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.