Mulberries can be a bit messy, and grow quick

I have a volunteer plant that came up at the base of a dying maple, but the leaves are different. It’s sort of sprawling and about 4 feet tall. I’m not sure what to do with it.

— Barbara

From the photo you sent, it looks like what you have is a seedling mulberry, which is a very common occurrence around here. It will become a medium-sized tree 30–40 feet tall in its old age. Mulberries grow fast and love our hot summers.

The problem you’ll have with a seedling such as this is that in a few years it will start producing fruit. Mulberries look like blackberries. They’re perfectly edible, but not as sweet or tasty as a blackberry. Think of them as an insipid blackberry.

The problem people have with them is that the birds LOVE them and usually beat you to the crop. That in and of itself may not be a problem, but the fact that mulberries seem to be nature’s bird laxative is a problem for most people.

They are usually very messy, to put it mildly. If that’s not a problem where this tree is growing, leave it. But most people cut them out.

I want to stop the fruit on a tree in my yard. What can I do?

— Linda

The only possible course I can give you would be to spray the plant with a product containing the plant hormone Ethephon. We sell a Monterrey product called Florel that contains it.

You’ll want to spray it over the tree when it starts to bloom next year and repeat it two weeks later.

It’s not perfect. It won’t keep 100 percent of the fruit from forming, but it should help a bunch. You’ll also have to spray it every year as it only prevents proper fertilization of the ovule and formation of the fruit on the current year’s flowers.

 

I noticed small white moths in my lawn and some type of spider webs. Is there anything I can do?

— Catherine

Those small white moths are usually the adult form of sod webworm. The larval stage of this insect feeds on the grass blades (usually at night) occasionally causing irregular thin or dead patches in the lawn.

Now there are other moths that this could be that aren’t damaging to the grass. One sure sign you have webworm is the presence of flocks of birds (usually starlings) foraging in groups in the lawn.

The fact you have these moths in the lawn isn’t a reason to hit the panic button. I would bet there are sod webworms in most of the lawns in the Grand Valley but they’re not numerous enough to cause damage.

I only recommend control treatments if damage is occurring in the grass. And before starting webworm control, you want to make sure it is, in fact, webworm that is doing the damage.

We are seeing a lot of fungal disease damage right now with white grub issues probably starting up in August. In fact, I don’t consider webworm all that big of a problem. It’s fairly rare for a lawn to be damaged by them. Keep an eye on the lawn, and if some yellowing or browning starts to show up, find out what’s causing it and then respond. Otherwise, I’d just ignore them.

The spider webs are created by small ground spiders, usually called funnel weavers or grass spiders. They are not harmful and actually perform a great deal of benefit by preying on other insects.

I’m probably the last person to say this, because I hate spiders with a passion rarely seen in normal humans, but you shouldn’t work at controlling them.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, 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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