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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Can Sago Palm Grow in the Hot Desert?

Q. I understood that sago palms liked afternoon shade.  Can this plant handle afternoon sun with reflected heat and rock mulch?
Sago palm or cycad in planter in desert landscape

A. Sago palm or cycads will perform better with less care if they are planted in eastern or northern exposures rather than southern or western exposures. They will survive in your spot but will not look their best.
They will grow in full sun and under some very tough desert conditions if the soil is improved, they are receiving the right kind of irrigation and fertilizer and surrounded by wood mulch. 
Sago palm growing in partial shade in the desert
When grown under these very harsh conditions they usually grow shorter fronds, the fronds are frequently discolored with a yellowish or bronze appearance and the fronds may even scorch or burn at the tips.
When these plants are grown in more protective environments they look much better with more succulent growth, longer fronds, darker green with a lot less care. It would be incorrect to say they will not grow under some very harsh conditions but they will perform better and with less management in less hostile environments.

Will it survive with rock mulch in an intense desert environment? Sometimes. But it will not have a long life expectancy and not look as pretty. Under rock mulch conditions with very little soil improvement I would give them 5 to 10 years looking okay after they were planted. 

What is Causing the Webbing in My Desert Willow

Q. My desert willows in Kingman, Arizona, are being eaten up by worms. The web-like pods are all over the branches, but I have not found anything inside. I certainly do not want to spray as the trees are over one of my gardens and close to some windows.

A. I did some quick checking but could not find this critter mentioned anywhere. How do you k now they were being eaten up? It is possible they have done their damage and now have moved on leaving their webbing behind.
Sphinx moth found dead on sidewalk in May in Las Vegas.
Desert willow is used in butterfly gardens but it is usually for the adult butterfly rather than the immature larva (worms) or caterpillar. If they are causing a great deal of damage then they should be controlled.
Tent caterpillar webbing
Worms or caterpillars that do cause damage to desert willow are the Sphinx moth larva or “worm” and relatives of tent caterpillars. The larva of the Sphinx moth is gigantic with the horn coming off of its rear end. You would've recognized that one if you had seen it.
Sphinx moth to give you perspective on size of the moth.
Bt formulation from Monterey
The other caterpillar is much smaller, along the sizes you're talking about, but they usually form a webbing one or 2 feet across and they feed inside this webbing or tent. That's why they call these “tent caterpillars”. Tent caterpillars reproduce quickly and do a lot of feeding over a short period of time.
My guess is that these critters will not last very long and be on their way for the season. The desert willow will respond and survive. But in the meantime that tree will have some damage.

You could use a spray of BT, called usually either Dipel or Thuricide which is an organic control. It will only target “worms” that become moths or butterflies. Also Spinosad will work as well. This way you could avoid more poisonous conventional sprays.

Use Five Gallon Buckets in Place of Drip Irrigation

Q. My pine trees are over 20 years old and very tall.  I looked on the net and found a YouTube video out of Kansas showing a man using a 5 gallon bucket with a pin hole in the bottom for the purpose of watering them. I called my landscaping guy and he said that I am wasting water by watering that way.  Am I doing right by watering with buckets or is he correct about this method?

A. Using a bucket with a small hole in it works just like drip irrigation as long as the holes is small enough that it lets the water out very slowly. Using buckets is similar to the very first form of drip irrigation which was sinking unglazed ceramic pots into the soil.



