Hi, in the article about growing pine trees from seeds, you mentioned to put the seeds in the freezer for 90 days.
I was wondering if you leave them in the shell or if you take them out of the shell before putting them in the freezer.
John Goncalves, Cobourg, Ontario
What you need to do is to leave them in the shell. The cold is actually mimicking a natural process in the seed, which will make it easier for the seedling to break through the seed coat.
I have some very large bird's nest ferns in large pots outside on the south side of my house. However when the sun shift to the South in the tropics it shift and the very hot afternoon sun burnt them because we had a heatwave. I covered them with shade cloth. Now that the sun has shifted away again I've taken the clothe off. But am faced with having to do something about the sunburnt leaves and the backs of the leaves are covered with spores. What do I do? Do I cut away the parts that were burnt which will make them look very odd. And what do I do about the millions of spores.
Charlotte Corden, Cairns Queensland
Frankly you have two problems. First, the burnt leaves are no longer feeding the plant through photosynthesis. In doing so, you need to remove them. When it comes to the spores, they are also dead more than likely since the leaves are burnt. Trying to save these spores with the hope that they will germinate is a waste of time but if the leaf is green then you have a chance.
In a nutshell, cut away the burnt leaves. Your bird’s nest fern will produce more leaves in no time and look normal again.
I am closing on my old house here in Minnesota tomorrow, Jan 25th, and before I go, would like to snag some roots from a lilac bush that belonged to my grandmother who passed away in 1987 (this shrub came from her original shrub!). Can I propagate roots at this time of year in Minnesota?
Kelly Doyle, Prior Lake
I would say no. The reason is this, the ground is probably frozen and trying to dig the roots is going to be very difficult. The other problem is you will damage the roots in the process of trying to get them up out of the ground.
What do you use to "paint" the rose stem after pruning, and can I some at home?
Phyllis Pixton, San Jose
The habit of "painting" pruned stems has fallen out of favor in the horticulture community in recent years. The reason for this is the fact that the “paint” traps moisture, which in turn will cause the stem to rot. It is better to just prune at an angle and allow the wound to heal naturally without any treatment.
Soil mix for vegetable seeds?
Joe, Rocky Point, NY
Yes, there are "special" soil mixes that you can buy or make but since I do not know exactly what you want to start, I have a little hard time giving you a formula. But I am a fan of a well draining all purpose potting soil mix. The key is that it is well draining but retains water at the same time. Yes, I know this is a bit confusing but think of sand verses peat moss. What you want is something in-between. But if you are not sure about the drainage of your soil, always check the soil moisture with your finger before watering.
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