Friday, November 7, 2008

Propogating Corn Plants

I have a corn plant that has grown to the ceiling. It is in very good health and has three small shoots growing around the bottom. I would like to cut the top out but I'm not sure how I should do this. Do you have any suggestions?

-- Tracy

Anne's Response:

Some people like to propagate the corn plant by making a small cut at a growth ring below the tuft of top leaves, wrap the area around the growth ring with a piece of damp spagnum moss and cover the moss with a clear plastic. You seal the top and lower edge of the plastic with tape to provide a moist environment. When you see roots begin to form you cut the stalk below the plastic and pot up the new plant. You can then cut the tall stalk to the base and leave the three neww shotts to make a plant.Sometimes you can cut the main trunk to the desired height; make the cut just above a growth ring and the plant will put out a new growth. The trunk will not be perfectly straight above the cut because the new growth will come out to the side of the stem.

Best Time to Transplant?

My mother has several small to about 4 ft. crepe myrtles that have started near older plants. I would like to transplant these smaller plants along the drive and around my newly constructed house. First, when is the best time of year to transplant them. Second, how do I go about it to best insure the transplant works and last, when is the best time of year to thin out a crepe myrtle?

-- Vickie

Anne's Response:

Prune and thin out crepe myrtles before they begin to put out new spring growth in April. The small crepe myrtles may be root suckers from the parent plant or they may be seedlings. Rook suckers will be identical to the parent plant; you can gently remove soil until you find the root system of the plant you want to move to determine whether it is a separate plant grown from seed or a plant that has sprouted from a damaged root of the parent plant. If the plants are seedlings you have no idea what color they will be or the ultimate size of the plant. In either case the plants can be moved in January or February.

What is this vine?

Can you tell me what this plant is? I frequently see it growing on houses here in Raleigh.

-- Jason

Anne's Response

I think it is a smilax.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tall Tomato Plants

My 11yr. old grandson planted several kinds of tomato plants this year and they have all grown quite tall and produced many tomatoes. His Red Beefsteak tomato plant is between 8 and 9 feet tall. (This was his first year planting tomatoes.) He was wondering if this was normal or was this some type of record in NC.

-- Andrea (and Kaleel)

Anne's response:

Congratulations to Kaleel on growing such healthy tomato plants; I hope they tasted good. I can’t find the record height of tomato plants but there are pictures of plants as tall as two story houses in some magazine articles. The tomatoes are being picked from the top of a tall stepladder.

Identify This Flower

Please help me identify this flower. It grows on a vine, and it has long green beans. Three pictures are attached with blooms at various stages.

-- Cynthia

Anne's repsonse:

The flowers and pods do look like a legume but I am not sure which ornamental bean it might be. It is similar to Dolichos Lablab or hyacinth bean. It is an annual vine with similar blooms to your photograph but the bean pods are usually purple.

Pests Eating Loropetalums Leaves

I planted some loropetalums this past spring. They did well most of the summer. I have recently noticed that something is eating the leaves from the sides of the leaf. I had heard these plants were pretty disease resistant. Any thoughts on what this might be? I don’t want to lose these plants.

-- Kristain

Anne's Response:

The plants really are quite disease resistant but there are several insects that eat the leaves. Beetles and caterpillars both start eating leaves from the sides of the leaves and the leaves do get disfigured but the plants will not be killed by an occasional visit from visiting insects.

Best Grass Seed for Shady Lawn

Our lawn in Raleigh is pretty much total shade. We would love to have your advice on the best grass seed to use. We are avid listeners to you show!

-- Connie

Anne's Response

The lawn that best tolerates shade is a mixture of fescue and bluegrass but with full shade and competition from tree roots you will never have a lush green lawn.

Staghorn Fern Clippings

I have a Staghorn Fern that I received as a clipping from a neighbor about 12 years ago. A friend is wanting a clipping from it, but I have only done it once about 7 years ago. What is the correct way of removing a clipping from the fern and attaching it to a board or a basket with moss? The one time I did it, I grabed some of the leaves close to the base of the fern and very carefully pulled them loose. However this time I think I may need to cut them from the ferns base.

--Rock Roll

Anne's Response:

Use a sharp knife to cut two or three stems and their attached roots from the base of the fern. You need as much of the root as you can safely remove. Allow the roots of the cutting to sit in water for a few minutes to be sure the cutting is moist. Soak the mounting moss in water and then wrap the moist moss around the roots of the cutting. Attach it to the container or mount with string or wire. The new cutting needs to be kept out of direct sun and it needs to be misted until new roots develop.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What Kind of Flower is This?

I listen to your show most Saturday mornings and I have recently come across a flower that I don't know what it is. I found this in a wooded area between my drive and a field. The flower with stem is approx. 10 inches tall, it has no leaves near the ground that I can tell. It is a spiral arrangement of small white flowers with green in the center area. If you can identify this please reply and let me know, if not I would appreciate a response anyway.

-- Ken

Anne’s Response:

That is a lovely photograph of Spiranthes gracilis, commonly known as Slender Ladies’ Tresses. It is a wildflower found in dry to moist fields, meadows and sandy hardwood forests of the North Carolina mountains and Piedmont regions. The leaves come out in early April, then the bloom spike starts to develop. The leaves usually die and disappear before we notice the bloom in August or September.

Help With Hydrangeas

Our blue, white and pink hydrangea bushes all turned to a light green color and have remained green throughout the summer. What would cause the colors to change? We have also had very poor success with the roses the last two years. They bloom early and the all the leaves fall off leaving just the flower. After the leaves fall then the newest buds never open. They seem to be starving for something but we cannot figure out what is lacking. Can you help?

-- James, Fayetteville

Anne’s Response:

Your hydrangeas are growing just as they are supposed to. The plant blooms its original color (blue, white or pink) then instead of having the flower turn brown and fall off it turns green and remains on the plant until frost turns it brown in the fall. That is one of the joys of the plant - a bloom form that remains attractive on the plant for a very long time. The problem with your roses is harder to diagnose. In most cases the leaf drop comes from leaves that have been affected with Black Spot fungus. The leaves get spotted, turn yellow and fall off. It is quite near the end of the rose season this year and there is not enough time to control Black Spot and produce a set growth of foliage and bloom before the first frost. Clean up all the dropped foliage and dispose of it. After the first frost spray the ground around the plants with a Lime-Sulfur spray to control any fungus spores that may be on the ground. In December spray the plants with the same product. Next spring start a fertilizer and disease control program. Many gardeners with just a few rose plants have found the Bayer 3 in One or All in One product a safe, easy way to fertilize the plants, and protect them from diseases and insects. The chemical is mixed with water in a watering can and the product is poured on the ground around the base of the bush, being careful not to get the chemical on the foliage of the plants.

Milky Substance on Vines

I have some well-established, apparently healthy scuppernong and muscadine vines. On some of the vines, there is a milky white, sticky, gooey substance. The grapes seem fine and I just wash the gooey stuff off if it's not too much. I wonder if you can tell me what this substance is and how to get rid of it, if necessary.

-- Kemie

Anne’s Response:

I don't find a reference to such a problem in the material I have at the house and it is not one I have seen on the scuppernong vines I visit regularly. I suggest you contact your local co-operative extension office for an answer. Check the government listings in your local telephone book for a phone number.

Calla Lillies Won't Bloom

Why are my calla lillies not blooming? They are 3 feet tall but have no flowers.

-- Ann

Anne’s Response:

Calla lillies need sun, not too much nitrogen fertilizer and a rich loamy soil. Bulbs that are planted too deeply do not bloom as well. The bulb is planted no deeper than three times its height in the ground. They need a protective mulch in the fall to reduce the danger of cold damage. Some callas are not completely hardy in this area of North Carolina so yours may be able to have survival of foliage but not the bloom.

Reseeding a Damaged Lawn

I live in Charlotte, NC, and have the typical lawn damage sustained from the recent drought. Due to some health problems we were not able to overseed year before last as well, so my lawn is mostly crab grass. I have been putting down lime over the previous month and plugging the yard about every two weeks to improve conditions for growth. Would I be better off to "Round Up" the entire small yard before overseeding? Would it be a mistake to till up the yard and bring in a small load of topsoil or compost? Is it too early to do this or should I wait till the end of September?

-- B. Long

Anne’s Response:

With the problems you have had with weeds I suggest you use Roundup as quickly as possible to kill the weeds and existing grass. You can till the soil about 10 days after the spraying, rake out the dead weeds and grass and then re-seed the lawn. If you can find a good source of weed free compost you could add that at the time you till. In Piedmont North Carolina it is usually safe to reseed a fescue lawn until October 15.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hurricane water damage to hibiscus

I live in an area that receive lots of hurricane Dolly rain -- my hibiscus was drenched before I could get to it to cover it. Drenched to the point that every single leaf wilted. I allowed it to dry out and am now watering gently with a growth enhancer. Branches are still supple, but wilted leaves are now brown and still hanging on. Should I trim them off or let the plant shed them on its own?? It appears that there is life, but only 2 new green leaf buds have appeared 2 weeks after the drowning. Is there anything else I should do? I live in hot San Antonio, Texas. ~

-- Susan

Anne's Response:

Be patient! I am not sure what you are using as a “growth enhancer” but most products should not be used every time you water a plant. The extra nitrogen in some products can cause even more root and leaf damage. If the plant is in the full sun you may want to move it to a place that gets good light but not hot afternoon sun. You are in effect going to treat the plant more like a newly rooted cutting until new foliage develops.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Pesticide Damage?

