Don’t prune now, come to the plant sale May 6

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 30, 2017

By Danélle Cutting

Rowan Cooperative Extension

Rainy days and Mondays always seem to get me down. But this week hasn’t been that bad. It has been awfully wet, though, and with that, we have received numerous calls and visits concerning gardening.

When our office is busy, it doesn’t make you feel too bad about being cooped up indoors. Here are a few of the questions we have received lately.

Question: I found an insect in my dresser that I recently purchased. Is this species new to the area, and should I be worried?

Answer: If you ever buy something brand new and find an insect, eggs, etc. in your furniture, it is highly recommended that you do not kill the insect so that we can properly identify it. Unfortunately, many new pests are accidentally introduced in such a manner and are often not reported.

If you have a situation similar to this, the best thing to do is capture the insect, cover it with alcohol (rubbing alcohol, ethanol or isopropyl alcohol) and bring it to our office as soon as possible. If we cannot identify the insect at our office, we will send the specimen to a trained entomologist.

If it is deemed non-native, it will be sent to an entomologist at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for confirmation. Once the species is determined, the USDA will follow up and take measures to control possible infestations.

Because identification of insects can be tricky, it is imperative to provide samples that are not smashed, destroyed or injured so that they are properly identified. If you have a case similar to this, be sure to call our office at 704-216-8970.

Question: I always enjoy your Extension Master Gardener plant sale. When will you be having it this year?

Answer: We have already received numerous phone calls about the plant sale, and it is something many gardeners look forward to each year. The 2017 Spring Plant Sale will be Saturday, May 6, at 8:30 a.m. at 2727 Old Concord Road.

There will be numerous perennials, shrubs, vines and even small trees for sale. We will also host a raffle this year to win some wonderful prizes. The raffle prizes will consist of a beautiful tile planter from artist Edward Tezlaf, an exquisitely framed outdoor photograph from Shane Tolliver, and an 80-gallon rain barrel to use with your home down spouts.

The tickets for the raffle will be sold at the sale, and the drawing will be held after the next Do It Yourself program on May 20 at noon at the Rowan County Extension office (2727 Old Concord Road).

Question: Spring came too quick. Can I still prune some of my fruit trees and muscadine vines?

Answer: No. it is not recommended to do your heavy pruning now. When we have warm/cold humid days like we have had with all of this rain, it can help spread disease. With open wounds, the plants are more susceptible to disease.

Wait until next February to prune your fruit trees and muscadines for routine maintenance. For new fruit trees, you can do some summer pruning around late June and July but this is not typical pruning.

This type of pruning helps remove leaves to provide an increase of sunlight for ripening fruit and/or reduce growth by “pinching/snapping” excessive growth. If this interests you, please give me a call at our office to discuss the proper methods.

I often see the funny memes posted on social media websites about North Carolina’s weather, and we have definitely received a lot of rain over the past few days. Some areas have been covered with excess water. That excess water can cause numerous issues that we will see in the next few weeks and months.

Rain is very important to our growers, but too much can be a bad thing. If we get stuck in our houses again due to excess rain, please feel free to call us with your garden questions. It helps pass the time since we are also stuck inside.

If you have any horticulture or gardening questions, please contact your local Cooperative Extension agent, Danelle Cutting, at 704-216-8970 or email her at