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Weak Bradford pears need pampering
August 28, 2014
By Howard Garrett

Question: I have Asian longhorned beetles in my Bradford pear tree, and most of the leaves are brown. What should I do? J.M., Dallas

Answer: You can spray the insects with one of the essential oil products, but removing the stress from the tree is the long-term solution. Bradford pears are weak to start with, but removing the soil from the flare is a big step in the right direction.  Next, make sure the plant is not being overwatered.

Question: Is it bad to put mulch at the base of trees?I.C., Dallas

Answer: Yes, it is unhealthy for the tree. It keeps the flare that is part of the trunk moist, restricts
plant growth and can lead to diseases. That’s why I often mention exposing the flare.Except for planting adapted varieties in the first place, it is the most important thing you can do to have healthy trees.

Question: I am a stroke victim and can no longer put out flowering plants for each season. I am
looking for a blooming dwarf shrub to put inmy front beds with full sun. L.S., Hallettsville

Answer: Gregg’s salvia would be hard to beat in that situation. The dwarf abelia varieties also
would be worth considering.

Question: I have an angel trumpet tree [Brugmansia]. It bloomed nicely last year, but it
looks bad now. Is it true this tree is toxic? If so I will do away with it. S.W., Carrollton

Answer: Brugmansia is somewhat toxic but I have several in my garden. Other commonly used plants that have toxic properties include wisteria, hydrangea, chrysanthemum, azalea, crocus, daffodil, columbine, hyacinth, oak leaves andEnglish ivy. Asparagus berries are toxic, grapes can be deadly to dogs and apple seeds are highly toxic if you eat a lot of them. There are many more examples of the toxic plants we are around all the time. I would suggest education and common sense in regard to these plants instead of trying to eliminate them all. To get the angel trumpets to bloom again, drench them with Garrett Juice and apply one of the alfalfa-based dry fertilizers.

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