Expert Advice2019-11-17T22:08:46-05:00

Expert Advice

In addition to the best quality plants, nursery stock and lawn and garden supplies, at your local Earl May Nursery & Garden Center you’ll find in-house experts trained to answer all of your questions on plant selection, plant and disease identification, pest solutions, natural gardening and more.

Blooming Plants

Can You Plant Mums Outside To Comeback Next Year?2019-08-19T16:00:57-05:00

The best time to plant mums for winter hardiness is spring to early summer, but most mums are not available until fall.

Some things that to do to give mums the best chance to overwinter are:
1. Plant them as soon as possible in the ground – water and maintain normally
2. After the foliage has died from the cold, place mulch in amongst the stems to insulate the base. I usually can get a foot or so of mulch placed in the mum.
3. During spring bed cleanup, remove the mulch from the center and spread it around the mum. Then cut back the stems to an inch or so from the ground.
4. Fertilize while watering during the season.
5. Cut an inch or two off the new growth before July 4th for a bushier plant with more blooms in the fall.

Mums are usually ok once they have survived the first winter.

My hibiscus has stopped blooming. How can I get it to bloom again?2019-08-19T10:46:51-05:00

Here is what we recommend:

  1. Make sure it is getting 10-12 hours of bright direct light.
  2. Give it some bloom booster fertilizer with as little nitrogen as possible.

This should help it start blooming again.

How can I stimulate my flowers for healthier plants and the most blossoms?2019-08-19T16:08:15-05:00

Everyone wants to have the best flowers on the block. Here are several options to help you succeed:

  1. Flower plants like a nice loamy soil that’s not too compact. If you have hard or compact soil, you may want to mix in some of our Organic Planting Mixand some Structure Soil Conditioner to help break it up.
  2. Flowers are heavy feeders, so fertilize your flowers every two weeks with Earl May’s Nutri Gro – All Purpose Plant Food.
  3. If you would rather fertilize once, use Osmocote which feeds flowers for up to four months.
  4. We also have many organic fertilizers that would work.

Fruits & Veggies

I want June-bearing strawberries for a raised garden bed. What do you suggest?2019-08-19T16:10:41-05:00

Our best June-bearing is available in our stores this spring. We promote our Earl May and University tested variety June-bearing type called Honeoye. The plants you get from us will be started as young plants in packs of 6. Very convenient and easy to plant compared to bareroot pieces that have a higher mortality rate.  I would suggest one plant per square foot.  So in your case with a 4×8 bed, a flat of 36 would be ideal (six of our 6-packs). Amend the soil with rich organic matter like our composted manure and Earl May Plant Start to promote root growth.

How to avoid or control tomato blight.2019-08-19T16:13:52-05:00

To most consumers, tomato blight refers to a number of specific diseases that can attack tomato plants. These diseases are usually soil-borne, meaning they survive as spores in the soil and then make their way to the leaves of the plant during the summer, mainly from splashing water.  Some types of blight are treatable when caught early (Early and Late blight), others are difficult to control (Septoria leaf spot).

Some cultural practices that can help you avoid tomato blight and other diseases are as follows:

  1. Rotate crops, tomatoes should not be grown in the same location every year.
  2. Plant tomatoes three feet apart for good air circulation.
  3. Use tomato cages to help keep foliage off the ground.
  4. In early June, cover the soil around the base of the tomato with a thick layer of straw, or wood mulch to prevent spores from splashing up from the soil and landing on the foliage.
  5. Water at the base of plants and avoid overhead watering.
  6. Work the plants when the foliage is dry.
  7. If a plant gets blight, remove the lower affected leaves and discard in the trash, not the compost bin.
  8. Remove all plant debris in the fall.

Most folks choose to follow this rule when it comes to tomatoes with blight – If one tomato plant has blight, it can spread to other plants, so treat all the tomato plants.  Of course you can choose to only treat the plants that you see are affected by blight.

Earl May Fungonil Disease Control is a great product to help control tomato blight and other diseases.  Fungonil is available in several variations including ready-to-spray and concentrate, plus it can be used close to the day of harvest, see label directions.

I would like to start an asparagus patch.2019-08-19T16:14:44-05:00

Asparagus is available in several forms at your local Earl May Garden Center:

  1. Two varieties of asparagus seed packets – Jersey Knight & Mary Washington.
  2. One variety of asparagus roots – Jersey King.  Each package contains seven roots.  Generally, these are available at the Garden Centers in early spring.

