Keep some skunk cabbage for pollinators

GARDEN Q&A

Garden Q&A

April 22, 2006|By JON TRAUNFELD AND ELLEN NIBALI | JON TRAUNFELD AND ELLEN NIBALI,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

HOW CAN I GET RID OF SKUNK CABBAGE?

Skunk cabbage is a native perennial that provides flowers for pollinators in early spring when few other sources are available. (And since many honeybees are dying of disease, we need all the pollinators we can get.) Consider leaving a few in your garden. Skunk cabbage resembles hosta but goes dormant midseason, so interplant them with another perennial for a full season of bloom. To remove them, dig them up or use a total-vegetation herbicide. Glyphosate is a good choice because it breaks down quickly so you can replant in that area. No broad-leaved herbicide is labeled for skunk cabbage because skunk cabbage is not considered a weed.

Suddenly last spring most of the leaves fell off my apple trees. The rest were light green and sparse. Half the branches are dead. Bark is curling off. No insecticide or pesticides have been used, only some fertilizer stakes.

Leaf loss, yellowing leaves and dead branches indicate a quickly declining tree. No pests or diseases are visible in the digital photos you sent us. However, we do see a large mound of mulch around trunks. These so-called mulch volcanoes can harbor insects (especially borers) and encourage canker diseases. We recommend applying no more than 1 or 2 inches of mulch around a tree trunk and keeping the mulch from touching the trunk bark. And fertilizer stakes can cause problems because the salts can become concentrated in one area and kill roots.

Checklist

Many common Mother's Day plants are best enjoyed in pots as annuals. Most will not perform well if planted in the landscape.

Jon Traunfeld, regional specialist, and Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, work at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, which offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's "hot line" at 800-342-2507 (8 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday through Friday) or e-mail plant and pest questions through the Send a Question feature at hgic.umd.edu.

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