Getting rid of poison oak and other lawn and garden questions

  • Posted: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:24 a.m.
    UPDATED: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:43 a.m.
Colorado potato beetle
Colorado potato beetle

The weather has returned to normal temperatures and many are looking forward returning to work outdoors. Some have called with questions about their lawns and gardens. Below are a few gardening questions I received earlier this week that may be of interest.

Question: How do I get rid of poison oak in my yard?


Answer: Poison oak or ivy can be controlled with directed sprays of glyphosate (Roundup) 2 percent solution. It is easiest to kill just before or just after bloom. Now is a good time to control the weed. Broad leaf weed or brush killers containing triclopyr will also control the plant and will not kill grass. Always read and understand the label before applying any pesticide.

Question: I have these little orange bugs all over my potatoes. They seem to be really eating my plants. What are these and how do I control them?

Answer: These are most likely Colorado potato beetles. They are the larval stage of the adult Colorado potato beetle. They can devour a potato or tomato plant in number of days if there are sufficient numbers. If the numbers are small, don’t worry about spraying. If they are taking a toll, then use a garden insecticide.

Question: I was at a garden center last week and they had a climbing hydrangea. I thought it may do well here but I am not sure. Can you tell me about the plant?

Answer: Climbing hydrangea is a vining plant that attaches to brick, wood or stone with aerial roots. It is a deciduous plant that has white flowers and really looks more like a viburnum than a hydrangea. But it will grow here and do fairly well. This vine is very slow to become established, so be patient.

Question: My leaves have really funny looking bumps all over them. It just came on the tree leaves this spring. Will it kill the tree?

Answer: These bumps and growths are called leaf galls. Galls can form on any part of the plant from the flowers and leaves to stems and roots. The abnormal plant growth is due to enzymes given off by the immature gall-forming insect as it grows. The plant tissue that results is very different from the plant’s normal growth appearing to be diseased or misshapened. Most galls are formed by aphids, psyllids, mites and gall flies. Insect galls rarely cause permanent damage to their host plants.

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