Series of pictures showing what the reader did after getting a few ideas here on how to water his large pine tree with buckets.
You will have to fill the buckets two or three times each time you water to get the water deep enough in the soil to encourage deeper rooting. Don’t water again for about a week at this time of year; less often in winter and maybe twice a week in the heat of summer. Deep watering helps avoid the development of large surface roots that can heave sidewalks, driveways, walls and foundations.
This type of system accomplishes the same thing as a drip system but with more work on your part and will be kind of ugly. But it will work. I would use about five or more buckets distributed under the canopy, about three or 4 feet apart. The more buckets, the better.
The buckets are not made with UV treated plastic so you should paint the buckets or cover them so sunlight does not destroy them.
Make the holes small. Five gallon buckets should run out of water in 30 minutes to one hour. The hole will eventually become plugged so you must clean it periodically. Use clean water a clean bucket and make sure you put a lid on top.
Place the buckets on top of the soil or slightly buried. You don’t want to bury the buckets totally in the soil if the water is emptying from the bucket at the bottom. Most of the roots that take up water will be within the top 12 to 18 inches of the soil. If the bucket empties beneath this zone, the water will be released deep and not water the roots very well.
In urban desert landscapes, trees should develop two types of roots; roots that anchor the plant and keep it from blowing over and roots that take up water and nutrients quickly.
If trees planted in the desert are irrigated deeply, they will develop deep roots which will help anchor the plant in the soil. If they are not watered deeply but only receive shallow irrigations, they will not develop these deep roots.
You can also help the tree get additional water by planting other shrubs under its canopy and overwatering them slightly to provide additional water for the tree. Surface mulch helps conserve water and encourages deeper rooting, particularly wood mulch.

When and How to Prune Mock Orange

Q. I would like to cut back my dwarf mock orange. When can I do it and how much can I cut back without harming the plants? I am hoping to make them healthier. The back plant gets less sun.
Pruning too deep on the outside of mock orange can result in "holes" showing dead wood.

Mock orange pruned as a hedge
A. This is the mock orange of the desert Southwest, not the mock orange of northern climates. The common name of mock orange pertains to a couple of different plants.You won't be able to cut them back very much because the leaves are only on the outside couple of inches of the canopy. Once you cut beyond this layer, it's just a bunch of twigs and sticks. These twigs and sticks are alive and will produce new growth but it would be very unsightly until it grows back.
These plants grow very slowly so they will not come back quickly. If you decide to cut them back I wouldn't do it until late next spring when plant starts growing again and there is less time to look at a bunch of twigs and stems.
You can cut them back in late spring and open up the plant and you will see new growth coming from stems and branches that receive full sunlight. It might take a couple of months for them to start to fill in again. They are that slow.
Regarding the browning of the leaves, If you are going to cut them back I would pull back the rock from around them and put down some compost and wood mulch. They will do better in an amended soil.
I would then increase the irrigation so that it wets that area more and fertilize them with a tree and shrub fertilizer just after you prune them back.

Causes for Yellowing of Mock Orange

Q. Can you tell what is happening to my mock orange shrub?  They are 3 to 4 years old and getting enough water. They were planted in topsoil used in other locations with good results. They are the fourth different plant I tried to grow in this area without good results. The leaves are turning brown starting at the tips.
Readers mock orange

A. From your picture the leaves scorching like that could be not enough water applied or not applied frequently enough or even too frequently; high intensity sunlight and intense heat from surfaces radiating heat back to the plant; using a poor soil amendment at planting; lack of fertilizer or a lack of an iron fertilizer because the leaves are yellowing.
Mock orange, not dwarf, in good condition
These problems can be working alone or in combination with each other. If just one of these problems is present, it can affect the overall ability of the plant to combat extreme desert conditions such as high temperatures, low humidity and poor soils.
Mockorange is not a desert plant to begin with so we have to put more resources into keeping it look good. It’s one of those plants that does well if it is in the right location with the right type of soil amendments and irrigation.
Address the potential water issue first. I would flood the areas with a hose once a week in addition to your normal waterings. Make sure you are not watering daily but every 2 or 3 days right now.
Add good quality compost to the area. This can be on top of any mulch you have and water it in. Fertilize with a good quality fertilizer such as Peters, Miracle Gro or Osmocote. Add soil iron in the form of iron chelate, use only EDDHA iron chelate if applying it to the soil.

