All posts by Kelly Smith

5 Common Questions from Spring Gardeners

The snow has finally melted, those first few signs of growth are peeking out of the planting beds, and the sun is warming up a little more with each passing day. Many of us are starting back in on lawn and landscape care, hoping to nip last year’s problems in the bud, and setting sights on improvements for the coming season. Here at our garden center, we receive many questions and concerns this time of year, and strive to help you build a backyard you’re confident in and comfortable with. Here are a few of our most common spring inquiries and the solutions we recommend:

  1. I had dandelions and crabgrass in my lawn last year. What do I need to do this year to prevent them?

For crabgrass, the best way to avoid a recurrence this year is to apply a preventive herbicide prior to May 10. We use a fertilizer with an herbicide built in as our first step in our lawn care program. Thus, you take care of two early lawn needs at the same time. For dandelions, you need to wait until they begin growth in spring to kill them. Although there are lawn fertilizers with broadleaf weed killers built in, the best way to control them is to use a liquid application of broadleaf herbicide. This does a better job of coating the weed and allows more of the active ingredient to be taken up by the weed to kill it.

2. When can I begin planting my garden?

Wisconsin weather can be very unpredictable in any season, especially spring. (And definitely this year!). For most plantings, you need to know the average last frost date. In the Fox Cities area our average “Last Frost Date” is May 27. If you want to take your chances, the “Typical Last Frost Date” (when you still have a 30% chance of getting hit by frost) is May 10. That said, we normally recommend most plantings of frost-sensitive plants such as annuals, tender perennials, vegetable plants, and seedlings be made after Mother’s Day. Cool season vegetables and annuals can generally be planted out sooner, though; these would include broccoli, lettuce, parsley, carrots, beets, leaf lettuce, radishes, and even peas! Please note, you may have to cover or take in plants showing lush growth if heavier frosts are predicted.

3. My soil is hard. What can I do?

Add compost to your soil and till or work it in to a depth of 6 to 8 inches to provide nutrients and better soil structure. This can be done a couple of times a year. Also, covering your vegetable gardens in the late fall/early winter with compost, straw, or chopped leaves will help prevent hard soils the following spring.

4. When potting planters for yard accents, what are the best tips for success?

Make sure your pot allows room for plants to breathe; that is, allows water and air exchange in some way either through its sides, bottom, or both. Drainage holes are very important. Add compost or worm castings to your potting mix for extra organic nutrients in your soil, which will help fuel your plants to produce more blooms or fruit. Know the plants that you want to use and place plants with similar needs together. In other words, don’t put plants that prefer moist soils with plants that prefer it dry, or shade plants mixed with sun-lovers. Finally, make sure that your overall soil level is a couple of inches below the rim of the planter, allowing room for water to soak in (and not run all over your patio!).

5. What is the best way to clean up my lawn in spring, and when should I start mowing?

Assess if your lawn needs to be dethatched. We don’t recommend dethatching if the thatch layer is less than 1/2″ thick. In fact, those thatch levels are beneficial to your lawn: they act like a mulch to conserve moisture and temperature, and aid in root development. Thatch layers over 1″ aren’t good for your lawn, though, as they block water and fertilizer from reaching roots, resulting in drought stress and lawn disease. If you do need to dethatch or rake your lawn, do so as weather conditions permit. Raking when lawns are too wet will result in pulling out large amounts of roots and live grass parts. As you assess the state of your lawn, know that now is a great time to reseed or sod lawn areas injured by the winter, too.

Do not mow the lawn until it has grown at least 2 inches.  The roots are being renewed in the spring and grass needs vigorous initial top-growth for a healthy season.

As always, our team of dedicated horticulturists, designers, and gardening specialists are here to help you with any questions or concerns you may have. Reach out to us at 920.788.6344 or stop in to our garden center; we’ll be happy to help you on the way to a healthy, successful landscape this season!

