Q I'm wanting a crabapple tree. My wife would prefer one with pink blooms, but all I want is some decent crabapples to make jelly. Do you have any thoughts? Also, I've called around to the local nurseries (in central Arkansas) and no one has one. Are the mail order places reliable?
A There are many good varieties of crabapples on the market; and mature size, flower and fruit color and fruit size all vary. The main thing when choosing a crabapple for Arkansas is to look for disease resistance. Most of us want to plant a tree that blooms, and we don't want to have to follow a spray schedule for diseases. Do your homework. Here is a shortcut link to an excellent crabapple information chart from a reputable nursery: arkansasonline.com/511crab. I am not recommending that you buy from them, but the chart (which I use as a reference) is a detailed account of varieties. It not only gives you the flower color, but size and form of the tree plus disease-resistance information. Two pink varieties I have seen in trials that are doing well are "Pink Princess" and "Prairifire," but there are many to choose from. Once you make your selection, visit your local nursery and see if it can order for you. If not, mail order is a viable option.
Q I applied a weed-and-feed to my lawn to get rid of "sticker" grass, which you identified in one of your columns, and the weed that cuts your hand when you try to pull it out. Instead they are thriving, and the grass has suffered. Maybe the weed-and-feed didn't know which was which? What should I do now?
A I am not a huge fan of weed-and-feed products. I would rather you weeded separately from feeding (fertilization). There are different types of weed-and-feed products, but the main one for spurweed -- the small winter annual that has stickers for seeds -- should be a pre-emergent herbicide that is applied in the fall. It should be used before the seeds germinate. Post-emergent applications are those that kill actively growing weeds, preferably before they bloom and set seeds. Both timings are not conducive to fertilizer application, because one is in the fall when lawns are going dormant and we don't want to feed them, and the other comes in late winter before the grass is growing enough it can take in the nutrition. Fertilizers are best used on lawn grasses after the lawn is fully green and growing. Fertilizing your lawn to get it up and growing so it will buffer the stickers is your only recourse now.
Q I have 5-year-old azaleas, 10 or 12 in a row across the front of my house. I have one in the middle of the row that did not bloom this year, and I'm pretty sure, as I think about it, that it did not bloom last year, either. Any thoughts on why it didn't bloom? It's living in the exact same type environment as the others.
A I am assuming they are all the same variety and that they get the same amount of sunlight and water. If you have a sprinkler system, you might check that they are all receiving equal amounts of water. Are they all growing at the same rate? Has the middle one showed any differences in growth habit or leaf color? Is there any dieback or insect damage on this one? I would investigate since there is no clear-cut answer as to why one plant would perform so differently from the others without getting something different -- too much shade, not enough water, lacebug damage, etc.
Q I first had the scale/honeydew problems on my crape myrtles a few years ago. I have since used a Bayer product that has worked great. I have used it every year but wanted to ask if I can go to every other year? It seems like I read that in one of your columns.
A Yes, results from trials have shown that one application can provide two years of coverage. I also recommend that you wait until you see a problem before respraying. The scale is too new to know exactly the correct protocol -- but I would not do preventive sprays.
Q We bought this tree one year ago and planted it where it gets about half sunshine and half shade. As you can see [in the photo], it has only flowered on the very top. What does this tree need?
A I don't think you are going to like my answer very much. Your young tree has a very tight crotch angle with two competing main branches. If you leave both of them, eventually they are going to compete. I recommend you take one out. This will leave a lopsided canopy, but a little selective thinning can help. Young dogwood trees often grow rapidly and don't put on a lot of blooms until they begin to slow down in their growth. I would be patient about the blooms while making sure you have a sound branching structure that will ensure a healthy, long-lived tree.
Retired after 38 years with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, Janet Carson ranks among Arkansas' best known horticulture experts. Her blog is at arkansasonline.com/planitjanet. Write to her at P.O. Box 2221, Little Rock, AR 72203 or email
HomeStyle on 05/11/2019
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