The Invasive Saltcedar

sc_1Tamarisk, better known as Saltcedar, is an extremely aggressive and invasive foreign plant. Saltcedar was originally introduced to the United States as an ornamental shrub. Saltcedar grows rapidly and can reach heights of up to 26 feet. The Saltcedar also reproduces quickly; it can flower during its first year and, at maturity, produce 600,000 seeds annually. Its adaptability and resilience to harsh elements allows the Saltcedar to aggressively colonize. All of these traits combine to make an invasive plant.

Recognizing a Saltcedar

sc_bloomingThough it looks similar to an evergreen, the Saltcedar is a deciduous tree (or shrub) with small scale-like leaves. Its light pink flowers form dense masses at the top of its long slender branches. The Saltcedar’s fast-growing roots spread deep and wide causing damage to nearby sidewalks and walls. Due to its rapid and successful reproduction, the Saltcedar escapes controlled cultivation easily and germinates in unwanted areas. It also consumes large quantities of water, up to 200 gallons per day, and deposits salt to form a saline crust to prevent other plant life from thriving in its vicinity.

Eradication

Getting rid of the Saltcedar is no easy feat. It is resistant to fire, flooding and most weed control methods. A Certified Arborist or Arizona Office of Pest Management (OPM) Licensed Pest Applicator can eliminate the Saltcedar by cutting it to the ground and applying an herbicide to the stump. A list of Certified Arborists can be found at http://www.treecareindustry.org/index.aspx and Licensed Pest Applicators can be found by visiting the OPM website, http://www.sb.state.az.us/EmployeeDir.php.

Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: Nutsedge

Is It Grass?

turf_nutsedgePossibly one of the worst turf weeds to infest your lawn, Nutsedge spreads quickly and is extremely hard to eradicate. Nutsedge is the common name for Cyperus esculentus (yellow) and Cyperus rotundus (purple), a weed type that germinates well in warm moist soils and spreads through tubers (referred to as “nuts” or “nutlets”) under the soil. The tubers, or nuts, are grown on underground stems known as rhizomes that can grow as deep as 12 to 16 inches under the surface of the soil bed. Buds sprout on the tubers and grow new plants, this process eventually leads to a patch of Nutsedge.

nutsedge_shootsNutsedge looks similar to grass, but the blades are thicker and stiffer than most grasses. They grow straighter and in sets of 3 stems at the base (as opposed to 2 in grasses).

An infestation of Nutsedge is problematic because it grows twice as fast as turf grass requiring more frequent mowing and it is lighter green resulting in non-uniform turf appearance.

Fighting Nutsedge

Nutsedge is nearly impossible to get rid of, but it can be controlled. If you are lucky and catch the Nutsedge early you can limit the production of tubers, which will suppress it from spreading. To limit tuber production continually remove the shoots and as much of the plant as possible by hand every 2 weeks. This will cause the plant to put all of its energy into growing new shoots instead of new tubers. Mature tubers can re-grow their shoots up to 12 times, so you will need to be consistent.Nutsedge TubersSince Nutsedge looks similar to grass it is difficult to recognize early. If it has already taken over a small portion of your lawn you may want to consider chemical treatment. The best herbicide to treat Nutsedge is called Sedge Hammer, which is very expensive and can only be applied by a Certified Spray Technician (AZ SPCC Certified). The chemical should be applied during the growing season every 3 weeks; it will take as many as 3 or more applications to fully control the Nutsedge. To find a company with Certified Spray Technicians visit http://www.sb.state.az.us/CompanyDirectory.php.

Javenlina in Your Landscape

Javelina LCJavelina, which resemble wild pigs, are actually peccary. These “desert hogs” have become quite common in certain residential areas, particularly where they find food. Preferred javelina diet consists of succulent plants and cacti, flowers, and other lush vegetation. Your beautiful bed of flowers is a delicious salad bar to a javelina.

Good news! There are certain plants that don’t taste good to a javelina. For a list of these plants, please check out the Arizona Cooperative Extension website below. Be aware, most new plants are an open invitation for consumption. So it’s best to install plants that are at least 5-gallons in size.