7 Garden Trends for 2022

The sun is warming, the birds are singing, and each day is a step closer to the long-awaited spring! If you’re already planning out your vegetable garden, dreaming of bright bursts of colorful annuals, and eager to get your hands back in the soil, you aren’t alone. Now is the perfect time for planning, though, and we’re here to get you started with our 7 top trends for the 2022 season!

  1. Supporting Wildlife and Pollinators

There’s been much justified “buzz” about pollinators recently, but “wildlife friendly” gardening encompasses a wider spectrum, including native birds, fascinating creatures like frogs and newts, and even the overall soil health of your land. Enhancing your landscape to provide food sources and shelter for local species, while caring for the long-term health of your soil and vegetation, opens our minds to the concept of creating and caring for our landscape as a whole entity.

  • Include a diverse mix of native plants to conserve water, provide food sources and shelter for animal species, and provide longevity in your garden design.
  • Include water features or shallow ponds in your landscape. These provide clean water for a variety of insects and animals, give shelter for breeding and nesting, and benefit your yard by attracting dragonflies, which feed on mosquitoes. As a bonus, they create a relaxing and calming atmosphere!
  • Consider using hedges as a divider, rather than fences. Hedges are a great food and shelter source for birds and other creatures, especially during the winter months.
  • If you’re short on space, incorporate flowering climbing plants or hanging baskets into your yard space. They’re excellent sources of nectar for pollinators, and provide shelter space for bees, butterflies, and birds.

2. Porch and Balcony Gardening

Many of us have limited yard space or live in apartment buildings. Luckily, gardening doesn’t have to be a hobby only enjoyed by those with vast yards! With a little planning, you can create a gorgeous and functional porch or balcony garden. Here’s how:

  • Incorporate hanging baskets or planter boxes on porch railings in areas of limited square footage. Herbs and annuals are very successful in these types of containers – just make sure you’re watering enough (daily, especially in sunny locations).
  • Use large pots for mixed plantings. Using a colorful mix of annuals draws attention to your space and creates a beautiful statement piece. Most herbs will also thrive when planted together in a large container. Just be careful with types like mint, dill, and oregano, which can be fast growers and take over the other plants (you can still incorporate them in the planter – just make sure you’re trimming often!).
  • Using a large container, mix your ornamental annuals with culinary herbs! The result will be a beautiful mix of color and texture, with the added bonus of delightful aroma.
  • Use shelving on your balcony or patio to house small herbs, annuals, or your houseplants in summer. This can create an attractive and interesting focal point for your space and give you ample room for housing plant life!
  • Be sure to continually fertilize your planters throughout the season.

3. Tropical Plants

In a world where travel plans and costs are quite unreliable or restricted, many people are choosing to create their own tropical paradises at home! Tropical plants have soared in popularity, and there is a wealth of bold, beautiful colors to choose from.

  • Make sure nighttime temperatures are consistently above 50-55 degrees before placing tropical plants outdoors. Also, don’t place them in the direct sun immediately. They’ll need to be acclimated gradually (over the course of 1-2 weeks) or their foliage will scorch, just like our skin!
  • A few of our favorite tropicals to incorporate are: Mandevilla, Caladium, Rose of Sharon, Rose Mallow and Cannas. They’ll bring a gorgeous burst of tropical color to your patio!
  • Use large-leaf foliage in your tropical arrangements to contrast bright-flowering blooms.
  • Use tropical-colored accents in your decor to enhance your design, like orange furniture cushions, bright pink pillows, or turquoise containers.
  • Use hardy perennials in your beds that will accent the tropical plantings on your patio. Try incorporating bright Hosta, Iris, or Daylily perennials to compliment your tropical plants.

4. Dark Foliage

Nothing brings depth and contrast to an arrangement or flower bed like a richly colored, dark foliage. Whether you’re making bright annuals and flowering perennials pop or creating an interesting palette of textures, dark foliage can bring an incomparably luscious depth to your design. Try pairing a dark leaf alongside chartreuse or silver foliage or placing it as a backdrop to a vibrant pink, orange or yellow bloom. Here are a few of our favorite deep, dark foliage choices to try out!

