QUESTION: "This spring we had a hard freeze mid April that killed all
tree and shrub greenery. All have thankfully recovered but the growth
now is mostly new stems and sprigs especially on the crepe myrtles,
rose of Sharon, and lilac. Do I trim back the new growth this winter
so that the shrubs are not bushy? I'd really like to have no more
than 3 stems to the crape myrtles and one main stem to the Roses of
Sharon and lilac." - Earlene
ANSWER: Simply select the stems you want to keep and trim back the
others to the top of the soil. They should be fine and you will put
more energy back into the remaining stems.
QUESTION: "I was wondering if you have a good solution for getting
rid of ants that are all around and on my Tulip Poplars. I used Sevin
on the lawn surrounding the tree but have been hesitant to use it on
the tree. If you can help me it would be greatly appreciated." -
ANSWER: One of the ladies here in the office, also named Brenda, had
a severe ant problem recently in her back yard as well. She used
Spectracide Bug Stop Indoor/Outdoor Insect Control around the area
and it took care of the ant problem. Brenda noted that she saw a huge
difference after the first spray, but she sprayed a second time to
make sure. You should be able to find it at most any hardware store.
The ants are attracted to the sweet sap in the tree.
QUESTION: "Last year I purchased several plants, four of which were
viburnum. They are doing great but starting to get "leggy". When is
the best time to trim them back and is there any special way to trim
"Also, I have many Black Eyed Susans in my yard and they are all
starting to have black spots on their leaves, mainly the leaves
closest to the ground.
Do I need to worry? The plants seem to be doing fine, just don't look
ANSWER: As you've found, viburnum is an easy plant to grow. In fact
usually, the only issue is directing and managing the growth. As soon
as possible after flowering, trim back and shape them to create a good
framework while they are still young. Regarding the Black Eyed
Susans, trim or pull away the affected leaves and you should be fine.
Now here are some comments from a reader responding to issues raised
in previous columns...
"Steve, I read one person's concern that their peonies don't bloom.
One thing that's certain to cause this problem is not enough
sunlight. I bought an old house with lots of peonies on the half-acre
grounds, and I think they were planted when the trees here were much
smaller, giving the peonies more sun.
"I've also had some problems with peonies forming flower buds that
don't open up. I've heard that the potassium in banana peels is good
to remedy this. I dry all my banana peels during the winter, then
grind everything but the stem with a coffee grinder, and keep the
resulting powder in a tightly sealed jar for sprinkling around my
peonies in the spring. I did get many more open blooms this year." -
Thanks for sharing that idea, Holly. If you remember a recent column
about remedies for brown spots on the lawn caused by dog urine, you
might find this additional comment from Holly amusing:
"I don't have any pets (except for the wild birds at my feeding
station) but I find that people walking their dogs in our pretty
little village will actually let their leashed dogs go up onto my
property and do their business. I made a cutesy but effective sign,
ornamented with flowers, that says, 'I don't let my grandkids poop in
your yard---please don't let your pooches poop in mine!'"
I hope your dog-walking neighbors take note, Holly!
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs
and landscaping to firstname.lastname@example.org and for resources and
additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed
newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org