Listed below are some of the more frequent lawn and garden problems for the North Alabama area.
Common chickweed and Mouse Ear chickweed are winter annuals with numerous branched stems. It has white flowers n small clusters at the ends of the stems. Its presence indicates very low calcium, very low phosphorus, very high potassium, high sodium, and low humus levels.
White clover is a low-growing perennial with creeping stems. It has oval leaves and white flowers arranged in round heads. Its presence indicates high magnesium, high sodium, and high chlorine.
Dandelion has a deep taprooted, stemless perennial. It has deeply cut leaves and a single yellow flower at the end of each hollow stalk. Its presence indicates very low calcium, very high potassium, high chlorine, and low humus.
Hop clover is a perennial with hairy-branched stems. It has altering leaves with three leaflets and numerous bright yellow flowers on long stalks. Its presence indicates very low calcium, high magnesium, low humus, and clay soil.
Oxalis is an upright perennial with hairy stems. It has alternating leaves with heart-shaped lobes and bright yellow flowers with five petals. Its presence indicates very low calcium, high magnesium, and low humus.
Buckhorn plantain is a perennial with a distinctive rosette of egg-shaped leaves. Its presence indicates very low calcium, very high potassium, very high magnesium, high sodium, high chlorine, and low humus.
Prostrate spurge is a summer annual with freely branched hairy stems. It has opposite leaves, usually with a reddish spot. Its presence indicates low calcium, very high potassium, very high magnesium, high sodium, very high chlorine, and low humus levels.
Crabgrass is a spreading summer annual. It has a seedhead with two to six finger-like branches. The best control for crabgrass is pre-emergent. Its presence indicates very low calcium, very low phosphorus, high potassium, high magnesium, very high chlorine, and low humus.
Dallisgrass is a perennial with leaves that are smooth on both surfaces with a few long hairs at the leaf base. There is no pre-emergent control for dallisgrass. Its presence indicates low calcium, high potassium, very high magnesium, high chlorine, and low humus.
Purple nutsedge and yellow nutsedge are rapidly spreading perennials with flat leaves that are usually shorter than the flowering stem. They reproduce primarily by tubers. There is no pre-emergent control for nutsedge. Its presence indicates very low calcium, high potassium, high magnesium, low humus, low bacterial count and anaerobic soils.
Annual bluegrass is a small tufted to clumped winter annual. It has light green to whitish spikelets in dense to open flower clusters. Its presence indicates low calcium, very high potassium, very high magnesium, very high sodium, high chlorine, low bacterial count, and poor drainage.
Wild onions are cool-season perennial with slender, hollow cylindrical leaves. Its presence indicates very low calcium, high magnesium, low humus and a low bacterial count.
Wild garlic is a cool-season perennial with slender, hollow cylindrical leaves. It is often confused with wild onions. The easiest way to tell the difference is that there is a v-shaped channel in the leaves of the hyacinth. Its presence indicates very low calcium, very high potassium, very high magnesium, high sodium, very high chlorine, and a low bacterial count.
Important Fact! Insects can not digest complete proteins, therefore will attack only sick plant material.
The Armyworm is a sporadic, but occasionally severe pest of turfgrass. They feed as a group, devouring the grass in roughly circular patches before moving on to the next available food. Every bit of green leaf and stem may be stripped by the horde of larvae.
Grubs are the most widespread and destructive pests of turf grasses in the cool -season and transition zones. They damage turf grasses by chewing off the roots near the soil surface. Early symptoms include gradual thinning, yellowing and wilting in spite of adequate soil moisture, as well as the appearance of scattered, irregular dead patches. Infested turf feels spongy underfoot because of the grubs having churned up the underlying soil.
Spittlebugs cause sporadic damage to warm-season turf grasses. The nymphs feed from inside conspicuous masses of frothy white spittle formed in the turf. Adults are dark colored with two reddish stripes across their back. Adults and nymphs feed by sucking the juices out of turf grasses. Even worse, the adults inject a salivary toxin that is translocated up and down the stems, causing the whole plant to turn brown and die.
