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Master Gardener – Answers

Master Gardener

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Composting - continued!

    Date Posted: Sun, Nov 12 - 5:36 pm


  • I am very appreciative of the options you recommended for me to compost. I think I was not very clear in my question. I already know where to bring food scraps, and I already do bring food scraps for composting. My dilemma is where to bring dead plants. I have a tiny yard, and, therefore no space for a compost bin. Now that summer potted plants are dead, I need to know where to bring the large dead plants. Thanks
  • Answer

  • I'm sorry my first answer did not give you the information you were looking for.  I've reached out to a few others in our Master Gardener group but none of us have used a composting service specifically for large plants.  I believe some of the suggestions I gave you may be able to take them, but the next steps would be to reach out them to ask.   I did try to reach out to Richmond Grows Gardens, but have not yet heard back from them.  I have previously spoken with some of the ladies that work at the Bird House Farmers Market and she shared that the compost company that picks up their bins can compost anything and everything organic.  At the time, I didnt ask specifically about large plants, but here is the email address for the company if you would like to reach out and ask:  info@nopeva.com I admire your determination for finding a good place to take these plants!  I currently have a small pile in my back yard where they are breaking down, but it would be great to have other options available.  Hope this information helps you get to what you are looking for!

Composting Options

    Date Posted: Fri, Nov 10 - 12:55 am


  • im wondering where i can bring pretty large seasonal plants that have been in pots and are now dead. can i bring them somewhere to be composted? is there a service the city of richmond offers on a regularly scheduled basis? i am new to richmond. thanks so much.
  • Answer

  • First of all, welcome to Richmond!! And thanks for thinking about composting! The city does have compost collection sites where you can drop off your materials to be composted: https://www.richmondgrowsgardens.org/composting and there is an additional drop off site at the Bird House Farmers Market: https://birdhousefarmersmarket.org/info. There are also a local services that will do compost pick ups if that is a service your are interested in: https://enrichcompost.com/ or https://compostrva.squarespace.com/ thanks again for thinking about composting!

Browning Dwarf Arborvitae

    Date Posted: Wed, Oct 11 - 12:47 am


  • Dwarf Arborvitae has brown sections, on am effort to cut them out, it appears black underneath. What is happening? Thank you.
  • Answer

  • I'm sorry you are having these concerns with your Dwarf Arborvitae. The first thing that comes to my mind is canker. Canker is infected wounds in the branches caused by fungi. Wounds can be caused by pruning, storm damage, cold damage, or excessive wetness. In plants with canker, you will observe yellow to reddish-brown branches in the middle of healthy green branches. Closer to base of the branch you may see slightly sunken, reddish cankers with profusely exuding resin. Black pustule-like fruiting bodies known as pycnidia may be seen breaking through the bark. There is no real treatment for canker stem diseases. The fungus survives in infected bark tissues, so it is best to prune all infected branches about 3-4 inches below the canker area. Spread of the fungus can be minimized by sterilizing any blades used between all cuts with a 10 percent bleach or 70 percent alcohol solution. Try to prevent damage to trees. Stressed and wounded plants are more likely to be infested. It is best to keep dwarf trees as open as possible so that they will dry out after rain. Prune to allow air flow in plants. Clean out leaves from the insides of shrubs. Do not bury plants too deep in mulch. Prune out infected branches and fertilize affected trees if needed. Good luck!!

Japanese Spirea

    Date Posted: Tue, Oct 10 - 5:24 pm


  • My japanese spirea has large dead sections that I just trimmed back. I don't see any bigs. Any ideas? And should this be cut way back in fall?
  • Answer

  • Maintenance pruning for spirea can be done anytime of year and damaged or dead branches should be removed as you see them. When removing these branches, be sure to prune back to a point where the branch is still healthy, or back to the ground if the damage occurs throughout the length of the branch. An overall pruning can be done in late winter, just before new leaves begin to appear. Dwarf varieties (which typically grow 1-3ft tall) can be cut back to 4-6" above the ground. Taller growing varieties can be cut back to 10-12" above the ground. Without more information, it is difficult to say what might be causing the dead sections on your plants. These plants do not require a lot of water, and typically do well on rain water alone unless there is an extreme period of drought. You could monitor your soil to be sure it is draining well and not staying too soggy and moist which could lead to disease issues. One thing to keep in mind about Japanese spirea is that it is a non-native invasive plant. It has small seeds that can last for years in the soil making it very difficult to control. Once Japanese spirea is established outside of its intended areas, it can quickly crowd out native species. Unfortunately, the best control method is to remove existing plants. There is a native spirea that could be considered as a replacement: white meadowsweet (Spiraea alba). I hope this information helps you! Happy gardening!

Maples for Urban Landscaping?

    Date Posted: Thu, Sep 28 - 12:43 pm


  • I need to replace a diseased Dogwood. I was thinking of a Maple tree but I am concerned of the root system. There are so many varieties of Maple, I don’t know where to start. The new tree would be giving shade to a front porch and two Hydrangeas. Can you give some guidance?
  • Answer

  • This is a great question. Generally, maples are known to have shallower root systems, but it can depend a lot on the soil conditions. A few things to think about when you are selecting a tree for this space are if the tree is being planted near sidewalks or a driveway, what your soil conditions are like, the amount of sun or shade it will get, and also to look up for power lines. Red maples are generally faster growers and are also native to our area, but they may have shallower root systems. Japanese maples tend to be slower growing but are not native. Sugar maples are also an option but you would want to be sure to select heat tolerant varieties for the Richmond area. Another alternative is Yellowwood. They have nice big leaves, beautiful form and flowers, tolerate the heat and don't get too big. The University of Illinois Extension has a great tree selector tool that you may also find useful: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/treeselector/search.cfm Good luck!

