New answers for gardening questions

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 1, 2012

By Darrell Blackwelder
For the Salisbury Post
SALISBURY— March is the month homeowners start to ask about their gardening problems. E-mail is an efficient method of communicating your problems with Cooperative Extension. Send it to Attached pictures of insects or diseases help agents determine problems and provide solutions. Below are questions posed to Cooperative Extension over the past few weeks.
Q: I have this growth growing all over my trees in my yard. What is this and will it kill my trees? How do I control it?
A: Your plant has lichens on the limbs and twigs. The growth of lichens does not cause decline in growth or death of shrubs and trees. However, lichen development on trees or shrubs is generally associated with poor growth or environmental stress of the plant. If practical, the affected limbs or twigs can be pruned out to stimulate new growth. More information on lichens can be found at
Q: When can I prune my azaleas? We have large plants that need to be pruned.
A: Normally pruning is recommended after the bloom in early June.
Q: Is it too late to mow my liriope?
A: No. Liriope is a lily and a tuff plant. Mowing in the spring is recommended to rejuvenate growth. Make sure your mower blade is sharp.
Q: I sprayed my weeds last week and they are not dying. What is the problem?
A: Blooming broadleaf winter annuals are difficult and may be impossible to kill because they are in the process of producing seed and not growing and therefore not adsorbing herbicides. Weeds should look distorted and withered a few days after application. Two applications of broad leafed herbicides 10 days apart is an effective solution. Blooming annuals now will be dead in a few weeks as the temperature increases.
Q: Can I over-seed my lawn now?
A: Fescue can be over-seeded now, especially bare spots. Don’t wait too late in the spring.
Q: I have some limbs to cut back on my tree that are hanging over my house. Should I use some sort of pruning paint or sealer over the cuts to protect the wound?
A: No. Many ask about using pruning paint for exposed cuts. Pruning paint or wound dressing does not provide any benefits in healing or protecting tree cuts. Some researchers have suggested that it may cause problems later with fungus growing behind the paint.
Darrell Blackwelder is the County Extension Director with horticulture responsibilities with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Learn more about Cooperative Extension events and activities by calling 704-216-8970 Facebook or online at