What causes half of a tree to die?

April 22, 2010|By Ellen Nibali | Special to The Baltimore Sun

Question: Why would half of a tree not leaf out? Mine is perfectly green on one side, brown on the other. Oh, and the bark on that side is falling off.

Answer: Half of all plant problems are not caused by disease or insects but rather environmental issues, which include weather and other situations you often cannot see. For example, a girdling root may have grown across the base of the tree instead of away from it, choking off the other roots on that side. Or a mechanical injury on one side of the tree may have injured the thin cambium layer just beneath the bark, which transports water and nutrients up and down the tree. All of the tree cut off above that cambium will die, much like a tourniquet left on a leg stops circulation. For other possible causes of your tree problem, see our website publication, HG 86: Common Abiotic Plant Problems.

Question: Can I grow veggies in a fully screened in garden? I want to eat tomatoes without stink bug spots.

Answer: Growing vegetables in a screened garden may reduce light, but the biggest issue is the exclusion of pollinators and beneficial insects. Vegetable plants that require pollinators for cross pollination will not produce crops — such as cucumber, muskmelon, squash, pumpkin, and watermelon. An organic method of excluding insect pests in the veggie garden is the floating row cover, which you drape directly on the plants. See our publication, GE 005: Floating Row Cover on the Grow It Eat It website: www.growit.umd.edu. Go to the Plant Diagnostic feature on our Home and Garden Information Center website for more information on control of stinkbugs. (Type "stinkbugs" in the search box.)

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