Class Registration- indefinitely unavailable

    Date Posted: Sun, Aug 27 - 12:23 pm


  • When does class registration start and how do I sign up?
  • Answer

  • Hello! We would love to be able to welcome new master gardeners to the Richmond team. Unfortunately, the city of Richmond has not had an extension agent in place for the past few years and we do not know if any expected time the position will be filled again. Without an agent in place, the city is unable to offer the master gardener classes. You could consider reaching out to any of our neighboring counties (Chesterfield, Hanover, Henrico) to see if you can get connected with them.


    Date Posted: Tue, Aug 22 - 1:12 am


  • I’d love to help volunteer. What is your schedule?
  • Answer

  • We love volunteers! And would love to help you get plugged in. Unfortunately, the City of Richmond does not currently have an extension agent in place which means we are unable to offer programming to bring on new Master Gardeners to our team. If you are interested in becoming a Master Gardener, you could consider reaching out to some of the surrounding counties to ask about their programs and see if and when they are starting new classes. If you are interested in garden volunteer work in and around the city, there are numerous opportunities available without being a master gardener. To name just a few, you could consider reaching out to Maymont, Lewis Ginter, or Shalom Farms. If you have a connection to any of the public schools, many of them have garden programs going as well and may be able to use more volunteer support. Good luck, I hope you find a great place to plug in and serve!

Stunted vegetable garden

    Date Posted: Sat, Aug 12 - 6:55 pm


  • My vegetable garden has been stunted in its growth this summer and I’ve been trying to figure out what I can do differently. I think we may have some Red Thread in the yard.
  • Answer

  • I think many local vegetable gardens have experienced some stunting this year. The prolonged cooler weather we had at the beginning of the summer seemed to have a big impact on plants that were put in the ground in late April and May. In addition, we have had several periods with very little rain to help keep gardens watered which has also been having an impact. Before planting next year, its a good idea to do a soil test to see where your soil could use some support. Soil tests are available through the master gardeners at your local library. You can use these results to ensure you are planting in a robust healthy soil that is ready to provide a good home to your plants. Also, if you aren't already doing this, I would suggest fertilizing your garden with an organic fertilizer. Organic fertilizers slowly release nutrients giving a steady supply of food to your plants without disrupting the work of earthworms and other beneficial organisms. Follow the recommendations on the label for frequency of fertilizing. I'm not aware of nor have I been able to find any literature on red thread having an impact on anything other than turf grass. I'm not sure if you mentioned that in correlation with your concerns about your vegetable garden or as a separate concern. However, if you were looking for recommendations to deal with the red thread as well, fungicides are not usually advised for red thread control on residential turf for various reasons. The disease is largely cosmetic. Unless environmental conditions that promote disease development persist for extended periods, the turf will recover — usually with no lasting effects of infection. Good luck and happy gardening!

Invasive plant removal / Joining Master Gardeners

    Date Posted: Fri, Aug 11 - 10:16 am


  • Any good contractors in the area to help with invasive removal by a utility line. Have privet in my backyard it’s growing into power lines. Oh also I would love to be part of the master gardener program but got no response when contacting vatech contact. Let me know what’s required to join the local chapter
  • Answer

  • I don't have personal experience with any contractors for removing invasive species, but have always heard really good things about Davey: https://www.davey.com/environmental-consulting-services/invasive-species-management-control/ Also, we would love to have new members join the Richmond Master Gardeners! But unfortunately, the city does not currently have an extension agent and hasn't for a few years now. This means there is no one in place to run the Master Gardener training program so we are unable to take on new members at this time. I believe that Henrico, Chesterfield, and Hanover are still able to offer the new member program, so I would suggest reaching out to them if you are interested.

Removing Kudzu

    Date Posted: Thu, Jul 27 - 12:13 am


  • What can be used to get rid of the Kudzu that has taken over the Camellia bush?
  • Answer

  • The dreaded kudzu! For successful long-term control, the extensive root system must be destroyed. Any remaining root crowns can lead to reinfestation. Kudzu grows from seed and from root crowns. You can see these root crowns if you follow a vine to where it roots in the soil. Dig just a little around it and you will see several buds, new sprouts, or mature vines emerging from just at, or below, the soil surface. This is the root crown. To stop new kudzu vine growth, cut just below the root crown and remove it from the soil. Kudzu cannot regrow from below the root crown, and it does not sprout from any lateral roots. Sometimes vines, which can root, may be buried under a few inches of organic matter and leaf litter. This gives them the appearance of lateral roots, but they are not. Buried vines make control more difficult because they are hidden and may produce many new shoots. Use a shovel or pick axe to expose the base of the root crown. Then use a sharp hatchet, axe, or a small handsaw to cut the root below the root crown. A shovel or hoe is not adequate for the job as the roots are very fibrous or woody. Pruning shears may work for severing smaller root crowns, but will not work for large root crowns. It is also a good idea to plant native grasses in the fall after removal to control erosion and spread of kudzu and invasion of other weedy plants which may colonize the site after kudzu dies. Good luck!