Garden Q&A

It’s the end of the month, which means it’s garden question-and-answer time. Remember, you may e-mail me questions at [email protected] Or you can mail garden questions in care of this newspaper. For a faster, personal response, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

Q: I’ve been having a problem with whiteflies. They seem to have infested my backyard and are not too particular on what they like. I spray every week with neem oil and have put out whitefly sticky traps (I have a hard time finding them; do you have a source?). I also removed a large dense plant that seemed to be infested with them, and I could not get my spray to reach all the denseness of the plant. But I still have the problem. They love all my geraniums and hydrangeas. I have also put a hummingbird feeder in the yard; I read somewhere that might help. Do you have any suggestions or I am just doomed!

– C.D., Hollister

A: It sounds like you’re doing the right things. Whiteflies are attracted to the color yellow. You can purchase or make yellow “sticky” traps from yellow cardboard smeared with petroleum jelly or a sticky product called Tanglefoot. A neem oil spray can be concocted utilizing one ounce of neem oil, plus a few drops of liquid soap, per gallon of water. Check out the Web site for Pure Neem Oil for $8 per 8 ounces.

Another company sells small cards with attached pupae of parasite wasps that will eat whiteflies. Check out Koppert Biological Systems at Safer’s Insecticidal Soaps, available at garden centers or online, will also help. With any spray, apply in the early morning when whiteflies are least active. It will take persistence and luck, but you can get these garden pests under control.

Q: We planted a row of Prunus Carolina last summer. They are now losing their leaves and looking bare. However, there is new growth. My question: Could it be because we fertilized after October to cause this evergreen to lose leaves?

– C.W., Tres Piños

A: Congratulations. Not because your evergreen hedge is losing leaves, but because you’re the first person from Tres Piños to write in to ask a gardening question. The good news is that your row of Prunus Carolina should snap out of it without any problem. The new growth that is coming on now should continue all summer. I’m not sure what the cause of the problem was, but loss of leaves is usually due to lack of water, or an insect and disease problem.

The fact you fertilized after October and then leaves began to drop was a mere coincidence. You may want to take a close look at the older leaves to make sure there are not any aphids or the sticky “honeydew” residue that aphids leave behind. If so, you’ll need to spray with insecticide or an insecticidal soap.

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