Roots, Shoot, Fruits & Flowers: Defensible Space, Herbicide Damage, Stressed Hydrangea and Failing Azalea

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A home survived a wildfire because it had defensible space. Photo: LDAF.

Defensible Space

After one of the large wildfires in Vernon Parish, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) published an article with this image.

The home in this image survived a wildfire because its owners maintained a defensible space of at least thirty feet around the homesite. The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) has a website, , with recommendations to make rural homes more fire resistant.

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Suspected herbicide damage on a tomato plant. Photo: Dr. Carl Nabors.

Herbicide Damage

Dr. Carl sent a couple of images of tomato plants, “A friend is asking what may be wrong with these 2 plants. [Do you have} Any ideas?”

AHA thinks the damage in the image is like the symptoms of herbicide damage. He also suspects that the causal herbicide is a common landscape treatment for lawn weeds, and it is called 2,4-D. This herbicide will kill broadleaf weeds and be safe for grasses. The tomato plants may have been exposed by spray drift if the gardener sprayed the yard. Another possible way to expose the tomatoes is by uncomposted animal manure. The tomato plant would take up the herbicide and then the plant would show the symptoms of damage.

The AgCenter has a publication, “Diagnosing Off-target 2,4-D and Glyphosate Herbicide Damage to Tomato”, and the paragraph about managing the damages states, “Herbicide injury cannot be reversed, but if the symptoms are not severe and the plant does not die, new growth may be normal. However, the likelihood of a plant fully recovering from herbicide damage is low. Plants injured by herbicides often produce fewer flowers and are stunted, resulting in reduced yield. Fruit exposed to herbicide may also be deformed. Using good stewardship practices to apply herbicides can reduce the risk and impact of off-target herbicides to tomatoes. Sources of off-target herbicide contamination include drift, sprayer contamination, carry-over in soil or soil amendments, volatiles, accidental applications, and workers.”

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An ailing hydrangea. Photo: Peggy Stafford

Stressed Hydrangea

Peggy has an ailing plant, “I am from Alexandria, but these hydrangeas are in Bay St. Louis. They are watered every morning at 5 AM for 12 minutes. Some seem to be deceased and I am concerned that I am going to lose them. Whatever help you can offer, I will appreciate. “

AHA responded, “Hydrangeas require a lot of water. Has Bay St. Louis had triple digit temperatures? If so, I doubt your hydrangeas are receiving enough water. Let me encourage you to provide one inch of water per week. This rate is like our normal rainfall. The timing at 5 am is a good practice to avoid leafspot diseases.”

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A drought stressed azalea. Photo: Keith Hawkins, LSU AgCenter

Failing Azalea

Nancy, like a lot of gardeners, has plants suffering from drought stress, “Because of the drought we have several Azalea that look dead [and have] rust brown leaves. Should I cut back now and pray they come back?” If this question came up after a deep freeze event in early spring, the answer would be to wait and see what happens. After all, no one can uncut a plant. In this case, let us remove the dead plant and see what happens.

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits, and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337.284.5188 or .

“Before you buy or use an insecticide product, first read the label, and strictly follow label recommendations. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by Louisiana State University AgCenter.”

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”

9/8/2023 3:34:26 PM
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