  • Heuchera, a perennial (also known as Coral Bells)
  • Ninebark, a perennial shrub (Try “Tiny Wine”, with deep purple foliage and a delicate, showy white flower)
  • Weigela, a perennial shrub (Try “Spilled Wine” or “Minor Black” for dark foliage contrasting with a vibrant pink flower)
  • Sweet Potato Vine, an annual (a perfect trailing element in arrangements)
  • Purple Basil, an annual herb (has a delicious, slightly spicy flavor in dishes)

5. Gardening for Peace of Mind

In a time of uncertainty, many of us have taken to exploring and developing calming hobbies, unplugging from the digital world, and spending more time outdoors. It comes as no surprise, then, that our own backyards have become our havens and place of peace. If you find yourself drawn to this concept, but are unsure of design elements to include or, even, where to start, here are a few ideas to get the gears turning:

  • Begin with intentional elements. Focus on a color that brings you joy, aromas that are pleasing or relaxing to you, or even plants that have a sentimental value to them. This could be a certain rose that grew at your grandmother’s house, or a small vegetable garden that you can enjoy with your children.
  • Incorporate elements that appeal to each of your senses. Choose colors you enjoy seeing, or herbs and flowers that bring a pleasant aroma. Consider a water feature, gentle wind chime, or even long grasses that can create a gentle, peaceful sound. Herbs, vegetables, and edible flowers that can be picked and nibbled on can be wonderfully rewarding. And finally, focus on textures, such as edging walkways with soft plants that gently brush against you as you walk through.
  • Think about what brings you peace and what you enjoy. Rather than concerning yourself with what is trendy in the design world, find what speaks to you!

6. Cut Flower Gardening

There’s nothing quite as welcoming as a beautiful arrangement of flowers on your table or mantle. But purchasing fresh bouquets from a local market or store isn’t always cost effective or convenient. If you find yourself loving the ambiance cut flowers bring to your home, consider incorporating them into your landscape! Planning a cut flower garden is a simple task to take on, and one that will reward you all season long.

  • First, pick a location with lots of sun and well-draining soil. Don’t worry if you don’t have room for a dedicated cut flower bed; annual or bulb flowers can be incorporated just about anywhere: in planters, in your vegetable garden, or between perennials and shrubs.
  • Plant flowers with the tallest in the back and shortest in the front. Be sure to include a trellis for trailing plants like nasturtium.
  • Mulch in your plants to help retain moisture; plants that stay well-watered in healthy soil will produce bigger, better blooms. Be sure to remove spent flowers and foliage to encourage the best new growth and blooms, too, and fertilize regularly.
  • A few of our favorites to include in a cut flower garden are Zinnia, Dahlia, Poppy, Alstromeria, Lavender, Sunflower, Celosia, Phlox, Artemesia, and Coleus.

7. Bringing the Outdoors In…. and the Indoors Out

You’ve probably heard of this concept attributed to Frank Lloyd Wright and, if you’re not incorporating it into your home design, now is the time to implement it! The positive response to nature and our drive to connect with it, known as biophilia, has firmly rooted itself in the design world. Take this concept a step further, though, and consider bringing the “indoors out” to bring comfort and convenience to your outdoor space, too!

Bringing the Outdoors In:

  • Plant an herb garden and keep it on a sunny window ledge.
  • Use grow lights in dark rooms to help indoor plant life thrive.
  • Plant your outdoor plants where they can be seen from inside. Or place hanging planters and trellises near windows, so they can be enjoyed from inside, too.

Bringing the Indoors Out:

  • Use outdoor lighting to extend your evening patio hours and create a cozy atmosphere.
  • Incorporate fire features into your design for cool evenings and a comforting ambiance.
  • Create a “garden room” – this could be a dedicated nook for reading and enjoying a glass of wine, or a full dining area for entertaining guests. Depending on your intent, focus on the details needed to enhance the space; for example, a dining area could entail a great grill, large table, beverage refrigerator, shade feature, and countertop space.
  • Naturally screen or outline areas with hedges or hanging plants.