The preparation of the planting bed will be similar with whichever method you choose, seeds or roots.  You will want a good deep loose soil with good fertility.  Set your plants one-foot apart and space your rows two-feet apart.

The early years of your asparagus bed will have similar harvesting restrictions, so there is no advantage of seeds verses roots.  The restrictions are – No harvest the first year, limited harvest the second year, and full harvest the third year.

Asparagus is a heavy feeder and will respond with bumper crops if you fertilize each year.  For the best yield, keep weeds to a minimum and stop harvesting the first part of June.

When is the best time to move Rhubarb plants?2019-08-19T16:15:35-05:00

Rhubarb is most successfully transplanted early in the spring before any growth has started.  The plants can also be transplanted at other times but it will be more difficult.  The next best time is in the early fall, followed by summer being the most difficult.

Follow these steps to transplant rhubarb:

  1. Dig up the entire plant.  Try to get as much of the root system as possible.
  2. Divide large plants into several sections.  Each section should have 2-3 buds and a good root section.
  3. Replant the original plant back at the same height as it was when you started.
  4. If the new section must be stored for a day or two, be sure to keep it moist.  Roots should not be allowed to dry out.
  5. Plant the new rhubarb section in a sunny location with fertile, well-drained soil.  The section should be planted at the original height or place the buds 1.5″ – 2″ below the soil surface.  Water with a mixture containing a root stimulant like Earl May Plant Start.  Adding a good layer of shredded bark will help retain moisture during the summer months.
  6. For best results, new plants should not be harvested until the third season.  In the third season, harvesting for 4 – 6 weeks until mid-June is recommended.
What is the proper spacing for potatoes?2019-08-19T16:16:18-05:00

Prepare your potatoes for planting by quartering the whole potato, making sure that each chunk has at least one or more eyes and weighs about two ounces. For very early planting, cut and allow the chunks to heal over, before putting into the ground. The healing-over discourages rotting in cold wet soil. Plant the potato chunks 12-inches apart in rows 3-feet apart, cover in 4-inches of soil.  4-lbs. of whole potatoes plants a 50 ft. row.

Good cultivation is important to produce maximum yields. Keep the soil loose and mellow. After the plants are half grown, work up some loose soil around the plants to protect the tubers from sun scald.

You should harvest potatoes as soon as the vines begin to die. Don’t allow potatoes to set in the sun after they’ve been dug, and cure them in a dry and well ventilated area. Store your potatoes in a cool dry place.

Are Your Garden Center vegetable plants non-gmo?2019-08-19T16:20:04-05:00

All Earl May Garden Center vegetable PLANTS & SEEDS are NON-GMO!

Why didn’t my pole beans produce this year?2019-08-19T16:20:46-05:00

There are several reasons why a bean might not be producing:

  1. Beans need 8 – 10 hours of full sunlight.
  2. Beans planted too close together will have lower production.
  3. Large swings in soil moisture can cause blooms to fall off.
  4. Bean plants like temperatures 70 – 80 degrees.  If the temperatures are consistently over 85 – 90 degrees and/or you have lots of hot dry winds, the flowers can deteriorate or just drop off the plants.
  5. High nitrogen levels in the soil will produce lots of foliage but no blooms or beans.
What soil do you recommend for raised garden beds?2019-08-19T16:21:23-05:00

For raised garden beds we recommend Earl May Premium Potting Mix.  It is a pre-moistened, dark, rich, potting soil and is excellent for all container plantings. It contains a blend of rich organic humus, peat moss and horticultural perlite.  It is fortified with plant food to encourage root growth as an added benefit to your plants.


I have standing water in my dry creekbed that gets algae. How do I keep that from happening?2019-08-19T15:09:24-05:00

I’m not sure if there was any product underneath the rock of the dry creek bed.  If you used plastic or fabric, you may need to poke holes in it to help aerate so the water is able to go through.  Also, there may be frost still in the ground of a shady area that may not let the water through.

To help with the algae – we carry two products.

Moss Max  – which comes is ready to spray after you hook to your hose. (Safe to use on Patios, grass, siding)

We also carry Algae off Algaecid – used in ponds to help remove string Algae

Should I prune shrub roses or hardy grasses this Fall?2019-10-30T13:27:43-05:00

Prune Shrub Roses in Spring

We suggest you wait until the Spring to prune any shrub roses or hardy grasses, as to better the plant’s winter survivability. Shrub roses will typically die back some during winter anyway.  Each new cut makes an injury that removes moisture from the plant and takes time to heal. Pruning in the fall will only cause the rose to die back further.

In the Spring around late March or early April, prune the tops down to about 6 to 8 inches from the base before new growth starts again. Remember to fertilize the plant once it starts growing again.

To see when you should prune in the Spring and for more tips, visit Seasonal Garden Maintenance.

To prepare for Spring pruning, check out these helpful products.

Lawn & Grass

We have heavy clay soil. What should we do?2019-08-19T15:10:40-05:00

Here is what we suggest for clay soil:

One way to improve Clay Soil when planting a new lawn, trees and shrubs is to use Earl May Structure.  By mixing the structure in the soil when planting, the structure will act like tiny reservoirs storing moisture, oxygen and nutrients, also releasing them to the roots when needed.  The “Structure” helps reduce compact soil problems, helping the plants to grow better and be more productive.

Another way to improve clay soil is to use Earth Right Ready to Spray Soil Conditioner.  Lawns treated in the spring and fall with Earth Right will be thicker, have better soil drainage.  The Earth Right contains thousands of beneficial microbes required for proper plant growth and disease resistance.  The Earth Right is ready to spray and requires no mixing.  Simply hook to the end of a hose and spray.  First-time users should apply product at a double rate.

Both of these products are available at our Garden Centers and also online at

How do I get rid of a patch of mushrooms on my lawn?2019-08-19T15:14:29-05:00

The mushrooms in your lawn are coming from decaying organic matter like wood from old roots, stumps, or other wood items. There is no solution to the problem other than to rake or mow them off the lawn. When the organic matter is completely decomposed the mushrooms will disappear.

What can I do about clover in my lawn?2019-08-19T15:20:35-05:00

Clover can become a real problem in the lawn if left unchecked.  Unfortunately, clover has to be controlled after it shows up in the lawn and is actively growing.  Earl May Garden Centers carry granular and liquid broadleaf weed controls that will eliminate the clover in your lawn.  It’s best if these products are applied when no rain is forecast and no irrigation is run for 24 hours after application.  It may take more than one application to get rid of all the clover, depending on the number of weeds.

The granular weed killers are applied with a Lawn Spreader.  You will want to apply this product to a damp lawn so that the granules stick to the weed blades.
1)  I suggest Weed-out Broadleaf Weed Control for just killing weeds and not fertilizing the lawn at the same time.
2)  If you want to fertilize and kill weeds at the same time, use Earl May Weed & Feed.

For the liquid product, you can decide which application method makes the most sense.  Our Ready-To-Use is like a squirt bottle for small areas, and our Concentrate is a product you mix yourself and apply with a tank sprayer.
Earl May Super Bush & Weed Killer is our best liquid broadleaf weed control for spring and summer.  It comes in Ready-To-Use and Concentrate formulations.

Why is my lawn so bumpy?2019-08-19T15:23:53-05:00

A bumpy, rough and uneven lawn is difficult to walk on, and hard to mow.

There are several factors that are responsible for bumpy lawns:

  1. Your lawn may be a little thin which makes the bumps more noticeable. In a thick, dense lawn, your bumps would be less noticable.
  2. The late winter and early spring freezing and thawing causes the soil to heave up which leaves bumps.
  3. Earthworm castings can cause the area to be bumpy. Even though we may not like the bumps, earthworms help improve our lawns and are a sign of good soil.

You can help alleviate the rough lawn by doing some or all of the following:

  1. Apply a good lawn fertilizer THIS SPRING like Earl May Lawn Food.  This will help thicken your lawn and make the bumps less noticeable.
  2. THIS AUGUST, use a core aerifier to open holes in the lawn.
  3. Follow up by using a power rake to break down the lawn bumps, break up the soil cores, and rake the thatch out of the lawn.
  4. Then remove any loose surface thatch that comes out after power raking.
  5. Now apply a grass seed appropriate for the lawn area (sun or shade). Earl May carries several varieties of lawn seed.
  6. Then apply a seed starter fertilizer like Earl May New Lawn Starter.
  7. Lastly, keep the new lawn area moist so the seed will germinate, get established, and thicken up your lawn.
How do I treat brown dog urine spots on my lawn?2019-08-19T15:29:12-05:00

The damage you’re asking about is caused by the acidic nature of dog urine and is usually more common with female dogs. To treat the brown spot, you will need to neutralize the soil and start over by applying Gypsum to the spots (about 1/2 cup per spot) and scratching up the soil to loosen it.  Then use Earl May’s Lawn Seed Repair Kit to re-seed. Follow the instructions on the package and you can expect a full rebound of the grass in those spots.

How can I get grass to grow under my maple tree?2019-08-19T15:53:26-05:00

You have a very common problem! Keep in mind what grass needs to grow: Sun, water and nutrients. The dense tree canopy, coupled with the extensive root system, combines to limit all three of these things in your lawn. In order to compensate, you need to have the best shade tolerant grasses available, extra water during dry conditions and adequate fertilization. Getting grass seed to grow in an area like this is can be easy. Keeping it from thinning over time is the trick.

Give these simple steps a try:

  1. Come spring, use Earl May Shady Side Grass Seed. Make sure the soil is well cultivated and add Structure Soil Conditioner to the existing soil. After sowing and lightly raking, add a starter fertilizer for seeding.
  2. Water daily until grass is growing and has been mowed 2-3 times.
  3. Transition to watering twice a week.
  4. Fertilize in October with fall lawn food.
  5. The following year, water weekly if no there’s no rain. Especially in the hot summer! Fertilize at least 3 times with quality slow release fertilizer throughout the season.

If you do this, you will be doing everything possible to maintain grass under the tree.

The other thing to consider is pruning off some of the bottom braches to open the canopy to allow more light to pass through.

This spring, I am looking to apply pre-emergent, lay grass seed, fertilize and apply Earth Right Soil Conditioner (for heavy clay soil). What order should this be done and when?2019-08-19T15:58:48-05:00
Here are the steps you should follow:
1.  Prepare the soil – can be done at anytime
a.  Incorporate Structure Soil Conditioner into the soil- this is recommended for heavy clay soil.
b. Spray with Earth Right Super Stuff
2.  Sow the seed as soon as the ground temperature reaches 55 degrees.  You can seed anytime, but it will not germinate until the ground temp reaches 55 degrees.
a.  Use a quality seed such as Earl May’s Marvel Grass Seed
3.  You will want to use a special crabgrass preventer for seeding.  Our brand is called Green View Seed Starter Fertilizer plus Crabgrass Preventer.  This has both the pre-emergent and fertilizer
a.  This product only lasts 30 days so timing is critical.  Apply just before crabgrass begins around April 15-20.
b.  Do not use a Crabgrass Preventer not meant for seeding as it cannot decipher between the grass seed and crabgrass
4.  You can apply Lawn Food after the second mowing


How do I get rid of moles in my yard?2019-08-19T15:25:57-05:00

Moles can wreak havoc on a yard. We can certainly understand the frustration you may be experiencing. We suggest these three options as effective ways to eliminate moles from your yard:

  1. We sell a mechanical trap called “Easy Set” Mole Eliminator that is pushed in the mole’s run (tunnel) and then activated by stepping on it.
  2. Mole Max Granules repellent is made from castor oil and put down on top of the yard. This is the best selling mole product we carry.
  3. Moletox Baited-Gel. Made from real worms and laced with poison. Comes with a plastic syringe that you use to apply the bait in the underground run.

When using a mechanical trap or baited-gel, you  need to find out where moles are located.  The “active run” is the tunnel moles use to go back and forth from one main home base out to all of the finger bases searching for food. Active runs are where you want to place the traps and/or bait. To know if a run is active, step on a one foot section of the raised tunnel to push it back to ground level. If you see the tunnel raised back up within 24 hours, you know it is being used. This is where you want to target your mole elimination products.

Bagworms on my blue spruce.2019-08-19T15:38:37-05:00

Bagworm caterpillars live their entire life inside their protective case (bag) and can become a serious problem for your evergreen if left uncontrolled.

You can control bagworms in basically two ways:

  1. If the entire evergreen is reachable with a ladder, you can pick off the bagworm sacks and throw them away in the trash. This needs to be done in the winter or before the first of June.
  2. If the tree is too large for this, you will have to resort to spraying your tree with an insecticidelike Earl May Eight. Earl May Eight comes in a variety of application methods, so choose the one that works best for you. New bagworms hatch about mid-June, so this is the time to be watching for caterpillar activity and spraying once a week until it stops. It’s best to control bagworms when they are young and small in size because controls become less effective as their size increases.

The best way to avoid problems on your spruce is to keep them watered and fertilized to promote plant health.

Can you tell me what is wrong with my plant? Will it spread to other plants? (Mealy bugs)2019-08-19T10:48:57-05:00

From the picture it looks like the schefflera plant has mealy bugs.  Use “Bonide” Insecticidal Soap to help control.  Thoroughly spray the insects, including the undersides of the plants leaves.  Repeat treatment weekly or bi-weekly if needed.

Check other plants to see if the mealy bugs have spread and treat them as well.

Does my gardenia plant have mealybugs?2019-08-19T10:48:21-05:00

It looks like your gardenia has a few mealybugs on it.  Mealybugs are insects that feed on the plant sap and if left uncontrolled, can slowly kill the host plant.

We recommend controlling mealybugs with one of these houseplant products:

  1. Earl May Earth Rx Houseplant & Insect Spray
  2. Bonide Houseplant Insecticidal Soap

You would want to apply either of these products weekly until the insects are controlled.

What to put down to keep the rabbits from eating my plants?2019-08-19T10:51:20-05:00

Rabbits can do quite a bit of damage to landscape and vegetable gardens. Animal repellents are a great way to trick the rabbits into leaving your plants alone.

Here are a few animal repellent products that are designed to repel rabbits:

  1. Repels-All Animal Repellent Spray .
  2. Repels-All Animal Repellent Granules .
  3. Repels-All Animal Repellent Granules .
  4. Hot Pepper Wax Animal Repellent Spray .
  5. Shake-Away Critter Repellent Granules .

It’s a good idea to re-apply the product after a few days of heavy rains. You will also want to try more than one repellent so the rabbits don’t get used to the current product.


How do I care for my newly planted buckthorn, lilac and ornamental grass?2019-08-19T14:48:41-05:00

Caring for your new plants is especially important the first year. Since your plants were placed in the ground in September, you will want to follow these steps to ensure their future:

  1. Water – Check your plants water needs a couple times a week. We recommend that you pull back the shredded bark mulch and stick your finger down in the soil. If it’s wet – put the mulch back and check again in a few days; if it’s dry – give the plant a nice slow drink of water, soaking the entire root system.  Continue monitoring your new plants for water into the late fall and early winter, watering as late as possible before the ground freezes.
  2. Fertilizer – After planting, we recommend using Earl May Plant Start every two to three weeks for the first month or so. Plant Start develops a strong root system while reducing the shock of transplanting. In the spring, we suggest watering once a month with our water soluble Nutri Gro fertilizer to get your plants off and growing for the new season.
  3. Mulch – It’s advisable to apply a nice two to three inch layer of shredded bark mulch to your new plants which will keep them cool in the summer and covered in the winter. Extend the mulch out just beyond the planting hole or spread of the branches but don’t put it right against the trunk of the plant, leave a small gap for air flow.
When do you cut off dead leaves of hosta plants?2019-08-19T14:27:44-05:00

Dead hosta leaves can be unsightly and sometimes unhealthy for the plants. Trim off dead leaves any time during the growing season and discard them in the yard waste just in case there was some disease present.

To keep your hosta plants looking their best, we recommend:

  1. Fertilizing in the spring with Earl May Garden & Plant Food Plus or other type of general fertilizer.
  2. Applying several inches of wood mulch around the plants to help retain soil moisture.
  3. Remove all the dead leaves at the end of the growing season by cutting them off at ground level. Discard in the yard waste.
Does Earl May sell plants treated with neonics?2019-08-19T14:52:26-05:00

Neonics (neonicotinoid insecticides) are systemic insecticides capable of killing various insects.  Recent concerns have been raised over the possible link between neonic treated seeds and plants, and the decline in the pollinator population including honey bees and butterflies.

