Shown are strawberries that are just starting to grow on a new strawberry plant.
Photo: Kathleen Collins
Photo: Kathleen Collins The good news is there is no need to stake your berries. Instead, apply a layer of straw so that they do not touch the soil. The straw will also keep the strawberries clean. However, the bad news is, since this is a new strawberry patch, experts recommend you remove all blossoms and fruit the initial year to allow the plants to first establish themselves in the soil before harvesting fruit in subsequent years.
For in-depth information about cultivating strawberries, consult The Ohio State University (OSU) Extension Fact Sheet HYG-1424-98, “Strawberries Are an Excellent Fruit for the Home Garden” (http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1424.html).
Q: This disease is on a lot of my trees and I do not know what it is. I have tried a lot of sprays but nothing works. Do you know what it is and how can I stop it?
A: How lucky you are to have such a fine crop of lichens growing on your tree trunks. Lichen growth is actually an indicator of a healthy environment. Please do not use any chemical sprays or otherwise try to destroy this growth.
Q: I remember in a past column or story you wrote about how to keep mums from falling over in the fall when it rains. Last fall, my mums were so big they fell over and looked terrible. How can I prevent that from happening this year? I have some mum plants that are already 6 inches high, and at this rate, they’ll be very high by fall. What should I do to prevent them from toppling over this fall?
A: A timely question indeed. I just finished the first pinching of my mums to half length. In another four weeks, I will pinch out about another third of new growth, and again, in late June and no later than July 4, I will do the final pinching of another third. This practice will encourage the mum plants to branch out and form a tidy compact bush less likely to topple over in full bloom.
Shown is the distressed burning bush mentioned in one of the “Ask Dayle” questions.
Photo courtesy of Harley Bossenbroek
A: There is a term applied to shrubs and trees called “service life.” Service life refers generally to that period of time when the plant is in a healthy, vibrant state, producing new growth, its presence complementing the surrounding landscape. Eventually, the plant will surpass its service life and begin a decline. Your photos do not show active disease, per se, although I do see one trunk that has expired. It may be that your mature burning bushes are beginning to succumb naturally to a spent life. Maybe, maybe not. No plant lives forever and no plant lives in constant health during that lifetime.
A few additional observations with regard to your photos: I don’t see evidence of routine pruning and shaping on the tall shrub. The interior appears quite shaded. Even shrubs grown as a tall privacy hedge must be regularly pruned to allow light to enter the middle branches, which encourages foliage growth. No pruning for light penetration equals sparse foliage, especially if the plant is planted in a spot that has more shade than sun. Over time, insufficient foliage will render the plant unable to sustain itself through photosynthesis, which is the process in which plants produce their own food. Inadequate photosynthesis will result in the untimely decline and death of the plant.
Q: I was looking at my hydrangea in front of the house, next to the porch. It looks like the stems are kind of brown and I don’t know if that is normal or not. It did start to get green buds. However, some of the buds have shriveled and brown leaves are at the tips. It is about 3 years old. Is there something special I should do?
A: The stems that grew last year on your hydrangea will indeed appear brown this year. The green buds of foliage that sprouted from these brown stems and then shriveled with brown tips sounds like frost damage resulting from our unusual weather patterns this spring. Hydrangea blooms on last year’s wood, so it is possible the frost killed the still unseen flower buds. However, do not trim back the plant. Allow it to leaf out and hope for the best in flower production.
For more horticultural information or to request fact sheets, call The OSU Summit County Extension hotline Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to noon at 330-928-4769, ext. 3, or visit online http://ohioline.osu.edu/lines/facts.html to print out relevant fact sheets.
Dayle Davis is a freelance writer and avid perennial gardener, with a B.A. in communications and course work in botany, geology and wildflowers. Davis is certified as a Master Gardener under The Ohio State University’s Horticultural Extension. Readers can send in questions regarding lawn and garden issues, which could be featured in a future edition, as well as about the OSU Master Gardener program. Questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, faxed to 330-665-9590 or sent to Leader Publications, 3075 Smith Road, Suite 204, Akron, OH 44333. Please do not send any leaves, seeds or other organic material. Inquiries about area garden clubs or groups should be sent directly to the particular organization in question.
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