Tips, Hints and Education On Successfully Growing Evergreens



Monthly Evergreen Growing Tips

Plant Wizard’s March/April Educational Tip

Before evergreens and other plants break dormancy in late-March, this is the time to do any pruning you might have missed last year. Prune shrubs off your house now, as they can damage your home. Also, cut back any ornamental grasses, liriope and perennials. Remove old perennial foliage from the beds during your cleanup. New research has shown that if last year’s dead leaves and stalks from Black-Eyed Susans are not removed from the beds, fungal problems from last year will return and plague the plants again in this growing season. Seed heads are great to leave through the fall and winter for natural bird feeding. But it is important to clean up your garden now to reduce the spread of plant pathogens. Prune any limbs that are 2 feet or less from the house as they will be rubbing the house after this year’s growth spurt. Limbs rubbing the roof will eventually rub holes in the shingles.  Proper pruning will not damage future plant growth. Any questions on pruning your evergreen living fence installed by Pryor’s Nursery, contact the Plant Wizard.

Plant Wizard’s August/September Educational Tip

Late August through mid October is the ideal time for lawn rejuvenation in our transition zone. Wait until after a rain to core-aerate or verti-slice the cool season turf grass areas. This way, the soil is soft enough for the machine to penetrate 1/2″ to 1″ deep for the seed prep work. Soil to seed contact is the name of the game. Seeds are shaped like footballs, chances of germination are slim lying on top of hard ground. Even existing lawns benefit from core-aeration. Last year at the State of Maryland Department of Agriculture Re-Certification class, Dr. Turner, the turf “guru”, spoke on this very topic. He indicated, while in the past, we often regarded core-aeration as a turf grass “up sell” program, the University of Maryland turf grass test plots showed an increased resistance to fungal pathogens where the grass had been core-aerated. So now, in addition to thicker turf, more weed control, less erosion and less compaction, core-aerating and over seeding actually increase fungal resistance. In this transition zone, over seeding with turf-type tall fescue is recommended. Fertilization should be done in the fall once every 30 days at a rate of 1lb of N per 1000 square feet. Turf really benefits from multiple feedings in the fall because you are feeding additional new grass plant tillers that the plant has put out to capture more light. With long days in the spring, the turf produces vertical shoot growth. Feeding at his time creates excessive vertical leaf blade growth and necessitates more lawn cutting. No weed control materials should be applied now. wait until November or the spring.


Determining How Many Trees you Need

Determining how many plants you need for your Living Fence for a privacy screening:

  • Measure the linear feet that you want to screen
  • For the Leyland Cypress fence, divide by (4) four and add (1) one
  • For the Holly and Green Giant Arborvitae screens, divide by (5) five and add (1) one
  • This will give you the number of trees you need to have your Living Fence in about three seasons


Plant Wizard’s Evergreen Plant Education

Bagworm Control

Bagworms are easy to control when they are young and there is minimal damage to the evergreen trees and new plant growth will resume. Look for bagworms in late June, using the Fourth of July as a reminder date. The bagworms will be very small at this time and are easy to stop with most any product. They may be as small as a grain of rice so look closely for them. The best way to control bagworms is by removing them by hand. Horticultural oils and soaps also will work at this stage as well as BT, Bacillus thuringiensis. This is sold under several names such as Dipel. This is a natural control that only attacks the stomach lining of the caterpillar so it will stop feeding and die. Oils, soaps, and BT are the safest products to use since they are not harmful to people and pets. As the bagworms grow larger, they develop a second stomach liner and now BT is not effective. At this phase, traditional pesticides need to be used. If the caterpillar is out of the bag and feeding, contact insecticidal sprays can be used. They are out of the bag feeding in the early morning or early evening. During the day they often hide from the sun inside the bag. When spraying while the caterpillars are not feeding, a systemic insecticidal spray (one that is absorbed into the plant leaves) should be used. When the bagworm starts feeding on the leaves, they will ingest the plant leaf that has been treated with the systemic insecticide and die. As the bagworm matures, it pupates and stays inside the bag until it emerges as a moth, lays eggs which hatch into the caterpillar and the cycle starts over again. Once the bagworm pupates, insecticides have no effect and the bag must be removed from the plant manually. A week after spraying, check the bags on the trees to make sure the worm has dried up and is indeed dead. Although there will be some plant damage, it will recover and you will see new plant growth. 


The absence of oxygen. The soil is gray and stinks like a sewer when it is in this condition. It is caused by extreme over watering and/or poor drainage. Most plants cannot live in this condition. Soil moisture must be reduced. Standing water in an area will eventually cause this condition to arise.

Benefits of Drip Irrigation

  • Water Savings for only areas around the root zone are irrigated
  • Plant undergoes less stress from variations in soil moisture
  • Improved growth through constant soil moisture
  • Higher tolerance to salt as water is not sprayed on leaf surface
  • Slow application avoids saturation and does not seal soil
  • Slow rate prevents excess surface water, reducing evaporation
  • Precise water control with low rate and solid state timers
  • Weed growth reduced as area between plants is not irrigated
  • Can be designed for use in all terrains and soil conditions
  • Systems flow rate allows irrigation of large areas
  • Energy savings, low pressure required where pumps are used
  • Installation cost considerably less than other type systems
  • Injection devices allow controlled amounts of chemicals/nutrients
  • Ability to tailor flow rate to differing plant varieties
  • Reduced risk of disease through root zone environmental control.
  • Allows for watering during high heat periods of the day
  • Vandalism practically eliminated because of hidden parts
  • Xeriscape compatible, low system costs enables its consideration

Do It Yourself Lawn Care

Apply granular crabgrass pre-emergent. NO fertilizer.
Apply granular broadleaf weed control. NO fertilizer.
Spot spray major weeds.
Core aerate, seed, apply slow release fertilizer.
Apply slow release fertilizer.

Japanese Beetles

Japanese beetles directly damage landscape plants as adults while the larvae (grubs) damage turfgrass. Adult beetle activity in this area commonly peaks during mid July through mid August. Adults feed during the day, consuming both flowers and foliage, favoring hot weather and plants growing in full sun. Adult females feed and lay eggs throughout the summer, ultimately laying 40-60 eggs in the soil. Eggs are only 1-3″ in the soil, a relatively shallow depth. The key for egg survival is adequate soil moisture. So, in a wet summer or in lawns that are irrigated regularly, the population has a greater chance of survival and increases. Conversely, grub survival decreases under conditions of extended drought. Grubs hatch in 10-12 days and feed on turf grass roots until fall. By late October to November, when soil temperatures drop, grubs cease feeding and move down 6-12″ in the soil. Come spring, grubs move upward and continue to feed on grass roots. Grubs mature, molt, and pupate from late May through June completing the life cycle.

Control of grubs should be with a granular insecticide or milky spore treatment. Control of adults should be with a contact or systemic spray. Make sure you follow the directions on the product you buy from your supply store and it is indeed to be used for Japanese beetle control. Japanese beetle traps containing floral and sex attractant lures that attract adult beetles are used as a monitoring tool. Traps have been misused by the public who mistakenly believe they control beetles, while in fact; beetles have been shown to often land and feed on plants close to the traps. (Potter, D. 1998).

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