Thank you for your response about my Mary Nell. Maybe I did the damage. I sprayed it with a product called Malathion spray b/c I thought it had spider mites. I sprayed this at the same time on my Encore azaleas and they responded well. It just seems lately that I battle everything. I planted three sweet shrubs (Calycanthus) and they are losing leaves. The leaves are drying up and it almost looks scorched. I know you said to contact Bartlett Tree Service, but I was wondering if you thought the pesticide did the damage. I would greatly appreciate any input.

Anne's Response:

Malathion should not cause the damage you are describing on the plants you named if you followed the directions. It does damage some perennials and roses. Most spray products will damage plant leaves if the leaves are under heat and drought stress. Mites are not killed by most insecticides. Mites have eight legs and the products used to kill them are generally referred to as miticides. . Kelthane has been used and the products containing tetradifon are usually listed as being less harmful to humans. With all the damage to plants in your yard is it possible there is too much fertilizer being used in your yard or a neighbors’ where it would run off to the affected plants? You may need to take samples to your cooperative extension office to see if their horticulture agent can provide help.

Infested with Voles

Help! I have voles and moles in my yard. They are everywhere. What can you do? I have read all about the flower pot and trap ideas on the internet. I even talked to a Master Gardener at the Farmer's Market. They told me to get an outdoor cat or black snake. I have 4 vibrating vole sticks from the garden store in my yard. So far nothing has worked except dumb luck when I accidentally dug up a mama and her 7 babies (voles) and caught a mole under a stepping stone. What is your suggestion?

Anne's Response:

The vibrating sticks do not work. My best luck with was with mouse traps baited with an apple slice and a bit of peanut butter. Place the trap next to one of the small holes where vole damage is spotted. Cover the mouse trap with a large pot and hope for the best. Moles can be run out of the yard with castor oil – but it drives me out as well. Finding an active tunnel and setting one of the harpoon mole traps was the best solution. Remember, moles do not harm your plants, voles do.

Gardenia and Jasmin won't bloom

Dear Anne,
I have had my gardenia and jasmine for over 4 years now. When I first planted the plants they had tons of blooms and produced wonderful flowers for about a year. For the past year or two I have been unable to have the plants bloom. I have added miracle grow and cow compost, the things still won't bloom. The plants are growing rapidly and they are very strong, healthy and green. I am really at a loss as to what I should do to help them bloom again. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I live in zone 10, Southwest Florida.


Anne's Response:

You may have overfed your gardenias in which case they add lots of new growth but flower sparsely. They like full sun, average moisture and an application of fertilizer just as new growth begins. Omit the fertilizer for a year and see if that improves the bloom.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Brown Hydrangea Blooms

The leaves on our hydrangeas are green but all the blooms on both bushes have turned brown and look dead. What is the problem?

-- Betty

Anne's Response:

The blooms on hydrangeas do turn brown and remain on the plants after they bloom. The blooms do have to be cut off the plant; they do not fall off of their own accord. Some plants bloom very early in the season while others may bloom as late as September.

I would deadhead the brown blooms, cutting the stems just below the bloom and above the first set of leaves below the bloom.

Osmanthus Won't Bloom

We included an Osmanthus in our landscaping when we built our new home and was told it would bloom with a white fragrant flower. It has failed to bloom since in was planted in November of 2006. Is it going through a shock period and should bloom this fall or do I need to add something to the soil to improve the conditions? We have lots of red clay and it gets plenty of sun.

-- Mary

Anne's Response:

I am not sure whether you have osmanthus fragrans or the holly osmanthus but both plants thrive in full sun. You may want to mulch the plant with some composted leaves or other garden mulch to improve th soil but osmanthus does not seem to be all that particular about growing condidions. Sometimes it just takes time for a plant to acclimate to a new location. Last summer was hard on some plants as they did not have the rain they needed during the summer to develop buds for fall flowering.

Is it a Weed?

The garden in a recently purchased home has had many varieties of plants bloom this spring and summer. Now an unusual plant has grown up which has not yet budded and we're wondering if you can help us identify it. We don't want to assume it is a weed if it's actually something wonderful about to happen.

-- Rosalie

Anne's Response:

You have a weed that you need to get rid of before it takes over the yard. It is in flower and will set seeds in a week or so so pull it up as quickly as possible. The common name for the plant is "Mole Plant"; it is a member of the euphorbia family that has been sold by one of the seed companies as a means of controlling moles. It doesn't seem to do anything to get rid of moles and voles but it will multiply like mad.

Any Help for Chipmunks?

They're taking over and my yard looks like a miniature golf putting green with too many holes! What can I do?

-- Terry

Anne's Response:

Legally you can use Hav-a-Heart traps to capture the varmits so you can relocate them to a place "far-far-away", at least 2 miles according to the sources I've talked to. They don't seem to have many natural predators in urban areas. Some dogs and cats hunt them rather agressively. Dachshounds seem to be very good at scratching them out of their burrows but that may cause as much damage as the chipmunks. I did discover that using the rodent bait boxes to get some Norway rats in my yard I saw a decline in my chipmunk population.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pruning Peach Trees

My peach tree got out of hand and grew much bigger than I wanted. This year it was loaded with peaches and a large limb broke and split off. Question is: How much pruning can be done without killing the tree? I would like to get it back to a normal size.

-- Bettie

Anne's Response:

Peach trees require quite a bit of pruning to provide good fruit and a plant strong enough to support the weight of a good peach crop. If you look at trees in most of the commercial orchards you will notice the plants are kept short for ease in picking fruit. They also have a broad limb structure so the fruit has maximum exposure to sunlight. The tree is pruned in late February; a good rule of thumb is not to remove more than 1/3 of the tree in any one year. It may take two years to get your tree to a healthy shape. Check with your Dept. of Agriculture' s Cooperative Extension Service for a copy of their brochure on peach trees for a good diagram of the pruning process for peach trees.

Promoting Crepe Myrtle Growth

I bought a new home in October of 2007. The builder put in a 12 foot Crape Myrtle near the front of my home. As is typical of builders, they did not prep the soil or do anything but dig a hole and stick it in. In the Spring I put in some Azaleas and I added some garden soil to the dirt around the Crape Myrtle. I also put some of the Bayer Feed and Protect on the top of the soil. My problem is that it has not bloomed. I looks healthy to me. Is there anything that you would suggest that I do in the Fall to promote growth and blooming for next year? I have thought about digging away some of the soil and adding some peat and better soil and fertilizer. Help!

-- Linda

Anne's Response:

Crape Myrtles seem to do well in unamended soil so if the plant leafed out this spring and seems generally healthy I would not worry about the blooming. It sometimes takes a year or so for the root systems to develop on a large transplant and plants often postpone blooming until a root system develops. You may find that the combination of crepe myrtle and azaleas is not that beneficial to the azaleas. The azaleas need more shade than crape myrtles provide in winter and crape myrtles are not that happy with supplemental watering in a dry fall when azaleas may need more water to produce good blooms in the spring.

Monday, July 28, 2008

What Killed our Cherry Trees?

Dear Anne,
We live in South-Western Durham and have a lot of heavily wooded area all around our back garden. When we returned from vacation, we noticed that the leaves on a small Cherry Tree were showing signs of what we thought was a severe fungal infection, and we decided to cut it down because the area needed thinning to give some more space to a nearby Sugar Maple and we feared that whatever disease the tree had might spread to our other trees. We carefully raked up and disposed of all the fallen leaves to help prevent it from spreading. So far, we have not noticed similar problems on any of our other trees. I have just spent a couple of hours on line trying to research what the problem may have been and whether it might spread to our other trees. It does not seem to match the pictures and descriptions I find on line of Leaf Spot, Brown Rot or Canker. A neighbor of ours had a similar problem with a small cherry tree. Is there some new blight attacking only cherry trees? Can we do more to prevent it spreading to our other trees or is it something that only attacks cherry trees? Please advise, and thanks in advance for any information you can offer

Bill & Heather

Anne's Response:

Sometimes such damage is caused by bacteria (Xanthomonas pruni). The center of the infection eventually falls out leaving a "shot hole" that is similar to the damage caused by some of the fungal diseases. In most cases of these diseases the plants that will be damaged by the same disease will be members of the prunus family- beach plum, peach, flowering cherries, and flowering almonds. I would not expect it to cause a problem with other trees. The best source of information on identifying these problems is the Cooperative Extension Service. There is a very good master gardener program in Durham and the horticultural extension agent in the Durham County office does an excellent job of identifying insect and disease problems.

When to Plant Crepe Myrtles

Dear Miss Anne,
Could you tell me when the best time is to plant a sprig of a crape myrtle tree? Also, I was wondering if you knew how to dry out hydragaena blooms. I appreciate your help and enjoy watching you on News14..the one for you. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Anne's Response:

Cuttings are made from crepe myrtles in June and July before the wood hardens off. They do have to have a strong root system if they are to be be planted in the ground the year the cuttings are made. It is sometimes necessary to overwinter the cuttings in a pot that is kep in an area that does not get below freezing and then plant them in the ground the following summer. There are two ways tha hydrangeas can be dried. Some people just cut the stems and put them in water. When the water dries out of the container the leaves get stripped from the stems and the blooms are allowed to continue drying in the container in an area out of the direct sun. You can also cut the blooms, strip the leaves off the stems and hang the blooms upside down in a warm dry space. (People used to do it by hanging the stems in an attic over the summer.)

Curling Leaves on Tomato Plants

All of our tomato plants' leaves are curling under. They are producing tomatoes like crazy, though. We fertilize them with Miracle Grow -- don't know what's up with them.