Water thoroughly giving the plant roots a chance to breathe and the soil to drain between flooding. Look for improvement to the plant the following spring (February to May). It is too late in the season now to see much improvement in growth.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Pruning Flowering Shrubs at the Correct Time

Q. When is the right time to trim back the Desert Princess flower and Purple Sage bushes and also how far down?

A. I don't know a plant called the Desert Princess flower. If you can send me a picture maybe I will know it. I also do not know a plant with the common name of Purple Sage. I'm wondering if this is Texas Sage or Texas Ranger which is not a true Sage.
Texas Ranger in Bloom. Prune this plant after it finishes blooming this fall

            The general rule for pruning flowering woody plants is to cut them back after they finish flowering. So if a plant normally flowers during the summer and fall months then we would prune it back in the winter. If a plant normally flowers in the early spring, then we cut it back in late spring or early summer when it has finished flowering.


When plants like Texas Ranger get woody or leggy, remove one or two of the largest stems from the base. This is called gradual rejuvenation pruning.
            If these are small flowering woody plants then we could cut them back to within a couple of inches of the soil. If these are larger woody plants then we remove the oldest or most woody stems deep inside the canopy.

When pruning in this way, it is customary to remove no more than about one third of the total plant in a single pruning. If the shrub is still unsightly or overgrown, the following year we again remove one third of the shrub. In this way the shrub is in a constant state of renewal with new growth coming from the bottom and older, larger growth being selectively removed.

Rose Leaves Turning a Bright Yellow and Wimpy

Q. My vining roses have bright yellow and wimpy leaves. Am I over watering? Under watering? I have fertilized, added sulfur and iron too. 

Readers rose vine
A. This subject of whether a plant is over watered or underwatered is difficult to answer remotely. From your description, it sounds possible you are overwatering but probably not under watering.
Why don’t I think you are under watering? If you are under watering I would expect to see more leaf scorch and dieback on the leaves. Yellowing of the leaves of any kind is called “chlorosis” and can come from a number of sources including overwatering.
When yellowing or chlorosis is due to a lack of available iron then we will call it iron chlorosis. Chlorosis or yellowing due to a lack of available iron usually makes the leaves yellow with green veins. When iron is severely lacking, the leaf may be entirely yellow and scorched, but these are extreme cases.
Typical iron chlorosis with green veins on peach
Surround your roses with wood mulch, not rock mulch. If these plants have rock mulch surrounding them, rake it back a couple of feet and apply a couple of inches of compost first followed by some wood mulch. In this particular case do not use decorative bark mulch until the plants begin to recover. Decorative bark looks nice but it doesn’t do much for the soil.
Apply an iron fertilizer in the form of an iron chelate before you cover the soil with mulch. The chelate should be in the form of EDDHA which should be listed in the ingredients. The type of iron you add is very important. Mix the iron chelate in a bucket of water and pour it all over the soil above the roots or sprinkle it on dry and water it in. Don’t leave it on the surface because it is sensitive to sunlight.
Iron chelate with EDDHA on the label
Also, fertilize with a rose fertilizer or a fertilizer that has been formulated for flowering trees or shrubs. Avoid watering daily and try to give your woody plants a couple of days rest from any additional water before you irrigate again. Having wood mulch on the surface will help.
Specialty fertilizer formulated for roses
Always keep wood mulch a few inches away from the trunk of any plant to prevent stem diseases such as collar rot from occurring.

Older Star Jasmine No Longer Blooms

Q. We have a gorgeous, shiny dark green star jasmine, over 25 years old. About 5 years ago, it stopped blooming and nothing we've done has helped. Please help.

A. When that happens to older plants of mine I usually cut it back pretty hard and try to get it to regrow again, getting rid of some of the older wood.
Star Jasmine no longer flowering
Sometimes by cutting up plant back it restores some juvenility and it responds by growing more vigorously and flowering. I would also give it a good shot of fertilizer if you haven't already and soak the roots with a hose a few times, a few days apart.
Star Jasmine
It is late in the year to be pushing new growth so you could try this in early spring instead of now. However, star Jasmine is pretty hardy in our area so fertilizing it now should not affect its cold hardiness. It will respond with a flush of new growth next spring without any applied fertilizer.

This is a technique of applying a fertilizer late in the fall to get a spring response is called late fall fertilization. Fertilizer is applied in November before the leaves drop. Nutrients are stored in plants if they are not used up. If you combine late fall fertilization and cutting it back, cut it back first and then fertilize, not the reverse. Otherwise you would be cutting off parts of the plant that has stored nutrients. Let me know if this works for you.

