paul, Minn.)
A: According to
references, spruce trees do not like to be stuck in standing water.
That said, I have been caring for the three football fields at NDSU
for the last dozen years or so and many times have seen the blue spruce
at the south end of the field standing in water for a week or more.
When it first happened, I assumed it was all over for these trees, but
after so many events like this, they are still standing and looking
as majestic as ever. My anecdotal observations would lead me to say
that in all probability, the trees will be all right!
Q: Thank you for Hortiscope!
Do ground wasps die in late October or early November? Will they inhabit
the same nest next year? There are three holes close to each other. I've
seen wasps in and out of only one of them. Is it a multientrance nest
or several nests? (e-mail reference)
A: You are welcome!
I have no control of what is published each week. That is up to the
editors of the papers. There are a couple of tactics you can employ
to get rid of the wasps. Wasp traps work quite well. The wasps are attracted
to the solution you put into the traps and they cannot get back out.
The traps are available at most garden stores. You also can hire a professional
exterminator to do the job. They use more potent insecticides than what
is available to the public and they are experienced at such stuff, which
you are not. The wasps are killed by the winter cold, but their eggs
survive and a new nest is established the following year, sometimes
in the same place, other times in a different location.
Smith, (701) 231-8161, email@example.com
Editor: Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136, firstname.lastname@example.org