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PAL Questions: 2 - Garden Tools:
My prune tree has tons of aphids in the leaves (also a lot of ladybugs to eat them but I am not sure the ladybugs will win out). Do I need to try to rid the tree of the aphids? If so how?
The question of whether to control aphids in your prune tree really depends on how bad the infestation is and if the tree is otherwise healthy enough to outgrow them. Often infestations like aphids are a symptom of a larger problem. The tree may be stressed out by root competition from grass or too much or not enough water, too much or not enough nitrogen. A stressed out tree is attractive to aphids, who in turn attract lady bugs. My own mature prune tree gets covered in aphids every year. The leaves get distorted, and lady bugs come in droves. Some years I get a good harvest and some years I do not. I choose not to worry about it (I have other plants to fuss over). But if you feel the need to do something, see the HortSense website from Washington State University.
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We have three blueberry bushes of different varieties that have been bearing just fine over the last several years. This year one of them bloomed heavily and looks like it's generating a good crop. The other two only had a few flowers. What could account for this? Is there anything we should be doing to encourage blooming and fruiting?
I am also wondering when we will ever see fruit on the Italian Prune tree I planted several years ago. It was already pretty big when we bought it, and now it is about 2 inches caliper near the base and is about 12 feet tall. Is there anything we can do to encourage some fruit on this? I do not even remember seeing it bloom this year. Could it have something to do with the weather patterns?
One problem might be a lack of bees. There could also be other reasons, such as Botrytis blossom blight, and blueberry shock virus.
Here is a page from Oregon State University which has some good general information on growing blueberries .
Is it possible that the blueberries have become dense and twiggy? If they are not pruned, they may become unproductive. The information below is from University of Florida Cooperative Extension:
Pruning mature blueberry plants is largely a matter of cane removal or cane thinning. The objective of pruning mature bushes is to stimulate the proper balance of vegetative and reproductive growth, and limit plant size. Pruning stimulates the development of new canes which are more productive than older canes. A general rule is to remove about 1/4 to 1/5 of the oldest canes each year (usually one to three of the oldest canes). This will result in continuous cane renewal so that no cane is more than three or four years old. Pruning to reduce the number of flower buds may also be required on some southern highbush cultivars which set heavy crops such as 'Misty'. Flowers should always be removed from one and two-year-old plants by pruning or rubbing them off before fruit set occurs. Most pruning is usually done immediately after harvest during the early summer. Removal of some of the flowers buds to adjust the crop load is usually done during the late winter just before growth begins.
As for the Italian prune, a plum tree may not begin to bear until it is 3 to 6 years old.
You may also want to visit a Master Gardener Clinic with your questions. You can locate a Master Gardener Clinic within King County on this website.
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January 13 2017 10:35:53