Q have something growing on my ornamental quince, haven't seen it on other plants nearby. I live in Little Rock. What is this white thing?
A The white blobs are actually a waxy scale insect. The insect attaches itself to the stem of the plant and then sucks sap from the stem. The white outer waxy coating protects the insect underneath. In late winter/early spring, the insect will lay eggs, and the babies will crawl out from under the protection and set up housekeeping somewhere else on the plant. Look closely at the plant. If you just have one or two branches with white, waxy scale, cut off that branch or hand-pick the insects off. Once all the leaves are off, spray the plant with a dormant oil to try to smother them. If you see any new signs next season, you can use a systemic insecticide to kill them.
Q This year, I had a landscape plan drawn for my front yard. By the time the plan was finalized and a landscaper was hired, hot weather had arrived, so I postponed planting until October. Long story short, planting is scheduled for next week. The plan calls for a Yoshino cherry, cleyera, dwarf gardenia, maiden grass, golden carpet juniper, Lenten rose, liriope, yucca, densiformis yew, Hicks yew and spreading Japanese plum yew. Is it safe to plant some or all of these during this time of year? If not all, which ones would be safe to plant? Please give me some tips for keeping new plantings alive during the winter.
A Fall is actually a great time to plant trees and hardy shrubs. You should be good to plant everything now except for the gardenia. I would not plant a gardenia until spring. If we have a cold winter, they can get nipped, even with an established root system. The other plants should take winter weather fine. I am assuming most of this planting is in the shade, since most of these are shade plants, except for the grass, cherry, juniper and yucca. Plants in full sun will need a bit more attention during the winter as they do dry out faster. Make sure you water if weather is dry, especially prior to a hard freeze. If you do see damaged foliage during the winter, ignore it until spring. If you prune it off as damage occurs, you will expose more of the plant to damage. Water and mulch are all you need to do at planting.
Q I live in Otter Creek and have a mostly woodland yard. I have identified Mitchella repens in various spots. Any suggestions for helping it grow?
A Mitchella repens, commonly called Partridge Berry, is one of my favorite groundcovers for the shade. Unfortunately, it isn't a commonly sold plant. This native evergreen plant hugs the ground, has a small white bloom in May or June that is followed by a small red berry, which is eaten by birds. It is not a vigorous plant but will spread if given the proper conditions. It needs light to heavy shade, acidic soil and ample moisture, but not wet feet. It's usually available through native plant nurseries online.
Q Every fall, I have mushrooms popping up in my Zoysia grass. This year there are more than in the past years. Do the mushrooms harm my lawn, and how do I control them? I have been pulling them up, but it is messy job. I would like any ideas you have on how to control them.
A Mushrooms begin to grow in a lawn, garden or even flowerpot when they have moisture and there are active, living mushroom spores. Mushrooms are the fruiting body of a fungus that lives in soil and in organic matter. These beneficial fungi help to break down organic matter. Many yards have decaying organic matter or old tree roots that are decaying. When moisture, humidity and spores meet, they grow mushrooms. They occur more in the fall with ample moisture. While they are unsightly for a bit, just knock them down when you see them. Mushrooms occur more commonly in the shade since sunny conditions cause them to die back more quickly. In the lawn, mow them or knock them down with a rake or shovel. On the bright side, mushrooms in your yard mean you have good organic matter, which is a good thing for gardeners.
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 11/16/2019