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

June “In The Grow”

Q: Three years ago, we planted two Bradford pear trees at our lake cottage. One bloomed for the first time this spring. It is on the northwest side and gets plenty of sun. The other tree has never bloomed. It gets full sun, has very healthy looking leaves and is planted on the south side of our cottage. What can we do to make this tree bloom?

We also have a dogwood tree planted at our home, and it has never bloomed in five years. Help! – Rebecca A. Claxton, Garrett, Ind.

A: There are many possibilities when a plant doesn’t flower. Transplant shock can keep flowering trees from blooming for the first year, but your trees should be past that point by now. You didn’t mention how old or large the trees were when you planted them, but if they were very young – say 5-foot whips – they may be putting their energy into root and leaf growth while they get established.

Do you fertilize the lawn surrounding the trees? Excess nitrogen can promote vegetative growth at the expense of flowers.

Temperature is another culprit. Plants can survive a cold temperature, only to have their buds damaged by late spring frosts. Conversely, many fruit trees require cold temperatures to induce flowering. The lake may be moderating the temperature enough that the necessary chilling period is not provided.

Finally, since your plants flower on last year’s wood, pruning in late summer, fall, winter or early spring would remove the flower buds. Prune spring-flowering trees immediately after they flower.

You’ll need to think the situation through and see which of these possibilities fits your yard. Good luck.

Q: I have a rose garden, and each year it is infested with Japanese beetles. I have tried traps, but they seem to just bring more beetles. – Sheila Kidd, Fowler, Ind.

A: Japanese beetle larvae develop underground and emerge in late June or early July as adult beetles, becoming most active in July and August. They feed upon many different species of plants, but you are raising one of their favorite foods in quantity.

A mild infestation of Japanese beetles can be controlled by picking them off and dropping them in a bucket of soapy water. Severe infestations require the application of an appropriate insecticide.

Traps rely upon a sex attractant and a floral scent to lure the beetles. However, since the traps attract many more beetles to the area than they catch, they are an ineffective means of control. Ideally, you want your neighbors to hang Japanese beetle traps, luring the beetles out of your yard and into theirs!

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