FARGO — Have you noticed I never refer to our region's growing conditions as harsh, severe, challenging or any other negative adjectives, as though we're the last outpost on the way to the Arctic Circle? That's because our gardening region is positively wonderful, with more than enough flowers, vegetables and fruits to occupy anyone's gardening lifetime.
Q: I kept my dipladenia indoors over winter, and as you said it would, it dropped many leaves but overall remained healthy. I repotted it in May and the plant looks great with healthy leaves but no flowers yet. Is this typical or should I be adding anything to boost flower production? I use Miracle-Gro weekly. — Nicole Welsch.
Our gardening discussions give us a chance for lighthearted, upbeat fun each week, but it's difficult to put a humorous spin on a tree that's headed for that big landscape in the sky. Around this time five years ago, our gardening column, "The mystery of the murdered tree," investigated visible injury to the base of tree trunks. Now, five years later, I decided to revisit one of the trees we photographed at the time, to see if the tree recovered from its wounds.
Q: I have a question about several of our young plum trees. Some of the fruit are all brown and shriveled up. Any idea what is happening? — Lisa Rakowski, Mayville, N.D.
June provides plenty of time to ponder while weeding. Take dandelions, for example. It's commonly known they were brought to this country as a salad or vegetable crop. Didn't they know they spread like, well, weeds? Or was this a hot new variety in the old country? "Here Gustav, take some of this when you journey to the New World. It's a plant breeding breakthrough, a vigorous new introduction I've named 'dandelion.'" Weeding included, June is a busy month for yard and garden enthusiasts. The following reminds us of the late June to-do list.
Q: I've attached a picture of a probable fungus growing on our cedar trees. It's like Jell-O, slimy, smells like fish when touched, is bright orange and about 2 inches in width. Do you know what it is, if it will spread to other trees and is there a cure? — Kathy Scroch, Lidgerwood, N.D. A: The odd-looking growths are the spore-producing bodies of a fungal disease called cedar apple rust. Cedars are also commonly known as junipers.
When it was first reported that the ravenous Japanese beetle had entered North Dakota and Minnesota, and the tree-killing machine called emerald ash borer was feeding its way toward us, it seemed insect invasions were getting steadily worse. Sort of like the locust troubles of the ancient Egyptians who didn't follow Moses' control recommendations.
Q: I'm new to gardening. I planted two hydrangeas from Sam's Club (not sure of the variety) yesterday, and I'm already thinking about winter care. I was reading online where you are supposed to build a cage around them with chicken wire and fill it with leaves to protect them. Is this necessary? — Rachel Chisholm, Grand Forks. A: Hydrangeas are a well-adapted and wonderful landscape shrub, with no need for winter protection, if we choose the right types. Non-adapted types don't enjoy the same carefree existence.
FARGO — We're all friends here, so please feel free to talk openly. How do you view yardwork? Does caring for lawn, landscape and garden bring you happiness, or is there a hint of negativity, as in, "That sounds like a lot of work?" The fruits of our labor are usually appreciated, as most people prefer their home yards neat, nicely planted and well-weeded instead of barren or overgrown. But what about the process itself, the "work?" Is it enjoyable, or is the process a chore?
Q: Do you know what kind of shrub this is? The flowers are beautiful, and the bees are enjoying the blooms. It's about five to six feet tall and was trimmed back in the fall of 2016. — Sarah Adams, Moorhead, Minn. A: Botany is a tremendous help when identifying shrubs, trees, and other plants. Clues that distinguish plants include leaf arrangement along the stems, whether attached directly opposite or in an alternating pattern, as well as stem characteristics, leaf shape and flower traits.