We want you to know that we work closely with our growers to avoid the use of neonics in any of our plant offerings. Through our grower network and our own nursery growing facility in Shenandoah Iowa, we are able to carefully follow the most environmentally responsible growing practices possible. We are not aware of any neonic use in the growing of any of our plants.   Earl May Garden Centers and all of our vendors are taking neonics very seriously and we understand the importance of pollinators in our environment.

Earl May is also working to promote the demand for pollinator friendly plants in our stores and through Social Media. Other environmental factors may also be impacting pollinator numbers such as loss of habitat and we must lead the way in improving the overall health of the pollinators in our backyards. Mass and diverse plantings of blooming plants for all the seasons (spring, summer, and fall) will help.

Here is a list of bee friendly perennial plants available at your local Earl May Garden Center (plants are listed from early spring – late fall bloom time). Of course there are many, many more plants, shrubs, and trees that are bee friendly.

Should I prune shrub roses or hardy grasses this Fall?2019-10-30T13:27:43-05:00

Prune Shrub Roses in Spring

We suggest you wait until the Spring to prune any shrub roses or hardy grasses, as to better the plant’s winter survivability. Shrub roses will typically die back some during winter anyway.  Each new cut makes an injury that removes moisture from the plant and takes time to heal. Pruning in the fall will only cause the rose to die back further.

In the Spring around late March or early April, prune the tops down to about 6 to 8 inches from the base before new growth starts again. Remember to fertilize the plant once it starts growing again.

To see when you should prune in the Spring and for more tips, visit Seasonal Garden Maintenance.

To prepare for Spring pruning, check out these helpful products.

My peony bush leaves are white, what’s wrong with them?2019-08-19T15:34:47-05:00

This time of year some peony bushes get infected by a fungus commonly called powdery mildew. The disease will not normally kill your peony bush in one season, but could if left uncontrolled for several years. Powdery mildew is more prevalent in shady areas and when plants are closely spaced.

Here are some solutions to stopping the powdery mildew from returning next summer:

  1. If the area is shady – try to trim some of the lower tree branches to allow for more sun and air circulation.
  2. Remove and throw away all dead leaves now and in the fall to prevent the disease next summer. Diseased leaves should not be composted.
  3. If the plants are closely spaced – divide and replant the plants to allow for more space and better air flow.
  4. Watch the plants next summer and spray a fungicide like Liquid Copper at the first sign of powdery mildew.
  5. Fertilize your peony plants next spring with Earl May Garden & Plant Food Plus, so they have the strength to fight these summer diseases.
How do I kill the roots of large bushes I just cut down?2019-08-19T15:36:18-05:00

Luckily, there is a great product for killing roots and sprouts of trees, bushes and vines, it’s called Stump-Out Stump & Vine Killer. This product provides control of undesirable woody vines, plants, and broadleaf weeds around the home. You simply brush the liquid on a fresh cut of the undesired woody plant and let it do the rest of the work.

Can you tell my why my arborvites have black on them?2019-08-19T14:44:19-05:00
This is called “black flagging” but there isn’t much known about it.  No known cause or treatment is proven.  Some think it is due to animal urine since it is typically lower on the tree and in one area.  Trim out the black and put the clippings in the garbage.  The trees should be fine.  Here are a couple universities that are trying to learn more about the rare condition.
When should I move my rose bush?2019-08-19T15:43:29-05:00

Early spring or late fall would be the best time to transplant your rose bush.

Follow these steps:

  1. Dig as much of the root ball out as you can. Do this by slicing all the way around the rose and then slicing at an angle to cut the bottom roots. The more roots and dirt the better.
  2. Dig the hole in the new location the same size as the root ball you just removed.
  3. Place the rose in the new hole at the same depth as it was before – top of root ball is even with the top of the soil or just a little higher.
  4. Water the rose with Earl May Plant Start Fertilizer and then check for water every couple of days until the plant is established. Use your finger as a water checker, if it’s wet – don’t water, if it’s dry – water. You can apply the Plant Start about every 14 days or so when you water.
  5. Mulch the rose with some shredded bark mulch. This will help retain moisture and keep the weeds down.
How do I control the height of my upright arborvitae?2019-08-19T15:50:35-05:00

Arborvitae grow from the outside green tips and as they grow the inner parts (close to the trunk) of the branches lose their green needles. The best way to keep an arborvitae at a desired height is to do light trimming/pruning of the new green growth in the spring of each year. Take care not to cut too far back into the brown empty area close to the trunk. This empty space may not fill back in, so it’s best to keep your trimming to the green parts of the plant.