As always, our team of dedicated horticulturists, designers, and gardening specialists are here to help you with any questions or concerns you may have. Reach out to us at 920.788.6344 or stop in to our garden center.

Whether you’re just starting your landscaping hobbies, a first time home owner, or an avid, lifelong gardener…. we wish you a happy and bountiful 2022 season and look forward to seeing you!

Winter Pruning for Summer Blooming

Spring is around the corner and, if you’re feeling like we are, you’re beginning to get that itch to get back into your yard.  So what can you start in on while there’s still snow cover?  You may know that winter and early spring pruning can be beneficial to your landscape, but you also may find yourself hesitant to begin.  What exactly should you be pruning this time of year?  More importantly, what SHOULDN’T you be pruning?  And once you’ve determined what to trim, how do you go about it?  Read on for the when, why and how of winter pruning, plus our “rules of thumb” to bring the most benefit to your trimming efforts!

First off, establish why you are pruning.  Before you pick up those shears, consider these points and determine your final goal.

  • Pruning to remove dead or diseased portions of the plant:  Deadwood does nothing positive for your plants.  In fact, it does just the opposite by encouraging rot and providing brood space for the insects which feed on our landscapes.  Having leaves on the plant in question will obviously help determine which branches to remove, so this type of pruning is typically recommended once your plant has its foliage.
  • Prune to develop the plant’s structure:  The structure of a plant might be compared to our skeleton.  Strong trunks, branches and limbs provide stability and strength against wind, rain, snow, and ice.  Also, look to eliminate any future hazards by proactively removing weak branches, crossing branches or over-hanging limbs.
  • Prune for aesthetics:  This is your chance to determine a plant’s size and shape as it fits into your particular landscaping scheme.  The aesthetics of how you prune is up to you; but please remember each plant has its own natural shape in which it chooses to grow.  When pruning, considering the natural shape of your plants will aid in its overall health. 

Pruning for your plant’s structure or aesthetics often falls into the category of “renewal pruning”.  If your deciduous plants are invading your home’s space, or your flowering shrubs and hedges are becoming tall, leggy and thin, renewal pruning can bring your landscape back to life in a few easy steps.  And for most plants, it’s most beneficial to complete in the dormant months (like February), when the plants have no leaves.  Here are a few basic tips for optimal renewal pruning:

  • Begin by looking closely at the shrub to determine the oldest branches and stems that form the plant.  Simply put, the oldest stems will be the biggest.
  • Using the proper tool (shears for branches up to ½” diameter, loppers for branches up to 1” diameter, and a saw for branches 1”+ in diameter) remove the oldest branches by cutting them as close to the ground as possible.  Do not remove more than 1/3 of the plant’s entire growth.
  • Repeat this process for three seasons (removing 1/3 of the branches each season) until all the old growth has been removed.

How exactly does this help?  Each year the plant will strive to replace the branches you’ve removed.  New growth will be generated from the base filling in the bare spots.  The oldest stems are also usually the tallest, so this process naturally helps in controlling height as well.

In extreme situations you may opt to literally cut the entire plant right down to the ground.  This is useful for plants like an over-grown Sandcherry and those with numerous stems like Spirea and Potentilla.  This process is called “rejuvenation pruning“.  Rejuvenation pruning is not recommended for all plants, as some simply do not respond well to this method. Lilac would fit this category. 

