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LifestyleColumnistsJessica Damiano

Dealing with odiferous ginkgo fruit, voracious voles and spent crape myrtle blooms

Female ginkgo trees are dropping smelly, messy fruit

Female ginkgo trees are dropping smelly, messy fruit on Liliana Burgos' South Freeport yard. Credit: Liliana Burgos

DEAR JESSICA: We have six ginkgo trees that are used mainly for privacy around our deck. Unfortunately, for the past few years they have been producing messy fruit. Is there any way to stop the fruiting without harming the much-loved trees, which are quite beautiful? We really do not want to remove them.

— Liliana Burgos, Freeport

DEAR LILIANA: Unfortunately, there realistically isn’t much you can do to stop your trees from producing fruit. The fruit not only is extremely messy, but, as I’m sure you have noticed, emits a foul odor that some say is reminiscent of vomit. Because only female ginkgo trees produce fruit, I always advise that only males be planted. But, alas, it’s too late for you.

There is a product called Florel Fruit Eliminator, but it won’t completely eliminate fruit; at best it would reduce it. It’s also difficult to apply effectively to such a large tree, as the entire crown must be coated. In addition, repeat applications would be necessary to achieve even partial control, so I don’t believe it would be practical in your case. I hate to say it, but your only options appear to be live with the fruit or take out the trees. Sorry.

DEAR JESSICA: I have a crape myrtle and was wondering when and if I should be cutting old blooms off.

— Karen Kiefel, Merrick

DEAR KAREN: It’s not necessary. However, removing spent flowers from some cultivars, such as “Natchez,” a white-blossomed tree popular on Long Island, could produce a second, less-profuse bloom.

DEAR JESSICA: Any sage advice on how to get rid of our infestation of voles? They destroyed all of our rose buses and other plants by eating the roots. We are so frustrated! We have tried cayenne pepper, special vole poison, smoke bombs and traps. For two homeowners with advanced college degrees, they have us beat!

— Jane F. Shearer, Manorville

DEAR JANE: Voles spend their short lives doing three things: carving tunnels in lawns and gardens, eating roots, tubers, plants, seeds, bark and grass, and reproducing. Their activity can girdle the roots and trunks of trees, and the damage they cause to plant roots is often fatal, as you’ve seen firsthand with your roses.

The most effective means of eliminating voles is to place ordinary mousetraps baited with apple chunks wherever you notice activity. Just be sure to consider whether children, cats or other visitors would be imperiled before settling on a spot.

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