If you are into bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, then by all means put the monarda or beebalm species at the top of your must-plant list. I find it amusing that in more than 20 years of garden writing, I've never touted a beebalm. I've always loved the scarlet beebalm, Monarda didyma, especially when hummingbirds come into feed. When examined...Read more
Question: My zucchini plant was doing fine and giving me lots of huge fruit, when all of a sudden it died. It only took a day to go from healthy to dead. What can work so fast, and how do I prevent it from happening next year?
Answer: It sounds like your plant had a borer. The larva of a moth called the squash vine borer is capable of causing ...Read more
As the dog days of summer make many of us cast a wishful eye toward the Arctic for relief and our gardens look a little tired, gingers start to really put on a show. Though it was in the Caribbean that I first developed a passion for them, they have since become an integral part in all of my personal gardens. They are doing that now at the ...Read more
Q: My patio is being overrun with yellow jacket bees. I want to find the nest and spray them, but a friend said they are beneficial insects. Are they really doing good for my garden, or can I just get rid of them?
A: Yellow jackets are not bees, but are small yellow and black wasps up to an inch long. They nest in the ground, in walls, under ...Read more
No plant can stir up a conversation this time of the year quite like the false roselle or African rosemallow. The reason it stirs up the conversation is that a huge percentage of the visitors think it is a Japanese maple. Indeed the selling point of the plant is the incredible foliage.
Those gardeners who do grow it probably don't refer to it ...Read more
Question: I wanted to create a white garden using plants that have white flowers or white on the leaves. Some of the area is shade and some is sun. I am having problems with some of the white leaved plants. They are turning black on the edges -- almost like burnt paper. I am attaching a picture of a leaf. How do you recommend I treat this ...Read more
Chalk up another award for Little Ruby. In a period when we write about, or tout, some new coleus on what seems a weekly basis, there is one little alternanthera out there hitting it out of the park.
Little Ruby is a variety of Alternanthera dentata developed in South America and becoming one of the hottest trends in garden color. If the ...Read more
Q: Our vegetable garden this summer has been a disaster. First, it was too cold, then too wet and muddy, and now the weeds have taken over. I want to start over. Are there short-term crops that will still give me a crop if I plant again soon?
A: It is possible to get three crops in a single year in northern gardens and maybe even four crops in ...Read more
If you love garden fragrance and non-stop bee and butterfly activity, then the sweet almond verbena or tree verbena is a must for your landscape. Those traits, coupled with drought tolerance and ease of growing, were just some of the reasons it was chosen as the Florida Plant of the Year in 2008.
Botanically speaking it known as Aloysia ...Read more
Q: What do I need to do to protect my blueberries, grapes and even my apples from the birds eating them? I can't seem to win. I tried netting, but it just got tangled in the vines and plants and the birds just reach through to eat the grapes.
A: Grapes can't be harvested early to ripen indoors. They must stay on the vine until ripe. Birds seem ...Read more
The Rio Grande globe amaranth should be coming to a garden center near you, thanks to a new series called Qis Gomphrena. It is tough-as-nails, beautiful and attracts butterflies and pollinators.
You would think that a common name like Rio Grande globe amaranth and even flashy named varieties like Strawberry Fields would make it a staple at ...Read more
Question: Last year in mid-June, I started to notice circular dead areas in my lawn. I thought they were grubs, so I put on grub killer and they seemed to not spread. This year at the same time, many more dead circles appeared in the lawn.
I called a company and they say it is a fungus and that they can put on an expensive treatment that isn't ...Read more
Once upon a time, it was unusual to have chefs who shopped at farmers markets, who established relationships with growers and whose menus often read more like pages from the Seed Savers catalog than what's for dinner. Now having a "market-driven" menu is common, even expected, especially in Los Angeles, where there are neighborhood farmers ...Read more
The search for the perfect rusty orange coleus may have ended with a hot new selection called Campfire. It is rare when a plant debuts at the Spring Plant Trials in California and then becomes the hot commodity at the garden center the same season, but such is the case with Campfire.
Campfire certainly has an appropriate name as it takes on ...Read more
Question: I purchased an Endless Summer hydrangea this year and have been rewarded with beautiful blue blooms. In order to keep the plant blooming, do I need to cut the blooms off as they fade? I have cut some to bring into the house, as they are so beautiful. Thanks for any help you can give me!
Answer: Hydrangea macrophylla Bailmer, ...Read more
As I looked at the small groundcover from a distance, it appeared to be alive. In reality it was being hit upon by more small butterflies than I had ever seen at one time. I was looking at a large patch of native frog fruit.
I know what you are thinking. Frog fruit sounds like something Kermit might have for a snack or perhaps gracing the top...Read more
Q: Every year by the beginning of July, the flowers in my hanging baskets begin to look droopy. The leaves start to turn yellow and there are fewer flowers. I thought it was because the weather turned hot and I didn't water enough. This year and last year I have been much more careful to keep up the watering. I have the right plants for sun and ...Read more
If there was ever a trap crop for the garden, it has to be fennel. If you are not familiar with the term "trap crop," it is normally one that catches or entices insects, diverting them from the one crop that is making the money. Calling fennel a trap crop however is a little tongue-in-cheek.
On the other hand, I challenge you to grow it and see...Read more
Q: I have a question about our tomato plants. I didn't notice it at first, but the leaves are turning purple. At first, I think it was just the veins of the leaves, but now the whole leaf is turning purple. We planted them early in hopes of getting fruit early, but so far there has been a few flowers and no fruit. They are in the same garden, ...Read more
You would think a shrub or summer annual that blooms all summer and is drought-tolerant and deer-resistant would be award-winning across the country. At least golden thryallis is a Texas Superstar winner and one you will want to grow too.
It certainly needs to go far beyond Texas to any area of the country that gets stifling hot over the long, ...Read more