Gardening Q and A

No Sweetgum Balls!

Q: We have lived here twenty years and have always had those dreaded sweetgum balls. But this year none out of ten trees had them. A: Nature works in mysterious ways! It’s possible there was a heavy rain during flowering...

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Tiger Nuts

Q: What are Tiger Nuts? I heard they are delicious. A: “Tiger Nuts” are the roasted tubers of the terribly invasive yellow nutsedge, Cyperus esculentus. Since they are roasted, if you accidentally drop one, it won’t germinate. I applaud any...

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Black Dragon Cryptomeria Support

Q: Many young Black Dragon cryptomeria I’ve seen at nurseries are bending over at the top. Many have been staked to keep them vertical. Will it need support growing to its mature height? A: Noted landscape designer Shannon Pable (shannonpable.com)...

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Pruning/Cutting Autumn Ferns

Q: My landscape guys asked me if it would be OK to prune our beautiful autumn ferns. When I came home they had cut the ferns to the ground! Will they grow back? A: The ferns will be fine. Autumn...

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Wood – Furniture

Q: Is there someone you can recommend that cuts down pecan tree to use the wood and make furniture? A: Your pecan likely not worth anything. The time, effort and liability exposure are too great for a hobbyist woodworker to...

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Difference between Tolerance and Resistance

Q:I am ordering vegetable seeds. What is the difference between tolerance and resistance in terms of plant disease? A: “Tolerance” means the plant can produce vegetables if the disease infection is mild. You might not get as many, but there...

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10-10-10 or 13-13-13 Downside

Q: I grow hydrangeas, azaleas, rhodendrons, camellias, and ferns plus my lawn. I notice that fertilizers offer different percentages of the three major nutrients and most plants have a “favorite” blend that is recommended. For example, grass likes high nitrogen,...

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Bittersweet Vine in GA

Q: Can bittersweet vine be grown here? I want some for decorative purposes. A: There are two kinds of bittersweet. Oriental bittersweet, Celastrus orbiculatus, has attractive berries but it climbs over everything that gets in its way. Use the berries...

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Propagating Redtip Photinia

Q: You say on your website that redtip photinia cannot be propagated from seed. I recently gathered seeds from a Chinese photinia. The seeds are still red and fleshy. Will they sprout? A: Redtip photinia, Photinia x fraseri, seed won’t...

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Moss to Mondo Grass – Clay

Q: I am trying to convert a mossy backyard area to mondo grass. Is there anything in particular I should be doing to the clay soil when I transplant? A: Some gardeners would argue that moss makes a perfectly nice...

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Mummy Berry Disease – Treatment

Q: I have several blueberry bushes that have developed mummy berry disease. I have been unable to find recommended fungicides like Indor. Quash, Orbit, Omega, Pristine, or Serenade. Can you recommend a product to treat this? A: Most of the...

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Flowering Plants in Winter

Q: Two weeks ago we saw flowering magnolia, quince, Forest Pansy redbud and Okame cherry in bloom. What’s going to happen to these plants in the spring? A: It will be interesting. I expect flowering on these plants will be...

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Contaminated Commercial Compost

Q: I’m concerned about herbicide-contaminated commercial compost. Big box stores have lots of different top soil/compost/manure products. Do they guarantee them to be herbicide-free? A: Unless a bag label says it contains manure, it probably does not. Bagged soil amendments...

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Adding New Mulch or Leaving it

Q: My wife and I are in disagreement. We have azaleas and each spring I have to remove the mulch and replace it with new mulch. I think we should leave the old mulch and refresh the top layer. What...

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Online Fruit Trees – Organic

Q:I would like to buy fruit trees, vines and bush varieties that are not available at local nurseries. Where is the best place to shop online to make sure I know they are grown in chemical-free soil? A: If you...

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Giant Elephant Ears-Storage for Winter

Q: How do I store giant elephant ear bulbs over the winter? Mine are in a cardboard box right now. A: Keep the corms in a household closet where it’s approximately 65 degrees, not cooler. These tropical bulbs will not...

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Ground Cedar – Buying

Q: Where can I buy ground cedar? A: Ground cedar is an attractive evergreen forest groundcover that spreads by underground runners. The correct scientific name is Diphasiastrum digitatum but I preferred its older Latin name: Lycopodium digitatum, which means “wolf’s...

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How Are Plants Damaged by Cold?

Q: How are plants damaged by cold? A: Plants experience cold damage due to ice forming in their cells. Hardy plants have strategies to reduce freeze damage. They do it by increasing cell wall elasticity, by lowering the freezing temperature...

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