Gardening Q and A

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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Shrub Fertilization

Q: I have a lot of shrubs on my property, mostly holly, nandina and conifers. Most are over five years old and are fertilized each year. Would skipping a year be a mistake? A: If established shrubs are mulched, they...

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Water Oak Trees – Branches and Leaves Falling

Q: I have several old water oak trees. Big chunks of branches and green leaves are falling. A: Big oaks commonly lose “tufts” of green branches in early summer after rainstorms. Trees put on a lot of lush growth in...

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Water Wells – Impact on Neighboring Water Supplies

Q: I have noticed in my neighborhood that folks are drilling water wells to irrigate their yards thereby skirting state-mandated watering bans. Will this have a negative impact on the ground water supply that we all share? A: According to...

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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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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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Wisteria – Getting Rid of It

Q: I cut down a monster wisteria and treated with stump killer. Now sprouts are popping up all over my yard. Is there a way to get rid of them without digging up my lawn? A: The best thing you...

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Zoysia – Mowing and Fertlization

Q: I bought a reel mower for our zoysia lawn. At the 1.5″ setting the grass looks brown for several days after cutting. I fertilized once in the spring. A: Getting a good appearance after mowing is a balancing act...

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Bermuda Lawn – Care

Q: My front yard was sodded with bermuda ten years ago. Pine trees now shade most of the yard. What can I do to make the lawn more lush and pretty? A: Bermudagrass is not very shade tolerant but I’ll...

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Plasticulture – Garden Improvements

Q: I read an article about gardeners using plasticulture to triple the yield of their vegetables. How can I use plastic to improve my backyard garden? A: As the word implies, plasticulture is the process of using plastic to increase...

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