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Don't worry about petal blight – it's due to wet weather

The weather has improved over the past few weeks to work outdoors and many 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.
Q: My camellia has a problem with its leaves. Some are big and rubbery. What is this? Will it kill the shrub?
A: Petal blight is a problem not only with camellias, but also with azaleas and other plants. The distortion is caused by a fungus fueled by cool weather and high humidity. There is no logical control. Infested leaves will fall off and the plant will recover.
Q: I have a leftover bag of weed and feed fertilizer. Can I still use it?
A: No, it’s too late to fertilize cool season fescue lawns. Late fertilization promotes brown patch in fescue and other cool season lawns. However, broadleaf weed killers can be used with care.
Q: Can I use ground up stump saw dust and other material around my shrubs?
A: Technically, yes. I would not use fresh ground material in gardens or flower beds where it is plowed into the soil. However, it is OK as mulch away from the house. I would not put freshly ground wood near my house.
Q: My husband wants to cut down a tree. Is there anything he can do to keep it from sprouting back?
A: Yes, within an hour after cutting the tree, paint full strength brush killer or stump killer on the freshly cut stump. The herbicide is translocated to the root system and keeps the tree from sprouting back.
Q: I want to work on my lawn this week. Can I aerate the yard now?
A: No, not at this time. Core aerating should be done periodically, but only in the fall. Coring in the spring weakens turf and promotes spring and summer weed germination. However, if you have nothing but weeds, you have nothing to lose.
Q: I’ve been working outside in my yard and I think I may have gotten infected with poison oak. Is poison oak out yet? How can I control it?
A: Poison oak is starting to leaf out now, but the sap from a deciduous vine is still potent. Roundup (glyphosate) or a brush killer will eliminate the noxious weed.

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