Wild Morning Glory Battle


Posted by Horticulture Guy - Peter Punzi | Posted in Gardening Q & A, Northwest U.S. Gardeners | Posted on 08-03-2011

Question: I live in Olympia WA, on black lake I have a doozey for you! I have been battling morning glory vine for nearly a decade. How do I get rid of this beastly vine. The root system is so broad and vigerous, it seems impervious to round up, vinegar, spectricide ect. I have tried to control it by plucking it as far down the vine I can dig, but seems like that just empowers it? Have even tried to eliminate light, still the beast lives. Any suggestions? Lisa Menge

Answer: Your are right Wild morningglory (Convolvulus arvensis) is a beast of a weed. The roots can penetrate down to 10 feet in some soils according to WSU extension. So once established it will develop an extensive root system that is a formidable oponent. It will spread by seed as well as from its root system that will persist year to year (perennial). Because of the extensiveness of the root system round up will only kill back so far and the remaining root system will re-sprout (it reportedly can do so from five feet below the soil surface!). Your plucking effort probably did not get nearly all of the root system. The vast root system not only can regenerate new shoots but is also a vast energy reserve which you must deplete over time. Most herbicides will only kill it back so far and then it will resprout from the remaining root system. So the plant must be continually starved and given no quarter. Continual diligence to prevent it from creating new above ground shoots is imperative. This will take time (I know you have been battling it for many years but the morning glory has been more persistent than you have). You said you have tried to eliminate light – but if it survives you were not successful. It must receive no light (like heavy black plastic mulch that overlaps and no holes for plants where they can peak through). So a combination of spraying or weeding any above ground growth regularly (no more than a few inches of growth should be allowed to form before they are removed). Just think if it doesn’t photosynthesize it will eventually deplete it’s energy reserves but it could take a few years of due diligence. Sorry no magic wand for this beastie.

Scab on Apples and Pears


Posted by Horticulture Guy - Peter Punzi | Posted in Gardening Q & A, Northwest U.S. Gardeners | Posted on 17-02-2011

Question: Hi – in 2010 we bought property with 15 grown fruit trees (cherry, pear, asian pear, apple, plum, peach, hazlenet, walnut).  What product(s) should we use to care for them?  Some of the fruit had brown  spots on them (see below).  Is there also a book you would recommend?  Any advice would be appreciated.  Thank you. Anonymous gardener in Port Ludlow, Washington

apple scab
lesions caused by apple scab disease
pear scab

Pear Scab

Answer: Thanks for your question.  For great reading on fruit production you can’t go wrong with the Ag extension Publications.  These are from our local Agricultural extensions:

Training & Pruning Your Home Orchard

Fruit Handbook for Western Washington

2010 Crop Protection Guide for Tree Fruits in Washington

You sent two great pictures which I labeled with scab disease.  They are different fungi that cause apple and pear scab but the treatment is fairly similar.  First off good sanitation is essential.  Remove all fallen leaves (and any diseased wood in the case of the pear scab) from the area (send off site to be composted or burn them if local ordinances allow it).

You need a sulfur based product like: Lime Sulfur (which is being phased out by the EPA so most manufacturers stopped producing Lime Sulfur and are just selling existing stockpiles),  Copper sulfate or a neem based product like Rose 3-in-1 spray (don’t be confused by the “rose” in the tittle it works on other plants and trees as well) application rates and timing should be according to the product label but in general: Apply fungicides when leaves are separating, just exposing bud cluster. Repeat at 7-day intervals for 3 or more applications until weather dries. When in blossom, wait until 3/4 of petals have fallen before applying. Do not use lime sulfur on ‘Red Delicious’ or ‘Braeburn’ varieties. Homeowners should not make foliar applications to trees over 10 ft tall. Consult a commercial pesticide applicator for treatment of trees and shrubs over 10 ft. tall. (italicized text from WSU extension)

Moss Control in Beds


Posted by Horticulture Guy - Peter Punzi | Posted in Northwest U.S. Gardeners | Posted on 15-11-2007

Q. This year I had lots of moss in my flower garden. Although I have had
patches of moss on other places before, I don’t remember much in my
garden areas. It’s gone now, having had my bed cleaned up for the
winter, but how do I keep it from coming back or killing it if it
does, without hurting my flowers? Sure miss your column in the Tacoma News Tribune.
The new format is not nearly as relevant. Betty Garrison – Tacoma, WA
A. The best way to get rid of moss is to do the opposite of if you wanted it to grow. It prefers a firm acidic substrate (it doesn’t have roots but does have root like structures that help keep it in place) plenty of moisture as well as indirect sunlight (thus why it loves the north side of roofs better than southern side). So if you have poor drainage improve it by adding organic matter to the soil and working it in. cultivate the surface of the soil each month (this also helps control weeds) with a hoe or similar cultivating tool. Check the pH of the soil. Unless you are growing acid loving plants like rhodies and azaleas add lime to bring the pH up just below neutral (6.8 -6.9). And if possible prune the exising plants to allow more light to the soil surface. You can also help the process by using a natural moss control product like Moss and Algae Killer. – HG

Pruning a Neglected Apple Tree


Posted by Horticulture Guy - Peter Punzi | Posted in Northwest U.S. Gardeners | Posted on 10-11-2006

Q. I have an apple tree about 15-20 yrs old. It bore lots of healthy fruit, but I couldn’t reach 3/4 of it. I don’t think it has ever been pruned. I know which limbs to take out, but how aggressive can I be, and when should I prune? Also, can I cut back the length of the branches, or the height of the tree? I miss your column, but am glad to find you online. Thanks! Marty Fisher, Orting, WA

A. Actually you can be fairly drastic especially with any vertical growth but as you guessed timing is important.  Since you seem to be familiar with what the shape should be (I know which limbs to take out) I’ll just reiterate for others that may read this.  The best shape for the apple is to have an open center.  So your goal is to open up the center and thin things out so that light can get into the center of the tree. Pruning now would likely result in loss of fruit this coming season and possible overgrowth of new shoots since the tree will have the energy it would have used on fruit production on new excessive growth. Vertical branches bear less fruit than more horizontal ones so a few of those could be removed now in the dormant season. I would wait until you see the fruit set in the late spring and then go in and get that tree back into shape being sure to leave a crop of apples to enjoy.

NorthWest Natives Trees For A Parking Strip


Posted by Horticulture Guy - Peter Punzi | Posted in Northwest U.S. Gardeners | Posted on 01-11-2006

Q. Yes I miss your column. I’m looking for recommendations of native trees to plant on our parking strip, which is on the North side of the house.  These are to replace the two matching winter flowering Japanese flowering ones I need to have removed because one has died. I think natives will have a better chance. Lily Warnick – Gig Harbor, WA

A.  Well since you say that the strip is on the north side of the house I will assume that it is either a shady or partially shaded area, which limits the number of native trees that would be appropriate.  If you would like to stay in the cherry genus there is a native Bitter Cherry (Prunus emarginata var. mollis), which may be suitable.  Be sure not to get the “var. emarginata” which is more spreading and shrub like.  Although the flowers are not quite as showy the Cascara or buckthorn (Rhamnus purshiana) is another option if the soil is on the moist side.  A Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nutallii) is another showier alternative although it is somewhat susceptible to the fungal disease anthracnose.  Breeders are actively working on disease resistant varieties of this.