Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Viburnum plants dying

Several months ago my husband and I planted six viburnum bushes approximately 5 feet tall. Our soil is typical for the Clayton/Smithfield area and consists of a clayey/silt.

We have watered the plants on a regular basis as we did plant them mid-summer and wanted to ensure sufficient water. However, I am noticing that my viburnum leaves are browning and beginning to curl and drop off.

I am not sure which species of viburnam I have, I believe it is the snowball. Can you assist me with why my leaves are turning brown, curling up and dropping off?

-- Catherine

Anne's Response:

Most viburnums are deciduous plants so I would expect them to lose leaves in the fall. It is a bit early but dogwoods and some other trees are already losing leaves, probably because of the low rainfall this summer. Since your plants were put in the ground this summer they may be under a bit more stress than they will be in future years. You may want to use some composted leaves as a mulch under those plants. It will help the soil retain moisture and will provide some nutrients for
root growth this winter.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fall care for centipede

Last September our new house got centipede sod put down. The landscape person put down a fertilizer and it did well for the spring and summer. What should I put down for the fall and winter seasons and then what should I put for the next spring and summer? I also have an natural area I am working on with a lot of clay soil. I have started on some raised beds with compost and topsoil. Any other recommendations with plants and soil conditioners? That area has some sun in the afternoon and one part has a lot of afternoon shade.

-- Robbie

Anne's Response:

Centipede is a warm season grass that turns brown in the fall and winter. It is preferred by gardeners who do not want to spend much time taking care of their lawn. No fall care is required. It does not need to be limed. The next routine care it will get is in late March or early April (after the danger of frost) when you will apply fertilizer. There are special fertilizer blends for Centipede lawns which usually do not contain phosphorus. In areas that have high traffic you may want to aerate a centipede lawn every other year. Early April is usually a good time but it should be done before the lawn has greened up in the spring.

My best advice on raised beds is to remember they do need a lot of organic material to hold moisture for plant roots. Plants need to be mulched for water retention and to keep the soil cool. You also need a good irrigation system because raised beds do dry out much quicker than ground level beds so plants will suffer from lack of water.

Gardenias turing black and dying

I live in Charlotte NC. I have five hanging gardenias ( jasmine ). I've been getting nice fragrant flowers every spring but this year as soon as the young buds are formed they turn black and die. Please help!!

-- Sarla

Anne's Response:

The problem is probably a fungus - Botrytis cinerea - that is more common in greenhouse plants on the east coast but does affect outdoor plants. (I am not sure where you keep the hanging plants in the winter.)Most references still give the control as removing affected buds and destroying them. To prevent the problem next year, clean up debris on the soil at the base of the plant this fall. Be sure there is good air circulation around the plants and the plants are generally healthy.

The plants may need to be repotted when you take them down this fall. Next spring as new buds swell in the spring you may try treating the plant with a systemic fungicide.

Getting rid of Bermuda in fescue lawn

Is there something to eliminate Bermuda in a fescue lawn? Thanks,

-- Sarah

Anne's Response:

The product that I have seen used is "Turflon Ester" produced by Monterey Chemical Company in California. It is available for homeowners in several local garden centers.