Anne's Response:

Curling leaves on tomato plants can come from uneven watering - especially too much water. It is also caused by insect damage - especially spider mites and aphids. You can usually see signs of insect damage on the back of the leaf. Washing the insects off the back of the leaf with a strong stream of water from a hose is one safe way of taking care of the problem. You may need to add some lime to the soil to counteract the acidity of a lot of nitrogen fertilizer from the Miracle Gro.

What is Attacking my Pecans?

I have two gigantic pecans that I thought were very healthy. This year I have noticed a few branch tips have tent canterpillars? (I'm not sure that's what they are, but that's what I've always referred to them as) on them and the tree is dropping browned short branches for the past couple of weeks. The tree otherwise looks healthy and it is loaded with nuts ripening. What should I do?


Anne's Response:

Tent caterpillars are quite common in pecan trees. Many years ago farmers lit an oil soaked rag on a stick and burned the nests to kill the caterpillars. That is dangerous but you can use a long pole to strike the nests to break them open so the birds can get in to eat the caterpillars.

The loss of small branches from the tree is caused by and insect called a twig girdler (usually Oncideres cingulata). The insect girdles the twig, laying eggs for the next generation. A strong wind will break the stem at the point of the girdling and the stem falls to the ground with the eggs inside. To control the problem remove all the branches that fall to the ground and destroy them. If you don't the insect hatches in the spring, climbs the pecan tree and repeats the prcess for another generation.

Unhealthy Maple Tree


I have a Red Maple that is not doing as well as my others. It gets the same water and sunlight. However, the leaves are a bit smaller. I have noticed tiny, black spots on the bark of the tree. Any thoughts?

Anne's Response:


There are often differences in the size of leaves on two different red maple trees. If plants are the same named cultivar they will be quite similar but for seedling grown trees you can expect variability in size and color of leaves and ultimate height of the plant. There are a number of canker diseases that will form spots or lesions on the trunk and twigs of red maples. Some of them will cause the plant to produce smaller leaves. If the spots are on limbs and twigs but not the main trunk of the tree the limbs can be pruned to remove the infected area. The usual remedy for canker lesions on the trunk of the tree is to remove the tree to keep the infection from spreading to your other trees. My advice is to find a certified arborist to diagnose the problem and recommend a treatment procedure.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ligustrum Leaves Turning


I have a ligustrum that the leaves are starting to turn upside down. It is getting plenty of water and 6+ hours of sun. It is not turning brown or wilting. Just the leaves are starting to turn upside down. It is the strangest thing. I live in Richmond VA. Any advice?

-- Di and the Boys

Anne's response:

It is not unusual for ligustrum to have such problems with leaves after high winds or ice storms. Sometimes the leaves will recover but often the change does not occur until the old leaves fall and the new ones come in. I can’t find any disease or insect problems in my references that produce that symptom. The level of light would not be a problem. Ligustrm does not like wet feet but the symptoms are usually loss of leaves; with drought the leaves wil curl backward but the shiny face remains facing up to the sun.

Holly Losing Leaves

I have a “Mary Nell” holly. It is also losing leaves, primarily on the back side (shadier side). I thought it might be some type of insect, like a spider mite but now I’m not sure. The one side is almost bald. Even the new growth will curl and eventually drop. I am really upset b/c we spent a lot of money on this tree. Could you please advise me on what to do or who I could call to take a look. We are in Apex.

-- Anonymous

Anne's response:

The symptoms you describe on the holly are similar to the damage that comes from chemicals. Could the back of the plant be facing a house that was power washed with strong chemicals or spray painted? Could it have been exposed to a herbicide spray. There are several sprays that cause problems when temperatures get above 70 degrees. With serious problems on major trees and shrubs in my landscape I rely on the services of a reputable tree service such as Bartlett Tree for a diagnosis and treatment.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Protecting Bradford Pear Trees

Dear Anne,

We really like the look of Bradford pear trees, but the trees are not very strong and the severe thunderstorms seen in the Carolinas have already killed three of our pear trees over the years. Is there anything we can do to help protect the trees. Also, is there a tree that would be a good substitute for the Bradford pear that looks similar but is a little stronger?


Steve and Sherry

Anne's Response:

The Capitol Pear has shape and plant habits similar to the Bradford but has a slightly wider limb angle at the trunk so there is not quite the problem with splitting and breaking. Many landscapers are recommending it instead of the Bradford. Kousa dogwoods might be another substitute with a similar bloom time - and the added interest of the large red seedpods in the fall.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Garden Clubs?

There are so many plants in my yard, I have no idea what a lot of them are. I had dead looking sticks which have now produced leaves. Some are a reddish orange color and some are large leafy green. I have what I think are some type of laurel on the side of my garage and in my back yard. One type, the new leaves are red and the other stays green. Each day I look for more plants to pop up. It's GREAT!! I am now planting an herb garden. I am a novice gardener but I love it and want to learn more. I love to watch the plants grow and take care of the yard. Are there any gardening clubs in Greensboro ( Green Valley Area) I could join that would help me learn the plants of NC and how to take care of them ???

Anne's response:

There are lots of good garden clubs in Greensboro and there is a Greensboro Council of Garden Clubs. Check the telephone book or the internet for an address and telephone number.

Toppping Trees

I see my neighbors cutting the whole tops off of the large trees in their yards. What is this kind of tree that can take such MAJOR pruning? I live in Hickory , North Carolina.

Anne's response:

I usually call them ugly and likely to cause a lot of problem. This is not a good practice – topping trees used to be common to reduce problems in ice storms but no good arborist recommends it anymore.

Replanting Camellias

We also have a lot of Camila's. The leaves have silvery dry patches on them and I noticed that they we not planted deeply. I could see the original root ball on top of the soil and the plant is leaning to one side. One main truck looked split and rotting. Should I dig them up and try to re plant them??

Anne's response:

I would not try to replant a camellia that has been in the ground for several years. One method to improve the situation is to mix some native soil with composted leaves and composted manure. Cover the area around the plant with the mixture to bring the surrounding soil up to the level of the original rootball. You could try staking the plant to return it to an upright position.

Yellow Holly Leaves

We recently bought a home in Greensboro (we moved here from Maryland)and our yard is nicely landscaped but was not taken care of by previous owners. The bushes were overgrown with a lot of dead branches, black spot and packed with dead leaves. I cut back the bushes and trees in early spring and cleaned out the dead leaves and branches. My holly trees are now in bloom but I have noticed a lot of yellow leaves. I fertilized them with Acid fertilizer in early spring. What should I do to treat the trees?

Anne's response:

The yellow leaves are the natural aging signs of a plant. Expect about 1/3 of the leaves to turn yellow and fall off. As long as new growth appears, the plant is healthy. You fertilized the plants at the proper time of year.

Dividing Peonies

I saw something that peony's do not like to be replanted. Well, I have a large bush of them, and now several neighbors would like to have starts from them. How do I go about digging them up. I did tell them I could not do it before December. This is when I cut them back for the winter. Should I leave maybe 4" to 6" growth on them and then cut from the outside in? Or do you have some suggestions, about where the cuttings should come from. The bottom of the bush is about 3' in diameter. They have been growing steadily for the last 20 years, without any trim back.

Anne's response:

Peony plants do not like to be disturbed. If they are to be divided the best time to do it is in September as the foliage begins to die down. Remove the soil around the plant carefully to determine where the tuberous roots are and then dig the entire clump very carefully. You want to do as little damage as possible to the tubers. Use a clean knife to separate the sections of the plant and allow the wounds to heal over before replanting them.

Transplanting a Pineapple Plant

Hi Anne,
How do you transplant a pineapple plant? These two plants are from the tops of pineapple that a lady at work gave me two years ago and told me to plant them. I did. Now they are doing really well but they are planted in buckets that held bubble gum in bulk. The buckets are cracking from age, the plants are two this summer. But they are approx 2-3 feet wide and around and have long pointy sharp fonds/leaves. How do I safely, properly transplant them?

Anne's response:

Most pineapples grow well for two years and then start to decline. They should produce fruit one year from planting, produce the second fruit and then start to decline in vigor. If you want to try to keep them alive and transplant them, find a container at least 6 inches wider than the one they are in. Remove the plant from its current container – wrapping the plant with a piece of canvas or other sturdy fabric that will allow you to work with the plant. Place enough soil in the bottom of the container to support the current root system. Place the plant on top of the soil and fill in around the root ball.

Gem Magnolia Root Growth

I am considering planting an espaliered Little Gem Magnolia and want to know the expected root growth, space is limited.

Anne's response:

You can expect the roots of a plant to extend about the diameter of the width of the plant. If the plant is 20 feet wide you can expect the roots to extend 40 feet from the trunk of the tree.

Camellia Losing Leaves

We have a 75 yr. old japonica camellia tree that is at least 20 ft. tall. It is covered with small pink flowers late fall that last for 2 months. It is a gorgeous tree. Lately it is losing an abundance of leaves that have turned yellow. This happens annually but many more leaves are falling this year. Should we be fertilizing the tree? Is there a problem that we should be addressing at this time of year or at any time in order to lessen the number of leaves that are lost?

Anne's response:


The yellow leaves on your camellia are the natural aging of a camellia plant. You can expect to lose about 30% of the leaves each year. When plants are under the stress of drought and high temperatures, as many of them were last year, there may be a larger than normal leaf loss. Camellias do benefit from an occasional application of fertilizer. Organic products such as cottonseed meal or Espoma Hollytone work well as they provide soil nutrients over an extended period of time. The ideal time to apply fertilizer is April as new growth appears.

