Q: We bought a grapevine on a whim at Home Depot. We planted it along a fence. It grew OK for a couple years but didn't seem to produce any fruit. This year, we noticed there are lots of grapes, but the birds are eating them all before we can get to them. What is the best way to beat the birds to the grapes?
A: Birds like any fruit that we like...Read more
Q: I haven't tried growing cucumbers recently because when I last grew them, they were bitter, and I didn't really enjoy eating them. What did I do wrong?
A: Your cucumbers were fighting a chemical warfare battle with you. Many plants use bitter-tasting alkaloid chemicals to prevent it from being eaten by herbivores. Cucumbers naturally produce...Read more
Q: Our community replaced a bunch of sidewalks and curbs; then they repaired our lawns. They used grass seed instead of sod, and now we have a lot of crabgrass mixed in with the good lawn grass. How do we get rid of the crabgrass without hurting the new lawn grass?
A: Even though a lot of crabgrass sprouts in the spring, it can begin growing ...Read more
Q: My magnolia tree has been taken over by flies and wasps. There are half-inch pink bumps on the branches, and the leaves are turning black. Leaves are falling off the tree. What is wrong with the tree, and how can it be fixed?
A: Your magnolia has scale insects. They have a shell that looks like that of a turtle. Scale insects have sucking ...Read more
Q: Can you suggest a vine-type plant that can grow and bloom mostly in shade? I have a trellis that I used to grow climbing roses on, but it has become quite shaded now. I don't want the vine to get too big.
A: The answer to your question will depend on how much shade the trellis gets during the summer. Most flowering vines will grow OK in deep...Read more
The botanical name for daylilies is Hemerocallis. It comes from two Greek words: Hemera is day, and kallos is beauty. The beauty of a daylily flower does last only one day. Thankfully, a mature plant may have over a hundred flowers. Daylilies come in a variety of sizes, colors and shapes.
The smallest daylilies are under a foot tall, and the ...Read more
Are you a plant-watcher? It may sound boring, but it can be interesting -- especially when something begins to harm your plants. If you pay attention to how your plants are growing on a regular basis, you will notice plant problems as they begin to develop. You will also have a better idea of how the plant is supposed to look when it is healthy ...Read more
Q: I've got two trees in my yard that were pruned years ago -- before I bought -- by someone who had no idea what they were doing. The result is large branches that look like "clubs." All new growth comes from the end of the clubs. Imagine your forearm as the branch and your fist as the end, with a branch or two growing in every direction. What ...Read more
Q: Our landscape has been invaded by ants. Actually, the ants aren't out in the landscape but instead are in all the flowerpots on the patio, in between the patio bricks, in the shed, on the tree trunk next to the patio and, unfortunately, coming in the kitchen. We don't see any out in the garden or lawn. Bait traps seem to be starting to work, ...Read more
Many areas have continued to experience heavy rains recently, and a number of places are still flooded from previous storms. This will lead to the next natural phenomenon: mosquitoes. Of course, mosquitoes occur every summer, but there are some things you can do about them.
There are about 200 species of mosquitoes in North America. The biggest...Read more
I was gone for most of Memorial Day. When I got home, something strange was happening in my pond. Many of the goldfish and some of the koi were behaving abnormally. They were lethargic, and some were staying directly under the waterfalls in an apparent attempt to get more oxygen. Before the next morning, a 21-inch-long koi, a foot-long koi and ...Read more
Q: I have a plum tree with little holes in the leaves. This happened last summer and again this spring. Can you tell me again what the cause could be and how to treat it?
A: Plums, apricots and peaches all get a bacterial disease called "bacterial leaf spot." It is also commonly called "shot hole disease," because it looks like someone stood ...Read more
Q: In last week's article, you commented that one of the factors of plant deaths over the winter is the timing of fall pruning. I thought we were supposed to prune our trees and shrubs in the fall: Can you go into more detail on when we are to prune trees and shrubs?
A: Since we are still in spring, let's start there. We prefer to prune spring-...Read more