Before you set out on your winter pruning tasks, keep in mind these general rules of thumb to help ensure an optimal outcome:

  • Try to limit pruning the first year or two of a plant’s life.  This keeps the maximum amount of foliage on the plant producing the maximum amount of nutrients as the plant works to adapt to its new home.
  • Summer blooming plants are best pruned when the plant is dormant.  This includes late fall and early spring.  Examples of summer bloomers would be potentilla, spirea and hydrangea.  REMEMBER that summer blooming plants set their buds in the spring.  Pruning once the growth has started each spring will remove the flowers buds for the summer ahead.
  • DO NOT trim early flowering shrubs now, such as Forsythia, Lilac, Mockorange, and white flowering Spirea because you will lose some of the flowers.  Spring blooming plants set their flower buds in late summer or fall.  Pruning after that will actually remove the flower buds.  Spring blooming plants are best pruned immediately after they flower, which will remove any spent blossoms and keep your shrub in shape for the summer ahead. 
  • DO NOT trim “bleeder trees” such as Maple, Elm, and Birch, because they will lose much of their sap in the spring.  Trees that bleed readily in the spring are best pruned during the late summer. This allows abundant time for pruning wounds to heal. 

To Cut or Not to Cut: Tips on Fall Trimming, Pruning and Cleanup

To cut down, or not to cut down? Now that fall has arrived, many gardeners find themselves wondering whether they should cut back their perennials and seasonal plantings now or wait until spring. For most perennials, the answer depends on what you want from your landscape during the winter months. If your concept of the perfect winter scene is an uninterrupted, pristine blanket of snow, plan on cutting back and clearing out the perennial border each fall. Clearing out expired perennials such as hostas and daylilies will give your beds a much cleaner appearance, and are far easier to prune back in fall than in the springtime. When doing this, hedge trim all foliage down to 3″ – 5″ above the soil, using a sharp set of pruners and making sure the plants are past their bloom cycle. Keeping a few inches of foliage above the soil will help insulate the roots during the winter months and will help you locate the plant in the spring, preventing possible damage from spring yard work or mulching.

However, if you are hoping that your landscape will continue to provide interest right up to spring, schedule much of your bed work for early April. By keeping the foliage of ornamental grasses and perennials such as sedum in place, you allow your landscape to provide color and movement right up until the arrival of deep snow. Besides the show, keeping the foliage in place for the winter helps to accumulate snow over the plants. This blanket of snow is nature’s protective mulch against the extreme cold of a Wisconsin winter. Another benefit of keeping select perennial foliage in your beds is that seed heads of plants like coneflowers and black-eyed susans will provide food for birds during the winter months.

In addition to selective trimming, there is plenty of yard work to accomplish on these lovely fall afternoons. Here are a few recommendations from our team of horticulturists:

  • Divide your spring-blooming perennials in fall. By dividing the plant when it is not flowering, all the plant’s energy can go toward root and leaf growth.
  • Start lowering your mower height in preparation for the last mowing of the season, which should be at 2″ height.
  • Spray flowering crabs with dormant oil to help control apple scab next summer.
  • Aerate your lawn to help promote root growth by allowing air, water and nutrients to circulate the soil. Fall is a perfect time for aeration, thanks to cooler temperatures and warmer soil, and will give you a greener, thicker lawn come spring.
  • Remove all leaves and debris from planting beds and pull out any remaining weeds.
  • Prune your oak trees between mid October and mid March to prevent the spread of oak wilt.
  • Remove fallen leaves in phases. Don’t allow them to pile up, as a thick layer of leaves deprives your lawn of necessary oxygen and sunlight. This can lead to flooding, fungal issues, or pests.
  • Winterize your yard tools (like pruners, mowers, weed eaters, rototillers, loppers, etc.) by removing debris and gunk. Also, replace worn parts and apply oil as needed.
  • Wait to prune your trees, shrubs and roses until they are fully dormant, preferably late winter for most.

Its a perfect time to get outside and enjoy the fresh fall air. Take advantage of the season with an afternoon of fall cleanup, ensuring a gorgeous home and landscape come spring. Our team is here to help you along the way, so stop in to our garden center or give us a call with any questions or concerns. And until next time, enjoy the season!