Planting Hen&Biddies

I wanted to plant some hen & biddies in a strawberry planter. How do I go about it? I tried putting potting soil in the planters but I lose quite a bit of it through the holes. I thought if I filled the planters with soil then I could stick the hen & biddies in the holes. I don't think I'm doing something right. Can you help me?

Anne's response:

Put soil in the bottom of the strawberry jar to the level of the first row of openings. Put the sedum in the openings and press soil around the new plant. Water the plants to compact the soil. Add more soil to the jar to come up to the next row of openings, plant those openings and continue the process to the top of the jar.

Keep or Remove Leyland Cypress?

Hi Anne,

I have a staggered row of green giant arborvitae as a privacy border which I planted last fall and they are doing very well. I recently purchased two leyland cypress and planted them next to the green giants. My question is, since Leyland cypress are prone to certain diseases, can they transmit this disease to the green giants? Right now the Leylands are healthy. Should I remove the Leylands and replace them with Green giants? Thanks for your help.

Anne's response:

Many Leyland Cypress will live without any problems. I would not make any changes until you have a problem.

KiIling Pompas Grass

Could you please tell me if there is anything I can put on Pompas Grass to kill it? Would Roundup even help? Thanks.

Anne's response:

Pampas Grass can be killed with Roundup or with any weed killer labeled for use on grasses. It is usually effective when new growth is at least 10 inches tall.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Flowering Bushes

Hello Anne,

I'd like to get your recommendation on which type of flowering bushes I should consider planting in my front yard. Currently, everything in my front yard is green, and I'd like to add some bushes that flower often with a color other than green. My local gardening store recommended Loropetulum's, and I wanted to get your thoughts about this. Since I'm not a very diligent waterer, I'd like to get something that is virtually maintenance free; also I'd like a bush that the deer won't like to snack on.

The designated areas in my yard get morning shade, and full afternoon sun. I'd like to get bushes that will grow to about four feet in height and three to four feet in width. Also, please let me know what type of nutrients/soil I should plant these with.

Thanks very much for your help, and I enjoy your show on News14.! Ed

Anne's response:

You might consider some variegated foliage plants and plants with yellow or red foliage. I like Gold Mop Chamaecyparis, Girard's Rainbow Leucothoe, Japanese Aucuba (for shady areas), variegated hollies. One problem with the purple lorpetumum is that it grows to be a much larger plant than people expect and it is hard to keep it pruned as a small shrub.

Questions About Many Plants

My wife and I listened to you and Mike on Saturday mornings on 680 WPTF and we enjoyed your show very much. We have now moved to the Lynchburg VA area (6/05) with more country spaces. I would like to ask you regarding: fertilizing, pruning, disease control, and watering on the following: Nellie Stevens Holly Golden Arborvitae Forsythia Jane Lew Magnolia Flowering Cherry (Kwanzan) Hydrangea

Thanks Ann

Anne's response:

I am one of those gardeners who believes in leaving the watering of established shrubs to Mother Nature. During a very dry, hot summer I might water an hydrangea if it is still wilted first thing in the morning. (they should recover overnight.)

All of the plants mentioned can be fertilized as new growth begins in the spring.

I prune forsythia by removing the oldest canes at ground level after they bloom in the spring. You can remove 1/3 of the canes without damaging the plant. This allows new growth to form and maintain the flowing plant form.

Prune Nellie Stevens before new growth forms in the spring. Prune the Kwanzan after it blooms. The others can be pruned in late February to removed damaged limbs, limbs that rob against others and small limbs that grow out underneath the larger limbs.

Brown Gardenia Blossoms

Dear Anne,
I have a large gardenia bush which usually has an almost uncountable number of blossoms. I notice that presently (mid April) the blossoms which are developing are turning brown.) Can you suggest a reason? Incidentally, about six feet from the plant is a large camellia bush. It had many buds this year and some developed into flowers, but many of the large buds just fell off the bush (tree.) Any relationship of the two problems? I have done nothing different this spring from other years, I don't think. Thanks in advance for your help.
Esther, Sacramento, CA

Anne's response:

On the gardenia check the stems and trunk of the plant for an enlarged growth or canker. I do not know what you could use to correct that problem. The only control I know of is to prune out the infected portions of the plant and clean off the clippers with alcohol between cuts. Brown buds can also be caused by a light frost or by a Botrytis fungus. The control of the botrytis is to remove all infected buds and destroy them. Bud drop is often caused when it is too warm, too dry or there is insufficient light.

Camellias often "blast" buds. Camellia bud drop in California is often caused by lack of sufficient moisture - both in the soil and in the air. A severe frost in September or October produces bud drop. An irregular water supply also causes the problem

Milky Substance on Plants


My Carissa Hollies have some milky looking stuff on the top of the leaves and I believe on the stems. This is the second season I have noticed this and they also have thinned out and do not look as full. Do you know what this could be and how to treat?


Anne's response

I think you may have an infestation of the scale insect on the plants. At one point it does look white and milky and you may notice some of the spots moving around a bit. One method of control is to use a horticultural oil spray on the leaves (front and back) and stems of the plant. Read the directions on the product very carefully as some products cannot be used in hot weather.

Transplanting Chinese Privets

Dear Ann,
I always enjoy your advice and knowledge. I have 2 Chinese Privets, I would like to transplant, if possible. They are currently about 4 feet tall(after a very severe punning last year)and at least 8 years old. What time of year is best for trying this? Or will I just be wasting my time? The location I want to move them to gets morning sun and I need to try and create some privacy in my back yard. Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions! Deb

Anne's response

It is possible to move privet in the fall without harm to the plant. The problem you will have is that the rootball of a 4-foot plant will be quite large - heavy and awkward to move. Privet are quite easy to root. When the new spring growth this year hardens to the point you can break the stem cut 6 inches off the end of the branches and root them in a medium of half sand and half peatmoss. The container of cuttings should be kept in an area with good light but out of full sun. You may be able to "tuck them under" the parent plants. You will need to keep the cuttings moist until they root which will probably be 4 to 6 weeks.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

No blooms on Kwanzan Cherry

I purchased a Kwanzan Cherry tree last spring from Lowes. It had a couple of blooms last spring, but not very many. This year the tree has not bloomed at all. The tree already has lots of leaves, but no blooms. I have seen several other Kwanzan trees in the Raleigh area that are already blooming, and I have read that Kwanzans bloom from mid to late April. Is it possible for my Kwanzan Cherry to still bloom this year? Do Kwanzan Cherries normally get their leaves before the bloom? If the tree isn't blooming, what might the problem be?

Heather K.

Anne's response

Kwanzan cherries bloom early in the spring then develop their leaves. It is not unusual for a newly planted tree not to bloom the year after it is planted. It has used its energy to produce a root system. Also, plants were under stree during the heat and drought last summer. If the tree had very few blooms when you purchased the plant it may be very young or it be a plant that with a genetic trait of sparse blooms.

Caladiums in Red Clay

Hello Anne-

I have been trying to get answer on what to do about this red (clay) dirt that I have in my yard. I'm a new to gardening and I would like to plant some Caladiums and Hosta, but it seems to be impossible with this dirt. What kind of flowers do you suggest for me to plant in a sunny yard with no trees around, and do I need to use mulch with any plants. Thank you for any help that you can give me.

Anne's response

Caladiums and Hosta are plants the love to grow in the shade so if you wish to grow them you will need trees to provide that shade. Red clay soil has wonderful mineral content for plants and it holds moisture but it does need to be amended with composted organic material such as manure and leaf mulch. You till the ground to a depth of at least 8 inches, add a 6 inch layer of organic material on top and till that in. You are then able to grow roses, daylilies, chrysanthemums, Shasta daisies, iris, asters, phlox and even tomato plants.

Good Spot for Magnolia Jane?


I just purchased two Magnolia Jane trees. I have two planting areas which are attached to my brick home. Each runs 7ft across the front of my home and 12ft out from the front of my home. The areas are on a sunny/partshady well drained hillside which is surrounded by a brick enclosure. Is this a suitable location? Will the root system damage my brick?


Anne's response


The location seems to be an acceptable one for a Jane Magnolia but you may have to root prune the plants as they get older to keep the roots from expanding beyond their 7x12 foot enclosure. The roots of the plant can be expected to grow out about twice the mature width of the tree.

Leyland Cyprus Disease?


Several of my Leyland Cyprus’ died during this past summer. I was planning on replacing them but I have heard rumors about some sort of disease that attacks Leyland Cyprus. Is this true, and if so what are some other “border” options from the road?

Thank you

Anne's response

There are some diseases that affect Leyland Cypress although many of the plants lost last year were from drought and heat problems. You may want to check with your local County Cooperative Extension Office for advice on testing for diseases. Nellie Stevens Holly makes a good screen as does eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), Little Gem Magnolia, Foster Holly, Privet and Florida anise.

White Camellia's Leaves Turning Yellow

Dear Mrs Clapp,

I live in Sydney, Australia and I would be very happy if you could give me some advice as to why my white camellia's leaves are turning yellow and falling off. The buds seem to be OK. As we are in the second month of autumn, I fertilized it with some camellia and azalea fertilizer, also a little blood and bone about a month ago, and it seems to have lots of mulch at its base. The shrub is about 3 years old and it has been healthy looking until now. I've had some beautiful blooms. It is situated about 3 ft. from a fence, facing east. Behind the fence my neighbour has a mango tree. Is this the reason why the camellia is shedding its leaves, and should I move my camillia? Many thanks for your kind answer.