Plant Onion Seed Now

Q. I would like to grow both yellow and red onions. When is the best time to plant them?

A. Onions for bulbs or green onions can be planted from seed mid-September through November in our latitude and elevation. Onions produced from sets or transplants should be started in March. They can be grown in a garden spot or 5 gallon containers. Onion sets, which are small onion bulbs, are
Contessa onion
easier to plant than transplants and usually have a higher success rate for most home gardeners.
Let’s focus on fall planting using onion seed. Growing onion from seed to produce green onions or transplants does not require very much space. Seeds can be spaced close together so I broadcast the seed, or sprinkle them, in the area where I want them to grow. The seed can be as close as ½ inch apart and even closer for green or bunching onions or even transplants.
For green onions just about any onion will do so shop for inexpensive seed. If you are growing transplants from seed then be more careful in your selection. I prefer sweet or specialty onions for transplants that I am growing into bulbs.
Big Daddy Onion
Las Vegas is in a transition zone so we can grow short day, long day and intermediate day varieties. These include the northern varieties like Walla Walla or southern varieties such as Vidalia. They just mature at different times. Varieties such as Candy, Big Daddy, Vidalia, Walla Walla, Yellow Granex, Bermuda, Texas Super Sweet, Contessa, Sterling, Red Marble and specialty onions like Cipollini, and Red Longa always do well in our climate and latitude.
Red candy apple Onion
Before planting the seed prepare the soil to a depth of 12 inches. Sandy soils that drain well are the best. We are not yet focusing on growing the bulb so any high nitrogen fertilizer will work well. You won’t need to fertilize them until after the seed is germinated. When you’re done mixing all the compost into the soil, make sure the soil is not “fluffy” so pack, roll or compress the soil lightly to make a firm seed bed.
Onions for transplanting, green onions or bunching onions grow well in containers or in blocks. They do not need to be planted in rows at this time. Carefully scatter the seed on top of the soil and cover the seed with about ¼ inch of topdressing or lightly rake the seed into the soil and add a light surface mulch.
Red Tropea Longa
Water the top dressed are mulched area twice a day until you see germination. Fertilize them after you see them begin to emerge. You can lightly broadcast a high nitrogen fertilizer on top of the mulch or topdressing and water it in. When you see germination reduce your watering to once a day. If onions are too close together, harvest and use some of them in a salad or stirfry to give them some space. As temperatures cool down and the plants get larger you will be able to water every other day and even every third day as it enters the winter. You will get larger transplants if you fertilize a second time with a nitrogen fertilizer about one month after the first one. Leave them in the soil all winter long. Dig up transplants in March or continue to use them as green onions.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

San Pedro Cactus Requires Different Care Than Other Cacti

Q. I follow your column regularly in the LV RJ, but I have not seen an answer to this question: what would make my San Pedro Cactus lose its color? It is becoming pale, please see attached photo.
San Pedro cactus of the reader
A. Before I opened your picture I thought it was going to be a lot worse. This is not too bad. I have seen this cactus in much worse condition in Las Vegas.
Not all cacti are the same and cannot be treated the same. The San Pedro cactus, coming from the mountains of South America where the soils are a lot richer and there's much more water, needs different care than cacti native to the Mojave Desert.
This particular cactus will do much better if the soil is well prepared at the time of planting, much like you would prepare the soil for landscape trees and shrubs that are non-desert.
Also irrigating them is different. They have to be watered much more often than cacti native to the Mojave, Sonoran or Chihuahuan deserts.
It will also do better if protected from late afternoon sun. It likes to have lots of direct sunlight but it prefers it during the morning and early afternoon hours.
If you don't keep up with your watering with San Pedro it will begin to yellow or bleach out, scorch around the edges, bleach out and die back. This means the soil that you're using must drain extremely well or you will kill it by not having adequate drainage.

Consider moving it, replanting it with the soil that is Sandy and gravelly and amended with compost. Make sure the area has deep soils that drains easily. Give it is much sun as possible but try to avoid direct sunlight after 2 PM. Water it frequently when temperatures are above 100° F.

