Hi, I have 2 questions:Hi, I have 2 questions: 1) Royal Frost Birch Tree -...

Asked May 23, 2015, 12:49 PM EDT

Hi, I have 2 questions:Hi, I have 2 questions: 1) Royal Frost Birch Tree - bought and planted (5 gallon container) in 2009 from Gertens. Last fall one of the 4 stalks did not lose its leaves like the other 3 trunks. Now this Spring, this trunk did not produce any leaves and I just noticed some severe holes in many places on the thick trunk - almost looks like woodpecker holes. (I haven't seen any woodpeckers on this small tree (it’s about 12’ tall) nor have I seen any termites – although I did notice a significant ant hill about 4 feet away in the grass. Even more alarming, I see that the other main trunk with living leaves also has a lot of these holes in the thick trunk. Please let me know if you have any recommendations on saving this tree! (Photo attached) 2) Creeping Charlie in lawn: For years I’ve heard about using Borax to treat creeping Charlie in lawns. I’ve never applied this (with water mix) but decided to do so this year. I bought some Borax and a sprayer, but then saw several internet sources stating that Borax has been found to be ineffective and is not recommended. Could you comment on using Borax for Creeping Charlie removal – or do you have other recommendations. Thanks! Pete Salmon 612.423.7820 1) Royal Frost Birch bought and planted (5 gallon container) in 2009 from Gertens. Last fall one of the 4 stalks did not lose its leaves like the other 3 trunks. Now this Spring, this trunk did not produce any leaves and I just noticed some severe holes in many places on the thick trunk - almost looks like woodpecker holes. (I haven't seen any woodpecker

Ramsey County Minnesota creeping charlie birch tree tree problems

2 Responses

Thank you for the question. From the birch tree trunk photo, I'm guessing that something, maybe woodpeckers, are trying to get at insects under the bark. I can't see the character of the smaller holes in the bark so I would suggest having a certified arborist come out to examine the tree. This is especially important if this is a valued tree in your landscape. The problem needs to be diagnosed accurately before attempting a treatment. Birch trees have specific cultural requirements that must be met for them to grow well. It's possible that your tree became stressed for some reason and was susceptible to insect damage like borers. In the forest, birch trees thrive on cool, moist soils. Their very shallow root system makes them sensitive to even short periods of drought or heating of the soil, thus they grow poorly on hot, dry soils. Therefore, birch trees should be planted in locations where the soil will be shaded, cool, and moist. However, birch trees require full to partial sunshine on their leaves to grow well. The challenge is to select a growing site where the soil will remain cool and moist, but where the tree will also receive full sunshine on its leaves for much of the day.

Here are two links to read; one on growing Royal Frost Birch tree and the other on bronze birch borer.

http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/insects/find/bronze-birch-borer/

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?taxonid=273743&isprofile=0&

Regarding your question about using borax on creeping Charlie: Borax (sodium tetraborate) has been found to be an effective herbicide for creeping charlie (Glechoma hederacea, also known as ground ivy, creeping jenny and gill-over-the-ground). Established grass is tolerant of Borax, though it may temporarily show brown discoloration. Also, borax should not be used in gardens.Creeping charlie is an invasive perennial weed that vines throughout lawns and chokes out grass. The borax should be used in a wet solution, not dry mixed with sand. The boron in the borax remains immobile in the soil and can accumulate to form a toxic hot spot in the lawn. If the borax solution is applied in too high a concentration, or repeatedly, it will then be toxic to the grass and many other plants. Also, this treatment can be applied only once each year for two years. For best results, apply borax when creeping charlie is actively growing in the spring and when no rain is expected for 48 hours. The proper dosage for Borax as a Creeping Charlie control: Dissolve 10 oz. Borax in 4 oz. (½ cup) warm water; Dilute in 2.5 gallons of water. This solution will cover approximately 1,000 square feet. If you have a smaller area to treat, adjust the dosage accordingly. If creeping charlie is growing in a very shady location, think about what you can replace it with before applying this borax treatment. Unless you can establish other plants you will find that the creeping charlie will return in the same location. A healthy lawn, maintained with a regime of proper mowing practices, watering and fertilization is the strongest defense against Creeping Charlie and other weeds.

While maintaining a thick healthy lawn is the best defense against Creeping Charlie, another good post emergence control of ground ivy is achieved in the fall once temperatures have cooled to the 60's or 70's, with no rain forecast for 48 hours. This spray program may be repeated every ten to fourteen days as long as the weather is cooperative. Another time is during the short flowering period in mid-May. At these optimum timings, most active ingredient and combination products provide good control. The best choice for homeowners is a weed killer that contains triclopyr. A combination of 2,4-D, MCPP and dicamba may be used under some circumstances. The three together works more effectively than the combination of 2,4-D and MCPP alone but dicamba is absorbed through the roots as well as through leaves. Dicamba should not be used near the roots of trees or perennials.

If you have just a little bit of creeping Charlie, just pull it out and be vigilant in pulling out any new sprouts until no more emerge.

Thank you for contacting Extension.

Anita,

Thank you for the response!
Pete