Pruning Back Leggy Petunias & Buggy Pears

Question:

I've cut back my Petunias because they were getting scraggly, and the foliage was yellowish. They're planted in a container, growing in full sun, and are watered often. Why is the foliage a yellowish color? Are they getting too much water, not enough sun, or is something else going on? 

Answer:

  •  It's not unusual for Petunias to get leggy and are trimmed often to solve this problem.Typically, this is done after every blooming cycle. The plants are reduced up to fifty percent. Pruning forces the development of the lateral shoots and keeps the plants compact.
  • Yellow leaves can indicate watering issues, but I don't think that this is your problem. A container has perfect drainage as the excess water is removed by gravitation unless there is a saucer. It would be best if you emptied the saucer after watering or, better yet, remove it altogether.
    • The nutrients necessary for plant growth are lost rapidly and are the crux of your problem. When the leaf color begins to fade and or turns yellow, I suspect a nitrogen deficiency.
    • Nitrogen is the element that makes plants green.
  •  Seasonal color in containers requires more fertilizer than those in the ground. A single application at planting is not enough to sustain the plants throughout the season. There are many right answers as to what to use; however, I prefer a time-release plant food like Osmocote. A little bit of nutrients is released with every watering, and it is only applied twice during the growing season.
  • Now is a good time to trim/prune/cut back summer annuals that are getting leggy and fertilize. There is plenty of time for them to re-bloom before winter arrives.

Question:

We have a wonderfully productive Asian Pear tree. Unfortunately, ninety-five percent or more of the fruit are ruined by some insect that bores into the fruit and leaves some black "smudges". What can be done? We're reluctant to use chemicals because we wish to eat the fruit.

Answer:

  • This buggy pears are caused by the Coddling Moth. It is a common problem with apples, pears, walnuts, and in some areas, cherries.
  • The adult moth lays on the maturing fruit. The eggs hatch, and the larva or worms enter the fruit. It’s too late to due anything this year.
  • Prevention starts in the spring after seventy-five percent of the pear blossoms have dropped.
    • The tree is sprayed with Captain Jack Deadbug Brew, an organic solution. I'd also apply Beneficial Nematodes to the soil under the canopy to control the overwintering bugs in the ground. And finally, I'd hang Coddling Moth traps in the tree. The traps attach the adults. You monitor the traps and repeat your spray when you observe six to ten adults in the traps.
  •  Coddling Moths are very mobile so you're looking to protect the tree from those flying in. The good news is that the damaged pears are still edible. You just cut the damaged part out.
  • For more information on Coddling Moth , here is a link to the UC Davis Integrated Pest Management (IPM) site, http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7412.html