Solutions easy for most garden problems

Here are some problems on gardeners’ minds.

Summer prune fruit tree: We normally prune fruit trees in the spring, but research finds late season pruning suppresses growth thus reducing the need to prune as much next winter.

Small seedless grapes: This is normal for seedless grapes, as they do not produce a hormone to make larger grapes. Grape growers add this missing hormone to size them up. Thin out clusters next year to increase size.

Pruning ocotillo: Why even prune and take away from its beautiful silhouette? Those long arching branches make it so desirable. Pruning makes it look like an angry porcupine.

Looking for a knee-high, low-maintenance hedge: Grow dwarf yaupon holly. It’s an excellent slow growing formal border or hedge getting 18 inches tall and as wide. Its grayish green foliage blends well with both desert and nondesert plants.

Big holes at the base of palo verde trees: They are exit holes of palo verde beetles emerging from the ground. Apparently they don’t eat enough to damage trees, according to the University of Arizona.

Mulberry limbs dying: Five possible reasons come to mind:

1. Sooty canker: Under the loosely attached bark is black soot. The cure is removing infected branches by cutting a foot back into healthy wood where the disease ends. Destroy infected branches as moisture can spread the disease to other trees.

2. Cytospra: You’ll notice little orange pustules oozing out of infected branches. Remove the infected branches.

3. Mulberry decline: This is a slow decline over time.

4. You might have removed sod from under the tree and removed many of the tree’s feeder roots a couple of years ago. You are now seeing the effect of sod removal on your tree. After sod removal, continue watering the canopy under your tree.

5. Finally, you might not be watering enough.

Small hard figs: Watering is crucial when figs are forming, so water more.

No blooms on potted lantana plants: It is a sign the plant is not getting enough water, especially those in pots.

Noise in yard: The screeching noise is male cicadas sending out mating calls. Females then lay eggs in tree twigs and larvae later hatch, drop to the ground where they burrow in to live a few years only to repeat cycle. The noise will soon subside.

Pillbugs in cantaloupes: They need something to eat and found your cantaloupes. Place mulch under fruits and they’ll feed on it and also improve your soil at the same time.

Honeydew melons sunburning: The sun causes the burn. Either shade fruit under the leaves or under newspaper.

Spiders in sunflowers: Generally not a problem. They feed on insects but if they become a problem, wash them off.

Sloughing bark on palms: This comes about with constant soakings of palm trunks in lawns. Direct water away from trunks.

Fuzzy stuff on Mediterranean palms: Don’t worry, it’s a natural phenomenon for this palm.

Mediterranean palm fronds removal: Why remove them? They are producing energy and add a tropical bushy effect to the yard.

Planting pines next to fence: Generally pines do not damage walls. To be on the safe side, dig a trench along the fence line and place a root barrier, sold by your nursery, in it to deter the tree’s roots.

Pruning climbing roses: Don’t prune bushes now so plants can build up energy for next spring’s blooms and create a stronger plant.

Wind-damaged palo verde: This tree is known for limbs snapping off in high winds, but it sends up new shoots to restart your tree.

Christmas pine needles shedding: The tree farm heavily sheared the pine to develop a Christmas tree shape. That created lots of interior growth and it’s shedding, which is OK.

Shearing shrubs: This is a no-no among horticulturists as it diminishes the shrub’s beauty. Control size with infrequent waterings and less fertilizing to reduce plant growth.

Bloomless oleanders: The lack of water is the main reason for them not blooming.

Japanese blueberry leaves turning fall colors and falling: It’s a natural phenomenon to shed last year’s leaves now, but you’ll find leaves at the back of the bush falling, not those on the tip ends.

Texas Mountain Laurel concern: Texas Mountain Laurel is a great tree, however, its red seeds are poisonous and a concern with small children. To overcome this problem, either remove pods as they form or remove tree.

Linn Mills writes a garden column each Sunday. You can reach him at or call him at 702-526-1495.

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