Q&A: Edible kousa fruit and crape myrtle shoots

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 19, 2021

We’re transitioning from summer to fall — maybe. Hot weather and lack of rainfall present delays in fall annual plantings and lawn renovations. Many are working outdoors with questions. Below are a few I received over the past few weeks.

Question: I have a kousa dogwood with really unusual fruit now. Is the fruit edible?

Answer: The newly introduced kousa dogwood from the Orient produces an unusual marble-sized fruit. The globular green fruit turns pink during late summer and in September, evolves into a dull red color resembling a large upright raspberry. Fruits of both tree types are devoured by squirrels and birds. However, another interesting aspect of the kousa dogwood is that the fruit is edible. Some say the taste resembles that of a pawpaw or persimmon while others contend the fruit tastes like pumpkin. The ripened fruit is often turned into jellies or jams, or can be added to your daily smoothie.

Crape myrtle sprouts

Question: I recently had a crape myrtle cut down and the stump ground. Now I have sprouts coming up all around my lawn. What can I do to eliminate these sprouts? They keep coming back even when I mow them.

Answer: There are brush killers that will kill the sprouts, but it may take a while for this to work. Brush killers that contain 2,4-D, and Dicamba will kill the shoots and not kill grass. But it will probably take multiple applications for complete control. It some cases, depending on the stumps, roots, etc., it may take a couple of seasons.

Question: My trees and shrubs have grown a bit over the past few summer months. Is it OK if I prune them now?

Answer: Yes, light, judicious pruning can occur all during the year, however, avoid pruning spring flowering shrubs such as azaleas and rhododendron. If you prune these spring bloomers now you will eliminate many of your flowers. Prune those shrubs in the spring, after bloom. Prune the following shrubs back hard: holly, red tips or boxwood in the early spring to avoid winter damage. However, maples should be pruned now while they have leaves to avoid excessive bleeding. Excessive bleeding is very common when pruning maples in late winter and early spring.

Question: I want to reseed my lawn and I have it tilled and ready to plant. Is there a waiting period to adding my fescue seed after the lime and fertilize has been applied?

Answer: Seeding and fertilization including lime can be done all at one time. The seed is not sensitive to the fertilizer or the lime.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu .