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Past Questions and Answers | November 2013

Question #1

Question:  Do I cut back all of my perennials.This includes mainly peone,brown eyed susan,Hostas,corn flower

  Rita McComb, Wiarton, Ontario


ANSWER:   Yes, cut them back to about 6 inches above the ground so you know where they are next year.

Question #2

Question:  We have a beautiful "Caesalpinia ferrea" (Leopard Tree) in our garden with loads of seed pods. Are they poisonous to dogs? Our 2 Golden Retrievers love eating them!! Please can you let me know! thank you

  Catherine Chesterton, Durban, KZN, South Africa


ANSWER:   The Queensland Government webpage lists leopard trees as harmful if eaten. It does not specify a specific part of the tree as harmful, so it appears the seed pods are not good for your dogs to eat. Rake them up and dispose of them so the dogs cannot eat them.

Question #3

Question:  I planted an Autumn Glory Maple in my east yard in 2005 and also a Burgundy Bell Maple same year. Now 8 years later the bark has split vertical. Will this hurt the tree or will it heal over. Thanks for your help

  Evelyn Davis, Alma, Kansas


ANSWER:   There is a fungal disease called sapstreak that infects some maple species. It causes bald spots in the bark. It would be best to have a qualified arborist come out and evaluate the tree, as sapstreak has no cure and if that is the problem the tree should be cut down.

Question #4

Question:  What is the best way to eliminate weeds in lawn permanently? I have a Bermuda Lawn.

  Mary, Charlotte, North Carolina


ANSWER:   You will never eliminate weeds permanently. Wind, birds, and animals will bring weedseeds into your lawn that will sprout. The best defense against weeds is keeping your Bermuda lawn as healthy and thick as possible. Using a pre-emergent for winter weeds in the fall and spring and summer weeds in the spring will also help.

Question #5

Question:  I use mulch in my front garden and it does a wonderful job of keeping weeds controlled however my problem is with slugs. I know they love the dampness caused by the mulch but how do I eliminate the slugs as they have harmed my hostas, jackmanni and some other perennials.

  Susan Guitard, Brampton, Ontario


ANSWER:   There is a new product that can be used to eliminate slugs. It is iron phosphate pellets and is less toxic to pets and the environment than the old copper based poisons. It is sold in the United States as Sluggo and Escar-go. I am not sure what the trade names would be in Canada, but look at the ingredients and get a slug poison with iron phosphate in It as the active ingredient.

Question #6

Question:  How can I get rid of creeping Charlie without ruining my grass?

  P Schippers, Chicago, IL


ANSWER:   If you have Bermuda grass, you may control creeping charlie chemically by applying a herbicide containing 2,4-D and MCPP as its active ingredients. The herbicide will damage or possibly kill any woody or broad-leafed vegetation that comes in contact with the spray, so it must be used with caution. It will also kill St. Augustine, so if that is what you have, you will have to control it by hand pulling it. You can also reduce it by proper fertilization of your lawn and making it as thick and healthy as possible, so it crowds out the weeds on its own.

Question #7

Question:  Is it okay to put mushrooms, which have sprouted up in my lawn, in the compost pile. Don't know what kind of mushroom they are, but they have gills and are large and white.

  Mignon Moskowitz, Bishop, California


ANSWER:   Mushrooms may be placed in the compost pile without a problem, particularly if you have a hot pile. That said, if mushrooms are of worry otherwise (like in your yard), check out our content on how to get rid of mushrooms in lawn!

Question #8

Question:  I have an Oak Leaf Hydrangea for the first time. I have other varieties that I cut back in the winter. Do I do the same with the oak leaf variety?

  Janet Griffin, Corning, CA


ANSWER:   Supposedly, Oak Leaf Hydrangeas bloom on wood from the last season. So you would not want to cut it back like you do many varieties. If you must prune, prune about one third of the plant, particularly any dead or diseases parts, and leave the other two-thirds alone. Do this every year and you will always have some old wood for the blooms to form on.

Question #9

Question:  I'm thinking of solarizing my 20' x 25' garden to get rid of nematodes. What thickness of the plastic and should it be black or clear? Living in the SoCal area is spring alright to start or should I wait for summer? And Last, how long should the ground remain covered? Thank you very much.

  Bill Parchman, Garden Grove, CA


ANSWER:   Solarizing takes two to three months of pretty intense heat, so summer would be best. Clear plastic has been found to work better, and 2 mil is best for this application.

Question #10

Question:  What is the proper way to prune hydrangea. I've tried a couple of different ways, it seems I get more blooms when I do nothing. Also there is a baby that I want to pull away from the main plant. It is now as big as the main plant, when is the best time to do this.

  Dolores DiDonato, Stroudsburg, PA


ANSWER:   The baby may be divided and moved in the fall or winter. Hydrangeas do not have to be pruned and may, as you have observed, do better if you leave them alone. You can prune them right after they bloom if they must be pruned.

Question #11

Question:  This year most of my rhodendroms (sp) have LOTS of yellow leaves that are falling to the ground. What could the problem be?

  Gloria Shaw, Centralia, Washington


ANSWER:   Most of the country is in a drought and seeing temperatures much higher than normal. It could just be drought stress. Are you watering them an inch a week? If so, you might have dieback, a fugal disease that causes leaves to die on the plant. If the bark of the effected stems is scrapped, you will see a reddish-brown discoloration. The best way to deal with this is cut back the stems below the discoloration and dispose of both stems and leaves. Do not compost them as this will spread the disease.

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Planting Depth

As a general rule, most bulbs are planted at a depth that is equal to 3 times their diameter at their widest point.

Tulips like to be planted about 6 inches (15.2 cm) deep and 4-6 inches (10.2-15.2 cm) apart.

Always plant bulbs as soon as possible after purchase to prevent them from drying out.

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