When should I cut down my ornamental grass?2019-08-19T15:55:31-05:00

Ornamental grasses are usually left standing all winter because they add interest and beauty to our landscape.

In late winter or early spring, before the grass starts growing, cut-back your grasses to 4 – 6 inches above the ground.

Stop by your local Earl May Garden Center for more information about ornamental grasses and their care.

How do I prepare my arborvitae for winter?2019-08-19T14:45:13-05:00

Here are a few tips to help evergreens, such as arborvitae, survive the first winter:

  1. Make sure the ground around the arborvitae is staying moist and give them a good amount of water before the ground freezes.  A good rule of thumb is one inch of water, either through rain or by watering until ground freeze.  A slow trickle is best so the water soaks into the soil, reaching the roots vs. running off.
  2. Spray the arborvitae with Wilt Stop 2 times before the freezing weather arrives.  Spray the first time around Halloween and the second time before Thanksgiving.  The weather must be warm enough that the spray will dry on the plant and not freeze.  Spray until the point that the leaves begin to drip.
  3. If we get some warm weather mid-winter; dump a couple buckets of water around the trees.

Most of the winter burn on arborvitae is due to the tree drying out and NOT from the cold temperatures.

What Are The Black Spots On Lilac & Ninebark?2019-08-19T14:48:22-05:00

Thank you for the photo- it helps us identify what is going on.  From the picture this looks like Leaf Spot which is a fungal disease.  There will be spots on the foliage of the shrubs and the leaves may turn yellow and drop spot on leaf

You can spray/apply Fungonil RTU

To help control the disease, remove any infected leaves and dead twigs that have fallen on the ground.  Remove all leaves from the ground once they have fallen this fall.
It is also important to avoid watering over the top of the plant.  Always water shrubs, trees, perennials at the base, under the leaves.  Extra moisture on top of the leaves makes them susceptible to fungus and disease.

How do I trim my lilac-on-a-standard?2019-08-19T16:31:42-05:00

The care of a “lilac-on-a-standard” is the same as any lilac shrub.

  1. Conserve soil moisture by applying a 2 – 3 inch layer of shredded bark mulch around the base of the plant.  Keep the mulch a finger width distance from the trunk of the plant.
  2. Fertilize lightly in the spring.
  3. Water as needed during the hot summer months.
  4. Prune lilac right after they bloom in the spring.  Any pruning in the summer or fall may remove next year’s flower buds.  Most lilac-on-a-standard will get quite large if they are not trimmed/shaped each year.  Deadheading is the process of removing the spent blooms and this can be done in the spring as well; but may not be necessary if a heavy trim is needed.

You may need several tools to prune your lilac:
Hand Pruner – This tool is used to remove single branches or blooms.
Shear – This tool is used for the shaping of the lilac each spring season.


My flowering crabapple trees had scab last summer. What should I do this spring to prevent it?2019-08-19T15:48:36-05:00

Crabapple scab is most prevalent when spring weather is mild and wet. Crabapple scab is a disease caused by a fungus in which olive brown velvety spots 1/4 inch or more in diameter, appear on leaves, twigs and young fruit. Severely infected trees may defoliate completely. If your tree gets a case of scab, the best prevention is to remove and destroy leaf debris and infected fruit in the fall. You can add an application of a fungicide like Earl May Fung-onil in the spring. The best time to spray your crabapple is before or after it blooms. Don’t spray during the blooming process or you will loose all your fruit, and it’s bad for the pollinators like bees.

Why are there brown leafy twigs peaking out of my oak tree?2019-09-10T20:25:34-05:00

Do you have an Oak tree in your yard with a few brown leafy branches/twigs throughout?  Or maybe you’ve spotted this while out driving around and wondered what this is.  It’s called Botryosphaeria twig canker and is a very common problem- especially in wet years.  It is very visual and easy to spot.  We believe sound cultural practices which promote tree health, like root feeding/irrigating in the summer and maintaining a 3 inch layer of mulch around the tree are the best defense for this problem.