Radishes Should Be Planted When Temperatures Begin to Cool

Q. I planted radish seeds in 8" deep planters using miracle grow potting soil . After approx. 10 days they grew up to approx. 3" developing 2 leaves and started falling over. They do not mature. The type of radish seed is Cherry Belle from Ferry Morse.  I've planted two different times and get the same results. What am I doing wrong?

A. It is usually considered too hot right now, with daytime temperatures still hundred degrees F, to plant radishes. They do much better when the temperatures begin to cool.
I would start planting them no earlier than about mid-October and you should be able to plant them throughout the winter in successive plantings up until about May when it gets too hot. Cherry Belle is an excellent radish and will do well hereHere are just a few of the many varieties we have grown in Las Vegas.
Chinese red meat radish
Radishes growing with irrigation from drip tape and straw mulch applied
French breakfast radish
White icicle radish
I have tried dozens of different radish varieties and not found a radish yet that does not like our climate. However radishes grown during the cooler months are not as spicy but sweeter than those grown in the hotter months.
Hold off for another month and try replanting the seed. The potting soil may also be a problem. Seeds like firm seed beds, not soft seed beds. I would take your soil amendments and mix it with existing native soil or good-quality sand and tried again.
After you work in your compost and prepare the area for planting, your shoes should not sink into the soil more than about 1/2 inch for a good seed bed. Radishes also grow well in containers.
Containers do not have to be terribly deep. 12 inch deep containers are adequate for radishes and allow the soil to drain and not become a problem for the plants.
So remember to use a soil mixture with compost or other soil amendment and make sure the seed that the seed bed is firm and not soft and fluffy. Watering twice a day until you see the seeds germinate should be enough. After they germinate water only once a day. I hope this helps.

Keep Beneficial Insects Thriving by Careful Use of Sprays

Q. I'm wondering if you can recommend any easy plants that are big-time lures for beneficial insects here in Las Vegas.  In northern CA, where I spend the rest of my time, my Ammi majus aka False Queen Anne's Lace reseeded just about everywhere.  While it made for a very messy looking plot, while in bloom, the good bugs were swarming my garden for months!  Since I won't be around as much in Vegas, I'm looking for a tamer perennial solution here.

A. Build it and they will come.
Beneficial insects are lured by a food supply. If you don't have a food supply for them they will leave. If you have a diverse plant palette in your garden you will attract many more beneficials and they will have a better chance of keeping bad boys in check.
Building up a beneficial insect population is really more about smart use of appropriate pesticides. Use organic or natural pest control products that don't have a long residual and use them only if you see a potential problem arising.
I see lots of ladybird beetles and green lace wings come into an area that have the pests. When I see a lot of spraying with conventional insecticides, these populations are usually low to nonexistent.
Green lace wing adult
When a person is selling organic fruit or vegetables one of the things I look for on the products is the presence of green lace wing eggs. If the products have not been washed you can usually see them if you know what to look for.
Lacewing egg on peach
 lacewing egg on peach
Ladybird beetle on peach

I will post some pictures on my blog for everyone to see. Others may have plants that are their favorites for doing this. Hopefully they will post their comments.

Why No Fruit on Kumquat?

Q. Just this last year we have had very little fruit on our Kumquat whereas prior to that the tree was ample with fruit. The tree appears to be healthy, just no fruit. The only difference I can think of is that in previous years I covered the tree whenever the temperature was below freezing. However, this past year I only covered it when the temperature fell to the upper 20’s. 

A. Kumquat is a very winter hardy citrus and can survive most winter temperatures here without any problems provided it is in a sheltered spot. It is considered one of the most cold tolerant of the citrus. The key question you have to ask yourself is whether it produced any flowers or not this past year. No flowers equals no fruit.
The major reasons for early fruit drop are temperature and irrigation problems. If we have freezing temperatures or if the plants become water stressed from not enough water, they tend to drop fruit and flowers if they were produced. Flower buds and fruits are much less hardy to freezing temperatures than the plant itself.
Kumquat may produce fruit all through the year but tend to produce fruit in the spring and fall months and through the winter. If it does get some winter damage, you would have seen plant dieback.
When dieback occurs, the plant will regrow to the height it was before it had damage and produce very few flowers. Once it reestablishes its previous size it will then begin to flower again and produce fruit.
If there were some spring freezes the flower buds would be killed before anything else would show any damage. This would tend to minimize fruit production. If the plant receives a lot of fertilizer, particularly nitrogen, it may tend to put on new growth with few flowers and of course very little, if any, fruit.

