|Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans stans)|
|Damaged bougainvillea leaves|
|Yellow Bells (Tecoma stans stans)|
|Damaged bougainvillea leaves|
Have you planted any vegetables this season? What are your favorites?
Last week, I was visiting one of my favorite clients when I noticed that one of her citrus trees was showing signs of sunburn, which led to me explaining to her that even citrus trees need sunscreen to prevent sunburn in many cases.
|My bougainvillea growing in the back garden. I haven’t seen any signs of caterpillar damage yet.|
The photo, above, shows how they should normally look, however, last week, they looked like this….
Definitely not normal looking and manyM of the outer leaves were skeletonized, and it got worse. All four of my yellow bell shrubs had the same symptoms. So, did my orange jubilee shrubs, which are closely related.
To be honest, I was a bit stunned to see the damage. You see, I had grown these beautiful shrubs for over 14 years and have never seen this before – not even in landscapes I managed or when consulting.
What was interesting is that other shrubs right next to my yellow bells and orange jubilee weren’t in the least bit affected. So, what is eating my leaves?
I looked at the symptoms – the skeletonized leaves, the fact that many of my leaves were ‘rolled’ and little black dots (insect poop) told me that my shrubs were suffering from ‘leaf rollers,’ which are tiny caterpillars that roll the leaf around them while they eat. It is hard to spot the caterpillars themselves, but the damage they cause, usually makes it easy to diagnose.
Now that I noticed my yellow bells and orange jubilee shrubs being affected – I have noticed these same shrubs being affected in my neighborhood, along freeways and other areas. I don’t know why leaf rollers are affecting these shrubs all of a sudden after all these years. I suspect it is the higher than normal rainfall we experienced this summer, but I don’t know for certain.
Regardless of why leaf rollers are affecting these beautiful shrubs – there are ways to get rid of them. Here are a few different options:
1. Prune off the affected growth and dispose of the leave in the trash can (not in your compost pile).
2. Treat your shrub using a biological pesticide that contains BT (Bacillus thuringiensis), which is ingested by the caterpillars. BT basically ‘eats’ its way from the caterpillar’s stomach outward. I use Safer Brand 5163 Caterpillar Killer II Concentrate, 16 oz.
3. You can use an insecticide spray to kill the leaf rollers.
4. Lastly, there are systemic insecticides that are applied around the plant and are taken up by the roots – but, their use can lead to the build-up of resistant insects and can have other negative environmental effects.
**Whenever using any pesticide – follow directions carefully. For my shrubs, I will prune back the damaged growth and not apply pesticides. However, if the leaf rollers continue to attack, then I may decide to use a product with BT.
I must admit that I have been contemplating this post for quite some time. To be honest, I have been hesitant about it because of people’s overwhelming affection for ficus trees (Ficus nitida).
At first, the benefits of planting a ficus tree are obvious. They are lush, beautiful and provide dense shade, which is sometimes scarce in the desert.
So what’s the problem with having a ficus tree?
Well there are a couple of things that you should be aware of before you plant a ficus tree.
First, is the fact that they do suffer frost damage in the low desert when temperatures dip below freezing. It can be worse when consecutive days of freezing temperatures occur.
|Frost-Damaged Ficus nitida|
|Ficus tree that had frost damaged branches removed.|
|Young Ficus Tree|
|Mature Ficus Tree|
Like ficus trees, sissoo trees do grow quite large but I no longer recommend them for average size residential landscapes. The photo of the tree above was taken four years after it was planted from a 15-gallon container and it rapidly grew even larger. This tree made it’s debut in the Phoenix area about 15 years ago and rapidly became quite popular for its lush green beauty.
However, as sissoo trees have been grown in the southwest landscape for several years, problems have begun to crop up. They have invasive root systems that cause problems with sidewalks, patio decks, pools, and block walls. In addition, their mature size is so big that they dwarf the landscapes they have been planted in.
|3 Sissoo Trees|
Okay, you were probably thinking that I meant the ‘other’ type of grass. But the type of grass I am referring to cannot be smoked, (at least I don’t think it can). ‘Regal Mist’ (Muhlenbergia capillaris ‘Regal Mist’), is a beautiful ornamental grass to include in your landscape. It is low-maintenance, thrives almost anywhere and has stunning burgundy foliage in late summer and early fall.
USES: This Texas native looks best when planted in groups of at least 3, but I think groups of 5 or 7 are better. This ornamental grass grows to approximately 3 ft. High and wide. However, when flowering, add 1 – 2 ft. to their total height. They can be planted in full sun, areas with reflected heat and even in areas with partial shade.
This ornamental grass is tolerant of most soils. Regal Mist is a great choice for planting around pools, boulders and in front of walls. I have planted them around golf courses, and many people would ask me, “What is that plant? It is beautiful.” It is evergreen in areas with mild winters, but it is hardy to -10 degrees F (Zone 6). Frost will turn them light tan in color.
MAINTENANCE: You can hardly get more low-maintenance then this – prune back severely in the winter, almost to the ground, to remove old foliage and spent flowers. I do not fertilize Regal Mist, and they look just great. Although drought tolerant once established, supplemental water is necessary for them is needed for them to look their best and to flower. Self-seeding is not usually a problem when they are irrigated with drip-irrigation.
Ficus Nitida simply the wrong plant, and usually in the wrong place.
I think this photo probably speaks for itself…..
But, I will add to it by saying that it is vital to realize that the little, spindly tree that you plant WILL GROW. Be sure to check the mature size of any tree, (or any plant for that matter), before you plant so you can be sure that there is ample room for growth.
By the way, the tree above is a Ficus nitida, which is a beautiful, dark green tree. But, it does grow enormous, as does its roots, making it unsuitable from most residential landscapes.