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Garden Q&A: This vine can do permanent harm to your plants

For The Baltimore Sun

A vine quickly grew up and over two shrubs and a perennial bed this summer. It hurts to pull these vines, but the plants below them are turning brown (what I can still see of them, anyway!) What should I do about this mess? Can I spray?

This is a crucial time of year for mile a minute vine, also called tear thumb for good reason. An annual, it must produce berries to perpetuate itself. Berries ripen to bright blue now. They fall at the slightest touch. Since mile a minute vine can do permanent harm to your plants by shading them, thus cutting off photosynthesis, don gloves and pull it off your plants. The vines have almost no root. Be sure to get all berries. There is no spray that will selectively kill a vine immeshed in other plants. Keep a sharp eye out next year for its triangular leaves, so it does not get out of hand. Birds spread these berries.

My cherry laurels’ leaves have a million holes. I suspect a disease but wanted an expert opinion and treatment advice.

Cherry laurels are very susceptible to cherry shot hole disease. It can happen yearly but the wet summer we experienced made the problem worse. Rake up and dispose of infected leaves that fall off the shrub. The disease causes cosmetic damage but is not a serious threat to plant health. Spraying with a fungicide is not practical as the spraying regiment begins when the new leaves emerge and continues every two weeks or so throughout the summer. Severe damage can be pruned off in the late winter/early spring and new growth will fill in and mask the other damage.

University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information at Click “Ask Maryland’s Gardening Experts” to send questions and photos.

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