Growing Mountain Ash


“Dear HorticultureTalk,

I’m having problems growing Mountain Ash trees.  What do I need to do to make them grow right?

THanks,

Phil”

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The Mountain Ash tree can grows well in a variety of soils and is popular with gardeners. However, you may make mistakes if you do not properly understand the conditions under which the ash tree thrives.

–Planting Mountain Ash

Dig out an area for the tree that is about 3 or 4 times the diameter of the container or root ball and the same depth as the container or rootball. Use a pitchfork or shovel to scarify the sides of the hole.  Once the tree is placed, fill the hole with soil the same way it was taken out so soil from different depths are not mixed. Never amend with less than half original soil. Recent studies show that if your soil is loose enough, you are better off adding little or no soil amendments.

Create a water ring around the outer edge of the hole. Not only will this conserve water, but will direct moisture to perimeter roots, encouraging outer growth. Once tree is established, water ring may be leveled. Studies show that mulched trees grow faster than those unmulched, so add a 3″” layer of pinestraw, compost, or pulverized bark over backfilled area. Remove any damaged limbs.

–Light Conditions: Full sun for at least 6 hours, dappled light the rest of the day.

–Types of Pruning:  pinching, thinning, shearing and rejuvenating.  It is critical to prune trees correctly from the beginning to assure proper growth and development. Young trees can be transplanted in a number of forms: bare root, balled & burlap and in containers. The more stress the plant undergoes in the transplant process, the more pruning that is required to compensate.

–Watering Conditions:  Plants are almost completely made up of water so it is important to supply them with adequate water to maintain good plant health. Not enough water and roots will wither and the plant will wilt and die. Too much water applied too frequently deprives roots of oxygen leading to plantdiseases such as root and stem rots. The type of plant, plant age, light level, soil type and container size all will impact when a plant needs to be watered. Follow these tips to ensure successful watering:

–The key to watering Mountain Ash is water deeply and less frequently. When watering, water well, i.e. provide enough water to thoroughly saturate the root ball. With in-ground plants, this means thoroughly soaking the soil until water has penetrated to a depth of 6 to 7 inches (1′ being better). With container grown plants, apply enough water to allow water to flow through the drainage holes.
–Try to water plants early in the day or later in the afternoon to conserve water and cut down on plant stress. Do water early enough so that water has had a chance to dry from plant leaves prior to night fall. This is paramount if you have had fungus problems.
–Don’t wait to water until plants wilt. Although some plants will recover from this, all plants will die if they wilt too much (when they reach the permanent wilting point).
–Consider water conservation methods such as drip irrigation, mulching, and xeriscaping. Drip systems which slowly drip moisture directly on the root system can be purchased at your local home and garden center. Mulches can significantly cool the root zone and conserve moisture.

–Consider adding water-saving gels to the root zone which will hold a reserve of water for the plant. These can make a world of difference especially under stressful conditions. Be certain to follow label directions for their use. Most plants like 1 inch of water a week during the growing season, but take care not to over water. The first two years after a plant is installed, regular watering is important for establishment. The first year is critical. It is better to water once a week and water deeply, than to water frequently for a few minutes.  It is critical to prune trees correctly from the beginning to assure proper growth and development. Young trees can be transplanted in a number of forms: bare root, balled & burlap and in containers. The more stress the plant undergoes in the transplant process, the more pruning that is required to compensate.

Disease and Insect Problems
–Sawfly Larvae: Sawflies look similar to wasps, but do not have stingers or waists. Sawflies were named for the way the females “”sawed”” openings into hosts, where eggs were laid. The larvae of the sawfly is the actual villain, causing damage to fruit or foliage as it matures. The small, green larvae of the sawflies are caterpillar-like or slug-like in appearance.
Prevention and Control: No prevention available. Control by handpicking or spraying with a recommended insecticide. Birds, beetles and viruses usually keep the sawfly under control.

–Aphids: Aphids are small, soft-bodied, slow-moving insects that suck fluids from plants. Aphids come in many colors, ranging from green to brown to black, and they may have wings. They attack a wide range of plant species causing stunting, deformed leaves and buds. They can transmit harmful plant viruses with their piercing/sucking mouthparts. Aphids, generally, are merely a nuisance, since it takes many of them to cause serious plant damage. However aphids do produce a sweet substance called honeydew (coveted by ants) which can lead to an unattractive black surface growth called sooty mold.
Aphids can increase quickly in numbers and each female can produce up to 250 live nymphs in the course of a month without mating. Aphids often appear when the environment changes – spring & fall. They’re often massed at the tips of branches feeding on succulent tissue. Aphids are attracted to the color yellow and will often hitchhike on yellow clothing. Prevention and Control: Keep weeds to an absolute minimum, especially around desirable plants. On edibles, wash off infected area of plant. Lady bugs and lacewings will feed on aphids in the garden. There are various products – organic and inorganic – that can be used to control aphids. Seek the recommendation of a professional and follow all label procedures to a tee.

–Powdery Mildew: Powdery Mildew is usually found on plants that do not have enough air circulation or adequate light. Problems are worse where nights are cool and days are warm and humid. The powdery white or gray fungus is
usually found on the upper surface of leaves or fruit. Leaves will often turn yellow or brown, curl up, and drop off. New foliage emerges crinkled and distorted. Fruit will be dwarfed and often drops early.  Prevention and Control: Plant resistant varieties and space plants properly so they receive adequate light and air circulation. Always water from below, keeping water off the foliage. This is paramount for roses. Go easy on the nitrogen fertilizer. Apply fungicides according to label directions before problem becomes severe and follow directions exactly, not missing any
required treatments. Sanitation is a must – clean up and remove all leaves, flowers, or debris in the fall and destroy.

–Anthracnose:  Anthracnose is the result of a plant infection, caused by a fungus, and may cause severe defoliation, especially in trees, but rarely results in death. Sunken patches on stems, fruit, leaves, or twigs, appear grayish brown, may appear watery, and have pinkish-tan spore masses that appear slime-like. On vegetables, spots may enlarge as fruit matures. Prevention and Control: Try not to over water. If your climate is naturally rainy, grow resistant varieties. In the vegetable garden, stake and trellis plants to provide good air circulation so that plants may dry. Increase sunlight to plants by trimming limbs. Prune, remove, or destroy infected plants and remove all leaf debris. Select a fungicide that is labeled for anthracnose and the plant you are treating. Follow the label strictly.

–Scale Insects:  Scales are insects, related to mealybugs, that can be a problem on a wide variety of plants – indoor and outdoor. Young scales crawl until they find a good feeding site. The adult females then lose their legs and remain on a spot protected by its hard shell layer. They appear as bumps, often on the lower sides of leaves. They have piercing mouth parts that suck the sap out of plant tissue. Scales can weaken a plant leading to yellow foliage and leaf drop. They also produce a sweet substance called honeydew (coveted by ants) which can lead to an unattractive black surface
fungal growth called sooty mold. Prevention and Control: Once established they are hard to control. Isolate infested plants away from those that are not infested. Cosnult your local garden center professional or Cooperative Extension office in your county for a legal recommendation regarding their control. Encourage natural enemies such as parasitic wasps in the garden.

–Blight: Blights are cause by fungi or bacteria that kill plant tissue.  Symptoms often show up as the rapid spotting or wilting of foliage. There are many different blights, specific to various plants, each requiring a varied method of control.

 

 

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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