June "In The Grow" - Indiana Yard and Garden - Purdue Consumer Horticulture

June “In The Grow”

Q. I am wondering what kind of tree, besides a willow, likes moist areas. I have an area in our yard that does not drain well and was hoping to solve the problem by using a tree. I can’t use a willow, due to my neighbor not really wanting one. He is worried about the roots. Thanks!
– John D.

A. Plants may take up some of the water and could reduce the excess moisture in that part of your yard; however, the only surefire method is to provide some sort of drainage that takes the extra water away.

Several wonderful trees will grow in moist areas. My favorite is the river birch. It grows quickly and has beautiful peeling bark. River birch are available in single stem or clump form. Red maples, swamp white oak and pin oak are some considerations if you’re looking for upright shade trees. The serviceberry is a nice choice for a smaller flowering tree in a moist area. Bald cypress will thrive in moisture and give the appearance of an evergreen, although it drops its needles each fall.


Q. For the last 10 years, our tomatoes haven’t been any good; they have green seeds and don’t taste good. Can you help? We put lime on the garden last fall and have tried different varieties.
– Sharon Ault, Galveston, Ind.

A. Lime may make the problem even worse since tomatoes grow best in a slightly acid soil.

Excess nitrogen fertilizer can cause the tomatoes to increase in size at the expense of flavor. A lack of sunlight, including cloudy days near harvest, can reduce the amount of sugars formed in the plant. And green seeds sound like an indication of early harvest. Allow the plant to fully mature on the vine for optimum flavor. Continue to experiment with different varieties, avoid lime and let them ripen fully.


Q. The drought last summer did some damage to our 50-foot pine trees by making the conditions favorable for the spider mites. We have quite a few bare spots on the trees. Do you have any suggestions on how I can prevent any more damage, if the weather is hot and dry again this summer? Thank you.
– Vickie Christen

A. Large trees, such as yours, are difficult to treat with pesticides. Instead, you could spray the trees regularly during hot, dry weather with a strong stream of water. This dislodges a great number of the mites and knocks down the size of the population, thereby reducing the amount of damage to your trees. Simply watering the trees during extended dry spells will help. The less stressed the trees are, the more able they are to fight off attacks.


Q. Each year part of my James McFarland lilac dies off. It’s planted where a crabapple with scab used to be. Is that affecting it, and if it is, what can I do to save it? It’s only about 3 feet tall. If I move it, will the soil still be affected?

Also, every year around my birthday in mid-June, the leaves on my redbud curl up and drop off. This goes on for about one month then stops. A tree service called it herbicide damage, but I don’t think so because it happens the same time every year. I’ve tried fungicides and insecticides, but nothing helps. Any ideas?
– Ellen Slabaugh, Milford, Ind.

A. Lilacs are not susceptible to scab so it’s likely the lilacs are affected by some other problem. Look for spots on the leaves (possibly bacterial blight), bumps on the stems (scales) or holes in the branches (borers). If none of these are apparent, take a sample to your county Extension office for proper diagnosis of the problem.

Redbuds are particularly susceptible to 2, 4-D damage, which causes a curling and twisting of the foliage. Since many lawn applications involve 2, 4-D to control broad-leaved weeds, and since broad-leaved weeds are usually treated at the same time each year, it’s entirely likely that this is the culprit.

The other possibility is verticillium wilt but the tree doesn’t recover. To check for verticillium wilt, cut the affected branch and peel back the bark. Dark discolorations below the bark confirm the presence of verticillium wilt. No chemical control is available. Prune out all diseased wood and fertilize and water the tree to promote vigorous growth.

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