Gardening Q and A

Emerald Green Arborative – Spacing

Q: I took down a couple of huge Leyland cypress and have a few ‘Emerald Green’ arborvitae for replacements. How far do I need to space them to make a screen? A: ‘Emerald Green’ arborvitae makes a nice substitute for...

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Fern – Needs Humidity

Q: I have a large fern-type plant in my living room on which the edges of the leaves turn brown. What could cause this problem? A: My bet is that the plant doesn’t have enough humidity around it. Indoor air...

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Vegetable Garden Preparation – Tilling in Shredded Pine Needles

Q: I am preparing our vegetable garden for next season and need to know if tilling in a mix of oak leaves and pine needles will be of value. A: It’s fine to use pine needles to amend soil, but...

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Soil Mixture – Recipe

Q: TV show you had a recipe for a soil mix for jade plant, cactus, etc. Can you send me the portions? A: Mix one part potting soil with two parts of a coarse material that encourages drainage. This could...

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Blueberries – Aluminum Sulfate

Q: Are you supposed to put aluminum sulfate on blueberries at this time of the year? A: Aluminum sulfate is used to lower the pH of the soil around blueberries because they prefer a relatively acidic soil, pH 4.2 to...

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Thanksgiving Cactus – Pruning

Q: I have a thirty-year-old Thanksgiving cactus. A few years ago it fell down and is now badly lopsided. Is it possible to prune it by cutting back the large thick branches? A: Because it is such a treasure and...

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Vegetable Garden – Making it Work in Heat

Q: I’m unable to have a backyard garden due to all the wildlife. This year I want to grow vegetables on my deck. However, the site gets extremely hot in the afternoon/evening sun. Do you have suggestions on how to...

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Leyland Cypress – Fertilizing

Q: I have twenty Leyland cypress, twelve feet tall. When do I fertilize and what do I use? A: The first question to ask is if the Leylands actually need fertilizing. Do you want them to grow much over twelve...

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Mulch for Vegetable Gardens

Q: We keep a large vegetable garden but we have little time for weeding. What would be a good mulch? A: Pine straw makes a fine mulch; it does not acidify the soil. You could used shredded leaves if you...

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Dogwood – Blooming Troubles

Q: I bought a Celestial dogwood four years ago but it has never bloomed. It is twelve feet tall and looks very healthy. A: In my experience, kousa dogwoods are slow to begin flowering. Your ‘Celestial’ is a cross between...

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Vegetable and Herb Garden – Available Seeds

Q: I am tackling a large new vegetable and herb garden. I want your opinion on the different varieties of seeds available, particularly heirloom seeds. A: You can find heirloom vegetable seed locally and online, but remember that there are...

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Variegated Aspidistras – Care

Q: I have two large variegated aspidistras. This year they look dreadful. They get quite a bit of sun. Is there anything I can do to make them happier? A: In my experience, aspidistra (also known as cast iron plant)...

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Tomato – Egg Shell Fertilizer

Q: I would like to plant some tomato plants. Would egg shells be a good fertilizer? A: Egg shells contain calcium, which tomatoes need in moderate amounts. Crush them into small granules so they dissolve in the soil more quickly....

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Vegetables – Recommended Fertilizer

Q: I am growing vegetables in small raised bed. I want to mix blood meal with water to fertilize them. My Miracle-Gro Blood Meal label states “This product contains 12% Water Insoluble Nitrogen.” Is there another liquid organic fertilizer you...

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Dogwood Blossoms

Q: Why do dogwoods in Florida only have white blossoms and no pink blossoms like some do here in Georgia? Is it the temperature or soil or something else? A: My friend Tom Wichman, Florida Master Gardener Coordinator, says they...

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Used Nursery Pots – Recycling

Q: Are you aware of a nursery or recycling center that will take used nursery pots? A: Most plastic pots are made of recyclable plastic, either high density polypropylene (Code 2) or polyethylene (Code 5). If they have the triangular...

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Vegetable Garden – Treated Lumber

Q: My husband recently built me a vegetable garden planter out of pressure treated lumber. A friend said that it emits poisonous chemicals. Is this true? A: Lumber was formerly treated with chromated copper arsonate (CCA) and health concerns were...

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Macho Ferns – Proper Care

Q: I bought some Macho patio ferns at a grocery store. It seems that they may be kin to Boston fern? How do I care for them? A: ‘Macho’ fern, Nephrolepis biserrata is also called Giant Sword Fern. It is...

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