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Don Kinzler, Published September 13 2013

Fielding questions

Q We have a small Autumn Blaze Maple that has been an odd yellow/green color most of the summer, and now many of the leaves are getting brown spots. Others are turning brown and curling up toward the top of the tree. We planted the tree two or three years ago. Do you have any idea what could be happening, and is there anything we can do?

– Trish Hoff, Moorhead

A Tree leaf problems have been a common source of questions this season. The late, cool wet spring was favorable for many leaf-spot diseases, rusts and galls. These diseases do not normally kill the tree, then the season turned hot and dry, which caused environmental-type stress to the leaves.

Maples are especially susceptible to environmental leaf scorch. On hot, dry, windy days tree roots often cannot pump water up to the leaves fast enough, even though the soil might be moist. The leaves become scorched, and the outer portions become brown and dry.

Your maples will probably be ok. There is nothing to be done now, except water every one to two weeks if dry, but being careful not to keep soil constantly soggy.

Q I would like to attract humming birds to my garden, and I am looking for five or six perennial flowers that I could plant. I now have a cardinal climber, 4 o’clocks, daisy, poppy and bleeding heart.

– Ken Mikula, Moorhead

A Hummingbirds are fascinating. We plant Cascade geraniums in window boxes outside our kitchen window, especially for the fun of watching them.

Flowers that attract hummingbirds tend to have tubular or trumpet-shaped flowers. Perennial flowers hardy for northern areas that are known to attract hummingbirds include columbine, coral bells, foxglove, hosta, lupines, penstemon, phlox and lobelia cardinalis.

Annuals include petunia, morning glory, snapdragon and salvia. Enjoy the hummingbirds!

Q: My husband and I recently relocated to Fargo from San Diego. Obviously, the flora and fauna is quite different here, so I’m not familiar with things most people living here would know. I would like to plant large evergreens in our backyard. What species would you recommend? When is the best time to plant – now before it freezes, or would you suggest waiting until spring?

– Beverly Sumwalt, Fargo

A Welcome to Fargo! You’re going to enjoy living and gardening here. Our northern area is unique. There is an abundance of beautiful plant material; we just have to pick the right types.

Hardy evergreen trees generally fall into two categories – spruce, with needle length between 1 and 1½ inches long; and pine, with longer needles between 2 and 6 inches long. Spruce tend to retain their pyramidal shape, with branches often sweeping the ground. The best adapted are Black Hills Spruce and Colorado Spruce, including its blue cultivars.

Pines tend to grow more informally and open as they age. Best suited for our area are Ponderosa Pine and Scotch Pine. Fall is a great time to plant both pines and spruce.

If you have a gardening or lawn care question, email Don Kinzler at ForumGrowingTogether@hotmail.com. Questions with broad appeal may be published, so please include your name, city, and state for appropriate advice.