Twine & Mites

Twine, Mites Can Throttle Trees and Shrubs

by Mike Dooley

Maintaining a landscape to look its best through the summer months can be a challenge. Some plants seem to struggle for mysterious reasons. But professional landscapers can often help you diagnose plant problems, and I thought it would be helpful this month if I passed along a couple tricks of the trade. So here we go.

Problem: Something is making the leaves on a shrub look mottled, and no matter how much you fertilize it doesn’t help. Not just one plant, but all of the plants of the same species look that way.

Answer: Insects usually attack all of the plants of the same species. Get a sheet of paper and a pencil. Go out to the offender and place the paper under the branch and tap briskly on the branch while trying to knock off anything that is on the branch. Look at the paper for tiny specks that are barely visible to the naked eye. If they move, you most likely have red spider mites or thrips. Wash them off every three days until they don’t return, or spray with a general-purpose insecticide twice, about a week apart.

Problem: You plant a tree and give it a couple of years to get started but it just won’t grow at the same rate as the other trees of the same species. Let’s assume that it gets watered, fertilized and that it has no visible signs of insect infestation.

Answer: Check the base of the tree to see if you can determine if the tree was planted without the twine or wire being removed from the trunk. If it was left on the trunk the tree will grow around it and slowly strangle the tree as the trunk grows. Use a pair of pliers to try and remove the twine or wire; if you can’t remove it, the tree will always be stunted. Think firewood!

Happy Gardening!