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Past Questions and Answers | February 2013

Question #1

Question:  I have tried to find out more about the Leopard tree, as I wish to plant it fairly close to my house, near my back door. One of the websites indicated (to the contrary of what you mention) that it has an invasive root system! It is also called Caesalpinia ferrea. Are there different sub-species of the Leopard tree? I have already bought the tree, and would like to plant it asap. Could you please advise met? Thank you!

  Suzette West, George, Western Cape RSA


ANSWER:   The Leopard tree called Caesalpinia ferrea is all one species. I said that it can grow 12 meters high and should be planted 6-9 meters from any building or other structure. I did mention that the roots can still cause a problem even at that distance. You should consider that as well when planting it.

Question #2

Question:  How do I care for a ponytail palm plant?

  Marilyn, Muskegon, MI


ANSWER:   Ponytail palm plants should be placed in partial sun, watered every seven to ten days during the growing season and monthly in the winter, and fertilized weekly with a liquid fertilizer during the growing season. Fertilizer should be reduced to monthly during the winter.

Question #3

Question:  My corn seemed to be dwarfed as far as the size of the corn, not the plant. What's wrong?

  Calvin Bryant, Esmont, VA


ANSWER:   They did not get enough water during the cob formation. You will have to provide supplemental water if you are not getting regular rain or you will keep facing this problem.

Question #4

Question:  How far from my house can I plant the Leopard Tree.Not sure what a safe distance will be.

  Ernie Van Der Merwe, Rangeview, Krugersdorp, Gauteng


ANSWER:   Experts advise that it will grow 12 meters in height and should be planted 6-9 meters from any structure. However, the roots are invasive and can still cause a problem even at that distance.

Question #5

Question:  I planted a cinderella red pumpkin bought as a seedling and it has gone gang busters. But the fruit are yellow not red and huge. Is there some nutrient deficiency or have I been sold something else pretending to be a red. The shape is consistent with the cinderella red.

  Sharon Matthews, Melbourne, Victoria


ANSWER:   Did you have any squash planted near the pumpkin? It sounds like the pumpkin flowers cross-pollinated with the squash to produce something unlike either parent. You should plant pumpkins, squash, and cucumbers separated by several rows apiece of other vegetables as they will all cross-pollinate and produce nasty tasting results.

Question #6

Question:  Your monthly gardening to-do list is based on your zone, zone 8. I'm in zone 3, how far would you suggest skewing the months by to accommodate my more northerly climate?

  J Chen, Winnipeg, MB


ANSWER:   The average last freeze date in zone 8 is April 15th. Take your average last freeze date and skew the tasks by the difference.

Question #7

Question:  What is the best way to rid tomato plants of that ugly green worm with the orange tail light?

  Karla Miller, Spring Branch, TX


ANSWER:   The easiest way is to simply pick them off. However, you can spray them with Bt and it will kill them without harming beneficial insects.

Question #8

Question:  Due to unforseen circumstances i have been unable to attend to my geraniums for several months.they have been outside in scotland over the winter and have survived.the stems are strong but a lot of the leaves are bulbs are all coming through now but are going to be hidden by my larger geraniums. Is it possible to cut back my geraniums or what else would you suggest?

  Kimberley McIntyre, Rothesay, Bute Scotland


ANSWER:   You can cut off the brown leaves of your geranium without harming it.

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Fertilize Container Plants

Because container gardens are usually grown to show off a lot color, the plants in them require more frequent fertilizing.

It's good to feed them every two weeks with a water-soluble complete fertilizer like a 20-20-20 or a hyrdolized fish fertilizer.

Regular feeding will help them fill in faster, and produce more flowers.

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