Frequently Asked Questions

Question:
There is a large growth on the trunk of my maple tree. What is it?
Answer:

The growth on the trunk of the maple tree is likely a burl.  Burls are abnormal swellings or growths that develop on the trunks and branches of trees.  Burls can be found on deciduous trees and evergreens.  The exact cause is...

Question:
There are golf ball-sized growths with horn-like projections on the branches of my pin oak. What are they?
Answer:

The growths on the pin oak are a type of gall.  Galls are abnormal growths of plant tissue induced to form by mites, insects, or other small organisms.  The galls on the pin oak are called horned oak galls because of the horn-like...

Question:
There are small, black beetles feeding on my raspberries. What can I do?
Answer:

The small, black beetles are likely sap beetles.  They are also known as picnic beetles or picnic bugs.  Sap beetles commonly feed on over-ripe or damaged fruits and vegetables in the garden.  

Sanitation is the best...

Question:
How do I stop yellowjackets from feeding on my raspberries?
Answer:

Yellowjackets are social wasps that build paper nests in the ground, a log, building wall, attic, or other sites.  The workers from the colony travel up to a few hundred yards from the nest while looking for food.  In early summer, the...

Question:
There are small, white worms in my raspberries. What are they and how can they be controlled?
Answer:

The small, white worms are likely the larvae of the spotted wing drosophila.  Spotted wing drosophila adults are small, yellowish brown flies.  Males have distinctive dark spots on their wings, hence the name spotted wing drosophila....

Question:
My peonies appear to be covered with a white, powdery substance. What is it?
Answer:

The white, powdery material on the peony foliage is powdery mildew.  Powdery mildew is a fungal disease.  Powdery mildew occurs on a large number of plants (peonies, lilacs, viburnums, roses, garden phlox, bee balm, turfgrass, and many...

Question:
Why are some of my cucumbers misshapen?
Answer:

Poorly-shaped fruit are usually the result of poor pollination.  Poor pollination may be due to cool, wet weather and improperly applied insecticides that limit bee activity.  When insecticides are necessary, select an insecticide with...

Question:
Why are some of my cucumbers bitter?
Answer:

The bitterness in cucumbers is produced by the compound cucurbitacin.  Cucurbitacins are normally found in the leaves, stems, and roots of cucumber plants.  The cucurbitacins spread from the vegetative parts of the plant into the...

Question:
My hot peppers are setting fruit, but not my bell peppers. Why?
Answer:

In regards to fruit set, bell peppers are sensitive to high temperatures.  The optimum temperature range for flowering and fruit set on bell peppers is between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  Hot peppers tolerate high temperatures much...

Question:
My tomato plants are flowering, but aren’t setting fruit. Why?
Answer:

Unfavorable weather conditions are the primary reason for blossom drop on tomatoes.  High daytime temperatures (above 85 degrees Fahrenheit) and low nighttime temperatures (below 55 degrees Fahrenheit) interfere with pollination, causing...

Question:
There are wart-like growths on the undersides of the leaves on my hackberry. What are they?
Answer:

The wart-like growths on the hackberry leaves are galls.  Galls are abnormal growths of plant tissue induced to form by mites, insects, or other small organisms.  They are quite common on trees.  

The gall found on the...

Question:
There are white, fuzzy objects on the branches of my maple tree. Are they harming the tree?
Answer:

The white, fuzzy objects on the branches of your maple tree are wooly alder aphids.  (The insect is also known as the maple blight aphid.)  Wooly alder aphids feed on the sap of maple trees from bud-break until late June.  Then...

Question:
Should everbearing and day-neutral strawberries be renovated like June-bearing strawberries?
Answer:

Everbearing and day-neutral strawberries should not be renovated like June-bearers.  Everbearing and day-neutral strawberries are most productive when the plants are maintained as large, single plants.  All runners that develop on...

Question:
How do I control grasses in my iris bed?
Answer:

Annual grasses, such as crabgrass and foxtail, can be controlled by hand pulling.  

Perennial grasses, such as quackgrass, are much more difficult to control as they spread via underground stems or rhizomes.  (All of the rhizomes...

Question:
When should I divide my perennials?
Answer:

The best time to divide perennials varies with the different plant species.  Early spring (just as new growth begins to appear) is the best time to divide aster, chrysanthemum, hosta, bee balm, sedum, yarrow, obedient plant, and ornamental...

Question:
Which perennials bloom in late summer/early fall?
Answer:

Late summer/early fall blooming perennials include New England aster (Aster novae-angliae), New York aster (Aster novi-belgii), boltonia (Boltonia asteroides), garden mum (Chrysanthemum x morifolium),...

Question:
What type of grass seed mix should I purchase?
Answer:

When purchasing grass seed, select a high quality seed mix that is best adapted to the site.  Kentucky bluegrass is the best choice for sunny areas that receive at least 6 hours of direct sun each day.  Choose a seed mix that contains...

Question:
How do I harvest, dry, and store shallots?
Answer:

Harvest mature bulbs in late summer when the tops have turned yellow and begun to dry.  Cure the shallots in a warm, dry location for 1 to 2 weeks.  After the shallots have been cured, cut off the dry foliage, place the bulbs in a mesh...

Question:
Is it necessary to fertilize annuals growing in containers?
Answer:

Plants in containers need to be fertilized on a regular basis as nutrient levels in potting mixes quickly fall due to absorption by plants and leaching during watering.  

Many commercial potting mixes contain a slow release fertilizer...

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