Gardening Q and A

Mulch – Grass Clippings with Weed Killer on Them

Q: I have been told not to use grass clippings sprayed with weed killer to mulch around plants. Can I use them after they sit in a compost pile? A: Some plants, particularly tomatoes and young flower sprouts, are extremely...

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Ficus Tree – Ants in the Dirt

Q: I have a ficus tree in my office that is doing very well. When I watered it I noticed a gazillion ants in the dirt. Will this hurt the ficus? A: The ants may be finding aphids or mealybugs...

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Gladiolus – Store or Replant

Q: If I dig up my gladiolus now should I store them until spring or re-plant immediately. A: Gladiolus corms (bulbs) are usually winter-hardy if left in the ground but it’s a good idea to dig them up every couple...

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Mexican Petunia – Pruning

Q: My Mexican petunia is huge and needs to be cut back for the winter. Do I cut it flat to the ground? A: Yes, ruellia will freeze to the ground naturally after the first frost. You can clip stems...

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How to Clean a Spring

Q: We have a spring on our property that is overgrown with trees and brush. It has always run even during drought. How do we clean it? My grandparents had one instead of a well and it was lined with...

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Plant Repiration – Need to Turn the Lights Off?

Q: I have an office cohort who says I should turn the lights off so the plants can respire. I’ve left them on and the plants seem to grow quite well. Should I indeed turn the lights off when I...

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Soil- Purifying

Q: What is the best way to purify soil to remove any diseases from it. Would adding bleach work? A: Sterilizing soil is impossible in a practical sense. Even if you removed disease organisms from the soil it would quickly...

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Roots – How to Kill

Q: I recently had two trees cut down because their roots passed beneath my sidewalk. The stumps and roots remain. I’m concerned that the roots will continue to grow. How can I kill them? A: Some trees, like oak and...

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Poet’s Laurel – Growing Successfully in Georgia

Q: I recently read about Poet’s Laurel. Can you grow it in Atlanta successfully? The area of our yard I was thinking of gets full sun about 90% of the day. A: Poet’s laurel, Danae racemosa, is a slow-growing evergreen...

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Centipede Grass – Okay to Spray on Roundup?

Q: Since my centipede grass is dormant now, can I spray Roundup on the broadleaf weeds that are doing quite well? A: Though your centipedegrass lawn may look brown, that doesn’t mean the individual plants are dormant. I checked my...

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Lawn Fungus – How to Prevent

Q: What is an appropriate product and application schedule for preventing fungus in my lawn for the coming year? Last year brown patch was a particular problem. A: Lawn fungus problems are best addressed by correcting your lawn management practices,...

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Staghorn Fern – How to Re-pot

Q: A friend of mine wants to know how to repot their large staghorn fern. A: A staghorn fern is composed of several rounded brown shield fronds and even more green “staghorn” fronds. Before dividing a plant, soak it thoroughly...

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Aquaponics Training – Where to Find

Q: We are looking for aquaponics training or somebody who uses the system in Georgia. We have a 16′ x16′ fenced area. A: Aquaponics is the system of growing fish alongside edible plants, using water from the fish tank to...

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Pest Insects – Cold Enough to Kill?

Q: Has it been cold enough, long enough, this winter to kill the larvae of ants, fleas, ticks and mosquitoes? A: Whenever we have a cold winter, gardeners wishfully hope that the frigid temperatures will diminish the insects they’ll face...

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Topiary Azaleas – How to Plant

Q: How are the topiary azaleas with braided stems best planted? A: Florist azaleas are not usually as winter-hardy as the smaller-leaved Japanese azaleas that bloom reliably each spring. If yours has been indoors since you received it, wait to...

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Foxtail Ferns – Repotting

Q: I am repotting two large foxtail ferns. There are hundreds of potatoes in the soil. Do they reproduce from these, and can I pot them to make new plants? A: Foxtail fern is actually an inedible asparagus, Protoasparagus densiflorus...

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Peppercorn Plant – How to Make Black or White Pepper

Q: How do you grow a peppercorn plant to make either black or white pepper? A: Peppercorn, Piper nigrum, is a tropical vine that produces 5-inch long spikes of berries. Black pepper is made by soaking the berries until the...

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Leylands – Spacing for a Privacy Screen

Q: We want to plant quite a few Leyland’s at the back of our property to create a 100 foot long and tall privacy screen between us and the neighbors. If we start with twelve-foot high trees, what spacing should...

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