In the gar­den

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - JANET CAR­SON

Q I need help. My hol­ly­hocks are dy­ing at the base, and they have yel­low spots all over them. Is it an aphid? What can I do to save them and stop the spread?

A I would say you have a bad case of hol­ly­hock rust. Hol­ly­hock rust tends to be­come more se­vere as the sum­mer pro­gresses, and has hit early this year with all the rain and hu­mid­ity. When you have the dis­ease on a plant, spores are car­ried to other plants by splash­ing rain and wind. San­i­ta­tion is crit­i­cal. Clean up as many dis­eased plants as you can and spray your healthy plants with a prod­uct con­tain­ing chlorothalonil (Da­conil or Bravo) or my­clobu­tanil (Im­munox). This fall make sure you cut back all the old fo­liage to the ground and dis­pose of it. If you have had this prob­lem in the past, be proac­tive and spray when the plants be­gin grow­ing to pre­vent in­fec­tion. Once you have a dis­ease firmly en­trenched in a gar­den it is hard to con­trol it.

QMy irises and daylilies have “pods” on them. Can they be used for prop­a­ga­tion?

AIrises and daylilies can be grown from seed, but in my opin­ion that is a fairly slow process to get a bloom­ing plant. Plant breed­ers do crosses of daylilies, and that is how we get the new va­ri­eties — from those seeds. You won’t nec­es­sar­ily get plants that look like the mother plant from the seeds. To grow them from seeds, you need to al­low the pod to ma­ture, then plant the seeds sep­a­rately. It usu­ally takes two years be­fore you see a flower. The tuber­ous roots of daylilies and irises can eas­ily be di­vided if you need more plants. The ba­bies will grow up to look like their mother, and they should bloom the next sea­son.

QI have two black lace el­der­ber­ries about 10 years old. They have bloomed won­der­fully ev­ery year, but thanks to my hap­haz­ard pruning over the years, the plants have a hap­haz­ard shape. The plants are 7- to 8-feet tall and about that wide, with each hav­ing sev­eral trunks rang­ing in size from a half inch to 2 inches in di­am­e­ter. Can you give me some pruning ideas?

AYou have a few op­tions. You can thin out some of the older canes at the soil line and then lightly shape the ones you leave. Nor­mally pruning is done af­ter bloom, un­less you are try­ing to grow the fruit. If you are treat­ing the plant as an or­na­men­tal, you can en­joy its flow­ers and then prune next year, or you can do a lit­tle shap­ing now and the bulk next sea­son. If your main goal is just the black fo­liage, prune it hard next year be­fore growth be­gins. A lit­tle pruning can be done now but we are in the hot, dry part of sum­mer and re­cov­ery will be slow. I would wait un­til a more ac­com­mo­dat­ing sea­son.

QAt­tached are pic­tures of two plants: one a “mys­tery” tree we haven’t iden­ti­fied; and the other of a weed that is tak­ing over our cen­tipede lawn. Can you help iden­tify these species and tell how can we erad­i­cate the weed from our lawn? Our neigh­bor has the same prob­lem. We were told to use “weed and feed” and it would get rid of it. It didn’t.

AThe tree is one I get asked about fre­quently be­cause it just “ap­pears” in the gar­den.

It is com­monly called an em­press tree or royal paulow­nia — Paulow­nia to­men­tosa. It pro­duces woody seed cap­sules that will pop open in the fall, scat­ter­ing the seeds. Many of the seeds ger­mi­nate, and when young, the tree can grow quite rapidly and have huge leaves. As it ages, the leaves be­come a more nor­mal size. Then it will be­gin to pro­duce beau­ti­ful clus­ters of pur­ple blooms in the spring, fol­lowed by the woody cap­sules. It grows fast, has weak wood and thus falls apart with age. I clas­sify it as a trash tree be­cause of the afore­men­tioned qual­i­ties, plus the fact that it can be some­what in­va­sive.

Your weed is les­pedeza. This weed can be dif­fi­cult to con­trol, par­tic­u­larly in a cen­tipede lawn since cen­tipede is more sen­si­tive to weed killers than are Ber­muda or zoysia. When you have les­pedeza in the lawn it of­ten in­di­cates you have in­suf­fi­cient ni­tro­gen fer­til­izer. Two ap­pli­ca­tions of a prod­uct such as Ortho Weed B Gon, ap­plied at the rate for South­ern grasses, is the best you can do. Ap­ply 30 days apart, start­ing now, but watch the tem­per­a­tures and don’t ap­ply it on a ter­ri­bly hot day. It would have been bet­ter to do when it was a bit cooler.

Spe­cial to the Demo­crat-Gazette/RON WOLFE

Royal paulow­nia Spe­cial to the Demo­crat-Gazette/JANET B. CAR­SON

or em­press tree grows tall rapidly and its wood is soft, so the trees are of­ten torn up by storms.

Hol­ly­hock rust Spe­cial to the Demo­crat-Gazette/JANET B. CAR­SON

plant to plant. spreads read­ily as wind and rain carry spores from

Spe­cial to the Demo­crat-Gazette/JANET B. CAR­SON

Les­pedeza in the lawn of­ten in­di­cates in­suf­fi­cient ni­tro­gen fer­til­izer.

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