Curled leaves on dogwood are a sign that a branch has a pest, needs to be pruned

Backyard Q&A

In The Garden

February 01, 2004|By Dennis Bishop | Dennis Bishop,Special to the Sun

Several branches on my dogwood tree produced small, curled leaves last year, but the rest of the tree looked good. Should I prune those branches out, or wait to see if they improve next year?

Dogwoods have a number of disease and insect problems. Diseases like powdery mildew and spot anthracnose affect the entire tree, while others often attack one branch at a time. The symptoms you describe are fairly common. I would guess that your branches have been attacked by dogwood borers or a canker disease. In either case, I would prune the branches out. You can prune them now, but it might be best to wait and take them out in late February or early March. Be sure to destroy the entire branch. This will help eliminate the pest that is causing the problem.

I am going to refurbish my entire rowhouse landscape this spring. I will do the work myself. Can you tell me how to get started?

Whether you are a master gardener or a novice, I would start with research, planning and testing. You should plan a trip to the library or to a good bookstore very soon to look for books on landscaping. You might want to start with general landscaping books, but I would look specifically for books on landscaping small, urban spaces. The books will give you ideas and lead you through the planning, design, construction and planting process. Small urban spaces can be tricky to work with. The soils are generally disturbed; the lighting can be extremely sunny and shady on the same lot; soil moisture can be uneven; and city pollution and heat can make a harsh environment for plants. All of this should be noted and accounted for in your landscape plan. Also, because good gardens start with good soil, be sure to do one or more soil tests. The soil test will tell you if you need to amend the soil.

Dennis Bishop is an urban horticulture educator for the Baltimore office of the Maryland Cooperative Extension Services. If you have a gardening or pest problem, you can call the Home and Garden Information Center hot line (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.) at 800-342-2507. You can also e-mail questions, order publications and diagnose plant problems by visiting the Web site www.hgic.umd.edu.

Checklist

1. Start planning the vegetable garden now. Plans should include a crop rotation to reduce disease and insect problems.

2. Are you ordering vegetable seeds through the mail? Be sure to select pest-resistant varieties, like Marketmore 76 cucumber. It is the only cucumber resistant to bacterial wilt disease.

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