Christmas tree, turf and ornamental plant update – May 5, 2017

Adult pine false webworm are active, mowing wet turf can cause problems and use fresh soil media when planting containers.

Adult pine false webworm. Image courtesy of Jill O’Donnell, MSU Extension.
Adult pine false webworm. Image courtesy of Jill O’Donnell, MSU Extension.

The following is a summary of current plant development and pest activity for landscape professionals, Master Gardeners, nursery and Christmas tree growers.

Garden and landscape

Getting ready to plant your containers with flowers or vegetables? Michigan State University Extension recommends using fresh media every season. Spent media can contain pathogens from last year, which can infect your next planting.

Usually the container itself is not the problem; however, if you had a container that had diseased plants growing in it, it’s not a bad idea to wash your old container with a 10 percent bleach solution or get a new container along with the new media. Don’t worry, you can recycle your old media by adding it to your compost pile, fill up holes in your yard or top dress your lawn.

Christmas trees and nursery

In northern Michigan we are seeing a lot of adult pine false webworm (Acantholyda erythrocephala) in Scots pine. Adults emerge in late April to early June to lay eggs on the previous year’s needles. These eggs hatch in about two weeks. For more information, see “Pine false webworms are active in Scots pine.”


Turf in many areas of the state is just too wet due simply to too much rain. The grass continues to grow and many homeowners feel they need to mow the grass as soon as possible. If the grass is too wet, a lot of damage can be done to turf. Wet grass tends to clump and lay on the lawn surface, causing the grass underneath to yellow. Diseases can start under wet conditions and then are easily spread. Also, wet soils allow for compaction to occur due to traffic from the mowing equipment. A rule of thumb is to wait at least 24 hours after a rain to mow.

Dandelions and ground ivy are flowering now. This is the second best time to control with the best time being fall applications. For more information, see “What to do with the bevy of broadleaf weeds flowering in lawns.”

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