Animal damage can be the reason perennials are destroyed in the winter

Animal damage can be the reason perennials are destroyed in the winter

Question: I planted a gooseberry that has now taken up more than half of my perennial garden. How can I remove it without harming my other plants?

a: If it’s any consolation, we’ve all planted perennials that have taken up more than their fair share of the garden bed. Digging up the plants and disposing of them is the most environmentally friendly option, but as you know, any remaining roots will sprout plants. Persistence is key to removing this plant from the garden. Spot treatment with a total plant killer that is absorbed by the leaves and transmitted through the plant killing the top and roots is another option. Paint the product onto the leaves to reduce the application and spread of the chemical. If you choose to spray it on the plant, create a shield to protect desired plants from any overspray. Also be careful not to let any treated leaves come into contact with nearby desired plants when they are wet. As always, read and follow label directions carefully for safe and effective application.

Q: I have an old bag of soil. Is it safe to use when repotting houseplants?

a: Properly stored potting mix lasts indefinitely. If they become waterlogged, they will become compacted and the slow-release fertilizer they contain may release too much at once, damaging the plants’ roots. If the bag is stored open, it may dry out completely, making it difficult to rehydrate. Moisten the potting mix before using it. Add water and mix by hand. Repeat as often as needed until the potting mix is ​​evenly moist.

Q: One of my pachysandra beds was damaged by something. For the past two months, trees near our brick house have had their leaves cut and dried. The rest of the bed is green and healthy. The plants in the affected area appeared healthy and she had not had any problems with animals in the past. Any suggestions?

a: Your description of the damage and the fact that it occurred during the winter makes me suspect damage to the animals rather than a disease like screw blight. Pachysandra is resistant to animal damage and the foliage is toxic to mammalian herbivores. This may explain why the peaks are left behind. When animal populations are high and food is intimidating, they will often nibble on even unwanted plants. Check for side-by-side 1/4-inch grooves in the plant stems which may indicate that voles may be the problem. These small brown rodents resemble voles and have small ears and short tails. It is active throughout the year and feeds on the trunk and branches of trees and shrubs, bulbs, stems and fleshy roots of perennial plants. Squirrels are also active during the winter searching for caches of nuts and bulbs, eating buds, bark, and of course birdseed. Their digging may have damaged the plants. Rabbits have sharp teeth and make clean cuts like scissors, while deer tear off stems, leaving a jagged tear. Look for tracks in the snow and droppings for further clues to the identity of the perpetrator. If the roots are healthy, the plants should sprout new growth in the spring and surrounding plants should fill in any empty spaces left from damage. Next year, consider treating the planting with an animal repellent such as Plantskydd labeled to control voles, squirrels, deer and rabbits.

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