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Past Questions and Answers | December 2012

Question #1

Question:  I have geraniums in a sheltered courtyard. They usually bloom year-round, but have recently quit blooming. The weather is mild. We live about 5 miles from the coast, so the temperatures don't get very low. What can I do to get the geraniums blooming again?

  Linda Bray, Camarillo, CA


ANSWER:   Geraniums become woody and stop blooming the older they get. You may just want to replace the plants to improve the bloom.

Question #2

Question:  In what conditions does rose trees grows at its best? and what is the best place to grow them?

  Ameen, Male, Maldives


ANSWER:   Roses grow in a wide variety of conditions and zones, from the subtropical to the fairly cold. Roses need neutral soil. The roses will not live well in sandy soil. You will have to dig a bed 6 to 12 inches deep out, fill it with potting soil, then plant the roses in the bed. Water weekly and the roses should thrive.

Question #3

Question:  My Eugenias are severely attacked by bugs that can only be treated with a systemic pesticide, but it's not working. Would something like Pro Tekt help? Any suggestions?

  Odile Ayral, San Luis Obispo


ANSWER:   I cannot recommend a specific pesticide for you to use without knowing what bug you have and what you have been using. Your county Extension agent can identify the insect and recommend a pesticide that will kill it with as little toxicity to other insects and wildlife as possible.

Question #4

Question:  In My mothers' yard there are fungi which grow pure white in color and in the shape of a ball. I mistook one for a soccer ball. I've never seen anything like it anywhere. Do you have any idea what kind of mushroom it is? Or if it is truly a mushroom or not?

  Laurie Windsor, Colorado


ANSWER:   What you have is called a puffball. It is nontoxic although eating any lawn mushrooms is not recommended. It's also a question that we get often--"How to get rid of mushrooms in my yard." Check out this linked content for tips both for mushrooms in your garden and in your lawn.

Question #5

Question:  Is there a time frame when I should stop watering my fruit trees before harvest and a plant food that will make the fruit sweeter?

  Terry Ryan, Tucson, Arizona


ANSWER:   You should water there fruit trees until all the fruit is harvested. Stopping before harvesting will keep the fruit from finishing growing and ripening. Sweetness is determined by variety and by the weather, so there is no plant food to add to sweeten them.

Question #6

Question:  I have a few issues I'd be grateful for your help with.

a) My lorapetalums are out of control! They were planted about 6 yrs. ago, and over the last couple of yrs., they seem to be growing at the speed of light! I don't fertilize them & only water them if they start looking like they're drooping for lack of water. Every time I turn around, it seems they've grown to the roof in no time. I probably haven't helped matters by impulsively going out like some Mommie Dearest in the rose garden whacking them down to hip level when I suddenly notice that they're covering the entire front of my house, with no consideration as to technique or what time of year it is. It seems to have become a full-time job keeping them cut back!

b) On the other hand, I can't seem to coax one bloom out of my ixoras, all of which were planted at the same time as the loraptelums, even though I fertilize them properly. They bloomed like crazy for the first few years, so I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong now.

c) Last but not least, I planted a beautiful, blooming, healthy esparanza this past spring, and have fertilized it, but it does nothing. I see esperanzas all over town that have been exploding with beautiful yellow blooms for months. Do I have to wait a couple of years to get the same results with mine?

Any suggestions on these issues would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!

  Lisa Baker, Houston, Texas


ANSWER:   a) Ideally, they should be cut back after they finish blooming in the spring.. You may still have to cut them back other times if they reach the roof, but definitely cut them back after they finish blooming They set buds in the summer, so if you cut them back between then and when they ordinarily would bloom, the new growth will not have any blooms on it.

b) Have you done a soil test recently? Perhaps the soil has gotten too alkaline for their liking. Your extension agent has soil test bags and the instructions for taking a soil test and sending it off to be tested. In a few weeks, you will have it back and can see if the soil is the problem. If the soil is too alkaline, you can adjust it by adding peat moss to it for several inches around the plant. You dig up the soil six inches deep and then mix in the peat moss with the soil you have loosened. This should re-acidify the soil and make your ixoras bloom again.

c) It should bloom this spring. Esparanzas have a hard time blooming the same year they are transplanted.

Question #7

Question:  Should geraniums being over wintered in a paper bag be put in the bag up side down?

  Ric Dewhirst, Steamboat Springs, Colorado


ANSWER:   No, they should be put in the bag right side up. If you are overwintering bare root geraniums, shake all the dirt off the plant and set it in upright. Every few weeks check the plant and see if it is shriveling. If so, you need to spritz it with water. Allow the plant to dry before putting it back in the bag.

Question #8

Question:  Is it possible to transplant a fully grown azalea and, if so, when is the best time?

  Karen Forester, Nashville, TN


ANSWER:   Yes, it is possible. You should transplant it in February, when it is dormant. You will have to cut back the top by one third to make sure there are enough roots to support the top. Try to dig the azalea out with as many of its roots as possible and dig a big enough hole where it is going to accommodate all the roots you have on the plant.

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Low Light House Plants

Many plants thrive on very little light, making them ideal for those parts of your house that are not well lit.

A couple good choices for areas without lots of light are:

Chinese Evergreen

For more information about this, watch our video on low light houseplants in the video tips section!

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