The Hort Report: Wait to mow or prune bushes and shrubs, and what to do with white rot in onions

Rotten onion

If you have a form of white rot in your onions, garlic or leeks, pull up and destroy all plants that show white rot symptoms and signs and burn them. Don’t put them in a compost pile. | Photo courtesy of Pat Greenwell

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Hort Report provides information to help you with your garden, flowerbed, yard and other landscaping projects. Readers questions are welcome.

Welcome to all the new readers of The Hort Report. Thanks to Bob Gough and David Adam with Muddy River News for giving this opportunity to write for them. I hope all the new readers will get helpful information.

What can I say about the hot dry weather we had in June? It might have been one of the driest and hottest Junes I can remember, and I turned 66 this year. The first day of July, we received more than 1.3 inches of rain in Shelbina. Hopefully many of you have received some rain in the past few days, too. 

We need to thank God for any rain we have received this growing season. In the coming days and weeks, keep praying for the rain we need to keep our gardens, flowerbeds and yards. Any mulching you have done should allow the water that is in the soil last longer. Several people have told me over the past few days the rain also has made it easier to pull weeds and unwanted grasses from your garden and flowerbeds. Less weeds means more water and nutrients for your plants.   

In the past week, I had some people ask me about starting to mow their yards again. I realize some people never really stopped mowing their yards, using the excuse of wanting to keep the weeds cut. It really makes me wonder if people realize that they may be doing more harm than good. 

Mowing when the grass isn’t growing can do long-term harm. Once the grass starts to grow again, you need to allow it time to regrow the root system. Grass needs a big healthy roots system to keep the grass plant growing during these hot and dry times of the year. If you are mowing too often and too low, the grass plant is trying to grow new grass from the crown. It should be growing a big healthy root system. 

During this time of year, the temperature is too hot to allow the cool season grasses to grow very much anyway. Try to wait a few days so the grass has time to get its root system built back up before you mow like you were before the hot dry weather started back in late April and early May. 

A good friend sent me an email with pictures of a problem he is having with his onions this year with the roots rotting off. The inside of the onion is starting to rot. He said the tops of the onions start to yellow and wilt. Once you pull the onions up, you see the roots have rotted off. The inside of the onion is rotten, and it isn’t usable.

I think it is a form of white rot that happens in onions, garlic and leeks. This is caused by a pathogen that lives in the soil, attacking the onion and causing it to die. If you have a form of white rot in your onions, garlic or leeks, pull up and destroy all plants that show white rot symptoms and signs. I think you need to burn them. Don’t put them in a compost pile or till them into another part of your garden. The plants and the soil around them are infected. 

You also need to remove the dirt within six inches of the infected plants and treat the soil where the onions were growing. You can use the fungicides Tebuconazole, Fludioxonil and Boscalid to fight the white rot in the garden soil.

Another good friend asked me about if they should be pruning their evergreen bushes and shrubs now. The best time to prune your evergreens is between late November and early March when the evergreen is dormant. You can also prune your evergreen bushes and shrubs in late spring from late April to early May just after the spring growth is finished. This will help you shape the evergreen bush and shrub better. 

Never prune your evergreen bushes and shrubs this time of year. If you do prune now, they will start to grow new growth before it goes dormant for the winter. The new growth might not survive the winter weather. Some of you have the time now to be pruning your evergreen bushes and shrubs, but don’t do it. Wait until late November to start. This will make sure that you don’t cause the evergreen to be damaged during the winter months. 

Monday, July 3 was the first day of Dog Days, which run until August 11 each year. This is when we get some of the hottest, driest and most humid weather of the year. We call it Dog Days because July 3 is the rising of the Dog Star. Next to the sun, the Dog Star is the brightest star In the sky. The Dog Star will start to decrease its brightness in the sky by Aug. 11.

In the coming days, you want to make sure to water your garden and flowerbeds as needed. Many of you are starting to get produce from your garden and flowers from your flowerbeds. I will be using Ferti-lome Bloom and Root Fertilizer weekly. 

Mix one scoop of Bloom and Root with one gallon of water. Place the fertilizer mix at the base of the vegetable plant. Make sure you have watered your vegetable plants before fertilizing them. You need to make sure the soil around the roots is full of water so the fertilizer mix won’t just run through the soil around the roots. This will allow the fertilizer mix stay in the soil around the roots longer so the mix will do a better job. 

Bloom and Root has a large amount of phosphate, which helps build strong healthy roots, blooms, flowers and produce. I know many people who have been doing this for years. Try some and see how much it helps your garden produce a great crop this year. 

The Shelby County Youth Fair is July 10-15 in Shelbina, Mo. Come out to see all the exhibits and livestock shows. The exhibitors have spent many hours working on their projects, so if you come out to support them, they will appreciate it. 

I appreciate all the questions in the past and look forward to them in the future. Thank you and please keep them coming. Call me at 573-588-2040, come see me at Shelby County Implement or send me an email with questions or pictures at I hope you’re enjoying the time you’re spending in your gardens and flowerbeds.

Pat Greenwell is the owner of Shelby County Implement in Shelbina, Mo. He was a high school agriculture teacher for 11 years. He has taught adult vocational agriculture since 1987. He also is a research assistant at the Truman State University Ag Department Farm. 

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