Buckets Can Be Used for Drip Irrigation

Q. My pine trees are over 20 years old and very tall.  I looked on the net and found a YouTube video out of Kansas showing the man using a 5 gallon bucket with a pin hole in the bottom for the purpose of watering them. I called out my landscaping guy and he said that I am wasting water by watering that way. He said to dig a trench and fill it with water so it can be soaked into the ground and reach the roots of the tree. I do not have the ability to dig trenches.  Am I doing right by watering with the buckets or is he correct about his method?

A. Using a bucket with a small hole in it works just like drip irrigation. I would use about five or more buckets and distribute them under the canopy, about three or 4 feet apart, if you don’t mind looking at them.
Using buckets is the easiest and similar to the very first form of drip irrigation which was sinking unglazed ceramic pots into the soil. Make the holes small. Should run out in about one hour or so. The water will not run off and accomplish the same thing as a drip system but with more work on your part and kind of ugly. But it will work.

Make sure the water leaks from the bucket in the 12 inches depth of soil beneath the tree. If it runs into the soil below this 12 inch depth it is possible it may miss the roots that actively take up water. In our urban landscapes these roots are typically close to the soil surface. Roots for anchoring the plant usually run deeper than this and are not as responsible for water and nutrient uptake as the surface roots.
There is another form of using buckets for irrigation. This concept was pioneered by a hero of mine of the name Dick Chapin who passed away a couple of years ago. He is the father of American drip irrigation and developed the first drip tapes that were used in the greenhouse and nursery industry starting back in the 1960s.
Regardless of your religious beliefs, what he was able to accomplish in the distribution of low-cost, drip irrigation systems using buckets (aka bucket irrigation) was truly remarkable. This is what made him a hero of mine. You can learn more about his foundation below. 
I have implemented the strategy in my international work and it will also work here if you have a small garden area. If you want some classes on how to construct these or information posted on my blog showing you how to do it, just let me know.

Sometimes Amaryllis Can Get Big

Q. What do I do with my 4 foot high amaryllis plants?  How much should I cut them back? 

A. That is a large one from your description. The size of this plant may vary with a variety and light exposure. If they are not getting enough light the leaves will be very succulent and long. With adequate light believes should be leathery, stouter and more durable.
You have your amaryllis in good exposure it sounds like with it in the East side with some filtered light during part of the day. Amaryllis does well with half-day sunlight in the mornings. As you've already expressed I'm sure that you amended your soil with compost the time of planting and mulched the bulbs.
Sometimes the flowers need staking because they can get a little top-heavy. They will die back at the first frost. At this time feel free to cut them back to the ground. Cover the bulbs with 4 to 6 inches of wood mulch through the coldest part of the winter.

When all danger of frost has passed go ahead and uncover them and let them warm up. I would fertilize lightly once a month.
On a side note the term Amaryllis in English includes plants that are not truly Amaryllis. The one we see in stores most of the time is Hippeastrum but the trade has called it Amaryllis for so long the name has stuck and it's easier to pronounce. One comes from South America and the other comes from South Africa. One is a little more cold sensitive than the other.Both of them produce gorgeous flowers.

