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The Greener View: Dahlia Tubers

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: I bought a variety of summer flowering bulbs this last season and planted them, with beautiful results. I truly enjoy the beauty of these flowers, but do I have to dig them up every year? If so, how do you care for the tubers, and how far do you cut these gems back after you dig them up?

A: This entire set of instructions can be used to ...Read more

The Greener View: Chill Hours and Degree Days

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: What is the difference between chill hours and degree days for plants? I see them listed in some catalogs and don't know whether I need to be concerned about them when choosing plants.

A: Plants that grow in cold winter climates need to stay dormant for the whole winter and not wake up -- so to speak -- too soon in the spring. Perennials, ...Read more

The Greener View: Weeping Willow Is Weeping

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: I have a 4-inch diameter Wisconsin weeping willow that has three baseball-size swellings on the trunk about 4 inches from the ground. Are these harmless deformities, or something I should be concerned about?

A: Many shrubs and trees, especially those in the rose family but also almond, apricot, cherry, cypress, euonymus, hibiscus, lilac, ...Read more

The Greener View: Cattails and Mulberries

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: I have a question about vegetation in ponds. I live in a golfing community that has several ponds in which I fish daily for bass. The largest of these ponds has cattails growing at an alarming rate, about 3 feet per month along the edge. Will these annoying cattails eventually consume the whole pond and take oxygen out of the water, thus ...Read more

The Greener View: Dealing With Yellow Grass

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: We had large, soft maple trees taken out this summer; the large trunks were ground down. We took out the chips before having new dirt hauled in to fill up the holes. We sowed grass seed over the whole lawn during the second week in September. It was basically all perennial rye with some blue grass. We kept it watered, and we got a fairly good...Read more

The Greener View: Tree Transplants

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: We transplanted some 3.5-inch caliper trees six years ago. They seem to be generally healthy, but the leaves have never been full or bright or strong. The fruit trees and spruce trees we have seem fine, but the trees with this problem are red oaks, sunset maples, crimson king Norway maples and white birches. I had them professionally ...Read more

The Greener View: Agricultural Hardiness Zones

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: Recently, you mentioned that some ornamental grasses were only hardy to zone 5 or zone 7. Does that mean they are hardy from zones 1 through 5 or 1 through 7?

A: I am sorry for the confusion. The lower the cold hardiness zone number, the colder the average winter temperature. The lower the cold hardiness zone number, the hardier the plant is...Read more

The Greener View: Managing Pine Needles, Crabapple Fruits and Fire Blight

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: We have been in this home for less than a year, and we are running into new landscape questions all the time. We have a very large white pine tree in the backyard. It is at least 80 feet tall. It has suddenly started dropping thousands of pine needles. We've been told this is normal, but it seems like a lot. They are hard to rake up. Can we ...Read more

The Greener View: Ornamental Grasses

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

These days, the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence, and I don't say that because the grass hasn't been watered all summer. Fall is the time when most ornamental grasses begin to show off their best colors. The rusty reds, maroons and golds are highlighted by the low angle of the afternoon sunshine in autumn. This is ...Read more

The Greener View: Tomato Hornworms

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Tomato Hornworms

Q: What can you tell us about those big, ugly green single-horned tomato worms? Where do they come from? How can we prevent them?

A: Tomato and tobacco hornworms are two huge caterpillars (up to 5 inches long) that feed on tomato, eggplant, peppers and plants in the tobacco family. There may only be a couple on a plant, but ...Read more

The Greener View: Landscape Flooding

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Landscape Flooding

Before we go into today's topic, the effects of flooding on the landscape, we need to thank some people and count our blessings. The real heroes in our society are not the free-agent athletes making millions but the people who were out at 2 a.m. in Houston, Texas, helping those in need, whether it was their job or not. They ...Read more

The Greener View: Planting in Fall

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Planting in Fall

Q: Fall plant sales are starting, and I want to add to my perennial beds. I bought a few plants and began planting them. Some had roots all over the inside of the pot, and some had hardly any roots at all, even though the leafy area of both plants looked the same on top. Should I spread out the roots or leave them in their pot-...Read more

The Greener View: Fish Ponds

Gardening / Jeff Rugg /

Q: Even though my pond has a skimmer, lots of leaves accumulate in the gravel on the bottom. What do I need to do about this? My pond guy said I will need to do a cleanout in the spring, but the leaves are beginning to accumulate now.

A: If you wait to do a pond cleanout till the spring, your fish may be dead. Leaves in a pond can harbor ...Read more


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