Q: My spouse wants an artificial Christmas tree. He says it is safer, but I think a fresh-cut one is better for the environment. Is it?
A: You might not think that cutting down a tree is good for the environment, but it might still be better than the artificial tree. Artificial trees often use a wooden core, so at least one tree was cut down to...Read more
You will see poinsettias everywhere this time of year, and if you are tired of them you might want to try the easy-to-grow Thanksgiving cactus. You probably have heard them be called Christmas cacti. There are three species of similar tropical cacti. One blooms in the fall, one in the winter and one in the spring. They are named after the three ...Read more
Q: When we bought our house, 10 months ago, we saw we have two small pine trees in the backyard. One is approximately 15 feet tall and the other about 10. On both, the needles are turning brown and dying, from the inside and bottom, up and out. I have tried adding Miracid to the soil, but it does not seem to help. Any suggestions?
A: From the ...Read more
Q: My wife brought in a couple of branches of colorful leaves off a red maple. They were the first to have fall color and they worked very well in a flower arrangement. Upon close inspection we realized they were covered in scale insects. That led to some investigating, and we found scale insects on a palm, a cycad and some other houseplants. ...Read more
There is still plenty of time to do some important gardening work before winter arrives. In your annual, perennial and vegetable beds, it is often a good idea to remove dead stems and leaves from any plants that had insect or disease problems. This will help slow the spread of these problems next spring. If you have a big compost pile that will ...Read more
Q: I sprayed for weeds in my yard and aphids on my roses, and neither treatment seemed to work. Do you think my two biggest pest problems have developed resistance to pesticides?
A: Pesticide resistance is a serious worldwide problem, but there are other possible reasons your sprays did not work. It would take genetic testing of your pests to ...Read more
Q: This is the first year we have had a water garden. What do we do with the plants over the winter? We expect the pond to freeze for several weeks over the winter. We live in an area that gets a few inches of snow each winter, but the winters are not too bad.
A: Winter care for water garden plants is similar to care for dry-land annuals and ...Read more
Question: My geraniums grew really well this summer and I have some pretty ones that I want to keep for next year. How do I go about doing this? I heard that they can be dug up and hung upside down for the winter.
Answer: There are several kinds of geraniums, including some that are perennials that survive without coming indoors, but I assume ...Read more
Q: We are discussing when to cut down our ornamental grasses. I want to see them last through the winter and let the birds eat any seeds. My husband wants to cut them down in the fall because he says it is easier then. The plants are still upright and not beaten down. We can burn the grass in the fall when we are doing fires in the fire pit. ...Read more
Q: We started seeing pumpkins for sale at the end of August. That is two months too early as far as I am concerned. I want to buy a couple so I can use them for pies and pumpkin bread at Thanksgiving. How long can these early pumpkins be stored? Is there a good way to process them?
A: You are seeing pumpkins and chrysanthemums being sold ...Read more
Q: In a recent article, you mentioned using systemic insecticides for aphids and other small insects. I have them on herbs, vegetables and some flowers in the garden. What kind of systemic insecticide would you recommend?
A: Systemic insecticides work by soaking into the plant. They can be dry granules spread on the soil or a liquid that is ...Read more
Q: My patio is being overrun with yellow jacket bees. I want to find the nest and spray them, but it seems that the nest isn't in my yard. A friend said they are beneficial insects. Are they really doing good for my garden, or can I just get rid of them if I find the nest?
A: Yellow jackets are not bees but are small yellow and black wasps up ...Read more
Question: Lately I'm finding small clumps of lawn grass, roots and all, dug out and laying there. The clumps are only an inch or two across. At first, I thought it was a mole or gopher, but I don't see any tunnel beyond the removed clump. I read that moles prefer areas that have a grub problem, and I did fight grubs last month, but the lifted ...Read more