Black Spots on Peach Leaves May Be from Lack of Light

Q. Can you tell me what this is on one of our peach trees? The leaves are developing black spots on the margins.

A. I am looking at your picture now of the peach leaf. It was hard to see what the problem might be with only one picture and that picture was low resolution.
What I saw was one leaf inside the canopy in some shade with some black spots developing on the leaf margins. I couldn't be certain but it looked like there was a yellow halo around the black spots on the margins. I don't know if this is typical of all the leaves or just the leaves in the shade.
For me there were two possibilities; irrigation or a disease called shot hole fungus or Coryneum Blight. If it was over the entire canopy and it involves leaves in full sunlight then I would tend to think it was irrigation related.
It usually occurs if the tree is not getting enough water at the time of an irrigation or if you waited too long between irrigations. If the tree has gotten considerably larger in the last two years than I would add any emitter or two to the irrigation of the tree.
I would also mulch the surface of the soil to conserve water and reduce water stress.

If this is Coryneum Blight then you would spray the tree with a copper-based fungicide such as Bordeaux mixture immediately when the leaves fall from the tree this early winter. You would follow up with the spray in the spring as the leaves are coming out and new growth is emerging but after blooming has finished.

Blog to Follow on Desert Gardening for Quality Food

Take a look at what you can grow in the desert!
Some of you trying to grow food under desert conditions will appreciate this blog by April Asher documenting her trials and successes in desert gardening.

Click on this link to follow April




Texas Sage and Sage Herb Allergies

Q. Is the Texas Ranger shrub in the Sage family? This question is prompted by allergies to the Sage family of plants.

A. No, Texas Ranger or Texas Sage is not part of the Sage family. Texas Ranger is also known as Leucophyllum fretescens.
The following is from Wikipedia and it is a breakdown of its taxonomy. It is in the same Order, but not the same Family. I would guess that they do not have a close enough association to cause the same types of allergies but this is not a guarantee.
Taxonomies are a human invention and plants may or may not follow these classifications regarding their physiology.

This is a breakdown of the taxonomy of Texas Sage or Texas Ranger.
Kingdom:        Plantae
(unranked):     Angiosperms
(unranked):     Eudicots
(unranked):     Asterids
Order:             Lamiales
Family:           Scrophulariaceae
Genus:             Leucophyllum
Species:          L. frutescens

This is the herb called Sage known as Salvia officinalis. This is also from Wikipedia and a breakdown of its taxonomy.
Kingdom:        Plantae
(unranked):     Angiosperms
(unranked):     Eudicots
(unranked):     Asterids
Order:             Lamiales
Family:           Lamiaceae
Genus:             Salvia

Species:          S. officinalis

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How Do I Keep Grubs Out Of Rose Bushes

Q. How do I keep grubs out of my rose bushes soil? I have used Bayer advanced complete insect killer for soil and turf. Active ingredients are Imidacloprid 0.15%   B-Cyfluthrin 0.05%   and other ingredients  99.80%. I don’t like using poisons as there are plenty of birds here. However, my roses end up with no roots and miniature leaves and blossoms as they try to survive. I ran out of wood mulch and have been using pinecones from the golf course as a temporary mulch. Could this be the problem? I don’t want to pull up the roses and toss them. They have been beautiful in the springs and falls of past. Every pinecone I turned over had 2 or 3 grubs under it, on top. Imagine what is down in the soil. Last year just one rosebush had them. I dug out all the soil and replaced it. I have used this product twice this year and still have a zillion gross grubs. Please help!!!

A. Take a look at my blog, in particular this one posting

Look at the first comment by a reader regarding grub control.  I knew about these beneficial nematodes but this person is reporting a significant reduction in them over time.

Controlling Grubs Is a Big Topic

Q. I have just been told that I have "Grubs" here in Las Vegas, NV.  What do I do to get rid of them?
Grubs from compost
A. You have two approaches to controlling grubs; conventional pesticides or organic controls. The conventional pesticides are usually much more effective and fast in getting rid of the problem.
Organic controls are slower to work and may not give you the same kind of control you can get with conventional pesticides. I would suggest purchasing a conventional insecticide in granular form and watering and in around the base of your plants.
There are several products on the market that will give you good control. You can also use a liquid but you would applied as a drench, diluting it as the label recommends and pouring it around the base of the plant where the irrigation water is applied. You would lightly water both of these products into the soil.
Do not over water or you can push the chemical beyond the depth where the grubs are feasting. Any of the conventional pesticides that are labeled for grub control will give you good control. Because these grubs are immature forms of flying insects, they may be back in future years and you will have to re-treat.

