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Past Questions and Answers | November 2014

Question #1

Question:  How does one overwinter lisianthus? They're beautiful and I'd really like to keep them going!

  Maureen Szilagye, Northwood, Ohio


ANSWER:   Lisianthus are either annuals or weak biennials, depending on the particular cultivar you are growing. They are programmed to die after seeding. There is really nothing you can do to change this.

Question #2

Question:  Have a garden snail problem, eating up everything! even stuff not in the garden. What can I do? All my beans are gone, all the greens. and even eating my sweet potato leaves. HELP!

  Gayle Barrett, Titusville, Florida


ANSWER:   There are two products recommended to kill snails in the garden. Both are iron phosphate based, and both are safer than the old copper based baits. They are Sluggo and Escar-go. First, eliminate as many places for slugs and snails to hide as possible --boards, stones, and other places they can hide under. Then spread the bait as directed on the package. If slugs or snails ingest even a little of the bait, they stop feeding and starve to death in a few days.

Question #3

Question:  When do I pull up salvia plants, some still red. new gardner

  Particia J Ryan, Gloucester, MA


ANSWER:   After the first killing frost, cut stems back to an inch or two above soil line. Divide plants every 3 to 4 years as new growth begins in the spring, lifting plants and dividing them into clumps. Then replant them spacing them one to three feet apart.

Question #4

Question:  I live in north Texas, I guess zone 7?? What flowers, plants or shrubs will survive & bring color to my yard over the winter? Love your website! Thanks!

  Debbie Kilkenny, Denton, Texas


ANSWER:   Texas has a wonderful tool to plan your garden for whatever season you want. It is called a plant selector and you choose the season and other characteristics and it tells you what plants will live in your area and do well. You can find the plant selector at It will let you select for plants that will bring color to your yard over the winter.

Question #5

Question:  What can I do to my raised bed for fall so I don't have weeds in my garden in the spring ?

  Marguerite Parker, Port Alegany, PA


ANSWER:   You can plant a cover crop that will choke out any weeds and provide nitrogen and other nutrients to your plants in the spring. Good choices for your area are red clover or hairy vetch. In the spring, just till the cover crop under as green manure and plant as you normally would.

Question #6

Question:  I have read your interesting section dealing with the various methods of destroying slugs in the garden.

My question is however, can you realistically create (and maintain), a slug free growing environment in which to cultivate veg in? (perhaps using a raised bed for instance?)

  Bill Gullane, East Lothian


ANSWER:   It is very difficult eliminate all of any pest. You can certainly reduce slugs by using a raised bed with no boards or rocks for the slugs to hide under. You can also reduce them by using an iron phosphate bait such as Sluggo or Escar-go. These baits are less poisonous than the old baits and will make a snail or slug stop feeding if they ingest just a little bit of it. While you may see a stray slug or snail, these two things should keep them an unusual pest instead of a constant threat.

Question #7

Question:  When do you plant giant Allium? Spring or Fall?

  Richard Plucker, Newark, Delaware


ANSWER:   You plant giant allium in the fall.

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Stressed Plants

When a plant gets stressed either from lack of water, not enough nutrients, or being choked by weeds, they actually emit a different kind of chemical.

That chemical alerts bugs that here is an easy target.

One of the best ways to prevent an attack from insects to begin with, is to keep your plants as healthy, and as weed free as possible.

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