Lawn Fungus and Disease
Important Fact! Soil Borne Fungi & Bacteria indicate low or absence of beneficial Fungi & bacteria.
Turfgrass decline is a take-all root rot disease. Its initial symptom is a yellow patch ranging from six inches to three feet in diameter. There are no visible lesions on the leaves. A majority of the roots under the patch are lost. The patches may become bare and join together to form larger, irregular-shaped areas. It typically appears in late summer through late fall, especially in the southeastern United States. It is most severe during periods with intense rainfall
Brown patch initially appears as circular-shaped patches with a diameter of one to five inches. The patches develop quickly up to two feet in diameter and fade to a light brown color. It typically starts to appear during a period of high temperature and high humidity in early summer, and may continue to develop until very late summer.
Dollar spot symptoms are typically small, circular, sunken, straw-colored patches of one to two inches in diameter. With severe attacks, the individual spots may join together to form larger, irregular-shaped patches. Lesions may be seen on infected leaves. They typically have a reddish-brown to tan margin and will enlarge across the full width of the leaf blade. Also, multiple lesions may occur on individual blades which cause blighting of the entire leaf.
Ornamental Plant Insects
Aphids are small (up to ¼ inch), soft bodied insects that will infest most garden plants. Aphids can cause severe distortion and stunting on a plant.
Bagworms are the larvae of moths. The characteristic brown bags are often seen attached to twigs. The bags are up to two inches long and composed of interwoven bits of dead foliage, twigs and silk. At first it drags the bag around as it feeds on leaves, enlarging the bag as it grows. By late August, the caterpillar finishes its feeding and attaches the bag to a twig. In severe infestations, the entire plant is defoliated and there are bags hanging on many of the twigs.
Japanese beetles are small (1/2 inch) metallic green insects with bronze wing covers. The adults feed during the day on a wide variety of plants. They devour flowers, ripening fruit, and tender leaves with small veins, but only eat the tissue between the veins on tree leaves. The adults live for thirty to forty-five days and are most abundant in late July.
Lace bugs are small (1/8 inch) insects. The adults have delicate, clear wings that they hold over their bodies. They commonly feed on azaleas, sucking the cell contents from the underside of the leaves, producing a mottling or speckling on the upper surface. There are many species of lace bugs. The most common is the ( Stephanitis ) on Azaleas and Thododendrons.
Scale resembles bumpy bark or fine ash on branches of trees and shrubs. Wherever they feed, they cause a reddening of tissue, usually several times the diameter of the scale. The removal of sap by thousands of scales is what causes the damage.
Spider mites are among the most serious pests of ornamental plants. They feed on the underside of the leaves by sucking the juice out of the tissue. Because of the small size and the fact that the suck from the underside of the leaves, they are often overlooked until serious damage occurs.
Ornamental plant fungus and disease
Important Fact! Foliar Fungal & Bacterial diseases indicate a lack of beneficial Fungi & Bacteria in the foliar food web.
Leaf spot is a common descriptive term applied to a number of diseases affecting the foliage of ornamentals. Most leaf spots are caused by a variety of fungal pathogens but some are caused by bacteria. Spots are usually brown, but may be tan or black
Powdery mildew is probably the most familiar plant disease. Unlike most other fungus diseases of plants, it grows on the outside of leaves, forming a gray or white “powder”. Also, unlike other fungus diseases, which only infect wet leaves, powdery mildew invades dry leaves as well.
Shothole disease starts as brown spots on the leaves. As the leaves expand, the brown areas fall out leaving holes scattered over the leaf surface.
Sooty mold can be found on a variety of plants. It is caused by any of several fungi that are left on plants by aphids, scale, and other insects that suck sap from the plant. Sooty molds are unsightly, but fairly harmless.
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