Organic controls rely on other living organisms to give you some measure of control.

There are three posts on my blog that refer to controlling grubs. The links should take you to these posts and you can read more about them if it fits your particular circumstances.

Jul 21, 2012
Q. I have discovered over 200 huge grubs in a 15 x 24 inch container that is about 2 ft deep. I had filled this container with a bag of garden soil from a garden center and planted strawberry plants. Of course the plants all died, ...

May 18, 2014
Q. I ran across an item called Grub Guard in the catalog. It contains beneficial nematodes. Would these be the same kind of nematodes that attacked my tomatoes last year? A. These are entirely different nematodes. These are ...

Aug 14, 2014

These are the immature of one of the scarab beetles such as June beetles, metallic June beetles, dung beetles and rose chafers which we have here. Another one that attacks lawn grasses is the "white grub" or sometimes just ...

My Strawberries Produce Great Leaves. Now What?

Q. My Ozark Beauty and Ogallala strawberry plants produced a few berries when first planted and now they want to propagate. This growth is filling my raised bed to my satisfaction.  I clip them down, water and watch them grow! Please provide your most welcome and appreciated advice.

A. You will want to give each individual plant its own space to grow. Space plants no closer than 1 foot apart and remove all of runners as you see them.
You can plant them further apart and propagate your own plants from the runners but you still want them no closer than 1 foot apart. All the rest of the runners you want to remove from the plants or they will get overcrowded, shade themselves, give you very low production and make it difficult to harvest.
Strawberries growing in Las Vegas in amended desert soil demonstrating good color and good health
Strawberries growing in Las Vegas soil amended with compost but showing the beginnings of iron chlorosis
The plants that you decide to keep and spaced far enough apart will last you about three years. These are the mother plants. So at the beginning of the third year begin to propagate new plants from the runners of the mother plant with the idea that these new plants will replace the mother plants at the end of the third year.
You can keep these new plants in place by just pegging or securing the new plants in a spot by holding down the runner and baby plant in its new location. When new roots begin to form you can cut it from the mother plant at cool times of the year such as March or September.
You can move them in the fall when they are young if they are not in the right place.
There are three types of strawberries classified on the time of year they produce. Main crop strawberries produce a single crop of fruit and then turn their energies to the production of runners, roots and leaves.
Strawberries with damage from the vine weevil
In my opinion you run the highest risk of not producing fruit by using main crop strawberries in our climate. Everbearing strawberries like Ogallala and Ozark Beauty are supposed to produce all during the spring, summer and fall months but usually tend to produce their fruit mostly in the spring with a trickle the rest of the year.
Then there are the day neutral varieties like Tri-Star which are supposed to produce more consistently all through the year but usually end up producing in the spring and fall when it is cooler. So expect to see fruit most likely in the spring months and some in the fall months. The rest of the time expect to see runners and leaves.
Like most vegetables and fruit trees they need at least six hours of sunlight every day. They prefer morning and early afternoon sun. They like soils with lots of compost added to it. They like to be mulched with straw or pine shavings such as animal bedding or even shredded newspaper.
Generally speaking strawberries stop producing fruit when temperatures are hot (85 to 90° F) so main crop strawberries, kind of like tomatoes, are hit and miss in our climate. We are better off with everbearing or day neutral types which you have.
However, yours are older varieties, very hardy with well-established names but there are better varieties out there. We are very limited here in what is available for home gardens so nurseries usually stay with varieties with names that are recognized. Some people plant all three types to improve their chances of getting some fruit.
Avoid fertilizing plants with nitrogen fertilizers in the early spring. Wait for them to finish producing fruit in the early summer and then fertilize them if they need it. You can tell if they need it by looking at the leaf color and size.
Fertilizing them at the beginning of summer you will be pushing new growth at a time when they normally don't produce any fruit.

The biggest problems with strawberries is iron chlorosis or yellowing leaves, keeping the soil to moist and developing root rot, Strawberry weevils, snails, slugs, pillbugs or sow bug damage to the fruits.