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Past Questions and Answers | July 2012

Question #1

Question:  I have several very old hydrangeas in our garden and the color of the flowers when they bloom is faded and washed out. What can I do to get some vibrancy back?

  Marieanne Keane, Mineola, NY


ANSWER:   If you fertilize them with a fertilizer for acid loving plants the vibrancy will come back. Follow the directions on the fertilizer package for best results.

Question #2

Question:  Something ate all of the leaves off of my Santa Rosa plum tree what uis it & how can I kill it.I just retired and know nothing about gardening

  Mattie Amos, Lafayette, Louisiana


ANSWER:   You most likely have an infestation of caterpillars. If you see caterpillars on the leaves, you can spray them with a product called Bt, which will kill them.

Question #3

Question:  My perennials are pink this year. I planted several colors for variety and this year they returned and there's so much pink. Is it common for a color to dominate a garden? and why pink?

  Raymond, Aurora, Il


ANSWER:   You didn.t mention what type of perennials you have. However, when the color changes to all one color, it usually means they need to be divided. The roots get crowded and the color all changes to the dominant color for that type of perennial.

Question #4

Question:  My tomatoes are roma tomatoes. Why do they mature with hollow cavities inside? Flavour is good but the meatyness is absent.

  Scott Penfold, Portdouglas, Queensland, Australia


ANSWER:   Sounds like poor pollination. Try planting some marigolds or other flowers around the tomatoes to attract bees for better pollination.

Question #5

Question:  I read your beneficial information on killing garden snails/slugs. Someone told me that sprinkling corn starch on ground will kill slugs because they will eat and cannot absorb the corn starch? I do not know if this is true.



ANSWER:   I know of no research showing that corn starch is effective for killing garden snails or slugs.

Question #6

Question:  I have a crab apple and a grapefruit tree. Both are growing but so slow. The crab apple is about 5 foot, 2 years old. and the grapefruit tree is about 2 ft. tall and about 2 years old. They are both planted in the sun. what should I do??

  Lisa Maddox, Glenwood, Georgia


ANSWER:   Neither type of tree is a particularly fast growing tree. It generally takes five years for a fruit tree to grow large enough to start having much fruit. There is nothing you can do to hurry Mother Nature along.

Question #7

Question:  Sprinklers all list an area that they will water, but none that I can find list the pressure and flow required for that coverage. I'm designing an irrigation system and will need a pump. How should I proceed?

  Ray Kaldor, Iron Mountain, Michigan


ANSWER:   Sprinklers are designed for municipal water pressure and flow. The local water department of the nearest town can tell you what the standard pressure and flow rates are for municipal water. That is what you should design your pump to produce.

Question #8

Question:  Good morning, I would like to dig a deep pond underneath some 20 year old gum trees. How can I cut through their roots without causing any damage to the gumtree itself? Do I saw through the root and seal it or something? Thank you.

  Amanda Kelly, Vallarta, NC


ANSWER:   You cannot cut the roots of a tree and not damage the tree. The tree depends on its roots for water, nutrients, and oxygen. If you cut the roots inside the dripline of the tree, you can even kill the tree.

Question #9

Question:  We planted a day lily plant and the top two lilies fell off. Can we root these by placing them in water and then replanting them or not?

  Phyllis Wolinski, Southbury, CT


ANSWER:   Flowers themselves generally won.t root. Lilies propagate by dividing their bulbs so it is very unlikely you would be able to get the flowers to root.

Question #10

Question:  Are lawn mushrooms harmful to pets if eaten?

  Molly Bullock, Lynwood, WA


ANSWER:   Yes, most varieties of lawn mushrooms are poisonous to pets if eaten. The best course of action is to pick them and dispose of them in the trash when the mushrooms appear. Be sure and wash your hands after handling the mushrooms or use rubber gloves to handle them for added safety.

Question #11

Question:  What should I do w/tulip plants given to me on Mother's Day? they are still in the same pot, leaves are dried out. when can i plant they in the ground?

  Alicia McCormick, Newark, DE


ANSWER:   Your bulbs can be planted now. However, the traditional time to plant then is in the fall so they will come up the following spring.

Question #12

Question:  Hello, I purchased a home in El Cajon Ca. last year and it has a great orange and lemon trees. The orange tree has a big hole around it (im guessing for watering). This hole is around 10 inches deep and is slightly smaller than the tree canopy. Also you can see the tree trunk get wider at the soil level (it kind of looks like a elephant foot) should I keep this hole as is or should I fill with soil. I dont like it because you cant hang around the shade of tree and also it grows a ton of weeds. As I remove weeds it seems like im making the hold bigger. How should the bottom of tree look like, should it be just soil at ground level or a watering pit. Please help. How would you have this tree. I have links for some picture for you to look at. Thank you



ANSWER:   While a slight depression around the tree is best for watering, that is getting to be too deep. You can fill it in until it is about an inch below the surface of the lawn for watering purposes.

Question #13

Question:  My zone 4 Baptisia is becoming less vigorous, and shows less bloom, although it has been established for a few years. It has good soil and irrigation. Does it need to be divided?

  Deborah Stachon, Northfield, MN


ANSWER:   Yes, it probably needs to be divided. The symptoms you mention are characteristic of a plant that needs dividing.

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