High heat and humidity compound problems

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 26, 2011

The last few days of May have delivered unusually hot weather and excessively high humidity normally associated in July and August. Coping with the excessive elements often compounds other problems caused by insects and diseases. Below are questions posed earlier this week by homeowners.
Question: My squash plants are beautiful and have really big blooms, yet I don’t have any squash setting fruit. What is the problem?
Answer: All cucurbits — cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe, etc. and including squash — need honey bees to pollinate. You don’t have enough bees or they may be distracted with other blooming plants and are not pollinating your squash.
For example, when poplar trees are blooming, bees will go to them first. Be patient or you can hand-pollinate the vines with a small artist’s brush.
Question: My neighbor has planted bamboo in his yard and now it is coming up in my lawn. How do I control this plant?
Answer: Bamboo is very difficult to control. Few herbicides are effective on bamboo. The only treatment regimen that has been proven to be effective is a winter application of the granular herbicide Casoron combined with summer spot sprays using glyphosate (Roundup). Cut the bamboo back and allow it to re-sprout. After new sprouts emerge, spray with herbicides to prevent re-establishment. Recent research has shown that glyphosate works better than other herbicides for controlling the plant. More information can be found at www.ces.ncsu.edu/chatham/ag/homehort/BambooControl.htm.
Question: When I drive around Rowan County I have noticed these really big shrubs that look like hydrangeas. They have a big white blooms. What are these plants?
Answer: The plants you see on the sides of the road in bloom now are common elderberry (Sambucus canadensis). It is a fairly common large shrub with large, white, flat-topped flower clusters. After bloom, the plant produces clusters of purple-black fruit.
Question: When is the best time for me to prune my azaleas? I have quite a few plants that need to be pruned back.
Answer: Most azalea shrubs can be pruned back now, but you need to do this soon. These plants set their buds in late summer, so try to have the plants pruned by July 4th.
Question: My tomato plants’ leaves are rolled up. The plant otherwise looks good and has tomatoes. Is there something wrong with the plant? Should I spray it with anything?
Answer: Many of the newer and some older tomato cultivars roll their leaves during growth. The plant is fine.