Anne's response


It is not unusual for camellias to lose a lot of foliage after a year in which they bloomed heavily. In the natural aging process the leaves of a camellia begin to turn yellow, then brown and drop from the plant. As many as half the leaves may be lost in a single season. If the plant has new growth buds I would assume it is still healthy. From your description of the growing conditions of the plant there does not seem to be a problem. There is an active Camellia Society in Sidney and I am sure one of their members could give you additional information.

Damaged Cypress

Hello Anne,

We have 15 cypress trees that are at least 30 feet tall. They are
beautiful however, when we purchased our home the previous owner had
morning glories blooming and growing up them. Our gardener said we
needed to remove the vine as it was strangling the cypress. He
removed all of the morning glories and the bottom of the cypress
trees were left brown and dead looking. It has been two years and
they have not filled nor any green branches returning to them. What
should I do?

Thank you,

Anne's response

It is not unusual for the lower limbs of evergreens to die as the plants
get older. If the tips of branches are cut or damaged the foliage on the
limb closer to the trunk usually is not regenerated when the old foliage
turns brown. Scrape the bark on one of the limbs to see if there is any
green cambium layer still visible. If not, you need to remove the
damaged limbs at the trunk. Planting a groundcover under the plants may
help fill in the spot until the bottom limbs drop down to fill in the
space left when you removed the damaged ones.

Will My Tomato Plants Get Fruit?

Hi Anne,
I wonder if my tomato plants will set fruit this year since I have them potted in self watering containers that are located in a screened in enclosure aka a "Lanai" type of structure. The structure is screened in on all sides including the roof and receives 100% of daily available sun.

I worry that the lack of flying insects will prevent pollination? Do tomato plants self pollinate?


PS: I am located in Northern Florida on the coast and our plants are already blossoming flowers.

Anne's response

The plants willl need to be hand pollinated just as many greenhouse grown plants are. The easiest way to do it for one plant is to use a q-tip to remove the pollen from a blooms as it opens and transfer it to another bloom. Just keep swabbing the Q-tip from one bloom to the next until you have all the blossoms pollinated.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Leyland Cypress on Property Line

I am interested in planting leyland cypress trees about 4 feet away from the fence which seperates our neighbors and us. My plan is to place these trees in plant box supported by stacking blocks. I was wondering if I could plant the tree three feet high instead of at ground level.

Thank You

Anne's response:

The root structure of a Leyland Cypress is really too large for long term containment. High winds will pull the plants out of wet ground so planting them as you propose would cause real problems by the time the plants get 5 or 6 feet tall.

No Fruit from Avacado Tree

Hello Anne,

I have an avocado tree in my front yard. There are three other different trees planted around it. This tree is already very big. It is about 10 feet tall or maybe a bit taller. My tree doesn't give any fruit but it has in previous years. I have no idea what is wrong with it and if there is something I can do for it to give fruit. Can you help?

Anne's response:

I would think there is a problem with pollination of the plant. Either pollinating insects are not visiting when the plant is in bloom or the plant has depended on a neighborhood plant for cross pollination and that plant is no longer there. Keeping the use of insecticides to a minimum is important during the blooming season of plants.

Using a pH Meter

Hi Anne,

I have a problem. A year or so ago, I purchased a PH test meter, on line. I have misplaced the instruction sheet, and wonder if you might be familiar with its' operation. It is a battery free meter, with a wire attached to it and a "probe", which apparently inserts into the ground. I recall the ground should be wet, but, after that I am lost. Can you give me any help? If so, thanks in advance.

Gil in Mass

Anne's response:

The only pH meter I know of that fits your description just cautions that the probe be cleaned prior to use and that the soil is moist. Insert the probe into the ground. Leave for at least three minutes for an accurate reading. Then remove the probe and clean it.

Dog Damage to Shrubs

Our dog Mulligan urinated this winter on our shubs. It has killed several branches on three shrubs but not the entire shrub leaving holes in 3 of the shrubs. Should I prune off the remaining affected areas? Are those affected shrubs best to be taken out and replace them? with pruning, will any of the affected area come back? Please help.

Highland Mills NY

Anne's response:

Sometimes plants will recover from visits from the family dog. Pruning the affected areas does help. If the “indiscretion” is noticed quickly enough you can sprinkle gypsum on the affected plant and on the ground around it. Farmers use gypsum to treat areas that receive an overdoes of nitrogen fertilizers and I used it with success for the visits my female dog made to the side lawn.

"Whippoorwill Bush"

A friend would like a bush that she remembers growing in her mother's yard.(Faith, NC) She says it was called a "whippoorwill bush". I've researched extensively and cannot find anything having this name. She says it had woody stems with Easter blooming sweet smelling pink clusters. Maybe this is the "southern" name given to this plant? Please help me in this search!


Anne's response:

There is a possibility that the plant is Weigela florida. It is a fragrant pink flowering shrub that blooms in early April and is a plant that has been a pass-along plant in the south for many years. The only plants in any of my references that are called whippoorwill plants are some native ground orchids.

Bougainvillea in N.C.

I'm asking about bougainvillea. I'm pretty sure that I spelled it wrong but I know I got close enough to understand. I lived in LA for ten years and I just loved this plant/flower, Can I find it here to make a hanging basket?


Anne's response:

Bougainvillea is usually available in the Raleigh area in late April or early May. It does well in a hanging basket and can be overwintered in a warm sunny area in the house or garage.

Brown Foliage on Wax Myrtles

A landscaper transplanted 6 large (6-8 feet) wax myrtles to help screen off the view of a neighbor's house. The plants were b&b, with root balls so large they needed a small cat to lift them into the holes. They've been in the ground about 10 days, and virtually all the foliage has turned brown. The stems are still supple, however. When can I expect new growth? I have been giving them plenty of water (every couple of days) and the soil they were put in is well-drained woodsy loam. On a more negative note, how long do I give them before telling the landscaper they've expired?


Anne's response:

They may have too much water! Once a week is adequate for newly transplanted shrubs. Wax myrtles will be putting on new growth for the next two or three weeks. Look at the base of the leaves on the plants and see if there is any sign of new growth emerging. I would also call the landscaper who installed them for his advice – and that also puts him on notice that there is a problem.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Planting Near Property Line

We were advised by a landscaper to plant a row of alternating Cleveland Pear and Yoshino Cherry trees along our property line with a neighboring house. Can you please advise us as to how far from the property line these should be planted and how far apart they should be.

Our research shows these trees have about a 20-30 ft spread, so my husband is thinking the trees ought to be about 30 feet apart. Is that correct, or can we put them closer?

Also, our property line is about 5 ft from the neighbors driveway. How are the roots on these? We do not want to plant them or anything close enough to cause the neighbor’s driveway to buckle or crack.

Thank you,

Anne's Response:


You need to plant the trees 30 feet apart. To protect the neighbors’ driveway they need to be at least 20 feet from your property line. The roots of the plant extend 30 feet or more from the base of the tree but the roots can be controlled by root pruning near the driveway before they become a problem.

Planting tomatoes

Hi Ms. Clapp,

My sister and I saw your piece this morning regarding planting tomatos. We were wondering which is better, to grow tomatoes in a container with a stake to help keep them straight or to use an upside down tomato grower.

Thank you,

Anne's response:


I tried the upside down tomato planters with mixed results. They do work for small patio tomatoes and plants that don’t get very tall. The taller tomato plants try to grow up to the sun and when they set fruit the stem breaks from the weight. I think for most purposes the stake and cage technique works best.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Pear tree propagation

Dear Ms. Clapp:

I have been trying to propagate a very old d'anjou pear tree by means of cuttings with no success whatever.

I've taken about a dozen cuttings, dipped them in rootone and planted them in a !:1 mix of perlite and potting soil.

The pots were then covered with glass enclosures and kept fairly warm from below.

Nothing took. Something is wrong but what? the cuttings(size, location on tree)?, time of year?, potting mix?

Perhaps the method. Should I use some other technique? If so, what, and how?

Being a rank amateur I would like very much to stick to the simple technoique of cuttings, rather than more advanced approaches such as grafting, which is a complete mystery to me; however, if that's what it takes then perhaps you could give me a start.

Apologies for the length of this note.

Many thanks,

Anne's Response:

The most successful way to propagate an Anjou pear is by grafting. Some experts recommend grafting the cutting to a seedling quince that is about the diameter of a pencil in early spring. I graft camellias but not pears so I recommend you find a good book with illustrations. It is not that hard to do but it is difficult to describe without illustrations.

For rooted cuttings of the plant try taking the cuttings from new wood in late May or early June. Take the cutting from a branch tip. Use a moistened potting medium of half vermiculite and half perlite. Dip the cut end of the cutting ( no more than 6 inches) in a rooting hormone. Poke a hole in the rooting “soil” and insert the cutting to a 1-inch depth. Firm the soil. The best luck comes when you can mist the plants for 6 weeks – but you can try putting the cuttings in a chamber (I have used a Styrofoam cooler covered with clear plastic.) to maintain a high humidity.Roland

Powdery mildew

Hi Anne,

I believe I have a powdery mildew problem. It seems to be getting worse too, even though we've been in a drought. It will show up every summer on my zinnias, crepe myrtles and boxwoods. We try to avoid chemical use in our yard, but will do so if it means saving our plants. What do you recommend?


Anne's Response:

I didn’t think boxwoods had a problem with powdery mildew. Plants will develop the disease when we have a cloudy, moist night and when there is not good air circulation around plants. So pruning to keep plants from being crowded together helps. Organic gardeners have found that spraying with lime-sulur just before the crapemyrtle leafs out in the spring will help control the disease. For the zinnia try using a wettable sulfur powder when the disease first appears.

