The season for questions never ends

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 11, 2017

With summer gardening activities winding down, it would be a natural assumption that gardening inquiries would dwindle. However, I still receive several homeowner questions at church and when I’m out and about despite the waning growing season.

Unseasonable weather has many scratching their heads about what to do next with their lawn and landscapes. Below are a few questions that you may have pondered.

Question: My hydrangeas have really grown this summer, but they had few if any blooms during the early summer. What was the problem?

Answer: Many of the hydrangea cultivars were killed back during the early spring. Some were actually killed back to the ground and have returned to their normal growth.  If you’ve keep them fed and properly irrigated, they should return back to their normal blooming habit next spring, weather permitting.

Question: While weeding my shrubs and flower beds, I’ve encountered a number of very small tree saplings that seem to reoccur each year. Is there anything I can spray on the saplings to keep them from coming up each year?

Answer: Yes, the best way to control reoccurring small saplings is to treat the stump when you prune them back with a brush killer or glyphosate (Roundup). The stumps need to be painted, full strength, immediately after cutting to allow the herbicide to translocate to the root system.

Question: There is a really unusual tree growing near the St. John’s Child Development Center. It has green leaves but the tips of the foliage are orange-yellow. Can you tell me what type of tree is?

Answer: The tree you are speaking of is a Rising Sun redbud, Cercis canadensis. It is one of the many redbud cultivars or varieties grown in North Carolina. This is a small tree that has distinctively yellow-orange highlighted heart shaped leaves on the new growth. This is just one of many redbud cultivars that grow well in our area.  Go to this web site, for more detailed information on redbuds.

Question: There is this weed in my lawn that started popping up a few weeks ago and it seems to be spreading. I don’t think it’s Bermuda or crabgrass. Can you tell me what it may be and how to control it?

Answer: The grass you’re speaking of is goosegrass. It’s an annual similar to crabgrass, but has a more wagonwheel type growth habit. The weed germinates in warm, humid weather as we’ve experienced over the past few weeks. Control of the weed is similar to crabgrass — a healthy lawn with preemergence herbicides in the spring before weed seed germination.

Question: Some of my trees are dropping leaves like its late September. Is there anything I can do to prevent this premature leaf drop?

Answer: Not really. Certain species such as poplar, birch, prunus family (cherry, plum) drop prematurely during weather extremes such as high temperatures or drought.

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