Homegrown: Sour cherry tree, skyflowers

We live in Battlement Mesa and have a sour cherry tree that is 11 years old.

The past two years the cherries have had worms in them and we could not eat them. We thought with the freeze last winter they would die.

What do we do to get rid of them? Do we spray? When and with what?

— Dee

What you have is called the western cherry fruit fly.

It’s a small fly that over winters in the soil as a pupa beneath your cherry tree. It emerges in the spring and lays its eggs in the developing fruit of cherry trees. The larva hatch out and feed on the ripening fruit.

The most important aspect in controlling the cherry fruit fly is the timing of your insecticide sprays.

Sprays should start about May 20, and you’ll want to spray about once a week until harvest.

The best sprays to use are Sevin, Permethrin and Spinosad. I think it’s a good idea to rotate the sprays as that will do a better job of controlling the flies and avoid unintended problems such as insecticide resistance or outbreaks of other destructive pests like spider mites.

Be sure to do a thorough job of spraying. You want to coat the developing cherries completely so when the female fruit fly lands the insecticide is there to zap her before she can lay her eggs.

A common recommendation for control of other related fruit flies is to mix the insecticide with an attractant bait.

It helps the insecticide last longer and will greatly enhance your control efforts.

There are baits available in the marketplace, but are usually only available in large quantities for the commercial grower.

Your best bet is to mix 4–6 tablespoons of molasses per gallon of spray.

I haven’t seen this specifically for the cherry fruit fly, but I’d think it would work.

I bought a gold edge skyflower — duranta erecta “Gold Edge” and was wondering if it can grow in this area outside (being planted) without having to be brought in when it’s cold. I bought it at one of the chain stores and it doesn’t say on the back of the information sticker as to what temperature it can live in.

— Kim

I’m afraid it won’t. Duranta is considered a USDA Zone 9 plant — we’re a Zone 6 — and will only stand temperatures down to about 25 degrees and then only for a very short period of time.

I’d consider it a houseplant. It does want very good light so you’ll have to work on putting it someplace where it gets really bright sun.

I read your article about the problem with silver maple trees and I’m sure that’s what is happening with our tree.

My question: Can I safely cut off the limbs that are without leaves? If so, when? Is now a good time?

— Della

There are reports that cutting the dead (or mostly dead) limbs off of a maple infected with Verticillium wilt can extend the life of the tree.

Besides, it will make the tree look a whole lot better.

Cutting dead growth off can be done any time of the year. In fact, I encourage people to cut dead growth off as soon as they can since it can harbor insect and disease problems that could hurt the plant.

Whenever you’re cutting a branch off, you should cut it off just above another branch so you don’t leave a large “stub” on the tree.

This stub often just dies or, if it does grow, it’s in the form of a number of weak “water sprouts” that actually lead to more problems down the road.

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 e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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