IN THE GARDEN: Mystery shrub is wax ligustrum, not the undesirable privet

Q: This bush is about 12 feet tall and under three large oak trees. It gets little direct sunlight before about 2 p.m. Some leaves have turned yellow brown, but not knowing what type of bush it is, I don't know how to help it.

A: The plant in question is a wax leaf ligustrum. They did suffer a little winter damage this year, but seem to be bouncing back. It is not as invasive as the common privet, which is in bloom everywhere right now as well.

Q: Attached is a picture of our redbud tree that was damaged in the tornado. Considering the way it is leaning, do you think it will survive and is worth keeping?

A: You never know what a tree will do after storm damage. Some of the hardest hit trees survive, while others with seemingly little visible damage die. Since it is not a hazard to anyone or anything, I would let it grow this season and then consider choosing a sprout or branch closer to the ground that is growing straight and train it into your new tree next spring. It should have a tenacious root system.

Q: I've read to spray Dawn liquid detergent on poison ivy to kill it. Do you think this will work? Would it be more eco-friendly than herbicide? Need to get rid of a bumper crop!

A: There are a lot of home remedies on the market to kill weeds and insects. Some work, and some don't. Soapy detergent is not going to kill weeds, but a diluted soap solution can work on some soft-bodied insects (basically, your homemade insecticidal soap). I have heard of solutions that combine salt, vinegar and detergent, but this would do damage to the desirable plants nearby and could linger in the soil, so I would not use it. Spot-spraying with Roundup or pulling the ivy up from the roots (while wearing protective clothing) will help. We all have a bumper crop this year.

Q: Appreciate your comments regarding crape myrtles in today's paper. I noticed great stress in my hydrangeas. An established French hydrangea died to the roots, and the other hydrangeas do not seem to be leafing. I live in the Fort Smith area. The hydrangeas are in an optimal location for part sun but this year seem to be dying away. Is it the cold?

A: Big leaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) are the most common hydrangea in our gardens, with large pink or blue flowers. They did suffer severe damage in most of our state, but for the most part, they are sprouting from the root system. I have not heard of any total losses, but I suppose it is possible. I am still seeing beginning sprouts on many of my plants, so continue to be patient and see if you don't begin to see signs of life.

[Gallery not showing? Click here to see photos:]

 Gallery: In the garden May 13


◼️ "Thank you, Janet Carson, for the numerous reminders to just wait on the freeze-damaged plants. Just look at the March picture of a Gulf Stream Nandina and today. Amazing, and actually better than pre-freeze. Your guidance is so appreciated by us gardeners. Thanks again."

◼️"I read your column about peonies and ants and wanted to pass along something that I heard years ago that works. When cutting peonies, I take a pail out with me that has 3-4 inches of water in it. I dip the blossoms in water and the ants fall off. I rarely if ever bring an ant into the house if I make sure to submerge and swish each blossom in water first. I enjoy your column and look for it each Saturday morning."

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 Write to her at P.O. Box 2221, Little Rock, AR 72203 or email