Mistletoe: deal with it or not?

There has been some conversation in the newspaper recently about whether to remove mistletoe from the juniper trees.  What to do?

There is no clear answer to this question.  The USDA site says to leave it alone.

However, the New Mexico State Plant Pathologist recommends removing it:  http://aces.nmsu.edu/ces/plantclinic/documents/mistletoes-_od-10__final.pdf

The Solano, California Master Gardeners offer this advice:  “Mechanical Control through pruning is the most effective method. Prune out mistletoe as soon as it appears. For good control, remove branches at least one foot below the point of mistletoe attachment to completely remove embedded haustoria. Simply cutting off mistletoe from trees can reduce spread, but it will not provide control. You may need to remove trees that are too severely infested to prune back.

Mistletoes infecting a major branch or the trunk where it cannot be pruned may be controlled by cutting off the mistletoe flush with the limb or trunk. Then wrap the infested area of the tree with sturdy, black, polyethylene plastic secured with twine or tape to exclude light. Leave the plastic on for up to two years until the mistletoe dies, replacing the plastic that becomes torn.

Simply cutting the mistletoe out of an infested tree each winter, even without wrapping, is better than doing nothing. However, mistletoe will resprout again if you only cut it back.

Chemical control is another method and involves using plant growth regulators, such as ethephon. To be effective, be sure to use the chemicals as directed by the label in dormant host trees. These chemicals will temporarily remove mistletoe but they provide only short -term control and do not kill the plant. The mistletoe will soon reappear at the same point, requiring treatment again.”


It’s your choice!