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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions -TREES

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Crepe Myrtle

  • I think my Crepe Myrtle may have a fungus. They seem to be infected with a white fungus that has turned the leaves black, attracts a lot of bees, and causes them to shed a black sticky substance.
This is likely to be a scale insect rather than a fungus. The scales are immobile and cover themselves with white fuzzy wax. The black growth on the leaves is likely sooty mold, which grows on honeydew, the sweet, sticky excrement of piercing/sucking insects like scales. A variety of stinging insects are attracted to (and feed on) the honeydew as well!
There are a variety of scales but this sounds like Crepe Myrtle Bark Scale which is a relatively new invasive insect that has been reported sporadically across the state. Here’s an Extension publication with more information about it.


  • Do I need to prune my woody ornamentals, and if so, how do I do it?

Pruning is the removal of plant parts to accomplish any or all of the following goals: to train the growth habit of the plant; to maintain plant health; to improve the quality of flowers, fruits, foliage, and stems; to control growth. Pruning can also enhance the natural beauty of a plant and accentuate its features. Based on the needs of the specific plant, use the proper tools effectively at the optimal time of year to achieve the desired effect. Some plants only require pruning to remove damaged, diseased, dying, or dead branches or other plant parts, and heavy pruning may actually kill some plants. Refer to the following publications, all of which are available online.

Pruning Trees and Shrubs Publication Series

AG-780-01, Before the Cut

AG-780-03, General Pruning Techniques

AG-780-02, Tools to Make the Cut

AG-780-04, How to Prune Specific Plants

  • Should I use wound paint after pruning a tree or shrub?

Wound paint is not recommended and may even hinder the plant’s ability to seal off (compartmentalize) the pruning injury. A better strategy, especially on trees, is to make proper pruning cuts, either at the point of attachment or just beyond a bud, early in the life of a plant. This results in small wounds (less than 4 inches in diameter) near tissue that is capable of growing to seal off the wound naturally. This pruning, done in the first few years of a plant’s life to direct future growth, is called “training.”

That Seems Weird . . .

  • My variegated dogwood has a branch with all green leaves. What should I do?

The branch with all green leaves has reverted back to its original form. These nonvariegated branches grow more quickly than variegated ones. Remove them immediately by cutting back to a branch union.

To learn more about common woody ornamental problems see  “Diagnosticc Tables.”