DEAR NEIL: I have two young red oak trees in our yard. The leaves on one of the trees are turning brown. Is this something I need to be concerned about?

Dear Reader: Anytime you have tip or edge burn of leaves of almost any plant species you can attribute it to moisture stress. In this case the one tree may have gotten marginally too dry sometime this summer. Hopefully you’ll be able to keep it watered very well the rest of this fall and winter. You’ll know by early next spring.

Here’s hoping, too, that you had the trunk wrapped on both trees for the first couple of years to protect against sunscald. That’s a message I’ve been trying to get out all of my career, but few people do so.

DEAR NEIL: You have talked about a product to apply to stumps of unwanted brush after we cut it off. I can’t remember what it was and I don’t know where to find it.

Dear Reader: I have long made it my practice not to mention products by brand name to avoid any appearance of favoritism. In this case I’m just talking about a standard broad-leafed weedkiller containing 2,4-D.

There are dozens of brands on the market and you’ll find them in almost all nurseries, farm supply stores and hardware stores. Drill one or more (depending on size of trunk) inch-deep, pencil-sized holes into the stumps and fill them with the concentrated material. Do not allow it to run out onto the soil.

DEAR NEIL: The attached photo is of a weed that has started to show up in our St. Augustine lawn. Can you identify it and tell me what I could use to control it?

Dear Reader: I only see one photo and it is ultra-tiny. I can’t recognize the weed, but it’s obviously a broad-leafed weed. Almost any weed that isn’t a grass (excluding nutsedge) can be controlled with a broad-leafed weedkiller containing 2,4-D.

Temperatures now should be cool enough for you to use it on St. Augustine. Use a pump spray so you can apply it specifically to the weeds. If you see the spray beading up and running off the leaves, add one drop of a liquid dishwashing detergent to each gallon of spray.

DEAR NEIL: As the person in the family with the “green thumb,” I get the plant propagation questions. Can I root esperanza and fire bush plants from cuttings? If so, where do I make the cuttings? Is this a good time?

Dear Reader: It sounds like you have a good working start on how to root cuttings of plants. It’s always best to do so in a mixture of half peat moss and half perlite (not in water). Use cuttings that are 3 inches long and that you’ve taken from strong vegetative growth.

In most cases you shouldn’t need a rooting hormone powder, but if you have troubles you could always buy a packet at a nursery and give it a try. If you root them now you would want to pot them into 1-gallon pots to grow during the winter. Anytime temperatures are expected to drop below 40 degrees bring them into warm, bright conditions indoors.

DEAR NEIL: I am concerned about peonies in our cemetery. Their leaves have turned brown and it appears that the plants have died. I’m told that our maintenance person has sprayed MSMA, and it appears that killed them.

I’ve also heard that glyphosates cause monuments and concrete curbs to deteriorate. What suggestions do you have for me before I start replacing the dead peonies?

Dear Reader: This column goes far and wide and I really wish you had mentioned where this cemetery is. Peonies are not adapted in Texas at all. You’ll see them growing north of I-20, but even there they have turned mostly brown by now. They’re perennials and that’s the way their foliage operates.

I’ll let you do the research on glyphosates’ effects on monuments and concrete. That’s something I’ve not personally observed or heard in my career. Also, MSMA hasn’t been on the consumer market for many years. He must really have stocked up.

Have a question you’d like Neil to consider? Email him at Neil regrets that he cannot reply to questions individually.

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