Ask the Expert

Wisconsin State Farmer

Q: What are some good berry shrubs for attracting birds?

A: Very timely question as many fine shrubs for birds are at their peak now. Any of the dogwoods or viburnums are wonderful for the berries they provide. Ninebarks also provide fruits for birds. Junipers and white cedar are also excellent choices for attracting songbirds during the fall and winter season.  

Q: I didn't see many hummingbirds this year. What can I do to attract more to my yard?

A: Providing a natural food source is an excellent idea. Don't rely simply on feeders. Include many native perennials and other hummingbird favorites to bring hummingbirds to the garden. Easy to grow and colorful choices are cardinal flower, penstemon, bee balm, garden phlox and trumpet honeysuckle. Annuals such as petunias, cardinal climber, tall verbena, sages and salvias are excellent, as well. 

Q: Powdery mildew has attacked my garden phlox. What can I do to prevent this?

A: Treat susceptible plants with an all natural fungicide spray early in the season and ongoing every few weeks. Because of the wet summer and fall, many plants have developed powdery mildew this season. There are also many varieties of mildew resistant phlox available.

Q: Can I prune my ninebark now?

A: Yes, these shrubs are very forgiving and it can be pruned at just about anytime. In fact, these can be pruned right to the ground in many cases and they will bounce back beautifully. Be aware that you may be sacrificing flowers next season,