The Buzz About Pollinators

Summer is in full swing, the gardens are full of luscious plants and beautiful blooms, and you probably have seen a wealth of insects, birds, and butterflies buzzing around your yard and beds. These small creatures, also known as pollinators, play a crucial role in plant reproduction and sustaining our ecosystems. In fact, 75% – 95% of flowering plants need help with pollination, relying on animals like birds, bats, bees, butterflies, and beetles to transport their pollen as they move from flower to flower.

In recent years, these hard-working helpers have seen a decline in populations due in large part to loss of feeding and nesting habitats. Pollution, chemical use, and changing climate patterns also play a role in affecting the pollinator population. Luckily, through public awareness, community programs like “No Mow May”, and helpful gardening techniques, there has been a strong movement to save our pollinators and their habitats, ensuring the continuation of healthy ecosystems and plant reproduction.

Positively impacting the pollinator population is easy to do in your own yard, too. Incorporating blooming plants for each season, reducing pesticide use, and choosing pollinator-friendly perennials in your landscape are all small ways to make a big impact in creating a thriving environment. Many of the plants that pollinators like best also boast long bloom seasons, giving your yard a long season of gorgeous color, as well as bringing attractive wildlife like butterflies and songbirds to your home.

Incorporating pollinator-friendly perennials into your landscape is an easy step, and we’re here to share a few of our favorite varieties. Read on for our top 5 perennials, sure to bring a wealth of pollinators, not to mention seasonal color, to your yard!

Bee Balm (Monarda)

Bee Balm is a native favorite for attracting bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, and for good reason. This hardy perennial boasts vibrant red, pink, purple or white flowers (depending on the variety) that will last for a good portion of the summer season. Growing 3′ – 4′ height, it is a beautiful backdrop for beds or a great stand-alone in the landscape. Bee Balm prefers most soil a sunny location, although it can tolerate partial shade. Leave the seed heads intact after the blooms are spent, as they’ll attract songbirds in the fall and winter season!


With bright, yet dainty, blooms and attractive, wiry stems, the Anemone is an attractive statement perennial in any landscape. Originally native to Asia, varieties of anemone have been cultivated in Japan for centuries and are available in an expanse of colors and bloom seasons. The Anemone is an appealing perennial, as well, thanks to its deer, rabbit and insect resistance. Most varieties will grow to an average height of about 2′, making it an attractive border planting or front focal point in flower beds. Anemone will benefit from a good layer of mulching, as it enjoys a rich, evenly moist soil. Don’t be deceived by the delicate blooms – Anemone is a resistant, low maintenance perennial once established, and you’ll be enjoying its beauty for many seasons!

Russian Sage

With grey, fragrant foliage and delicate lavender flowers, Russian Sage is a versatile perennial to use as a standalone, ground cover, or backdrop in beds. This sun-loving plant thrives in drier soil and is deer and pest resistant. Most varieties will grow to 3′-4′, and requires little maintenance outside of pruning. Since it has a tendency to spread, gardeners are encouraged to shear the top 1/3 of spreading stems to encourage upright growth and prune any unwanted growth. Spent blooms can also be trimmed to promote new buds, ensuring that you’ll have a long season of color. Despite its name, Russian Sage isn’t actually related to the sage herb. It was coined the name because its crushed leaves emanate a sage-like aroma!

Speedwell (Veronica)

Ranging from creeping to upright, Speedwell is another versatile perennial that comes in a range of blue, purple, pink or white hues and will bloom all summer long. Speedwell is a truly hardy perennial, tolerating a range of soils and preferring sun to partial sun light levels. Upright varieties can grow up to 4′ height, and make a beautiful addition to cut flower bouquets. This low-maintenance plant is a favorite of hummingbirds and butterflies, while tending to be deer resistant. In Ireland, Speedwell is traditionally pinned on the clothes of travelers to keep them safe from accidents!

