Gardening Q and A

Ailanthus Trees- Killing Sprouts

Q: I cut down the largest of several ailanthus tree saplings next to my fence. I ended up with fifty sprouts in its place. How do I kill these things without getting a hundred more saplings? A: Cut each sapling...

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Bluebird Houses – Deterring Squirrels

Q: I need to give my bluebird houses a good fall cleaning. Squirrels have chewed enormous holes in them. What can I do to deter them? A: One idea is to install a metal predator guard plate over the hole...

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Trees for a Large Atrium

Q: My company’s building has a large atrium. We need to replace the podocarpus trees there with something else. What? A: Ficus trees are excellent for atriums because the different varieties vary greatly in mature size. Black olive, Bucida buceras,...

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Spider Mites – How to Get Rid of Them

Q: A friend in coastal GA has a spider mite infestation on her citrus trees. She has tried liquid Sevin and insecticidal soap. Is this effective? A: Using Sevin is an excellent way to get MORE spider mites. This insecticide...

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Soil Solarization

Q: Can I use black plastic rather than clear for soil solarization? I want to remove weeds from part of a pasture for a garden next spring. A: Unfortunately, black plastic will not work. The process of solarization is supposed...

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Mushrooms – Fighting the Odor

Q: This year my parents have had foul-smelling, red-orange mushrooms with an egg-like base. I’m going to have my spring wedding reception at the house and I don’t want the smell to bother the guests. Any advice? A: Stinkhorns are...

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Mondo Grass – Expediting Growth

Q: I have a very large area of mondo grass I planted control erosion. It has not filled in very fast. Is there anything I can do to expedite growth? A: As with lawn grass, regular fertilization will speed growth....

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Houseplants – Animal Safe Ant Remover

Q: I want to move my houseplants back inside for the fall without ants in the soil. Is there anything that won’t hurt cats? A: Ant baits are effective. Some come in easy-to-apply syringes while others are simple bait stations....

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Making Potting Soil

Q: I enjoyed your recent TV program on making potting soil. I found it disheartening that the ingredients came from far away: peat from Canada, perlite from Greece, etc. Are there other ways to make potting soil with materials close...

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Bog Garden – How to Make

Q: I have a small, two-foot deep plastic-lined pond that I want to convert into a bog garden. Any suggestions on how I should proceed? A: Bog gardens are fascinating to observe. Your first job is to fill the pool...

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Hydrangea – Not Blooming

Q: My purple hydrangea has not bloomed for two years now. It used to be beautiful. Do I need to prune it to the ground or what? A: Bigleaf hydrangeas were hit with a 1-2-3 flurry of punches during the...

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Elephant Ears – Leaves Browning

Q: I have elephant ears growing in a container. The leaves are curling and appear to be burned around the edges. What is the cause of this? A: Browning around the leaf edges is usually a sign of water stress....

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Climbing and Shrub Roses – Pruning

Q: I have climbing and shrub roses. Do I need to cut them back to short canes and mound mulch for the winter? A: Unlike in the northern US, roses here don’t need much more than “neatening up” for winter....

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Fountain Grass – Making Sure it Comes Back

Q: I bought some fountain grass even though it was labeled as a tender perennial. What is the best way to make sure it comes back? A: Common purple fountain grass will come back in South Georgia and Florida but...

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Boxwood – Variety Without Odor

Q: Is there a variety of boxwood that does not smell? A: English boxwood, Buxus sempervirens, is well-known to smell like a cat litter box. Asian boxwood, Buxus microphylla, doesn’t have the catty odor. Unfortunately, the Asian species does not...

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Oak Tree – Vines to Grow on It

Q: I had limbs removed from a dead oak tree. I allowed the twenty-foot-tall trunk to remain standing. What vine suggestions might you have? A: Many would suggest English ivy but it will take years to climb up the trunk....

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Fava Beans – Ability to Grow In Georgia

Q: Can I grow fava beans in Georgia? When is the best time to plant? A: My friend Daryl Pulis (mrsgreenthumb.com) reports that she killed fava beans several times before finally giving up. The vines don’t like heat nor do...

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Daylilies – Planting Sprouts

Q: I gathered hundreds of seeds from my daylilies and put them in an envelope to save. I planted a handful in a shallow container and a few weeks later I had a bunch of tiny sprouts coming up! What...

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