Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Box Turtle, Common Lespedeza, Tree Planting Advice, & Vegetable Sunscald

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Eastern Box Turtle. Photo: Lori Dupre

Box Turtle

Lori sent a couple of pictures for identification. She asked if this animal could be a pest in the garden. Lori has an eastern box turtle (EBT), and it is a native turtle to all of Louisiana. The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) says that the EBTs “are omnivorous and will eat almost anything, including berries, insects, roots, flowers, eggs, and amphibians. Younger turtles tend to be more carnivorous than adults, hunting in ponds and streams for food. As adults, box turtles primarily feed on land.” They may nibble on plants in the vegetable garden, but they are generally considered non-destructive.

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Common lespedeza. Photo: LSU AgCenter

Common Lespedeza

Darren sent an image and asked, “Is this [common] lespedeza?” Yes, it is.The AgCenter’s publication, “Louisiana Home Lawn Series: Common Lespedeza” provides this information, “Lespedeza prefers areas with dry, under-fertilized, compacted soils and is often an indicator of low nitrogen levels in the soil. Its stems become woody as it matures, allowing it to better compete with and choke out turfgrass. Lespedeza also has a low growth habit, which makes it difficult to cut when mowing. It emerges from seeds in early spring and becomes established in lawns by summer.”

2023 Louisiana Suggested Chemical Weed Maintenance Guide provides these treatments for common lespedeza:

  • Q4 Plus®
  • Drive 75 DF®
  • Speed Zone South 2.2 EC®
  • Trimec South 3 EC®
  • Trimec Classic 2.7 EC®

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Mayhaw fruit Photo: Johnny Smith, The Mayhaw Man, Singer, LA

Tree Planting Advice

Brenda of Allen Parish would like to know when she should plant her peach and mayhaw trees.The worst time to plant any tree would be in July and August. The best time to plant fruit, shade or ornamental trees ranges from November to mid-February. Trees are generally dormant and transplant shock would be reduced during the winter. Also, planting on an overcast, damp, cool day would be better for the trees than a warm, sunny winter day.

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Sunscald on Brussel sprout seedling. Photo: Angela Schoenfeld, Rosepine, LA

Vegetable Sunscald

Angela of Rosepine asked about her fall vegetables, “I bought 4 healthy small brussel sprouts plants…at the Beauregard [Parish] Fair. I planted them a few days later. I have them in a raised bed and water about every 3rd day. Only one seems to be surviving. Any idea what the problem is. Starts with edges of leaves turning yellow. The soil should be good.”

Angela has sunscald on her vegetable seedlings. Sun scald is a non-pathogenic disease found on several plants, including ornamentals, vegetables, and fruits. This type of damage occurs when plants are exposed to too much direct sunlight. The injuries are more severe on stressed, weakened or recently transplanted plants. Kristine Lang, a Horticulture Specialist with South Dakota State University Extension, share this recommendation, “Once leaf tissue is scorched, the damaged areas will not recover; however, minor damage, while unsightly, will not kill the plant. Leaves with scorched margins may look unappealing, but they still help the plant with photosynthesis, creating food for new, undamaged leaves to emerge. Resist the urge to remove scorched leaves. Strange as it may seem, they provide some shade for the new growth and remaining green tissue can still contribute to photosynthesis for production of new leaves. The plant’s appearance will perk up when new growth begins, and once new leaves have emerged, you could gently remove the scorched leaves if they have not already fallen off naturally.”

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.”

10/25/2023 3:04:13 PM
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