Today's Paper Latest Coronavirus The Article Core Values Story ideas iPad Weather Newsletters Obits Puzzles Archive
ADVERTISEMENT

IN THE GARDEN: Cosmetic tree damage from birds, not bugs

by Janet B. Carson | March 20, 2021 at 1:52 a.m.
Holes bored into a tree in a line typically are the work of birds, in this case, a sapsucker. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)

Q I'm sending a picture of a tree in our yard that has borer holes all over it. I'm not sure what kind of tree it is but am sending a full-size picture of it too. My husband said he read where you stated it is nothing to worry about, but I think he read about something different. Could you please tell me what these holes are and if we need to do anything about them? Thanks.

A The holes you have are not from borers but sapsuckers, a type of woodpecker. They find a tree or large shrub they like, and they often return year after year to the same one. Whenever you have holes in a line or pattern, blame it on a bird. Usually the boring does no major damage, other than cosmetic. On smaller stems, enough repeated damage could girdle them. You can try hanging up some old CDs or other scare devices next fall to ward them off. The birds tend to do their damage in winter.

Q I thought for sure that you would address nandinas in your article [March 13]. Did the cold weather kill them or just fry the leaves? Should we cut them back?

Some varieties of nandina took it on the chin in the February cold snap. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Janet B. Carson)
Some varieties of nandina took it on the chin in the February cold snap. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Janet B. Carson)

A I was somewhat surprised to see that one of my nandinas was totally brown after the cold. It has since shed all its leaves, and I expect new growth soon. The fact that the leaves dropped is a good sign. Northwest Arkansas experienced deeper cold than we did in Central Arkansas, so there may be some tip dieback in the north; but nandinas are tough plants, and I would be surprised to see any major damage. If your plants needed pruning, now is the time to do so — not storm-recovery pruning, but pruning in general. Remember, they are cane producing plants, so remove one-third of the older, thicker canes at the soil line.

Q My gardenia was damaged by the recent snowstorm. What can I do to save it?

Wait to see whether damaged gardenias recover before pruning. 
(Special to the Democrat-Gazette)
Wait to see whether damaged gardenias recover before pruning. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)

A You are not alone. Gardenias took quite a hit from the storm. Some are in worse shape than others. Unfortunately, there isn't anything you can do to reverse the damage. I am still recommending a wait-and-see approach. I have several that still have green around the stems, so I am hoping for sprouting up the branches. In your picture, I don't see much green, so you could end up pruning them back even more, but time will tell. Once you begin to see signs of life, you will know where to prune. If they were frozen back considerably, prune out any tissue above the green new growth. Dieback will ensure that you will not have many blooms this summer, unless you happen to have one of the reblooming gardenia varieties. Keep your fingers crossed.

Q My bamboo leaves are turning gray and falling off. Has my bamboo died or will it come back?

Bamboo is so resilient it's unlikely this snow damage will set the canes back for long. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)
Bamboo is so resilient it's unlikely this snow damage will set the canes back for long. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)

A One could only hope! LOL. I know that is not an appropriate response, but bamboo is one of my least favorite plants because of its invasiveness. I do not think the freeze damaged the root system. Leaves were lost, but as you see, they are already shedding. I suspect it will be back to growing strong in no time.

Q I noticed your mention of the damage to azaleas by freezing temps, snow, etc., in your last column. Is there anything we can do to salvage them? The bushes I covered are green. Others have brown leaves. Would watering more frequently help them to recover? Thank you for your advice and information.

Some varieties of azaleas will rebound from the damage done by February's cold; others will not. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)
Some varieties of azaleas will rebound from the damage done by February's cold; others will not. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)

A Ignore them for now and see what happens in the next few weeks. I have quite a few that still have firm, green buds in spite of brown foliage. I am hoping to see at least some flowers this spring. Different varieties have different amounts of damage, but give them a chance to bloom, and then prune as needed after blooming or when new growth kicks in.

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

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsor Content

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT