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Past Questions and Answers | July 2013

Question #1

Question:  My tomato plants have grown high and thick but I only have 3 or 4 blooms out of 10 plants. We've had a lot of rain lately; could this be the reason. One garden center employee told me to cut them down so more energy goes into the growth of blooms. Your advice?qqq

  Nadine Winter, Newnan, Georgia


ANSWER:   When tomato plants get a lot of water and nutrients, they can concentrate so hard on growing foliage that they do not put out blossoms. Cutting the plants back will help, but do not cut them all the way to the ground. Cut them back by one-third of their growth. Do not fertilize the plants until they start to bloom.

Question #2

Question:  My meyer potted lemon tree is very peeked. droopy light colored leaves. Also how do i keep frogs out of my potted plants and do they harm them?

  Lorraine Lewter, Hot Springs, AR


ANSWER:   Your lemon tree is suffering a lack of nutrients. Producing fruit is very nutrient dependant. You need to be watering the plant with a liquid fish emulsion fertilizer mixed according to the label directions.

Frogs do not hurt your plants and will eat pests that damage your plants, so I would not worry about keeping them out of your pots. The only way you would be able to do that is to put up a fence of hardware cloth around each pot.

Question #3

Question:  I have a Jackmanii clematis that looks beautifully green, but has not bloomed at all for 2 years. Before that it bloomed very little. Should I divide it because it is 10-15 years old?

  Inga Holcomb, Onamia, Minnesota


ANSWER:   Yes, you should divide it. It is reaching the end of its lifespan and needs to be divided and replanted to rejuvenate it.

Question #4

Question:  After planting 200 gladiolus bulbs in April all we have are blades of green. When will we see some flowers?

  Cat Petrie, Brookline, Massachusetts


ANSWER:   It takes gladiolus about 90 days to root, grow, and bloom. You should see blooms soon.

Question #5

Question:  I have a problem determining the visual differences between the under watering and over watering . Yellow leaves signal a water problem, but which way is the plant going, drowning or dehydrating?

  Joanne Miller, Roanoke, Va


ANSWER:   Check the soil. If it is soaked and drips water when you squeeze a handful of it, you are overwatering. If it is dry to the touch down to a couple of inches or so, you are underwatering it.

Question #6

Question:  I just planted my tomato plants and thay are turning white. what can I do?

  Wallace Gentry, Grand Island, Ne


ANSWER:   You need to fertilize them with a fertilizer formulated for tomatoes. You may also be underwatering them. However, lack of nutrients is your major problem.

Question #7

Question:  I have 3 mature pine trees planted (circa 1990) around my house - one has no problems whatsoever, while the second one has dried completely. The remaining one, only the top portion is dried and dead although the rest of the branches have now just 'sprouted'/grew new needles- what type of disease are affecting pine trees and what can I do about it (what chemicals should I add to base to kill disease)!

  Michael Williams, Steger, IL


ANSWER:   It sounds like drought is killing your trees. Have you been watering them during the drought that has gripped the country? Do they have rows of holes in them? That is a pine bark beetle and is a sign the tree is dying. At this point, you need to water the trees every week if there is no rain. They may still die -- drought can damage trees so much that they die a year or two after it starts raining, when they try to grow again.

Question #8

Question:  After my (yellow) stella d'oro plant blooms, do I cut the faded bloom stem right down to the ground to encourage new blooms to grow?

  Joanne, Barrie, Ontario


ANSWER:   Do not cut the bloom stem down to the ground. Cut just the flower off. This will encourage the plant to bloom more.

Question #9

Question:  I have a hedge that separates my property from my neighbors. They sprayed something on it that has killed the bush on their side. How an i bring it back to life?

  Vivian, Pittsburgh, Pa


ANSWER:   Without knowing what they sprayed on it, I cannot tell you how to treat it. It is probable that you can nurse the hedge back to health on your side by watering it weekly, fertilizing it, and generally giving it optimal care. However, if they used RoundUp or another systemic fertilizer, your hedge is probably going to continue to slowly die.

Question #10

Question:  I have worked in the greenhouse business for over 20 years & I have a lot of friends & customers who come to me with questions. The latest question is one that I can.t answer without help.

What causes blossom end rot in zucchini?

  Mary Morgan


ANSWER:   Poor pollination. We are seeing an epidemic of blossom end rot in squash because of the scarcity of bees to pollinate the squash. You can teach your customers to pollinate the squash by hand. Female flowers have a small squash at their base. Male flowers do not. Take a male flower, peel off its petals, and sweep the stamens across the pistils of the female flower. This pollinates it. You can pollinate approximately five female flowers with one male flower.

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Use Edgings

Nothing finishes off a flower bed like low, long flowering edging plants.

Alyssum, lobelia, and dianthus are great for just this purpose.

For good continual flowering, also fertilize every few weeks with a balanced fertilizer like a 15-15-15.

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