My rose bush has clusters of buds but they seem to dry up before they bloom. The plant itself is very healthy. Is there something I can do for it?

Rose “balling” normally happens when a rosebud forms naturally and begins to open, but once the new swollen bud gets rained on, soaking the outer petals, and then subsequently dries too quickly in the sun’s heat, the petals fuse together. This fusion does not allow the petals to unfurl like they normally would, resulting in rosebuds dying before opening or failing to open at all. Eventually, the fused ball of petals dies and falls off of the rose bush. If seen by the gardener prior to falling, the bud may appear to have been infected with mold or fungus, as the buds can become slimy once it starts dying.

The cure for rose flower balling is actually more an act of prevention than anything else. Thinning or pruning rose bushes so that there is good air movement through and around may help. When originally planting roses, pay attention to the spacing of the bushes so that the foliage does not become too dense. Thick, dense foliage opens the door for fungal attacks to hit rose bushes, and hit them hard. It can also make rose balling more likely to occur.

Botrytis blight is one such fungal attack that can cause this balling effect. New buds attacked by this fungus stop maturing and the buds become covered with a fuzzy gray mold. The stems below the bud usually start turning a pale green and then brown as the fungal disease spreads and takes hold. Mancozeb is a fungicide that will help prevent an attack of botrytis blight, though some copper fungicides are effective as well.

The best practices appear to be the proper spacing of the rose bushes when planted and keeping up with pruning them. In some cases, if the balling condition is spotted soon enough, the outer fused petals can be carefully separated away such that the bloom may continue to open as it naturally would. Just as with any problems with roses, the earlier we notice things, the quicker and easier it is to bring the problem to an end.

Hi, I bought a Dwarf Korean Lilac (tree form) from your nursery. Your website says it can grow in a container. What width and height container should I buy? Your website also says it won’t perform the same if in a container. What would be the differences? And finally what is the winter care if put in a container? Does it need any outside light during winter or anything else during winter?

Container Grown Lilacs in a pot is doable, but it isn’t ideal. Lilacs can get huge, and they grow best when their roots are free to spread out. When growing lilacs in containers, the first step is to pick a variety that stays relatively small. Some dwarf varieties exist, such as: Minuet Pixie Munchkin Some non-dwarf varieties that stay small include: Syringa meyeri S. pubescens S. patula Even small container grown lilacs need lots of room for their roots, so get as large a container as you can manage, preferably at least 12 inches deep and 24 inches wide. Terra cotta is better than plastic, since it’s stronger and better insulated. Potted Lilac Care Another challenge to planting a lilac shrub in a pot is getting the soil right. Use a good 4way mix and you’ll do fine. Move your container to its final resting place before planting, since it will probably be very heavy when it’s full. Place it somewhere that receives at least 6 hours of full sun every day. Keep it relatively moist, watering every time the soil dries out to an inch below the surface. Protect your lilac from the winter cold either by burying it in the ground or heavily mulching around the pot. Don’t bring your lilac inside for the winter – it needs the cold to set buds for next spring’s flowers.

Any idea why I have about six trees out of forty that look like this? The trees right beside this one are fine but there’s a bit of red on a few of the really mature trees as well. The needles or leaves or whatever you call them aren’t really dry and dead either, just red and unhealthy? My neighbours have the same issue.

Cytospora canker, a fungal disease, is the most common reason for unnatural needle drop on Colorado blue spruce and several other spruce varieties

The fungal diseases are not common unless the tree is experiencing some stress due to outside conditions outlined below such as poor soil conditions, excess or not enough water salinity (if they have a pool in the area that has been draining into the water table around the trees)

Read our list of stress and effects on trees

We have a big beautiful Birch Tree in our front yard that a woodpecker has been on this morning. Is there a reason and how can I get rid of him?

As pretty as woodpeckers are to observe in your backyard or garden, these noisy birds can cause major damage to your trees and wooden structures if left unattended—not to mention, their constant drumming can be extremely disruptive to the peace and quiet you need to be productive around the house. Prevent woodpeckers from taking over your outdoor space with these tips for handling the winged troublemakers.

You’re most likely to hear woodpeckers in the spring, during their mating season. That’s when the medium-size birds are usually most active—and noisy—drumming to attract mates and mark their territories. The hallmark pecking will aid you in locating where a bird’s nest might be and therefore usher them out of your backyard.

To get rid of woodpeckers that have already made themselves at home in your yard, it’s best to use a technique that will scare them off. Always avoid solutions that could harm woodpeckers, such as sticky substances that trap the birds. Instead, use one of these four ideas that have been proven to help ward off woodpeckers safely.

  1. Hang up a shiny object. A mirror (or aluminum foil if you’re in a pinch) near the spot where a woodpecker has made its home will show the bird its reflection when it returns, startling it and potentially scaring it away from the area.
  2. Set up a wind chime or a pinwheel near the spot. The noise or motion these objects make in the wind may fool your woodpecker into thinking a predator is near and deter them from coming any closer.
  3. Set up a pretend predator. Because owls prey on woodpeckers, artificial decoy owls often serve as effective deterrents-we have those in stock. You can purchase ready-made decoys.
  4. Spook them with noise. This last simple deterrent (no purchase necessary!) only requires you to clap your hands, whoop, or make another loud noise to frighten the bird off if you’re outdoors and you see one.

Prevent the Woodpeckers’ Return

Even if you successfully scare the woodpeckers away, the fact that these birds are frequent visitors to your yard could be an indicator of a bigger problem: an insect infestation.

Do some investigating to see if carpenter ants, carpenter bees, or termites are present in your yard. If so, treat the infested trees with an insecticide that is specifically made to kill pests without affecting other animals or the trees themselves. Stay inside while the insecticide goes to work, as the chemicals can be harmful to children and pets. Then, plug up any hole made by wood-boring insects. This will trap them deep inside the tree so they will die off, and other members of the colony will not be able to enter the structure easily.

Not only will this process rid your property of unwanted insects, it will also keep woodpeckers from returning to your yard and causing any further damage to your home.

Is it better to wrap or stake a cedar?

Wrapping cedars is a bad idea. On warm days the internal temperature under the burlap may get too high. When it gets too warm under the wrap, the tissue that has been warmed may be damaged when the temperature drops again.The cedars may also break dormancy too early in the spring. Stake AROUND the cedar and attach the burlap to the stakes leaving a 2-3? gap between the burlap and the cedar.

Hi, we purchased and planted a Snowspring crabapple last fall, and within a week this summer it went from looking amazing to looking like something out of the Walking Dead. The leaves are all brown and crunchy, and it has been watered appropriately. The other two trees we planted at the same time ( a maple and another Snowspring) look great. Is the tree done for?

It sounds like a fungal infection. Can you send some photos to the website? Also are you able to dig your fingernail into the main trunks bark and see green behind the bark? If so then the tree’s still alive.