Here are some problems I encountered from visitors to the Springs Preserve:
Blotchy grape leaves: This is damage caused by grape leafhoppers. Brush leaves and listen for the insects to hit the leaves in their attempt to flee. They suck sugars from leaves, and grapes end up tasting vinegarish. Make repeated sprayings with insecticidal soap until controlled.
Century plant withering: The agave weevils are infesting the plant. Give the plant a push; if it falls over, weevils have chewed it off at the ground level. The bugs are dusty-black, have long snouts and migrate from plant to plant. Larvae are similar to white grubs but without legs. They chew into leaves and introduce a bacterial rot. They lay eggs in holes and larvae later burrow farther into the plant. Agaves collapse because of bacterial rot and the larvae infestation. Remove and destroy infected plants and insects from the soil. They also destroy yuccas.
Leaf scorch on trees: Scorching begins showing as the heat intensifies if trees are stressed for water. To prevent it, at least monthly, run a hose slowly under trees for hours to fill the soil reservoir and push salts away from the roots. Salts draw water from leaves to compensate because of water stress and scorch results.
Rose leaf-sections missing: It’s leafcutter damage, or is it? It is a beneficial pollinating insect to all but rose lovers, because they want those perfectly shaped leaves. I consider it sculpturing, because they never kill plants. Bees take leaf portions and tuck in holes, building nests to lay eggs. They then fill the cavities with pollen to feed new young until they go on their own.
Dead gazanias: There are two kinds of gazanias: One creeps and the other remains in a clump. Both do best when grown on the dry side. In fact, if the soil is too wet, it causes root rot and they die. This plant hugs the ground and produces daisylike flowers on ankle-high stems.
Hard figs: It is a stress for water. Figs demand water as they swell in size. You’ll still have another crop, so correct the problem.
Preferred landscape mulch: I prefer decomposed granite. It looks like our desert floor and comes in different colors. It is easy to walk on, hides debris and makes it easy to control weeds. I selected red because it complements the red of my tile roof to accent my white house.
Consuming lavender: All varieties are edible. To make lavender lemonade, soak stems, leaves and flowers in water, and add the lavender water to your lemon juice or lemonade mix.
Seedpods on chaste tree: Gardeners ask, “Do I need to remove its seeds?” If you are lazy, no! If you’re meticulous, remove them after blooming. Just about everyone leaves them on.
Homeowner soil testing: Generally, homeowners don’t need soils tested except under rare circumstances. If your soil drains, it may be OK. However, if you desire to test it, call 257-5555 and master gardeners will advise you where to send it.
Termites: They live in our desert on debris we spew across it. However, they head to your house seeking moisture. The best control is keeping the area around the house dry. If you have plants near the house, create a barrier to ensure dryness.
On Friday, between 10 a.m. and noon, the Springs Preserve at 333 S. Valley View Blvd. will give away three kinds of Mojave plants in full bloom that will continue well into the fall. These plants went fast at the plant sale, so get there early to get your plant. They are:
* Paper flower blooms, which provide bright yellow splashes in desert gardens. When the flowers fade to a papery texture, use them in flower arrangements.
* Blanket flower blooms, which come with yellow, bronze and scarlet flower petals and attractive bronze seed heads. Use it as a border plant, in rock gardens and with foundation shrubs as well as in flower arrangements.
* Bladder sage, which is a native with very interesting flowers that later turn to papery, rose-colored balloonlike sacs or bladders. It will surely become a conversation plant.
Learn complete drip-irrigation system installation from the street to the plants, including how to select and assemble components. Build a drip system in class and learn how easy it is to save water and have great-looking plants. Experts from the Southern Nevada Water Authority will teach the class at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Springs Preserve.
Linn Mills writes a garden column each Sunday. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 822-7754.