Pecan phylloxera occasionally damage pecans

These hollow growths protect tiny insects that feed on pecan leaves. (Courtesy of Gary Winkles)

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These hollow growths protect tiny insects that feed on pecan leaves. (Courtesy of Gary Winkles)

Q: My pecan leaves are covered with warts! Can you tell me what this is? Gary Winkles, Locust Grove

A: Your warts are hollow galls that provide a safe place for aphid-like pecan phylloxera insects to hide. They emerge in spring and feed on leaves and twigs. Big populations of this insect can cause loss of the pecan crop for the current year and also the following year. Phylloxera populations vary widely from year to year, depending on weather and predators. If you want to control them, apply a garden insecticide as far up into the tree as possible in early April and again two weeks later. Timing the pesticide application is critical. You won’t get ANY control if you wait until you see the galls. Phylloxera are delicate insects and usually don’t spread very far. Good control one year will often keep phylloxera damage low for several years.

Q: Arghhhhh! A new weed has arrived in my garden. The leaves and stems are very sticky and the seeds cling to clothes. Elizabeth Wilson, Decatur

A: I’ll bet it’s bedstraw, Galium aparine. You can rip out bagfuls of this annual weed if you don’t mind its creepy feel on your skin. Apparently it was once used as stuffing in mattresses because the clinging nature of the prickles minimized matting and compaction. Rake it out whenever you see it to reduce the population.

Q: I’m not very familiar with Drift roses but am seeing them more in nurseries. What are their pluses and minuses? Martha Shores, email

A: Drift roses have been around for a decade, but recently their originator, the Conard-Pyle company, decided to market them more heavily. They deserve this because these roses are about as pest resistant and easy to grow as Knock Out roses but are smaller. They have more diverse bloom colors, and a couple of Drift roses even have fragrance, something I never notice with Knock Out roses. Because they are smaller, Drift roses are adaptable to small landscapes. They only reach 2-3 feet tall and have a spreading habit. Maintenance is simple: clip them down to half their end-of-winter size and feed with a controlled-release fertilizer when strong growth begins in April.

Q: I just had Zeon zoysia sod laid. How long should I wait before I put down a starter fertilizer? Walker Hawes, Gwinnett County

A: The best practice is to put down fertilizer when the zoysia is 80% green because you know the roots are ready to absorb it. Putting fertilizer on brown grass is a waste of money.

Email Walter at georgiagardener@yahoo.com. Listen to his occasional garden comments on “Green and Growing with Ashley Frasca” Saturday mornings on 95.5 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, or join his Facebook Page at bit.ly/georgiagardener, for his latest tips.