Gardening Q and A

Hellebore – Encouraging Growth

Q: I have been growing a hellebore for ten years but have not been able to get it to spread. It is mulched with pine straw. How can I get it to multiply? A: Your hellebore’s flowers are fading and...

READ MORE

Indian Hawthorn – Leaves Brown and Crisp

Q: I am seeing large groupings of dead Indian hawthorns near where I work. The leaves are light brown and crisp to the touch. A: Indian hawthorn is another plant that has confounded me with its behavior after January’s severe...

READ MORE

Blueberries – Berries Not Blue

Q: We have several wild blueberry bushes in our woods. Each year they produce lots of berries but they never turn blue. What can we do to help them ripen? A: “Ripening” for any fruit involves sunshine. Plants use solar...

READ MORE

Limelight Hydrangea – Pruning

Q: Is it too late to prune back my Limelights? A: It’s not too late but you’d better get started soon. ‘Limelight’ hydrangea is a variety that blooms in late summer from buds that form in late spring. Pruning each...

READ MORE

Asparagus – Softening Solid Ground

Q: We just bought a farm and found we have a nice asparagus patch under lots of weeds. How would you clean this up? The ground is like cement! A: I’d soak the area with water two days in a...

READ MORE

Ferns – Sunshine Or Shade Varieties

Q: What are the names of the two ferns you recommended on radio that will “grow anywhere, sun or shade”? A: I love autumn fern, Dryopteris erythrosora, and Southern shield fern, Thelypteris kunthii. Autumn fern is evergreen. It sends up...

READ MORE

Fertilizer – The Proper Ratio

Q: According to the Atlanta Rose Society I should fertilize regularly with a “balanced” fertilizer like 10-10-10 or 16-4-8. Intuitively, the former is “balanced” with equal percentages (10-10-10), whereas the latter is not. Am I misunderstanding something? A: Although semantically...

READ MORE

Tulip Trees – Nasty Excretions

Q: Our deck is in the shade of a big tulip tree. This past week this tree as been raining down large splats of something all over the deck. We think it might be scale insects that suck the juice...

READ MORE

Marigolds – Nematode Prevention

Q: French marigolds have been shown to control root knot nematodes in small areas. Marigold root extract is available from China. Have any studies been done using it for nematode control ? A: In my view, the research is inconclusive....

READ MORE

Crapemyrtle – Treating Ambrosia Beetles

Q: I have found evidence of Asian ambrosia beetles on my crepe myrtle. I have read that I should destroy the tree. A: The damage done by this insect depends on how many of the beetles bored holes into your...

READ MORE

Confederate Jasmine – Surviving Winter?

Q: Each year my Confederate jasmine dies back a bit and I prune it and it comes back just fine. It didn’t survive this winter. Is there a tougher vine that we could put where this one is? A: Despite...

READ MORE

Vegetables – Good Row Spacing

Q: For the first time in thirty years, I’m planting a vegetable garden. I’m excited! How far apart should my rows be? A: I think thirty inches is the minimum but I like a thirty-six inch spacing so I can...

READ MORE

Chinese Snowball – White Flowered Shrubs

Q: What are these enormous white-flowered hydrangea shrubs I see around town? They must be ten feet tall! A: Since it is early May, I’ll bet you are seeing Chinese snowball viburnum, not one of the white-flowered hydrangeas. It’s an...

READ MORE

Carpenter Ants – Control And Removal

Q: How do I control carpenter ants? I see them wandering around in my kitchen. A: Carpenter ants can have nests inside or outside the home. Usually the dwellings are in moisture-damaged wood around chimneys and skylights, under bathtubs, behind...

READ MORE

Insect Pests – Do They Serve A Purpose?

Q: What possible purpose do hornets, wasps, fleas, and mosquitos serve? A: Retired Fernbank naturalist David Funderburk says it’s all about “pollination, predation, and parasitism”. Hornets and wasps pollinate flowers and eat aphids, caterpillars and other landscape pests. Without wasps,...

READ MORE

Basil – Growing Your Own

Q: My husband and I love to have fresh herbs. But when I buy fresh basil plants in the grocery they do not create enough new leaves to enjoy for any length of time. Can you plant enough seeds, or...

READ MORE

Ant Bait – Make Your Own

Q: You mentioned on radio an ant bait using jelly, peanut butter, and boric acid. I would like to try it. A: You can make your own ant bait by mixing four tablespoons of peanut butter, six tablespoons of jelly...

READ MORE

Fertilizer – Finding What You Need

Q: My UGA soil test report wants me to apply 15-0-15 for spring green up and 34-0-0 in summer. I can’t find either one for sale. A: I visited a local big box store and a prominent garden center last...

READ MORE