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Southern Gardening Mailbag

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February 27, 2016
During the winter months I like to answer the questions I get from the fans of Southern Gardening. Let’s take a look a couple of these questions. Our first question is from Stan in Picayune, MS. Hey Gary, I’ve noticed on my satsuma orange a new stem that has big thorns on it. Is this some kind of mutation? Stan, thanks for the question. The best producing Satsuma plants are usually grafted onto a vigorously growing rootstock. One problem that can occur from time to time for home gardener is the root stock will sometimes start to outgrow the grafted shoots. The rootstock typically has a thorny stem back that is easily removed with pruners. Our next question is from Louise in Hattiesburg. Gary, I hope you can help. My oak trees have this fuzzy gray stuff that looks like fungus growing on them. Is this going kill my trees? Louise, thanks for the question. What you see is called lichen and is commonly found all across the southeast. Actually the lichen is only growing the surface of the bark and don’t feed on the tree itself. They are composed of an unlikely combination of a fungus and algae that are combined in a symbiotic relationship. Now lichens are commonly observed on trees and shrubs that are struggling. But the lichens were already present before any decline started, giving the illusion that the lichens are causing the problem. So if you’ve got a question about your landscape or garden send it to me and maybe I’ll answer yours on a future segment. I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman and I’ll see you next time on Southern Gardening.
Department: Agricultural Communications

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