Fertilizer can damage some lawns

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 7, 2013

SALISBURY — Dodging daily rains make gardening outdoors a challenge. However, many people are still able plant and pull weeds. Below are a few gardening questions received earlier this week that may be of interest.

Question: I have a bag of weed and feed fertilizer. Can I still use it?

Answer: No, it’s too late to fertilize cool season fescue lawns. Late fertilization promotes brown patch in fescue and other cool season lawns. It’s also too late to apply pre-emergence herbicides for crabgrass and other summer annuals. However, broadleaf post-emergence weed killers can be applied. Use caution and read the label when applying any herbicides during the growing season.

Question: My wife has a very large hibiscus plant that for the last two summers has had small brown spots and growths on the foliage. The spots have returned again and are covering the leaves. What can we do to prevent this?

Answer: Rust is a common problem with hibiscus plants. Prune off infected leaves and sterilize the shears between each cut with alcohol. Clean up diseased leaves and debris underneath your hibiscus plant. Rust can be controlled with fungicides that contain active ingredients such as mancozeb, triadimefon, propiconazole or azoxystrobin. Always follow the directions on the label.

Question: Throughout the county I have noticed that many lawns and fields are inundated with a tall yellow flower. What is this flower?

Answer: The flower is most likely false dandelion. It is somewhat different than the more common dandelion. This weed blooms a little later in the spring and with shiny foliage and a showy flower. Go to http://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/weeds/Dandelion_Carolina_False.aspx for more detailed information.

Question: My lawn has been doing very well until about a week ago. Now it has brown spots all over the lawn. What is the problem and what can I do to prevent this?

Sclerotina homoeocarpa) and the helminthosporium diseases on fescue lawns. Correct fertilization is important, along with mowing at the correct height. Fescue lawns need to be mowed at 31/2 inches. It also essential that fescue lawns receive ample sunlight. Most fescue cultivars need a minimum of eight hours of sunlight to maintain healthy growth.

Question: There is a vine blooming at the Agriculture Center Pocket Garden that is labeled a honeysuckle. I thought honeysuckle vines were a weed?

Lonicera sp.) native to Japan, was originally introduced as a ground cover. However, over the years it has become an invasive plant. Newer cultivars are less invasive, more compact and adapt well to most landscapes. Go to http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/vines/lonicera_sempervirens.html for more detailed information on recommended honeysuckle cultivars.

Darrell Blackwelder, county Extension director, North Carolina Cooperative Extension. 704-216-8970