Why are there insects on roses? Texas A&M Garden Experts Help

Q: We recently took down a pine tree and ground the trunk. Can I use leftovers as mulch for my flowerbeds? I’m not sure if pine is a good choice and have recently read that mulching itself is not a good thing to do due to mold.

a: You can use fresh pine wood chips as mulch for shrubs, trees, and landscaped areas. Avoid using shallow-rooted plants such as vegetables, annuals, and newly planted perennials, as they can reduce nitrogen. As with any brushes, layer no more than three to four inches and keep them away from tree trunks. The protective cover will snap and will eventually need to be renewed when it fails. When in doubt, allow fresh chips to age for a few months before using them.

Mulch (Mulch) is an important aspect of the landscape, especially in the Texas heat. It helps the soil retain moisture, reduces weeds, reduces erosion, and keeps the soil cooler in summer and warmer in winter. In this case, if the hardwood sawdust is piled too high or kept constantly wet, there may be a problem with mold, but a little air and dry weather can’t handle it. Even bagged mulch that may have been left in the rain for a long time can be spread to dry before use.

Q: My tomatoes are rotten at the bottom of the fruit, but not touching the ground. What is the cause and prevention?

a: Without seeing a picture, I’m sure you’re referring to flower end rot. When the plant dries out severely between waterings, it creates stress. “The flower end of the fruit fails to develop normally, turning black to dark brown and eventually wilts and becomes hard,” says Aggie Horticulture.

The main reason is calcium deficiency. While this may mean that there is not enough calcium in the soil or there is too much nitrogen, it is usually the lack of consistent water that reduces the plant’s ability to absorb calcium. To reduce the chances of getting this disease, maintain regular soil moisture, mulch, transplant with good drainage and, if you are growing in a container, use a large enough pot, removing damaged fruit. Once flower end rot has begun, it’s too late to fix it, so prevention is key.

A very useful resource is the link to Solve the Tomato Problem in Aggie Horticulture on the website. You can match symptoms to green fruit, overripe fruit, insect pests, leaves, stem or rootstock to narrow down your tomato problem.

Q: I’ve tried growing a variety of sunflowers from seed in Houston, but I always get lousy plants with pathetic blooms. I plant them in the sun from late March to early May. Is Houston a poor place to grow it?

a: I’ve never had a problem growing sunflowers in Houston. Sunflowers require well-drained soil and six to eight hours of full sun per day. They are known to be easy to grow. Water the soil regularly and avoid letting the soil get too dry. They bloom on average 60 days after planting. Get rid of weeds before you sow the seeds so you don’t have to compete for resources. Once the mulch begins to appear, the mulch will help retain moisture. You may need to protect the seeds from birds and wildlife. If you are growing a large variety, provide support. Dwarf varieties are best for containers.

– Brandi Keeler

Q: Five days ago, I redrawn a 7-foot-tall avocado tree bound with roots. They are now fallen leaves, dry and brown. I put it in the sand, compost with compost, green flower and vegetable soil. I added a little time to release the plant food. Please let me know how I can save this tree. It was windy where I first put it but now I have it in a protected area.

a: You see transplant shock. The plant responds to a change in its environment and disruption of its root system. Planting at this time of year can be difficult. Give the tree some time to adapt and try to reduce stress on the plant, which is difficult to position in the current summer conditions. Let the soil dry out some between watering, this will allow the roots to re-establish. Do not fertilize, keeping it in the shade will reduce heat stress. Within a few weeks, new shoots and growth should appear. Old foliage will fall off.

Q: What can I sprinkle on my photinia? I think it has photinia mushrooms, half of my tree is dead, the leaves become red spots and then turn brown and fall off. What should I use to spray and will it help me at all?

a: The plant is likely infected with Entomosporium, a common fungal disease of photinia. Many nurseries have reduced their production of this plant due to its susceptibility to disease. Small circular bright red spots appear on the upper and lower surfaces of young, expanding leaves. Mature leaves have brown leaf spots with gray centers and a deep red margin or halo. Prevention is the best option for managing any diseases. Proper spacing for better air movement helps foliage dry out quickly. Prophylactic applications of fungicides with the active ingredients chlorothanonil, myclobutanil, or propiconazole can help control the spread of disease. Please read and follow all label directions. My recommendation is that if you are installing a new landscape, it is a good idea not to plant a photolith.

Q: On our roses are these little bugs. Do you have any suggestions on how to get rid of them?

a: The plant contains a number of aphids. Aphids feed on tender shoots which is why you usually find them in new growth. They feed by puncturing the soft stems and removing fluid from the tissues. Aphids are natural predators in the landscape, so you may see some biocontrol. If the population is large, insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils, or the active ingredient imidacloprid should help control it. Please read and follow all label directions.

– Paul Winsky

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