Gardening Q and A

Plants With The Name Walter

Q: I’m looking for a plant with the name “Walter” to plant in my garden to honor my great-grandfather. Any suggestions? A: I have an evergreen Walter viburnum, Viburnum obovatum, and a Walter dogwood, Cornus walteri, in my landscape. The...

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Pine Straw And Chip Mulch – Do They Attract Snakes?

Q: Please evaluate pine straw versus chip mulch in attracting snakes to an area. A: Whenever you have a nuisance creature in your landscape, the first question to ask is “Why is it here and not somewhere else?”. Snakes come...

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Summer Blooming Perennials – When Best To Fertilize

Q: When it best to fertilize my summer blooming perennials? A: If you use a liquid fertilizer, fertilize one time at planting, once six weeks later, and another time six weeks after that. Of course a timed-release granular fertilizer, like...

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Applied Pre-emergent in August – Can You Overseed Fescue In October?

Q: If you apply pre-emergent in August can you overseed fescue in October? A: Sure you can, but you won’t get any weed control from the pre-emergent application you put down in August. Most winter weeds germinate in October, just...

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Hydrangeas – Pinker Than Usual This Year

Q: My hydrangeas are more pink than usual this year. Do you know why? A: A: I could suggest theories but I’m not sure they hold water. Hydrangea flower color is determined by the amount of aluminum present in the...

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Garden Compost – What Is Okay To Put In It?

Q: Is it okay to put citrus fruit rinds, coffee grounds, and tea bags in my garden compost? A: Everything except milk and meat products is fine to put in a compost pile. You can add the compost to your...

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Apple Trees – Orange-Yellow Spots On Leaves

Q: We just purchased a new house with a couple of apple trees on the property. The leaves have lots of little orange-yellow spots on them. A: It’s likely cedar-apple rust. Your trees may start dropping leaves soon. Red cedar...

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Blueberry Bush – Leaves Are Yellow With Green Veins

Q: My Premier blueberry bush looks sick. It is full of fruit but the leaves are yellow, with green veins. Any ideas? A: Yellow leaves with green veins indicate iron chlorosis, which can be caused by soil pH that’s too...

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Gardenias – Limbs Are Touching The Ground

Q: We have beautiful gardenias flanking our patio. The weight of flowers and leaves has bent the limbs over to touch the ground. What would you suggest? A: After flowering, prune them back by at least a third. Make your...

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Mass Planting Ferns – Which Type To Get

Q: I am looking to do a mass planting of ferns. The least expensive way to go is to buy bare root ferns online. I’m looking at beech fern, autumn fern, cinnamon fern, and bracken fern. A: The ferns you...

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Petunias – White Spots On The Petals

Q: I’m seeing petunias with white spots on the flower petals. There are no spots on the foliage. A: It’s probably gray mold, Botrytis cinerea, a common disease of flower petals. If a petunia flower is kept constantly moist, the...

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Peach Tree Planted Around Septic Tank – Safe To Eat Fruit?

Q: What do you think about eating the fruit from a peach tree that it was planted around a septic tank? A: As long as the fruit does not directly touch the ground I would be comfortable eating it. Germs...

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Cinder Block Raised Beds – Is there A Danger Of Chemicals Leaching Into The Soil?

Q: I have seen plans for making raised beds with cinder blocks. Is there any danger of chemicals leaching into the soil? A: Once upon a time cinder blocks were made from cinders that were left after coal was burned...

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Red Potatoes – What Has Been Eating At The Roots?

Q: We planted red potatoes but one of the plants has been eaten from the roots. A: I think it could be a vole (meadow mouse) eating the potato. These shy creatures make runs beneath mulch and weeds to reach...

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Passionvines – What To Do About Caterpillars

Q: I have six passionvines. What can I use to kill the spiked caterpillar that can strip the whole vine in less than a week? A: The other-side-of-the-coin nature of butterflies is that they all come from caterpillars. And caterpillars...

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Green Lawn Year Round – Options

Q: I’m building a house that will be done in September. The contractor normally uses bermuda grass but I prefer a green lawn year round. What grass would you recommend for our full sun yard with irrigation system? A: You...

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Tree Peony – Does It Grow Into A Tree

Q: You mentioned a tree peony a few weeks ago. Does it really grow into a tree? A: They are called “tree peony” but they are more like “shrub peony”. My fifteen-year-old Paeonia suffruticosa is three feet tall and three...

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Ladybugs VS Asian Ladybugs

Q: On your radio show, you were talked about ladybugs and said something about not confusing them with bugs that would eat wood. What bugs did you mean? A: I spoke about the Asian ladybugs that were brought in to...

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