Summer winding down, but not problems

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 2, 2013

SALISBURY — Cooperative Extension still receives a number of homeowner questions via phone and e-mail despite the waning growing season. The recent rains always create problems, but this period is generally slower than most. But horticultural problems do occur. Below are a few questions that you may have pondered.
Question: Every summer we get this unusual grass in our lawns. What is this and how do you control it in fescue type lawns?
Answer: What you have is dallisgrass. It produces a distinctive seed head that is easy to spot. There are post-emergence herbicides with the active ingredient MSMA or CMA that can be used by home gardeners to control clumps of dallisgrass growing in lawns. Hose-on type applicators are available for ease of application. These herbicides are relatively selective and must be applied two to three times at three-week intervals in the summer. It is best if the turf is left unmowed for two weeks before the first application to create the maximum amount of leaf area for coverage by the herbicide spray. If the weed is excessive, you many want to use a nonselective herbicide glyphosate (Roundup) to control dallisgrass in the turf and reseed. Go to for more detailed information on dallisgrass and its control.
Question: There is a shrub blooming now at Hurley Park in a shaded area the looks like a red honeysuckle. It looks like it may be some type of azalea but it is blooming now. Can you identify the shrub?
Rhodendron prunifolium). It is a deciduous native azalea found throughout N.C. along the coast to the Appalachian range in well-drained soils. This species generally has orange to red flowers blooming from late summer to early fall. It is now in full bloom at Hurley Park in Salisbury. More information on the plum leaf azalea can be found at
Question: We have a real unusual butterfly out in our garden on the lantana. Can you identify the butterfly?
Answer: The butterfly is a zebra swallowtail. It is somewhat rare as the pawpaw tree is the only food source. Go to for more detailed information about this species.
Question: I have a dogwood tree with limbs that get in the way when I try to mow. Can I prune them now?
Answer: Yes, dogwood trees can be pruned without damage in late summer and early fall. Light pruning will not kill established trees.

Darrell Blackwelder is the county Extension director with horticulture responsibilities with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County.