Leaf spots unattractive, but not harmful at present

story.lead_photo.captionThese hydrangeas have Cercospora leaf spot, a fungal disease common on the plants. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)

Q I have these three hydrangea plants that have these black spots on them. They are planted along the same side of our house that faces east, so get morning sun and afternoon shade and watered about twice a week. They started this last year. Can you tell me what is going on and what to do or not do? I took these pictures about three weeks ago, and now the largest two have suddenly thinned out a lot but still have a few blooms and new growth. Help! I am new to gardening.

A Your hydrangeas have Cercospora leaf spot, a common fungal disease of hydrangeas. This late in the season, I would try to ignore them. I know they don’t look attractive, but it is too late to start a spray program. Our recent hard rains made the problem worse. This fall, as the leaves begin to shed, practice good sanitation, by raking up all the infected leaves and getting them out of the yard. Monitor the plants next spring, and if you see damage early, a spray program may be warranted. If the problem occurs only late in the season, it won’t affect their blooms or growth next season; it is just unsightly. Here is a link to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service fact sheet on the problem: arkansasonline.com/919spot.

Q Can surprise lilies be dug and stored or should they be dug and replanted this fall?

A If there is a need to store the bulbs instead of planting, it can be done, but it would be much better for the bulbs to replant as quickly as possible. Be aware that it is not unusual that lycoris (surprise lilies) don’t rebloom the year after transplanting.

Q I generally treat our lawn twice a year (we’re do-it-yourselfers). I’ve been using a weed-and-feed product that makes the grass healthy, but the weeds even healthier. Someone said you recommended against weed-and-feed. What’s your recommendation for a best fall treatment and when should I apply it? Our grass is mostly St. Augustine.

A While I know that combo products seem like a time saver and an easier option, I am not a fan. If you were doing a pre-emergent herbicide in the spring, it would need to be applied well before the lawn grass greened up and could benefit from any fertilizer, so you would basically just be feeding weeds. We are at the very outside of fertilization now for warm-season grasses. We don’t want to encourage too much new growth late in the season, but one more application ASAP would be fine. If your weed-and-feed is a pre-emergent type, it could be used now, as long as the product is labeled for St. Augustine.

Q Something is “pruning” my 10- or 12-foot Brown Turkey fig tree. In July it was lush and covered with green figs. As they

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