Largely nocturnal creatures, javelina can also be seen in the daytime during wintertime when the nighttime temperatures are colder. To discourage javelina from taking up residence in your neighborhood, follow these simple tips:

  • Avoid installing tasty plants or plants that drop fruit/nuts.
  • Ensure there are no pools of standing water to drink.
  • Keep garbage and table scraps secured and off the ground.
  • Eliminate habitat such as crawlspaces or other areas for a javelina to hide.
  • Do not scatter birdseed. Rather, try using seed blocks that can be suspended and do not contain much litter.

While there is no proven method for completely eliminating javelina, these suggestions will encourage javelina to frequent places other than your yard, while allowing you to enjoy an aesthetically pleasing desert landscape.

For more information:

Living with Javelina in Urban Areas                                                                 http://www.azgfd.gov/w_c/urban_javelina.shtml

Javelina Resistant Plants
http://ag.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/az1238.pdfDM_Javelinas

From The Case Files: Agave Snout Weevil

Agave Weevils LCWhat Are Agave Snout Weevils?
Agave Snout Weevils are inch-long, dusty black, wingless insects and — as their name suggests — are particularly fond of Agave. Adults are known to lay their eggs between the leaves of Agaves, and the hatching larvae burrow into the plant. Infestation causes Agaves to collapse into a rotting mess during late summer and early fall.

How Do I Know If My Agave Is Infested?
Agaves 1 LCTypically, an Agave Snout Weevil infestation is not discovered until the damage is too severe to save the plant. As the insects feed on the plant, they inject a bacterial infection, causing the leaves begin to wrinkle. The leaves will continue to shrivel over time as the infection moves through the heart of the plant. You might also notice a foul odor as the plant rots. The Agave will eventually collapse, leaving only the central spikes of the plant still standing. By this point, rehabilitating the plant is unlikely.

Agaves 2 LCHow Do I Eradicate Them?
Once you’ve recognized that you have an Agave Snout Weevil problem, it’s important that you remove all dead and infected plant parts from your garden. DLC’s Experts recommend inspecting the surrounding soil for adult weevils or larvae. Any remaining adults or larvae must be removed to avoid the infestation of other plants.

The key to eradicating Agave Snout Weevils is proactive prevention. Once the pests have infected your Agave, it’s nearly impossible to reverse the damage. The best thing you can do is prevent future attacks from claiming the lives of other plants. DLC’s Experts suggest applying a pesticide with Imidacloprid as the main ingredient around the base of the plant in early April and again in late May. Imidacloprid is a systemic insecticide so it will work its way from the base through the entire plant and keep Agave Snout Weevils from feeding on it. Pesticides containing Imidacloprid can be found at your local home improvement store or nursery. As with any pesticide, follow the instructions on the label for proper use.

Controlling Spurge

A Troublesome Weed

spurge_2Euphorbia supina, or prostrate spurge, is a low-growing weed that forms a dense mat often found under other plants. Spurge is native to the United States and has a shallow taproot and stems that exude a milky white sap. Spurge leaves are small, opposite each other on the stems, green or red and often have purple spots. This weed germinates and thrives in dry, hot climates and tolerates some shade, but prefers direct sunlight. Like any other opportunistic weed, it takes advantage of disturbed soils or stressed turf areas.
Spurge is a late-germinating, summer annual with small and inconspicuous flowers. Spurge blooms anytime between the months of June and October. A single spurge plant is capable of producing thousands of seeds each flowering cycle.

Control Without Chemicals

Because spurge has a relatively shallow taproot, it is easy to remove manually from granite areas and planters. Infested turf areas are more difficult to control manually simply because young spurge plants are hard to spot among blades of grass. The best way to deter spurge in turf is to encourage turf density through proper watering and fertilization.

Control With Chemicals

spurge_0Spraying spurge with an herbicide is the easiest way to control this troublesome weed in turf areas. However, you have to use the correct herbicide in the correct landscape area. Roundup is safe and widely available at any home improvement store; however, Roundup can only be sprayed on spurge in granite areas. Simply follow the instructions on the label making sure not to spray Roundup on spurge growing in turf. Roundup is a nonselective systemic killer, which means plants or grasses absorb the chemical into their root system and the chemical cannot differentiate between plants you want and weeds.

To kill spurge growing in turf areas, use an herbicide that targets broadleaf weeds, such as Amine 4. These types of herbicides can only be applied by an Arizona Office of Pest Management Licensed Pest Applicator. To find a company with a Licensed Applicators, visit http://www.sb.state.az.us/EmployeeDir.php.