Coneflower (Echinacea)

Coneflowers are a classic favorite amongst perennials, and for good reason. This tough, native plant is drought resistant and thrives in well-drained soil and bright sun. It is available in a variety of colors from soft, muted tones to vibrant, show-stopping colors and will bloom from mid-summer all the way until a frost. When flowers begin looking ragged, gardeners can simply snip them back by about 1/3, encouraging another burst of colorful buds throughout the fall. Appealing to butterflies, bees and birds during the warm season, coneflower seed heads will also attract songbirds during the fall and winter months.

Planting a pollinator-friendly yard is not only beneficial to animal habitats and plant populations, its also a low-maintenance, sustainable way to bring long-lasting color to your home! To learn more, stop in to our garden center to speak with our team of knowledgeable, dedicated horticulturists. They’d love to talk plants with you!

Common Fungal Issues in Early Summer

Early summer brings with it the excitement of watching your beds bloom, your vegetables sprout up, and your trees blossom. But the unwelcomed presence of fungus can put a damper on your yard, affecting your garden’s yield, damaging foliage, and inhibiting growth. The good news is that most fungal problems can be solved and prevented with a bit of knowledge and early planning. Here are a few of the most common fungus we see in the early summer, and how our experts recommend handling them:

  1. Powdery Mildew- Powdery Mildew is a common fungus that produces whitish spots on plant leaves, making foliage look like it was dusted with flour. The spots will primarily appear on the tops of leaves, although they can pop up underneath or on stems and flowers. Powdery mildew appears in warm temperatures with a fair amount of humidity, often occurring when days are warm and nights are cool. There are many plants that can be potential targets of powdery mildew, but a few of the most common include begonias, mums, roses, dahlias, melons, squash, cucumbers, potatoes, lettuce, pumpkins, peppers and tomatoes. Here are a few tips for treating and preventing powdery mildew from burdening your garden yield:
  • Thin garden vegetables to provide adequate space, circulation and sunlight for individual plants
  • Remove infected or dead foliage from all plants
  • Treat powdery mildew infestations with an organic fungicide

2. Cedar Apple Rust– This type of fungus requires two hosts (located within about a mile of one another) in order to complete its life cycle. The first family required is a juniper species or eastern red cedar; the second is an apple, crabapple, hawthorn, quince or serviceberry species. The symptoms of Cedar Apple Rust vary widely depending on the species infected: apples, hawthorns, and serviceberry will typically show orange and red spots on their foliage, which gradually develop black spots on the tops of leaves and small, fungal tubes on the bottom. Apples and crabapples are most susceptible. Juniper and red cedar, however, will develop woody galls on their small branches in the fall. Come spring (especially in wet weather), these galls will produce a gummy, orange growth that shrivels as the weather dries out. There are ways to prevent this interesting fungus… here are a few of our recommendations:

  • Don’t plant juniper/red cedar varieties in close proximity to apples, crabapples, hawthorns, etc.
  • Inspect junipers and red cedars in the late fall and early spring. Remove woody galls that you may find; this will prevent the formation of the orange growth that spreads spores to apple varieties
  • Plant disease-resistant varieties of crabapples and apples
  • Remove infected leaves and branches from apples and crabapples

3. Apple Scab– Apple Scab is a fungus that affects apples and crabapples. It will first appear as pale yellow or olive green colored spots on the top leaves, with dark, velvety spots spreading to lower leaves. In severe cases, foliage will become twisted, puckered, and eventually fall off the tree. On fruit, it creates scabby, sunken spots that start light in color and become larger, darker, and cork-like in texture. Eventually, the fruit will become distorted and cracked. Apple scab starts over the winter in fallen leaves and soil, developing in wet, cool weather. The best ways to treat it are:

  • Make sure to rake under trees in the fall and dispose of the dead leaves
  • Plant disease-resistant varieties when possible
  • Keep trees well-pruned, keeping an open canopy for air circulation and sunlight, and remove upright suckers from tree bases
  • Use a sulfur plant fungicide in early spring, applying as leaves just begin to emerge

Fungal issues can create problems across your landscape but remember: knowledge, proper care, and early-season planning can be your best tools in prevention and treatment. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to our team of garden experts and horticulturists to learn more!