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Handle trees gently and wait to prune

By Danelle Cutting

Rowan Cooperative Extension

Leaf colors are beautiful right now, so if we have a break in the rain, be sure to take a walk and look at all the beauty.

In my opinion, the beautiful colors in the trees make people truly appreciate what they have, so it can give them concern if they think something is causing damage to their trees. Here are a few questions from this week:

Question: My beautiful maple leaves have some holes and disease marks. What is causing these problems? I do not want to lose my tree, so what can I spray to get rid of the issue?

Answer: Trees can hold a special place in your heart, and they can definitely have a lot of sentimental value. But just because they do that does not mean that we need to get the tanks of pesticide warfare out to nuke whatever pest they have. I always promote using IPM (Integrated Pest Management). This process is starting with cultural, going to biological, then to mechanical, and lastly to chemical measures to remove or reduce disease or pest problems. In this case, the client submitted a leaf sample. The good thing is that we are in the season of fall and when fall comes around, the leaves fall off. So, in essence, they are no longer providing the tree a service. With that being said, if the tree has some disease, then I would go with a cultural method of raking the leaves up and disposing (trashing or burning) of them, so that the disease will not spread to next year’s leaves.

Question: Can I prune my crape myrtle, fruit trees and shrubs?

Answer: I wrote about this last week, and I have still received tons of calls on the issues. Most trees and shrubs should be pruned in late January to early March. I prefer pruning in February; I call it my prune month. The ones that need to be pruned shortly after flowering are usually your flowering shrubs, but that, too, depends on the plant and how their flowers are created. Some shrubs will create flowers on new wood, old wood, or wood that is just a year old, so it is very important to know what plant you have before you start pruning. I know everyone wants to work in their yard but unless the tree or shrub has anything dead, diseased or damaged, just wait until February to prune. Never top trees, and never commit Crape Murder (brutally pruning crape myrtles). Unfortunately, I have already witnessed the crime scene this year. To see when to prune, check out our pruning calendar: https://polk.ces.ncsu.edu/pruningcalendar/. To see more information on “Crape Murder” and how to properly prune crape myrtles, read this: https://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2013/02/how-do-i-prune-crape-myrtle/

Question: What is the difference between hydroponic and aquaponic? Don’t they mean the same thing?

Answer: In the horticulture world, they do not. Both are dealing with water, but aquaponics grows fish and uses the water to help grow the plants. Hydroponics only uses water to grow plants. Next week, read a full article on an aquaponics facility that I toured a few weeks ago.

If you have questions concerning pruning, disease and pest problems, call your local agent, Danelle Cutting, at 704-216-8970.

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