Each week the University of Maryland Extension's Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information. Have a question about your home or garden? Call 800-342-2507 or send a question to the website at hgic.umd.edu.
Does my neighborhood have an emerald ash borer infestation? On many ash trees (including mine) the top branches are dead or dying, but the lower part has new
Topping is a technique that is no longer performed by reputable tree service companies, because the new growth that it stimulates is weakly attached.
Mason bees are very beneficial and important because they emerge early in spring and pollinate at a time when there are few pollinators out and active.
Normally, Leylands tolerate pruning well and even can be made into a tall hedge. However, extreme pruning stresses them and can make them susceptible to canker disease or insect attack.
Walnut trees, especially black walnut trees, are allelopathic — meaning their roots excrete the juglone toxin, which may kill or inhibit nearby plants
Clay soil is usually fertile enough to plant in, but minute particles are packed so close together that they restrict root growth, aeration and water drainage in or out of the soil. (
Annuals are not frost hardy. The traditional "safe" planting date is Mother's Day, but in most areas of Maryland you can plant before then.
You must install a drip irrigation system under the plastic or water at the base of each plant, because rain will not penetrate plastic mulch. Landscape fabric/weed barrier is an easier option.
Spotted-wing drosophila fly is a relatively new problem with small fruits. Crops affected include grapes, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries and strawberries.
Cool, or passive, composting involves the regular addition of materials and no turning, while hot composting involves putting all of the material in at once and turning regularly.
Pussy willows are easy and fun, but you can also collect branches of flowering cherry, pear, apple, quince, redbud, forsythia and some viburnums to force into bloom.
Each plant could have a different species of scale with unique life cycles. Unless you know when each is vulnerable to insecticides, you can waste time and money
Heavy salt application creates salt-laden runoff that flows into streams and rivers, raising salinity to abnormal levels for freshwater fish and aquatic creatures.
Loose leaves are effective, but small mammals like voles or mice can use the leaves — and wood mulch, too — to nest and provide cover as they nibble bark during the winter.
When several colors of a plant are planted and only one appears, a common cause is that one color variety is more vigorous, outgrowing and outcompeting the others.
Cigarette beetles are commonly classified as pantry pests — a group of insects most often associated with dry grain products, spices, nuts and dried fruit found in the kitchen.
Maryland's fertilizer law says that fertilizer cannot be applied within 10 feet to 15 feet of waterways. All homeowners need to know what application times (fall is best) and amounts are permitted.
My tomatoes have little white tough spots under the skin. And my friend bought a tomato last week that had white tough areas deep inside. Is this a disease?
We are approaching fall breeding season, when deer rub their antlers to remove "velvet" and polish them. Deer rub on sturdy shrub trunks as well as younger tree trunks.
Gravel mulch tends to keep the soil cooler and more moist than organic mulch, and its sharp edges can abrade plant tissue as plants move in the wind. Abrasions and overly moist soil provide the perfect entry point for the fungal spores that cause root rot.
Grass plants are some of the most aggressive plants in the world. Typical lawn grasses do not grow under barriers (though weed grass such as Bermuda grass and quackgrass can), so a depth of 1-2 inches should suffice.
These butterfly bush varieties tend to be smaller than the straight species and do set some seed, just a much smaller amount than the species ¿ so they are not completely sterile.
The upper exposed leaves or needles were desiccated by salt, whereas plowed and shoveled snow piled on the base of the tree may have protected lower branches.
Spring-blooming plants, on the other hand, are usually pruned after they bloom. Spring pruning cuts off many flower buds, and those flowers will be lost.
First, match the ultimate plant size and requirements for water, soil and sun to your site, which will mean no pruning, no watering (after the first two years), no fertilizing and no shaping plants that lean out or stretch up to reach sunlight.
The neonicotinoid class of pesticides is systemic, spreading throughout plants, including roots and pollen, which has implicated it as one factor in the country's pollination crisis.
A small, vertical interruption is better than a rope or wire encircling a trunk for too long, cutting off flow around the entire trunk and killing the tree.
Your warm house will cause the eggs to hatch prematurely, and you will have tiny and cute, but fragile, praying mantises running all over.
The multicolored Asian lady beetles were introduced to eat pest insects. However, they can be a nuisance in the fall when they look for overwintering sites in homes.
I just learned that we've lost about half the world's nonhuman vertebrate animal population since 1970. This is shocking. One of the two main culprits is habitat loss. Can Marylanders help without turning their yards into woods?
Many summer weeds are now loaded with thousands of seeds. Also, many weeds known as winter annuals start now and will explode with growth in spring.
As one of the big polluters of the Chesapeake Bay, it's important to prevent phosphorus from being washed into storm drains or waterways that lead there.
Squirrels, voles and chipmunks can all be the bane of bulb gardeners, but there are lots of rodent-proof choices — including daffodils, which now come in shades from pink to white with orange highlights, as well as many fascinating forms and fragrances.
Crazy snakeworms probably came in on imported plant soil or soil amendments, but can, tragically, be spread as bait worms. Excess bait worms should be killed in vinegar water, never dumped on the soil.
A whole slew of unwanted pests — from wasps, earwigs, stink bugs, carpet beetles and sod webworm to various beetles that eat flowers and leaves — are all attracted to lights.
Tomato plants are like canaries in the coal mine when it comes to herbicide injury. They are super sensitive to the chemical 2,4-D and its family of growth-regulating herbicides, including clopyralid.
Remove non-native invasive plants to encourage a functioning native ecosystem, which includes predators for the white-footed mice that are deer ticks' main host.
Normally, native insects such as lady beetles and parasitic wasps keep this scale under control, but if you see a lot of white flecks a plant could suffer yellowing, stunting or dieback.
Determinate tomatoes grow to a set size and stop, however they usually produce over a long period. Indeterminate tomatoes, on the other hand, continue to put out new growth all summer.
"Invasive" doesn't mean garden-variety nuisance — it means a foreign invader spreading aggressively until it has destroyed environment, economy, even human health.
Discula anthracnose was a fungal disease that slowly killed many dogwoods — particularly stressed ones — in full sun and poor soil. However, because of the genetic diversity of the dogwood, this disease is no longer the rampant threat it once was
Organic matter in landfills decomposes in an anaerobic (oxygen-poor) situation, which causes it to release methane — a greenhouse gas. Your own compost pile will not.
Some evergreen species tolerate deer "pruning" well and put out new growth in spring, although lower branches won't bounce back as fast as upper branches would
Big composting productions use large machinery to turn the manure as it composts to keep it properly aerated; sometimes this is done on a macadam or gravel surface and rocks can get mixed in.
Pruning stimulates new growth, but you can control the direction of the growth. The trick is to select a leaf bud that is pointing in whatever direction you want growth to go.