Thursday, November 23, 2017




Advertise with us

Sperry: Many brands work on unwanted stumps

By Neil Sperry
Sept. 13, 2017 at 10 p.m.


Dear Neil: You have talked about a product to apply to stumps of unwanted brush after we cut it off. I can't remember what it was, and I don't know where to find it.

Answer: I have long made it my practice not to mention products by brand name to avoid any appearance of favoritism. In this case I'm just talking about a standard broadleafed weedkiller containing 2,4-D. There are dozens of brands on the market, and you'll find them in almost all nurseries, farm supply stores and hardware stores. Drill one or more (depending on size of trunk) inch-deep, pencil-sized holes into the stumps and fill them with the concentrated material. Do not allow it to run out onto the soil.

Dear Neil: I have two young red oak trees in our yard. The leaves on one of the trees are turning brown. Is this something I need to be concerned about?

Answer: Any time you have tip or edge burn of leaves of almost any plant species you can attribute it to moisture stress. In this case the one tree may have gotten marginally too dry sometime this summer. Hopefully you'll be able to keep it watered very well the rest of this fall and winter. You'll know by early next spring. Here's hoping, too, that you had the trunk wrapped on both trees for the first couple of years to protect against sunscald. That's a message I've been trying to get out all of my career, but few people do so.

Dear Neil: The attached photo is of a weed that has started to show up in our St. Augustine lawn. Can you identify it and tell me what I could use to control it?

Answer: I only see one photo, and it is ultra-tiny. I can't recognize the weed, but it's obviously a broadleafed weed. Almost any weed that isn't a grass (excluding nutsedge) can be controlled with a broadleafed weedkiller containing 2,4-D. Temperatures now should be cool enough for you to use it on St. Augustine. Use a pump spray so you can apply it specifically to the weeds. If you see the spray beading up and running off the leaves add one drop of a liquid dishwashing detergent to each gallon of spray.

Dear Neil: As the person in the family with the "green thumb," I get the plant propagation questions. Can I root Esperanza and fire bush plants from cuttings? If so, where do I make the cuttings? Is this a good time?

Answer: It sounds like you have a good working start on how to root cuttings of plants. It's always best to do so in a mixture of half peat moss and half perlite (not in water). Use cuttings that are 3 inches long and that you've taken from strong vegetative growth. In most cases you shouldn't need a rooting hormone powder, but if you have troubles you could always buy a packet at a nursery and give it a try. If you root them now you would want to pot them into 1-gallon pots to grow during the winter. Anytime temperatures are expected to drop below 40 degrees bring them into warm, bright conditions indoors.

Dear Neil: I am concerned about peonies in our cemetery. Their leaves have turned brown, and it appears that the plants have died. I'm told that our maintenance person has sprayed MSMA, and it appears that killed them. I've also heard that glyphosates cause monuments and concrete curbs to deteriorate. What suggestions do you have for me before I start replacing the dead peonies?

Answer: This column goes far and wide, and I really wish you had mentioned where this cemetery is. Peonies are not adapted in Texas at all. You'll see them growing north of I-20, but even there they have turned mostly brown by now. They're perennials, and that's the way their foliage operates. I'll let you do the research on glyphosates' effects on monuments and concrete. That's something I've not personally observed or heard in my career. Also, MSMA hasn't been on the consumer market for many years. He must really have stocked up.

Dear Neil: Do crape myrtles need sunlight to flower well? I have one that's growing vigorously, but no flowers so far this year. It doesn't get much sun. Could that be the problem?

Answer: Crape myrtles flower best in full, hot sunlight. That's one of the reasons they're so good in Texas. You can almost draw a straight-line graph of their flowering's decreasing as the shade increases. That's definitely your problem.

Dear Neil: In the past two years I have read articles in the paper written by "certified experts" that St. Augustine does not grow in shady areas. These "experts" have evidently not visited my house, since my St. Augustine flourishes beneath the trees and does not venture too far from those areas where bermuda thrives. What is your take?

Answer: I agree with the experts. St. Augustine is our most shade-tolerant grass, but even it will grow best in full sun. Remember that all sod farms that produce St. Augustine sod are in full sun. The farther north you go in Texas the more likely you are to see St. Augustine brown in winter's cold, and when that happens, it weakens the grass. If the shade is very heavy, or if there is any type of pedestrian traffic on it, that St. Augustine can start to thin out and eventually disappear. I've had St. Augustine all but five years of my life, and I've seen it happen many times. As for the sunnier areas in your lawn, I didn't understand your final sentence. I copied it verbatim. I wonder if the St. Augustine is reluctant to grow in the sun because of dry soils or chinch bugs, or perhaps for some other reason.

Have a question you'd like Neil to consider? Mail it to him in care of this newspaper or e-mail him at mailbag@sperrygardens.com. Neil regrets that he cannot reply to questions individually.

SHARE

Comments

Powered By AdvocateDigitalMedia