The Iowa State University Extension Service has a great article addressing this issue:

Botryosphaeria twig canker is probably responsible for the brown leafy twigs in the red oak.  Botryosphaeria twig canker (a fungal disease) impairs the flow of water and nutrients in the branch and eventually girdles the twig, causing it to wilt and die.  Dieback usually extends only 4 to 6 inches inward from the branch tips. The dead twigs typically appear in mid to late summer and are scattered throughout the tree.  Botryosphaeria twig canker is most commonly seen in red and pin oaks, but also occurs in other oaks.  In general, Botryosphaeria twig canker causes minimal damage to otherwise healthy oak trees.  Sound cultural practices, which promote tree health, are the best defense against Botryosphaeria twig canker.

The twig pruner and twig girdler are two long-horned beetles that can also cause branch dieback in oaks.  Branch tips destroyed by the twig pruner and twig girdler eventually break off and fall from trees.  In contrast, the dead twigs produced by Botryosphaeria twig canker remain in the tree through fall.  Botryosphaeria twig canker differs from oak wilt in that only the tips of branches are affected.  Oak wilt affects whole branches.

To view the complete article, please visit:

Red Maple tree is losing its bark. The tree still blooms, but has gotten worse over the last 2 years. Can it be saved?2019-08-15T13:12:02-05:00
This looks like sunscald damage(explained below) from a few years ago.  If this is the only damage to the tree; I think it will be fine.  The tree is healing over, but it looks like it will take a few more years to completely heal.  Watch the area to make sure bugs are not eating the inside of the tree.  Use an insect spray or powder if you see ants, termites, or anything damaging the wood.  Give the tree a boost of slow release fertilizer this spring.  I like using Osmocote and mixing it into the mulch area around a tree –  make a mulch area around the tree if there isn’t one.  It will help retain moisture and keep lawn mowers and other equipment from further damaging the tree.
Sunscald damage usually happens to younger trees with tender bark on the south or southwest side of the trunk.  The bark can warm up on a sunny winter day and the sap can start to flow in the bark.  It usually requires snow to also reflect sunlight back up at the trunk.  When the sun goes down and it gets cold again; that area of bark on the tree dies.  The way to prevent sunscald is to put a tree wrap or tree guard around the young trunk during the winter.
Will English Ivy Hurt My Oak Tree?2019-08-19T14:45:36-05:00

Ivy can damage a tree when it gets thick enough; however, one year of growth probably isn’t enough to hurt the tree yet.  The ivy should be carefully removed from the tree, but don’t rip it off.  The roots have attached to the bark and this may cause you may remove the bark if pulled to hard. Cut the base of the ivy climbing the tree and cut off as much as possible from the trunk.  The winter may kill the rest of the ivy on the trunk, but if it doesn’t carefully use weed killer.


I have a large patch of lilies and don’t have as much time to pull weeds. What product will help with grass and broadleaf weeds without harming the lilies?2019-08-19T14:56:55-05:00

You can use the Easy Weeder Flower and Garden Weed Preventer #600045. It prevents weeds and grasses all season long, and is safe to use with lilies. One bag will cover 960 sq. ft.

My neighbor cut down their tree, now we have sprouts and weeds. What should we do?2019-08-19T15:01:38-05:00

Once the tree was cut down there was a change with the amount of sunlight the area is now getting. Because of this there may be seeds that are now germinating with the new found sun.  Use Earl May Super Brush and Weed Killer. This provides control of hard-to-kill weeds and will not kill grass in your lawn.

How to apply weed killer safely around children and pets?2019-08-19T15:05:57-05:00

When using lawn care products around children and pets a little caution is good.

If I was going to us a Granular Weed & Feed like Earl May Superfine which would be a good product to kill weeds and nourish the grass, I would only apply the product to say the front yard and keep the children & pets in the back.  After the granules have been on the lawn for two days (48 hours for best weed killing results), water it in and once dry, the lawn is safe for children and pets.  Then do the same for the back yard, fertilize back yard and children & pets use front yard, wait two days, water third day and children & pets out after it’s dry.

You could also use a liquid product like Liquid Weed & Feed , these liquid products are safe for children and pets once the product is dry.

If I just wanted to spray the lawn for some hard to kill weeds with Earl May Total Weed Control, the area is safe once the product is dry.

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