Drought Resistant Flowers

Hi Anne,

Spring is here and flowers are beginning to bloom. I am itching to plant flowers around my Pine trees in the front yard. My front yard gets full morning sun. What kind of drought resistant flowers can I plant that will give me some color for the spring and summer? I usually plant petunias but they dried up due to drought.

-Walter C.

Anne's Response:

You could try some salvia, coreopsis or cosmos. Iris and daylilies are also drought tolerant.

Cherry Tree Pollinator

I've recently purchased a Rainier Cherry Tree which I hope will someday produce some of it's delicious fruit for me. I know it needs a pollinator and a Bing is recommended, but my yard space is small. I was wondering if my neighbors flowering Japanese cherry trees (Yoshino I think) would work as a pollinator if I planted my new tree within 100 feet of them. Any information would be appreciated.

Charles R.

Anne's response:


Your problem of needing a pollinator for a tree in a small space is shared by many. The flowering cherry trees will not work. One technique is to graft a piece of the Bing cherry onto the Ranier Cherry. You may have to find a local nurseryman who would be willing to do that for you. Some gardeners have luck growing the pollinator in a pot. You keep it small, let it flower in the spring and keep it close to the Ranier cherry during the time they are in bloom. You can keep Bing pruned back to a small size and hide it out of sight when his pollen is not needed.

Burning Bush


I have a question concerning our Burning bushes that we have in Tennessee. Can you cut off 6" limbs and directly transplant or is there a special way to make roots grow from a cut limb? We bought our first Burning Bush six years ago and our only dwarf bush was only 6" in height and had a root composite from which looked like a cut limb.


Anne's response:


Many burning bushes in the wild are actually grown from seed. Collect the seed in the winter and plant it in an outside area where it will get cold and freeze. They usually sprout in late spring. I think the plant you have was a seedling that someone cut off at ground level. It sprouted a new top the following year. You can also “layer” a burning bush. Just pull a stem down to the ground, scrape the bark on the bottom of the limb. Push it into the dirt and put a rock or brick on top to keep it moist and in good soil contact. By fall the plant is usually ready to cut away from the mother plant. Many people consider Burning Bush Euonymous an invasive plant and encourage people to destroy the plants – not continue to grow them.

Cutting Back Azalea

I have several HUGE azeala bushes beside my house that block two windows. When can they be cut back and how far back can they be cut?

Anne's response:

The azalea bushes that are now huge and block the windows can be “whacked back”. They get pruned as soon as they finish blooming and there are two approaches you could take. One is to cut he plants back to a manageable size then prune them to shape making sure you leave space in the middle of the plant for good air movement and some future growth. Remember to make all your final pruning cuts to a point on the stem that is just above a leaf scar where future growth can occur. The more drastic technique is to cut the plants back to less than a foot tall and let them produce new growth from the base of the plant. My large Formosa azaleas get that treatment about every 15 years to keep them in bounds. It takes about a year for them to recover but mine will have a few blooms the next year.

Bamboo in North Carolina?

Hello Ann,

Do you know of any area around NC that has fields of bamboo? I'd like to harvest some this year. Love that stuff.


Anne's response


I know lots of people who are trying to get rid of bamboo that is growing over from their neighbor’s yard but I don’t know of anyone who has a “cut-your-own” bamboo field. Someone in your county agricultural extension office might know of someone who is trying to get rid of bamboo and would let you cut it. They are usually getting calls at this time of year for information on spraying or killing bamboo.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Insect Problems with Gardenias

I have a gardenia at my front window and have noticed sooty mold on the leaves. I inspected the leaves and found some flat looking greyish bugs that look kinda like scale and have globs of cotton on my leaves. I poked at one of the cotton balls and a dark round looking bug with an orange head was under the cotton. It kinda looked like he was feeding on the other flat looking bug but I couoldn't be for sure. The flat gray ones have spikes all around theyre body kinda like a swordfish's snout looks. I have tried an insecticide but I dont want to hurt my plant by spraying it again. What can I do?


Anne's response:


Gardenias often have problems with insects such as scale and mealy bugs. One solution is to spray the plant in late March with a horticultural oil spray that smothers overwintering insects and their eggs. It is safe to use the sprays until temperatures get over 75 degrees. You spray the top and bottom of the leaves and the bark on the limbs and trunk. Horticultural oil is a product that is labeled as an organic insecticide and is usually permitted on products labeled as organically grown.

Pests in Chokecherry Trees


I have several (four or five) large chokecherry trees that are infested with the Chokecherry Midge. The cherries are swollen and when broken open, reveal a worm and eggs. The chokecherries are ugly and unusable for jelly or syrups (that I particularly enjoy making).

My understanding is that the fly emerges in the spring, from the egg that winters over in the soil under the tree. It flies to the blossoms, attaching itself and turning into a worm that crawls into the cherry. It then feeds on the cherry, lays it's eggs there and dies. The ugly cherries drop to the ground and the cycle starts over.

Am I way off in the woods on this, or what? I can't find any recommended treatment to get rid of this problem, so I pruned one tree back drastically last fall and got rid of the branches loaded with infected cherries. I hope it grows back--it's a sorry sight. Now, spring is coming and I don't want to prune back every tree--I'd like to get some chokecherries again. I've asked a puzzled extension agent--no help there... This problem is new to these trees--two years ago, they were beautiful.

Thanks so much!

Anne's Response:


Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) is grown commercially in Quebec and northern Ontario and prefers cold weather. The trick to breaking the cycle is to remove all the fruit that falls to the ground and get it off the property. Treat the soil under the tree with an insecticide that is labeled for ground dwelling insects. There are orchard sprays labeled for home use that can be used for insect control when fruit trees are blooming. A major problem with such sprays is that they also kill your pollinating insects. Some directions say to use the spray as the buds swell but before they open and then reapply immediately after pollination. Your insects probably came as visitors from a tree in a neighboring property – often miles away. It could also have been in the soil in the pot if the plants were purchased as potted trees rather than bare root ones.

Spacing a Nellie Stevens Hedge

I live in Raleigh, N.C. and plan of planting six 4' or 6' Nellie Stevens Hollys along a fence line. Can you tell me the spacing I need between each holly? Also spacing needed off the fence? Any suggestions or advice would be great.


Anne's Response:


When planting a Nellie Stevens Hedge, remember that the mature plant will be about 10 feet in diameter. That means putting the plants no closer than 9 feet to each other and putting them 5 feet from the fence.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Possible help for Crepe Myrtle

Last year I pruned two crepe myrtle trees in my yard. We had some warm weather and they began to bud… THEN, a hard frost came and they didn’t really bloom last year at all.. BUT, new growth was coming out at the base. Is there ANYTHING I can do for them now?? I’m afraid that I’ve killed them.

Thank you for any advice or suggestions.

Rosemary H.

Anne's Response:

Crepe Myrtles haven’t started budding out yet so hopefully the tree will have recovered. They like dry weather in the fall and they did get that. I try to cut off any suckers that come from the base of the plant because they do spoil the shape of the plant. Don’t use a nitrogen fertilizer on the plants because that usually promotes new foliage rather than blooms.

When to fertilize and which plants/bushes get acid-loving vs. "normal" basic?

Hi, Anne -- I think your show is great. I'm new to NC, having moved to Raleigh only three years ago from New Jersey.

One of the first things I did was to plant my favorite flowering plants. But now I'm unsure when to fertilize them. If you can recommend a good book on growing flowering shrubs in the Raleigh area, please suggest it.

If not, could you please tell me when to fertilize and whether to use acid-loving plant fertilizer or base-loving plant fertilizer:

• lonicera fragrantissima
• winter Daphne odora
• Korean spice viburnum
• Jasmine vine (blooms white)
• mock orange
• exbury azalea
• winter clematis (vine, now in bloom)
• Russian olive (elaeagnus?)

I guess the basic question is: do I fertilize them while they are in bloom??? Thank you, in advance, for the information --


Anne's Response:

My favorite general gardening book for this area is the Southern Living Garden Book. There are several books that might help – look for books by Bob Polomsky (South Carolina Cooperative Extension), Toby Bost (formerly the extension agent in Durham county) and Pam Beck (local garden writer.)

The Exburry azalea hybrid will appreciate an fertilizer for acid loving plants but I have founf that the “organic fertilizers” formulated for blooming shrubs will work on all the plants you list. I prefer to add fertilizer just as the foliage starts to show in the spring. If the drought continues you may want to time your fertilizer applications with expected rainfall and reduce the amount that you apply.


I was given some tulips bloomed in a pot. I was told that I could go ahead and plant these in my yard now and that later I could dry the bulbs and re plant them next year. Is this true? and how do I do this?

Will they still live if I plant them in the yard now? Is there anything else I can plant now. I guess I am late I should have planted bulbs back in the winter I guess didn't know that until now.... I would love to do some daffodils or something... but how can I plant those NOW or can I?


Anne's Response:

If you are growing tulips in the Raleigh area it really isn't worth the effort to plant bulbs that have been forced for indoor bloom. Our climate is so warm that we rarely get more than 2 or 3 years bloom out of most tulips. Most of the tulips you see in mass plantings in this area are bulbs that are planted in the late fall and treated like annuals.

Daffodils do come back reliably. The best time to get them in the ground in late October.


Good morning,

With the weather dipping below freezing tonight what should I do to protect my fruit trees and blueberries that are already in bloom, or will it not be enough to hurt them?


Paula G.

