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ASK THE EXPERTS

Common questions for late winter

POSTED: January 27, 2010 4:00 a.m.

Over the past nearly 30 years as an extension agent, I have received tens of thousands of questions related to lawn and garden care.

  

Just when I think I have heard every question possible, there is a new one.

  

That’s what makes my job interesting. Most questions are seasonal and can be expected every year.  Listed below are a few common questions I receive during this time of year.

  

Is it time to prune my azaleas and other spring-blooming shrubs now?

  

Prune only after they have finished flowering. Prune or shape again in June or July to make plants ‘bushier,’ but do not prune after Sept. 1 or you may cut off wood that has already produced flower buds for next year’s blooms.

  

Why are the leaves on my azalea plants swollen and puffy-looking?

  

They are infected with a disease called Exobasidium leaf gall. Light cases may be pruned or pinched out.

  

Can I still plant fescue? 

  

March and early April are the best time in the spring for planting fescue; however, the very best time to plant fescue in our area is in early fall.

  

I found a bag of 8-8-8 fertilizer in my garage that must be at least five years old.  Can I still use it? 

 

Yes. The fertilizer’s nutrient-supplying properties should be fine if the fertilizer bag has remained dry and sealed.

  

How often should I remove the pine straw mulch from around my azaleas and rhododendron plants?

  

Many gardeners remove the pine straw mulch every year. Others replace old straw with fresh straw every other year; some even wait until every third year. It is strictly your choice depending on the ‘look’ that you desire. I would definitely replace old pine straw after three seasons of use.

  

Is there a spray available to control fireblight on apples and pear trees?

  

The best measure of control is to prune out infected wood as soon as it is noticeable. Remember to disinfect your pruners after each cut with rubbing alcohol and make all cuts well below (at least 6 inches) any diseased wood.

  

I have a bag of ‘Weed-and-Feed’ fertilizer. Does this mean that it will control weeds before they come up? 

  

You will need to look closely at the label to see if this particular ‘Weed-and-Feed’ product contains a preemerge or postemerge herbicide. A fertilizer plus preemerge formulation will feed and control weeds before they emerge, whereas a fertilizer plus postemerge formulation will feed and control some existing broadleaf weeds.

  

Clark Beusse is the Dawson County extension agent. For more information, call (706) 265-2442.

 

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