Darrell Blackwelder: Webworms return; fall flowers bloom

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 26, 2014

Cool temperatures have arrived just in time for the county fair. Leaves will be falling soon and with the extremes in both temperatures and rainfall, many still have landscape and garden questions. Below are a sample of questions received over the past few weeks.

Question: I have bagworms in my persimmon tree in the front yard. I’m worried that it will kill the tree. Will it kill my persimmon tree and what can I do to eliminate them and keep them from defoliating my tree?
Answer: The insects you’re speaking of are not really bagworms, but fall webworms. Even though it looks bad for the tree, these (worms) will not kill the tree. These are immature caterpillars of a moth that typically hatch out in late summer and early fall. The caterpillars can be controlled by disrupting the webs and exposing the caterpillars to birds and other natural predators which will control them without insecticides. Go to http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/O&T/trees/note46/note46.html for more detailed information on controlling the fall pests.

Question: I read in another newspaper that since we’ve had a good summer I don’t really need to core aerate my fescue lawn this fall. Is this true?
Answer: This really depends not so much on the weather but your soil type and the growth of your fescue lawn. If you have tight clay soils and your fescue is not at its best, it would be better to core aerate and fertilize and lime your soil. Aeration loosens tight clay soils, allowing oxygen to move to the roots and enabling phosphorus the ability to move into the fescue root zone. Usually aeration is recommended about every two years. It’s best not to aerate in the spring as it allows easy germination for weed seeds.

Question: The Pocket Gardens at the Ag Center seem to always have something blooming. What are the best plants for fall bloom?
Answer: There are many plants blooming at the Ag Center on Old Concord Road. The Extension Master Gardeners have done quite a job of implementing various plantings including a pollinator garden, sensory garden, Southern Living test garden and Sloop garden. The Encore azaleas and fall blooming asters are very showy at this time of year. I would highly recommend them as fall color additions to your landscape.

Darrell Blackwelder is the county Extension director in Rowan County with horticulture responsibilities with the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Learn more about Extension events and activities by calling 704-216-8970, Facebook or at www.rowanextension.com