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.