Metro-East Living

Have you noticed the leaves on your oak tree curling? Here’s why.

The late spring frost could have started the problem which later spread with a disease of Oak Anthracnose (Gnomonia species), which causes the leaf curl.
The late spring frost could have started the problem which later spread with a disease of Oak Anthracnose (Gnomonia species), which causes the leaf curl.

Q: My oak trees have leaf curl, the smaller the tree the worse it is. I see no evidence on the back side. Was it the cold snap? It started just before the hard rain spell, so I don’t think it’s related. I have researched some disease issues and don’t think that’s it.

R.S. of Highland

Q: I have noticed the white oaks in our neighborhood in Northwoods in Highland are curling. We had a late freeze while they were leafing out. Could this cause this?

R.W. of Highland

A: The late spring frost could have started the problem that later spread with a disease of Oak Anthracnose (Gnomonia species), which causes the leaf curl. This disease is found on fallen leaves during the winter. Then the heavy rain that followed the frost splashed the spores onto young leaves. You noticed the leaves became puckered and twisted. Eventually these young leaves will die and may cause severe defoliation.

This disease is more noticeable on lower branches and younger trees as the leaf spot will develop later in the spring. The fungi can also enter the small twigs and cause dieback as the disease forms small bumps on the twigs. There is no remedy to control the anthracnose this year. But if the spring of 2018 is unusually wet, you will want to spray young trees and valuable specimen oaks with a fungicide containing copper sulfate when the buds are just beginning to open next spring to prevent this problem from starting again next year.

Q: I want to plant plants to attract butterflies to my garden. I have noticed that they like purple coneflower. What are some others?

K.D. of Mascoutah

A: Butterflies are attracted especially to plants which bear yellow, orange, red, or purple flowers. If your butterfly area is located in a sunny area sheltered from strong winds, you will have more success. Also if you have a small water area with a rock situated slightly above the water you will also have more success.

Add the plants of azalea, asters, pinks (Dianthus species), and liatris to the area will help in attracting butterflies. Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), yarrow (Achillea), butterfly plant (Asclepias), and sunflowers will bring many others.

For a butterfly garden you will need to attract the larval stage of caterpillars with large amounts of carrots, parsley and fennel foliage. Butterflies like to lay their eggs on clover, thistle, and especially milkweed plants.

Warning you should not use any pesticides if you are trying to attract butterflies and you may have to be a little tolerant of weeds.

Charles Giedeman is a local contributing writer. Send your gardening questions to Lifestyle Department, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to lifestyle@bnd.com.

Things to do this week:

  • This is time to start planting the flower beds and vegetable gardens as well as the large amount of rain should be over hopefully.
  • But do not work the soil if it is still wet as you will destroy the soil structure as this could cause compaction and 50 percent of the soil should be space and 50 percent of soil particles. If you destroy the space you lose a lot benefits for oxygen for the roots of the plants.
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