Gardening Q and A

Flower Vs. Weed – Explaining the Difference to a Young Child

Q: My preschool students want to know how to tell the difference between a flower and a weed. How do I explain it to 4-year-olds? A: My answer is simple: A weed is a plant that makes a gardener unhappy....

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Oak – Ring Numbers

Q: Sitting in traffic I saw an oak with a base ten feet around that splits into two trunks five feet from the ground. Are there the same number of rings in the big base as in the two tall...

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Weeping Cherry Tree – Seed Vs. Grafting

Q: I want to purchase a weeping cherry tree this spring. I know there are grafted one and ones started by seed. What’s the difference? A: Grafted weeping cherry trees maintain approximately the same height they possess when planted. Seedling...

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Vegetable Seeds – Donating Extras

Q: I purchased vegetable seeds for my garden but I will only use a few seeds from the packs. Do you know of any worthy cause to which I could donate the rest? A: The easiest recipient is a local...

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Iris – Trimming Leaves

Q: I have some old iris in my pine bed. Most of the leaves stay green all winter but have some brown edges. Should I trim the leaves or is it too late? A: I don’t think you should ever...

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Zoysia Grass – Why Wait to Fertilize

Q: I have been impatiently waiting to fertilize until my zoysia grass has greened 75-100 percent. Why must I do this, other than because you say so? A: You’re a smart person to always be asking “Why?” in the garden....

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Fire Ants – Alternative Ideas For Killing

Q: Why don’t we kill fire ants with a bait in sugar syrup? You could even inject it into individual mounds. A: Fire ant expert Wayne Gardner says fire ants will eat proteins, fats, and sugars but they are not...

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Soil Temperatures – Planting Recommendations

Q: I am a scientist at heart, so I read with great interest planting recommendations based on soil temperature. I am unclear on which soil temperature to use: 2 inch, 4 inch or 8 inch? A: I use the 2″...

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Dutchmans Pipe – Successful in Georgia?

Q: I’m interested in night-blooming flowers and found Dutchman’s pipe online. Is that something I could grow successfully? A: Dutchman’s pipe, Aristolochia macrophylla, will grow very well as a perennial deciduous vine. The flowers are insignificant. However, those of its...

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Vegetable Garden – Best Direction to Plant

Q: This spring will be my first full scale vegetable garden. I plan having corn and tomatoes plus lettuce and bell peppers. What direction is best for me to plant so everything gets the most sunlight? A: Plant the taller...

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Best Soil for New Raised Plant Beds

Q: I am building new raised beds and trying to decide what the best soil to use. I was going to buy bags of planting soil but that is too expensive. How do I make good soil? Or should I...

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Maple Tree – Tick Prevention

Q: When I sit under a maple tree in my backyard in summer, I get ticks in my hair. How can I prevent ticks on the tree? A: According to tick expert Dr. Nancy Hinkle, ticks do not fall from...

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Shrubs and Trees – Applying Horticultural Oil

Q: Is it a good practice to apply horticultural oil on shrubs and trees when they are dormant in order to prevent bugs this spring? A: Yes, applying plant-safe oil is a great way to kill insects in winter. At...

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Tree Chips – Covering Land

Q: During recent flooding in my back yard many tree roots were exposed. I’m having some trees removed and the contractor will leave the chips on my site. Any thoughts on how thick to spread them? A: This is a...

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‘Pink Princess’ Escallonia – Fixing the Brown

Q: I planted ‘Pink Princess’ escallonia in early fall. They are all brown. What should I do? A: My bet is that they froze in January. Escallonia is a beautiful flowering shrub but it is winter-hardy only where oleander grows:...

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Ornamental Grass – Privacy Wall

Q: I want to use ornamental grass in pots to provide privacy around our deck. What might you suggest? A: I could easily see using fountain grass, Pennisetum (several species) or maiden grass, Miscanthus sinensis (several varieties) in eighteen-inch wide...

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Poinsettia Seeds – Where to Buy

Q: Do you have any recommendations of where I could find poinsettia seeds.? A: Poinsettias have been hybridized for so many years that the ones you buy at a nursery rarely set seed. Poinsettia growers buy cuttings from large greenhouses...

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Privet Bushes – Pruning vs Pulling Out

Q: The variegated privet bushes on the side of our house look pretty sparse at the bottom. Would we kill them if we cut them to sixteen inches above the ground or should we just pull them out and start...

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