Anne's Response:

Your message did not reach me until Wednesday so I hope your plants are ok. The temperatures did not get cold enough to damage plants on Monday night. If freezing weather is predicted again you may want to cover the plants with a sheet or some other fabric covering. Don’t use plastic sheeting unless you remove it before the sun gets to the plants in the morning. The heat build-up under the plastic does as much damage as frost.

Flowering evergreens

We live in AZ and are removing a desert fern the messiest tree i have ever had i would like to plant a flowering evergreen that is is fast growing as we are in our late 70s.

Thank you soo much for your help.


Anne's Response:

Growing conditions vary so much in Arizona that it is hard for me to recommend something for you. Most cooperative extension services have lists of plants that grow well in their area so I suggest you check you local telephone directory or go the Arizona Extension Service Website.


Hi Anne,

My yard this year has been taken over by all kinds of weeds. I had some landscaper come and spread weed killer, but it is not working. He is telling me that weed killer only works in a continuous 80 degree temperature. I can't seem to agree. I have never had all these weeds and it seems impossible that his weed killer is not working. I was outside this week watching him spreading and didn't notice the spray working. I told him the spray was not working. He then pressed harder. Should I select someone else.


Anne's Response:

If my landscaper told me weed killer didn’t work until temperatures got over 80 degrees I would find someone else to do the work. The labels on most products say the best temperature for applying them is when temperatures are over 55 and under 75.

Indoor Peace Lilly

Dear Anne,

You answered a question for me years ago on WPTF about growing roses in a flowerbed of almost complete sand. Now I have another more detailed question. I have an indoor Peace Lilly that was given to me from my mother's funeral 4 years ago. I have managed to keep it living, which is a trick for me on it's own. It's grown to be HUGE, even through we have moved it to bigger pots two or three times.

1. Is it possible to split it into two or three plants? I would love to give part of it to my sister and reduce the size of it so that perhaps it will be come healthy again.

2. The ends (the last 1 to 1/2 inches) of most of the leaves are brown and dry. I water it, and perhaps over water it. At the first sign of sagging leaves, I water it well. I also supplement by watering with about 1 cup of water every other day. Once a week or once every two weeks, I add a couple of drops of plant food. Once the leaves turn completely brown or shrivel, I cut them out as close to the base as I can. Every 6 months or so, I trip out all the bad leaves completely, or it becomes a tangled ball of mess.

3. It never seems to bloom anymore, I would love to see it bloom again.

4. Now for my strangest question, do Peace Lillies "get old" and die?" I want to make sure I have this plant for as long as possible. Above all to my other questions and especially #1, I want to make sure I don't kill this plant.

I'll be happy to send you a photo of it's condition if you like.

I appreciate your time, I know this is a long email, this is a very important plant to me.

Doug E.

Anne's Response:

I think it is time the peace lily was divided and repotted. Remove the plant from its pot and remove the soil from the roots. Find two or more segments of stems that have good root systems growing and break the plant apart. You may have to use clippers to cut the plant apart but they usually break without too much trouble. Repot each segment in a good quality potting soil in a pot that is no more than 3 times the width of the base of the plant piece. Water it well and leave in an area where there is good light but not direct sun for a couple of weeks until the plant recovers from its transplant shock. Fertilize the plant when new growth starts to form.

You may have been overwatering the plant – and that is easy to do when a plant is too crowded in the pot. Most plants exist quite well on once a week watering. Don’t let the water stay in the saucer under the pot for more than a couple of hours. Using fertilizer that is too high in nitrogen will reduce the blooming so that may have been your problem.

Fertilizing Green Giant Arborvitae Trees


I saw a recent post (3/19) in which someone remarked that they had over-fertilized their green giants, but no amount was mentioned.

I lost two of mine late last year and I wonder if it is from the same cause.

What are the proper fertilizer, amount and time to fertilize these? Mine are about 4 ft tall.

Thanks and regards,

Anne's Response:

The amount of fertilizer you use depends on the brand of material you use and the amount of nitrogen. An 8-8-8 fertilizer contains 8% nitrogen, 8% phosphorus and 8% potassium. A 10-10-10 contains 10% of those ingredients so it will take less 10-10-10- to do the same job as an 8-8-8. Read the label very carefully and don’t apply more than the recommended amount. We also find that adding fertilizer when there is not adequate rainfall or irrigation water will cause plant damage.

Tomato plants with yellow speckles and drying parts

Hello, Ann,

I am a teacher in Northern California (Fremont). The temperatures are ranging between 40 at night to low 60's in the afternoon. Our class garden is just starting up for this year. We have transplanted tomato plants into raised beds. This morning, I noticed that there were yellow spots on the leaves. When I touched the spots the leaf would flake off.

Can you tell me what it might be? What shall I do so my students have a good experience with their gardening project?

Thank you.

Mary W, Teacher

Anne's Response:

Tomatoes don't do well until soil temperatures stay above 50 degrees.
Sometimes you can use a plastic mulch on the ground to keep the soil warm ; you can use a light-weigh non-woven fabric row cover to keep the plants warm and keep the insects off until you have blooms and need the bees and other pollinators. The California Co-operative extension service usually has material on planting tomatoes in home gardens. Check their web site for additional information.

Leyland Cypress Fell

I have a 20’ 6-7 caliber Leyland that fell in my yard. This tree is in the middle of a row of Leylands that forms a screen around my pool in the backyard. I believe it fell in some heavy winds we had on March 8th and has been laying on the ground straddling my pool deck and pool cover. Half the root looks like it’s still in the ground but half may be out. The tree actually looks like it’s alive a surviving and I thought it was worth a try to save it by standing it up and anchoring it with stakes and perhaps the adjacent trees and fence. Please give me your opinion. I had a rep from a local reputable landscape company who did some major landscaping for me last year (3 tree transplants, etc.) come by and tell me that the survival rate on these is 30-40%. What do you think? Thanks.

Anne's Response:

I think the 40% survival rate is optimistic for a Leyland cypress especially as long as it has been out of the ground. If it were in my yard I would remove the plant and let the other plants fill in the space or plant a new plant.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Anne, Last year I cut the green foliage on all my daffodils back just after they quit blooming. This year I had very few blooms. After watching your show on daffodils I realized that was a mistake. My question is, have I damaged the bulb permanently or will it bloom normal next year if I let the foliage die down as you suggest?


Anne's Response:

Yes they will bloom next year if you allow the foliage to die back naturally this spring. In the fall, late October when a rain is expected, fertilize the bulbs with a fertilizer formulated for bulbs. I use Holland Bulb Booster. The fertilizer will work slowly into the ground and be available to the roots of the daffodils during the winter. You may add a second application of fertilizer when the foliage starts to pop out of the ground in January.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Propagating nellie stevens

Dear Anne,

I am interested in propagating Nellie Stevens tree, I read an article that I can use cutting to propagate it. Can you please tell me how to do that and where to cut for the highest success rate?

Thank you very much!

Best regards,
How Y

Anne's Response:

The best success rate for Nellie Stevens is to take cuttings during the early fall on growth that has not completely hardened off. Make cuttings of 4 to 6 inches from the tips of stems for the best results. I filmed a segment on making cuttings from camellias that shows how you make cuttings. It should be available in the material from older shows.

Camellia disease

I seem to remember reading information about some disease present in the 'April' series several years ago that was harmful to other shrubs. What information pertaining to this do you have?


Anne's Response:

I don’t know of any disease that was present in the April Series of camellias. They were developed in Chapel Hill and have good cold resistance and make excellent landscape plants. Many camellias are susceptible to photoptera root rot just as azaleas and rhododendrons are and any of those plants could transfer the disease to a garden if it is present in the soil around the plant when you purchase it. Two or three years ago there were articles on camellias being shipped from California that had been infected with “Sudden Oak Death Syndrome”.


Hi Anne,

We planted ligustrum against our fence. Of the 9 plants we planted, 7 are doing great and have grown well above the

fence for privacy. However two of them are struggling. They have lost leaves, and now have leaves that are yellow with brown spots. Is this an insect? What can I do this spring to nurse them back to health so they catch up with the others? We live in Cary, NC.

Thank you,


Anne's Response:

The spotted leaves are probably a result of a foliar leaf spot disease. The problem usually occurs when plants are too close together for good air circulation or where the soil is too wet and compacted. Spraying the plants with a lime-sulfur spray may help control the disease on the plants that are affected. Ligustrum are such hardy plants that that it is not necessary to spray the plants that are not affected.

Grafting stems

What is it called when people attach orange tree limbs to an apple tree and it still grows? I thought that it was like gourding or something like that?

Anne's Response:

If you can attach an orange tree limb to an apple tree you have horticultural super powers. You can graft a stem of one variety of apple tree to another apple tree. You can graft a stem of an orange tree to the rootstock of a cold hardy poncirus or other citrus fruit. Most grafting is done within the same plant family. Just as in kidney transplants in humans, you have to have a donor and a recipient that are biologically compatible.

Leyland Cypress Mystery

Hi Anne,

I have noticed that a lot of Leyland Cypress and Cedar trees in the Charlotte, NC area are all turning brown and dying. Is there a disease going around? I thought I remembered one called Canker before but not sure what it was. Why would these trees be dying and other next to them still be healthy. I ask this as mine have now started to get brown limbs and I am concerned that I will lose mine as well. Can you please advise us what to do to save these trees. I have notices that some large rows used as screens are all dying or dead and some were more than 40 feet in height.

Thank you!

Lori from Charlotte

Anne's Response:

There are some disease problems with Leyland Cypress that may come from organisims such as Cercospora or Phomopsis. The horticultural extension agent in Mecklenberg County or the Master Gardeners in the County Extension Office should be able to tell you if there is a problem in your area. Most of the damage being seen this year is drought related.

