Dealing with sucker shoots challenging

I have jujube and plum trees that send runners 40–50 feet into my lawn. Can I use Roundup on the runners without killing the mother tree? Also, does Roundup work on foxtail and Bermuda grass?

— Jan

Controlling suckers in plants can be a difficult thing. glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, is systemic so it will be transported to the mother plant.

Spraying a handful of suckers once probably won’t kill or significantly damage the plant since the amount of chemical involved isn’t that great in relation to the size of your plants. However, going after multiple suckers again and again, which is what you’d end up doing I’m sure, will eventually adversely affect the mother plant. Because of this, spraying glyphosate or any systemic herbicide is not something we’d recommend doing to control the suckers.

What most people end up doing is coping with them as best they can by cutting them off as they appear. You can just cut or mow them off or use a shovel and cut the sucker off just a bit below ground.

You also could try digging up a small section of root where the suckers appear that will prevent a big knot from forming there, but the tree will probably continue to sucker in other places.

The ultimate solution would be to remove the mother trees, but that’s not much of an optio.

The last thing that people do is to use a product called “Sucker Stopper” by Monterrey Chemical. You cut the suckers off and spray the freshly cut ends with “Sucker Stopper” and it will prevent the suckers from resprouting for about a growing season (you’ll have to do it every year). The problem with it is that it has gotten very expensive lately.

It’s that time of year again when I think to myself, “I really need to do something with my bare yard,” and along come the Zoysia grass ads in the mail. It sounds too good to be true with next to no watering or mowing, yet still green. Do you have any experience with it?

— John

The answer to your question is “yes, those ads are too good to be true.”

To tell you the truth, I’m not a big fan of Zoysia grass here. In spite of what the advertising says, it’s much better in a milder climate. We can see winter dieback problems in this area.

Zoysia can become quite invasive and tends to form a thick thatch layer. It also needs to be mowed quite short (half to one third the height of Bluegrass) which can increase maintenance. Zoysia also is a warm season grass, not greening up in the spring until May and browning out in late September to early October.

I still think our best “traditional” lawn grass around here is bluegrass.

 

I have some plants inside and now have aphids! How does one get rid of them?

— Michelle

Probably the best way to tackle them indoors is with insecticidal soap which is nontoxic and has no residual so there’s no worries about using this on edibles and inside the house.

It works by stripping off the waxy “skin” of the aphid and they desiccate. Because of this, you have to be sure to cover the plant thoroughly — both upper and lower leaf surfaces. You’ll want to repeat the application in about a week and perhaps even a third application a week after that.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, http://www.bookcliffgardens.com. Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506; or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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