Best way to get rid of unwanted elm tree?

I have a butterfly bush that, all of a sudden, has an elm tree starting to grow in the center of it. What is the best way to get rid of the elm tree?

— Paul

The best way to get rid of the elm, if it isn’t too big, is to try to pull or dig it up, being careful not to disturb the butterfly bush.

If it’s too big for that, try to cut it off BELOW ground level. Elms often won’t sprout again if you can cut them off low enough. Those would be the preferred methods of getting rid of the unwanted elms.

However, if you get sprouting, you may need to use Fertilome Brush and Stump Killer which you would apply to the fresh cut ends of the stumps. This is very powerful stuff and I would only use it as a last resort because the herbicide is very potent and could pose a risk to your butterfly bush.

I have an ugly white film over my roses that comes off if I scrape my fingernail over it. What is it and how do I get rid of it?

— Marianne

Sounds like you have powdery mildew, a common problem on roses at this time of year.

How are your roses watered? They often get mildew when watered by overhead sprinkler systems. If you’re able to avoid that, they’ll be happier with being watered from the bottom.

If not, there are several things you can do to help keep them from getting powdery mildew as well as options to take care of the problem once you have it.

Consider the timing of your watering. Powdery mildew is often the result of an extended period of humidity. Here in the valley, the humidity usually rises from midnight to sun-up. Watering in the evening (before midnight) extends that time of high humidity and leaves your bushes more susceptible to mildew.

If you have an automatic watering system, watering as early as 2 a.m. is OK because you’re not extending that high humidity time and won’t lose as much to evaporation. If your system isn’t automated, watering right after sunrise is a good idea. You’re not extending that period of high humidity and still are taking advantage of the cool of the day.

Pruning also is an important part of keeping your rose bush healthy. Roses thrive on having good air circulation throughout the bush. Cut back all dead canes, and remove crossing or competing canes. What you’re aiming for is shaping your rose bush like an upside-down cone with no branches in the middle.

While modifying your rose’s environment is a great help, once you have powdery mildew, there are several ways you may choose to treat it. The most organic of these is to use a Year Round Spray Oil. A word of caution here: Be careful when using this product when the temperatures are 90 degrees or more. There is the potential to burn the foliage when it’s too hot. Many folks will test a little area of their plant first to be sure it doesn’t harm the leaves. When using such a spray, the trick is to thoroughly cover your rose bush. Be sure to coat both the tops and bottoms of all the leaves.

A second organic choice is to use sulfur. It works well, though not during the hot days of summer. Using this product on hot days (mid-80s or higher) can scorch your leaves.

The chemical spray we recommend most often is Fertilome Systemic Fungicide. We usually have people spray two times, 10 days apart. In some cases a third spray is necessary to get rid of the problem.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, 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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