Wisteria problem

Hi Anne,

I have something growing on my wisteria. It is hard dark brown knots on the stems and around the base of the plant. We made the plant into a tree instead of a vine and it blooms beautifully each year for about 3 years but this winter it has developed these knots and I don't know if I should cut them off or not. Will it harm the tree if I leave them on ? They look so ugly and I want to cut them off if it will not kill my wisteria. Please answer soon Thanks.

Patsy Ann
Somerville, Ala.

Anne's Response:

The problem could be crown gall, a disease that also affects rose bushes, almond, apricot, plum and walnut trees. It is difficult to control and most home owners remove and destroy the infected plant. Sometimes you can remove the infected parts of the plant and control the problem. Some growers cut out the infected areas and treat the stem with streptomycin. You may want to check with your local extension agent for a recommendation.

Leyland Cyprus Trees


I need help on what do. The problem I am having is that I planted 21 Leyland Cyprus trees in the spring of 2006.

The first year they grew straight and seemed to have no problems. Today March 16, 2008 I was outside looking at them and noticed some of them leaning and the dirt around them separating. Where I live (Southern Chester County,Pa.) there is a lot of farm land and very strong winds. This past winter we had a fair amount of rain and not as much snow. Which in turn has made the ground very wet. I am not sure what to do. Do I stake them? Do I add more soil? Can you please help me?

Anne's Response:

The trees need to be placed upright again, the soil packed back around the roots and the plants staked to keep them steady until they grow a good root system.

Cupressocyparis leylandii

Hi Anne,

I have a garden surrounded by wonderful trees of cupressocyparis leylandii healthy trees until last year, they started getting yellow one after another and i do not know what to do.can you help please. it hearts me a lot to see my 12 years old trees getting sick like that.

Thank you,


Anne's Response:

Leyland Cypress have been affected by drought during the past year. With as many plants as you have I suggest you have a certified arborist diagnose the problem your plants have and then recommend a treatment plan to save them. It is not unusual to have Leyland Cypress decline after about 10 years in the ground. They prefer the temperate, moist climate of England to the heat and smog of the urban south.

Topiary Question

Hi Anne,

I purchased a Eugenia topiary last spring and planted it in a pot which I placed on my front porch. It did quite well over the summer and fall. I brought it inside over the winter and approximately 3 weeks ago I noticed white specks on the leaves. I researched the problem and thought it to be mealybugs. I purchased an insect spray and used it three times, but the specks are still there. Any thoughts on what might take care of this problem, or what the spots might be? It is a beautiful plant and I would hate to

Thanks so much!

Sheila M.

Anne's Response:

The problem could also be scale or aphids. If you can wipe the spots off it is usually scale or mealybugs. A spray may kill the insects but the white matter is still there until you rub it off. Aphids suck the fluids from the leaf of plants and leave a white mark that cannot be removed. The new leaves on the plant will not be infected.

How to Plant Yoshino Cherry Tree

Hi Anne,

My name is Trang. I live in Annandale, Virginia.
I am planning to plant a row of 8 cherry trees along my drive way. How far should I plant them apart from each other?

Thank you,

Anne's Response:

It will depend on the variety of tree you purchase. If the mature plant is supposed to be 15 feet wide the plants should be planted at least 15 feet apart. They may be spaced further apart than that and they will have fewer problems with insects and disease if they are spaced so there is a least two feet between the plants at the mature width – that is plant 15 foot wide trees at least 17 feet apart.

Green Giant Arborvitae Trees

Hi Anne,

My neighbor and I planted a row of Green Giant Arborvitae trees between our houses late last summer. The trees began to have a "burnt" look about them a few months ago and large portions of the trees began to turn a dark brown.
We later discovered that we had both fertilized the trees unbeknownst to the other late last fall. It seems obvious that we have over-fertilized the trees, but is there any way to save them now that several months have passed and spring is approaching. Thanks for your help!

- Brandon from Apex

Anne's Response:

You may be able to help the problem by spreading gypsum in the area where you spread the fertilizer. It does help get rid of excess ammonia and nitrogen. If the fertilizer was a slow release fertilizer all the nitrogen may not have been released and you may be able to salvage the plants. If the plants are brown and dry they may put on new growth this spring - but it does sound as though you have fertilized the plants to death.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Thuja Green Giant

My son and daughter-in-law just planted some Thuja Green Giant trees in their backyard. They are only about 18"-24" high so they are just little things. The tops of the plants have turned brown. They are still pliable and appear to be alive. Is this normal, or are they not healthy? They ordered them online. They planted such a large quantity of them I just hope they haven't wasted their time and money. What do you think Anne? Do you have any recommendations?

Thanks for your time and your answer.


Anne's Response:

From your description I am not sure how much of the plants have turned brown or when the browing occurred. If the plants have been in the ground for several months and it is just the tip of the plant it may have been from cold damage. Plants that did not receive enough moisture during the winter can turn brown. If the plants were not watered well when they were put in the ground they may turn brown. Plants can turn brown and still remain pliable for a month or more. One of the instructions I give people planting material that has been shipped bareroot from some distance is to soak the plant roots in warm water. This improves the ability of the plant to absorb water through its roots. With recent rains plants are getting enough moisture and have not needed supplemental watering. The plants may recover and start producing new growth within the next few weeks. When the first new growth shows the plants should be fertilized with a slow release fertilizer. You may want to contact the nursery that supplied the plants for their recommendations.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Rain Barrels

Dear Anne, I plan to do a small garden this year and I want to know where is the most reasonable place to get a rain barrel?

I would like to get one from the City of Raleigh so maybe they can take money off my bill if they do that. Please let me know how beneficial you think rain barrels will be this coming year.

Thank you, Pat

Anne's Response:

The City of Raleigh has been selling Rain Barrels at their facility on Peace Street. I think the past year has taught us that we need to have a source of water other than our drinking water for use in the garden.

This past drought will be repeated many times in future years as the population of the city grows. I will be filming a segment on rain barrels to be run in late March or early April.


Ann, I just watched your tips on pruning forsythia. I was not sure if we can prune during March. Mine has already started budding/flowering. If I can prune in March, should I go all the way to the ground and not prune half way down? This plant is about 8 years old and spreading quickly. I have thinned it out several times, but is still very large. Also, how often and what fertilizer should I use.

I would appreciate your reply.


Sylvia N.

Anne's Response:

I prune my forsythia when it finishes blooming and expect that to be in about two weeks. You do have to be careful to keep the cascading stems from rooting as they touch the ground. That means that very long stems do have to be cut back each year. You also need to dig out any sections of the plant that exceed the dimensions of the space you want to fill. It is a very aggressive plant and I have never fertilized the one in my yard.

Leyland cyprus

Hi Anne,

I have 14 Leyland Cyprus trees that are 5 years old and approx. 7 feet tall. They are not in full sun so I guess that slows the growth down a bit. Do you have any suggestions for fertilizer I should be using or do nothing at all? I thought they would be a bit taller by now. Thanks for your help.

Cathy in Apex

Anne's Response:

Those plants are about as large as I would expect them to be at their age if they are not growing in full sun. As long as you mulch the plants with composted leaves, bark or shredded wood they should not need additional fertilizer at their age.

Ground cover

How do I remove ground cover that is too prolific from under trees and bushes without damaging them?

Anne's Response:

Most ground covers under trees can be killed with a broad leaf weed killer. Don’t spray on a windy day.You can also use Round-Up at the strength recommended for the ground cover plant on a day when there is no wind.


Last year about this time we bought a home in Sequim, Washington. There are a few lithodora plants and they are in pretty deep cedar bark. Although they look fairly healthy I don't see much spreading. I absolutely love this plant and the deer leave it alone. Should I scrape away the cedar bark to encourage spreading?

I am a fairly novice gardner though I enjoy it immensely. Thanks for the help.

Barbara P.

Anne's Response:

If you want the lithodora to spread it needs to have good contact with the ground. I would remove the bark in the immediate area of the plants that are established. You can leave some of the mulch in place to keep weeds under control until the plant material fills in. You don’t need to have mulch any deeper than 2 inches for weed control and moisture retention.

Palm tree seed pods

HI Anne,

Our Lady Palms here in FLorida, are producing so many seed pods constantly each year.

Is there any way of stopping that? Also, does cutting them off as soon as they open promote more than usual pods to form? Any help would be so appreciated. Thank you.


Anne's Response:

Removing the pods as soon a they open is a good way to control seed pods from germinating. Removing them does not cause the plant to produce additional pods. Check with the Florida extension service to see if there is a spray approved for sterilizing plant blooms in Florida. There are products that we can use in North Carolina to keep sweet gum trees from producing seed but the product I have says not approved for shipment to California, Florida and Hawaii.

Pompas grass

When and how do you cut pompas grass?

Anne's Response:

It needs to be cut back before it starts to produce new growth in the spring and can be cut back to within 2 inches of the ground. I filmed a segment on cutting back Miscanthus that ran several weeks ago. Pampas grass is treated the same way.

Monday, March 10, 2008


I have yellow and purple tulips. Something is eating the blooms from the purple ones. Any ideas? Also how to deter them.

Anne's Response:

Slugs are out doing damage in this warm weather so if you see slime that may be the critter. (A saucer of stale beer next to the blooms will kill snails and slugs. They are attracted to the scent and drown in the saucer.)

There are beetles that seem to be attracted to the color purple. If the edges of the petals are scalloped that may be the problem. Sevin dust or liquid will deter that kind of insect damage. If the entire blossom is gone it is more likely a chipmunk or mouse looking for food or moisture.