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story.lead_photo.caption In shady yards, moss could replace lawn as a low-maintenance ground cover, and it holds up under some traffic. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Janet B. Carson)

Q

Our backyard is growing more and more moss at the expense of the grass that used to be there. This is not a very shady area. The oak trees are regularly maintained, and 10 years ago there was hardly any moss. What can be done to rescue the grass that remains and fight back the moss? Is there a product out there that will do the trick?

A

I don't think that the moss is killing your grass but that your grass is thinning out with shade, and the moss is taking advantage of bare soil. Grass does not grow in the shade. While there are products that can kill moss, it will grow right back unless you correct the reason you have the moss. Moss likes compacted, shady, moist, acidic soils. If you have all of these conditions, start liking moss. Actually, I love moss and wish it would spread even more in my yard. It is a great low-maintenance groundcover and it holds up under some traffic. As your trees grow larger, even if you limb them up, they are going to produce more shade, and shade is a very good thing in an Arkansas summer. I would not cut down trees to grow grass. So, look at the amount of shade and also have your soil tested to see if it is extremely acidic. You can aerate the soil to correct compaction, and you can check the moisture levels; but if all else fails, embrace the moss.

Loropetalum is one shrub that comes in varieties having reddish foliage all year. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Janet B. Carson)
Loropetalum is one shrub that comes in varieties having reddish foliage all year. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Janet B. Carson)

Q

I have seen around Little Rock at various restaurants a small shrub that always has red foliage, no matter the season. I see these most often at the Cracker Barrel on South Shackleford. I'm sorry I don't have any pictures. What small shrubs do you know of that stay red year-round? Thank you.

A

I think you are referring to loropetalum. They have become a popular evergreen (or should I say ever-red) shrub. They will grow in full sun to partial shade and retain their dark maroon foliage year-round. In the spring they have pink, fringe-like blooms. There are also varieties with green foliage and white flowers and some new red-foliaged ones with red flowers. Loropetalum comes in different varieties, and mature size varies a great deal, from 2- to 3-foot mature height up to 10-feet-plus-, so read the labels carefully when you choose a plant. They are a lovely addition to the garden.

An infestation of aphids would not have caused the spots on this duranta. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)
An infestation of aphids would not have caused the spots on this duranta. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)

Q

I have brown scales under leaves of my olive tree and the same along with yellow spotted leaves of my Duranta. Aphids hammered the Duranta last summer — is this residual damage?

A

Those are definitely scale insects on the olive tree. How many do you see? If you only see a few, remove those leaves and monitor the others. There are some systemic insecticides for houseplants and scale, but do you hope to eat any olives your plant produces? The systemic insecticides are not labeled for edibles. If your plants had heavy aphids last year, that would have caused the discoloration, but not the spots. Those could be secondary. The plant is also quite yellow. I assume you have it indoors or in a greenhouse, since Duranta is not winter-hardy in Arkansas, nor an evergreen. Give it a light haircut when you move it outside, fertilize, and it should rebound and green up. Then monitor both plants for any problems throughout the season.

Tulip tree, saucer magnolia or tulip magnolia are common names for Magnolia x soulangeana. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Janet B. Carson)
Tulip tree, saucer magnolia or tulip magnolia are common names for Magnolia x soulangeana. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Janet B. Carson)

Q

Is there a yellow bloom version and a pinkish purple version of the tulip tree?

A

The family of deciduous magnolias has a lot of hybrids with a variety of flower colors and tree sizes at maturity. Tulip tree, saucer magnolia, or tulip magnolia, is Magnolia x soulangeana, a hybrid from M. denudata and M. liliflora (the Yulan magnolia and the lily-flowered magnolia). M. x soulangeana is the most popular of the deciduous, spring-blooming magnolias. Its most common color is pink, in all shades from light pink to dark pink or purplish pink. There is another tree that looks very similar but with yellow blossoms. It is a hybrid between a cucumber magnolia (M. acuminata) and the Yulan magnolia (M. denudata). "Elizabeth" is the most common cultivar. Beautiful pale-yellow blossoms appear before the foliage in the spring. There are also several early white-flowering deciduous magnolias as well — the star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) and another hybrid, M. x loebneri, which is a cross between the M. stellata and M. kobus. This Loebner magnolia looks somewhat like the star magnolia, but grows taller, blooms later and usually isn't as easily frost-damaged. It is considered a better white-flowering deciduous magnolia.

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

jcarson@arkansasonline.com

HomeStyle on 03/14/2020

Print Headline: IN THE GARDEN

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