Grafted or not makes a big difference with an apple tree

Sprouts from the rootstock of a grafted tree will never yield the apples you expect. (Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Sprouts from the rootstock of a grafted tree will never yield the apples you expect. (Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Walter Reeves

Credit: Walter Reeves

Q: Two winters ago, I planted a crabapple tree. Last summer, I placed a watering bag around the tree. The bag shifted and snapped the tree at its base. This spring, I have several little suckers coming up from the stump. What should I do now? Kelly McCance, email

A: If you planted a grafted tree, the sprouts are likely coming from the rootstock. Any apple tree that results from these suckers will not yield good apples. If you don’t know if it was grafted or not, I recommend you cut your losses and replace the tree. Potted apple trees can be planted in late spring if you are attentive to watering in summer.

Q: I have a very invasive weed in one area of my garden. It has a thick white tuber at the end of a medium-length root. This winter, it has spread considerably. Betty Lynam, email

A: I bet you have nasty old rattlesnake weed, so-named because the white tuber resembles a rattlesnake’s rattles. Another name is Florida betony and it’s really tough to control. A 6-inch layer of wood chips will inhibit sprouting, but that’s not practical in a garden. The chemical alternative is to spray or wipe glyphosate (Roundup, etc.) on the weed’s leaves whenever you spot them. DON’T move dirt from an infested area to a “clean” area. Every morsel of broken tuber can re-sprout. The foliage disappears when summer arrives. This pest will keep spreading aggressively if you don’t do anything.

ExploreMore gardening advice from Walter Reeves

Q: A friend of mine noticed damage to his mountain laurels and rhododendrons. It looks like something is cutting a twist of lemon for a martini on the trunk. John Vermont, Dahlonega

A: I love your cocktail simile! The most likely candidate for making the damage is a European hornet. Both hornets and wasps strip soft bark from healthy plants to use in making their nests. European hornets go so far as to feed on sap released by their chewing. A European hornet resembles a cicada killer wasp but is wider and has more hair on the thorax and abdomen. It nests in hollow trees, as compared to the bald-faced hornet, which builds its paper nests in trees and shrubbery. I have examples of the damage at

Q: I want to put down centipede sod. If I till and level the area then put down some pre-emergent, will the pre-emergent inhibit the roots of the sod from growing? Shawn Sorsdahl, Snellville

A: You’re smart to ask before acting! Much depends on the chemical involved, but most pre-emergents do inhibit root growth. Typically, it would not be a good idea to put pre-emergent under the sod. Read the product label to be sure.

Walter’s email address is Listen to his comments at 6:35 a.m. on “Green and Growing with Ashley Frasca” Saturday mornings on 95.5 WSB. Visit his website,, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook Page at

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