Darrell Blackwelder: Lousy weather, lousy problems

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 13, 2015

It seems the only thing predicable about our weather is that it tends to be unpredictable.

The erratic temperature fluctuations this weekend and early next week will surely take a toll.  Homeowners will be calling about the freezing weather and other gardening questions. Below are a few questions Cooperative Extension has received over the past few weeks.

Email is an efficient method of communicating your problems with Cooperative Extension. Attached pictures help Extension agents determine problems and provide solutions. Use darrell_blackwelder@ncsu.edu or danelle_cutting@ncsu.edu

Question: I have figs that are damaged by cold weather. When is the best time to prune them back and how far should I prune them?

Answer: Prune them back to eliminate all the dead or damaged portions in mid- to late March. Be sure to  make clean cuts and don’t leave stubs. Remove dead wood and suckers from the main trunk to encourage larger fruit and an open tree form. Go to http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/plants/vegetables/tree_fruits_nuts/hgic1353.html for more detailed information about fig culture.

Question: I have his growth growing all over my crepe myrtles. What is this and will it kill my trees? How do I control it?

Answer: 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 tree or shrub 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 http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/A/ANR-0857/ANR-0857.pdf

Question: It’s supposed to get really cold over the next few days. Will the cold weather damage my early daffodils that are blooming?

Answer: They may wilt, but it will not kill the bulb. Extremely cold temperatures into the single digits may kill the bloom. Daffodils are generally bullet proof.

Question: My pansies look really bad. Got any ideas on how to make them look better?

Answer: The extreme cold may have killed some pansy plantings. If possible, deadhead and fertilize them but not when temperatures are warm, above or near 60 degrees. Fertilize them in cool weather with liquid bloom booster fertilizers. Fertilizer applications during warm weather often promote aggressive growth and the plants usually become weak and spindly.

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