Fall Gardening Questions and Answers

Robert J. Souvestre  |  8/26/2011 6:40:02 PM

A Satsuma citrus tree sprouting healthy green foliage above older leaves covered with sooty mold as a result of a whitefly insect infestation.

Question: I have several citrus in my yard and one tree, my satsuma, has black leaves. How can I stop this disease from killing my tree and spreading to the others? Ann Marie, Baton Rouge.

Answer: The sooty mold layer that is covering the leaves results from whitefly insects feeding on the foliage. Prevent insect activity when first observed and no sooty mold will develop. The black layer will reduce photosynthesis and reduce fruit quality and plant health. Malathion or Ultra Fine Oil will control whitefly populations and the oil will help remove the black from the leaves.

Question: Most of my large flower pots have ants in them. How can I kill them? Flooding the pot with water doesn’t work. Robi, Baton Rouge.

Answer: Ants love containers and any labeled insecticide should rid you of the problem. If the pots are on the ground, treat the surrounding area as well.

Question: Recent rains have caused mushrooms to appear in my flower beds. Why and where do they come from? Are they harmful to my plants? Susan, Baton Rouge.

Answer: The various forms of mushrooms that have been literally popping up seemingly everywhere are a direct result of recent rainfall, summer temperatures and organic matter. They are not harmful. There is no chemical control to prevent their occurrence. They live off the organic matter in the soil and mulches.

Question: I purchased a Brown Select satsuma last year and this past winter it lost all of its leaves and looked dead. But a sprout is growing and has large thorns. Does this mean the tree is sterile and won’t produce fruit? Should I start over? Sandra, Baton Rouge.

Answer: The sprout is growing from the understock below the graft and will not produce edible fruit. The grafted portion of the tree is dead so you will need to replant.

Question: What herbs can I plant this time of year? Jonathon, Brusly.

Answer: There are a number of late summer and then cool season herbs that can be enjoyed. Plant basil to supply a nice crop of fragrant leaves for pestos and vinegar before the first frost. Starting in October, plant parsley, garlic and onion chives, mint marigold, rosemary, dill, fennel, culinary sage, sorrel, mints, sweet marjoram, oregano, cilantro, thyme, chervil, arugula, salad burnet, lovage and lemon balm.
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