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Past Questions and Answers | November 2011

Question #1

Question:  I have a pomegranate tree that produces fruit, but the fruit only stays on the branch a few days, then dries up and drops off. does the tree need more nutrients, or is it diseased?

  Donna Hernandez, Phoenix, Arizona


ANSWER:   There are two types of pomegranates. One is flowering and produces small fruit that are inedible. The other kind does not have showy flowers, but does have edible fruit. The cultivar recommended for your area is called .Wonderful.. Juvenile pomegranates do have severe fruit drop. They do not set fruit well until they are about six years old. This is consistent with other fruit trees such as peaches.

Question #2

Question:  Can I take a start from my Euphorbia plant and pot it and get it started that way?

  Becky Shaffer, Sutherlin, Oregon


ANSWER:   Euphorbia esula, or Leafy Spurge, is listed as a noxious weed in most of the states, so you need to be a little careful about where you plant it. It propagates by seed and cutting, so you can dab some rooting compound on the cut end and stick it in a pot and get more.

Question #3

Question:  With the paper sack method for wintering geraniums, do I still have to water the plants every month as you do with the plants that are hung?

  Millie Bouche, Madison, Wisconsin


ANSWER:   Once a month, the plants must be taken out of the sack and the roots allowed to soak for 1-2 hours, just as if you had hung them.

Question #4

Question:  I wish to know your opinion on using sawdust in the garden. I use bedding from a horse farm in my compost for heat.

  Frank Lewis, Lima, Ohio


ANSWER:   Composted sawdust can work fine in the garden if extra nitrogen is added to the compost pile as it composts. For example, when you add a layer of sawdust, sprinkle a thin dust of bone or blood meal over that layer before putting the next layer on. The reason is that the organisms that break down the sawdust use a lot of the nitrogen in the compost pile to do that, meaning it is not available to your plants.

Sawdust can be used as mulch with the same caveat -- add extra nitrogen to compensate for the nitrogen used in decomposing the sawdust.

Question #5

Question:  This year we planted two clematis plants (white and purple) to grow on a wagon wheel. Do they need any special care before winter?

  Colette Toth, Whitehouse Station, New Jersey


ANSWER:   Clematis are supposed to be hardy to zone 7a, which is down to 0 degrees. I believe you are 6a, so the clematis may not make it through the winter. Before it gets down close to 0 degrees, you can cover the clematis with straw or a row cover to give it additional protection from the cold.

Question #6

Question:  What affect does soil structure have on the establishment of young plants?

  David Eveleigh, Dalbeattie


ANSWER:   If the soil is too firm, such as clay, young plants may not be able to penetrate it and develop an adequate root system. If it is too soft, the roots may not have enough purchase to hold the plant upright during a storm. The optimal soil is sandy loam, which holds some water in but allows most to drain, has a firm enough structure to provide support for the plant, but is easy for the roots to penetrate.

Question #7

Question:  I have a boxwood topiary that is in a large clay pot on my deck. Should I leave it there all winter or will I need to bring it inside. It is not planted in the ground and I prefer to keep it in the planter for next year. Thanks for any help you can give.

  Karen Gavell, Litchfield, Connecticut


ANSWER:   Boxwoods are considered hardy to zone 6a, or -10 degrees. If it is supposed to get colder than that where you live, you will have to bring it inside. Sometimes sheltered decks stay warmer than less sheltered areas and you can leave plants out on them that would freeze elsewhere, but you will be taking a chance it doesn.t make it.

Question #8

Question:  I have a problem with growing eggplant [my very first time] they started out beautiful, pretty purple. Then all of a sudden they turned this yellowish-orange. What did I do wrong, was it the weather? Because my tomatoes flopped out this tear also. I intend to try again next year, help me please.

  Sheila D. Smith, St. Louis, Missouri


ANSWER:   Your plants were not pollinated. Lots of people were having difficulty with this because of the problems bees are having. You can plant flowers that attract bees as a border around your vegetable garden. The bees generally will pollinate the vegetables once they are attracted to the area.

Question #9

Question:  Hi I live in NH and sadly the place I live is making me take out my perennials garden I have had for the last 3 years.

Most plants I will have to give away like my hydrangea plants and hibiscus etc. but I have some day lily's and Asian Lily's like I'd like to try to move into a container on my back deck. With that said come winter they will go doormat as they would in the garden but if I move them into a container will that come back as they would if they were still in the garden?

  Kimberly, New Hampshire


ANSWER:   The risk with putting the bulbs in a planter is that they may freeze if the planter is too small. Otherwise, transplanting them should not pose a problem. To prevent freezing, leave them in a cool room in the dark, a garage, or other sheltered place that does not get below 32 degrees all winter.

Question #10

Question:  I bought a foliage plant called ahhxyhen. It say's it grows well indoors medium light. But the leaves are falling of at a very fast pace and i do have it in kitchen window where light shines though. It also said something about filtered light. What is filtered light? And what do I do about the leaves falling off.

  Sara Taylor, Sheffield, Texas


ANSWER:   Ahhxyhen is a trademark owned by Homer, TLC, Inc. It refers to a number of plants, so it is hard to say which one you have. Filtered light generally means dappled light, as opposed to direct sunlight. Your plant may be getting too much sun and that is why it is dropping leaves. If you move it to an area where it gets partial shade, it might do better.

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Gardening Tips:

Primula Love Cool Weather

There are many varieties of Primula and they all love cooler temperatures and shade to partial shade areas.

The top three favorites are English Primrose (Primula Polyanthus), Fairy Primrose (P.malacoides), and P.obconica.

They make great woodland plants, bedding or edging plants, and container plants.

They are perennials, and when planted in the correct spot, will last for years.

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