Gardening Q and A

Squash Protection

Q: My squash needs your help! Where can I buy sabadilla dust for squash bugs and borers? A: Sabadilla dust is derived from the seeds of Schoenocaulon officinale, a South American lily. It was once sold as a botanical insecticide...

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Soil Contamination from Mosquito Spray

Q: Over the years we have had a lawn and pest control service and used a mosquito spray around the house. Have the plants or soil been permanently contaminated? A: I don’t believe there is any contamination. Most modern pesticides...

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Oak Sap – Causes

Q: For the past two years, the water oak over our deck has been raining sap in the spring. It creates a horrible sticky mess that turns black and dirty. What causes this? A: I think you have lecanium scale...

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Selling Laceleaf Japanese Maples

Q: I want to sell two beautiful, well-established laceleaf Japanese maples. We are moving but cannot take them with us. Do you know of any place to contact A: According to Japanese maple expert Norm Mittleider, there is a very...

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Best Vine for an Arbor

Q: My arbor gets lots of sun with a little afternoon shade. What is the best vine to plant that is not too invasive? A: I’m very pleased with the Confederate jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides, growing on a similar arbor in...

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Growing Globe Artichokes

Q: My son would like to try to grow globe artichokes in our garden this year. Do you have any advice regarding this plant? A: Globe artichoke, Cynara scolymus, is a member of the thistle family. It might grow perennially...

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Peat Pots – Planting in Garden

Q: I am starting my vegetables from seeds, planting them in peat pots. When I plant them in my garden should I remove the pot? A: Theoretically, the walls of the peat pot will decompose in the soil and the...

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Hibiscus Plants – Pruning

Q: I have several large hibiscus plants that I keep in my sunroom during the winter. They lose most of their leaves during this time. Can I cut them back before I put them outside this spring? A: You can...

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May Night Salvia – Not Blooming

Q: I planted three May Night salvia a few weeks ago. They looked great for a while but now they’re not blooming at all. A: ‘May Night’ is a great reblooming salvia but faded bloom spikes must be removed regularly....

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Zoysia Sod – When to Fertilize

Q: How soon after planting zoysia sod should it be fertilized? A: Feed new zoysia sod once it starts growing vigorously, typically after you’ve had to mow it once. I recommend two half-strength applications a month apart. Do not apply...

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Creeping Fig – Brick Decoration

Q: I would like to grow creeping fig to give the brick on our house a more “aged” look. Is there any problem with this? A: I’m not a big fan of fig (or ivy) growing on a wall. The...

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Pepper Plant – Crinkled Leaves

Q: My pepper plant has very crinkled leaves. Could you tell me what’s going on? A: Four things can cause distorted pepper leaves: sucking insects (aphids, whiteflies), cold soil, excess moisture, and herbicide damage. If you don’t see insects underneath...

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Okra Seeds – Soaking In Bleach

Q: Your vegetable book says that some gardeners soak okra seeds in pure bleach for five minutes to speed up sprouting time. Won’t that hurt the seed? A: Like you, I was doubtful so I did a test recently. I...

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‘Lady in Red’ Hydrangea – Producing Blue Flowers

Q: Why is my ‘Lady in Red’ hydrangea blue? The flowers were red when I bought it but now they are blue. A: The flowers of ‘Lady in Red’ are normally pinkish-white but they turn more lavender if the plant...

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Fruit Trees With Fruit Big Enough to Eat

Q: I love to eat green crabapples but the trees aren’t around anymore. What type of tree grows the fruit that is big enough to eat? A: Technically, crabapples are apple trees that bear fruit less than two inches in...

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St Augustine Lawns – Waiting to Mow

Q: I have a St Augustine grass lawn. There are tall spikes with seeds on them appearing now. Should I mow it after the seeds fall off to help thicken my lawn? A: St Augustine grass produces very few viable...

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Earwigs – Getting Rid of Them

Q: How can I rid my yard of earwigs? They are at my house by the thousands. A: Earwigs mostly feed on plant debris but if numbers build large enough they will consume living plants. The damage isn’t considered major,...

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River Burch Trees – Roots Are Appearing

Q: Our river birch trees have roots coming up all over our yard. They are ruining the grass. I’d like to replace them but what would be a good tree to plant? A: Roots appearing on the surface indicate hard...

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