Question: Fall is coming, and I need to move my houseplants back indoors. I noticed that some have a fungal type of growth on the soil surface. Is this condition harmful?
Answer: There are several types of fungi and algae that can grow on the soil surface in potted plants. I even found some rare liverworts growing on some nursery plants one ...Read more
Q: I have an old oak tree. During the recent cicada invasion, this tree took a mighty hit from those insects. Numerous small branches began to fall. I assumed they were falling because of the cicadas having made slits in the branches to lay eggs.
Then, later, the tree began to literally dry up. The moss on part of its bark began to fade and dry...Read more
Q: All of a sudden, half my lawn grass died. It is mostly on the sunny side, with some in the shade. This doesn't look like the grass has simply gone dormant with the usual hot, dry summer weather. When I pull up on the grass, it just comes off by the handful without the roots. Any ideas on what happened and what to do next? The lawn is many ...Read more
Q: I read your column and want to add to your answer to the question of why the rose plant hasn't bloomed again despite new branches. You mentioned that it could be the variety of rose or the lack of fertilizer.
I also had this problem in New England and found that I had a midge (tiny flying insect you can't really see) that enters the newly ...Read more
Q: A circle of mushrooms suddenly appeared in my lawn, which has never happened before. The mushrooms are about six inches tall and almost orange in color. How do I get rid of them, and are they harming the grass?
A: Your lawn has a fairy ring, also known as an elf ring or pixie ring. It was once believed that one of these creatures danced in a...Read more
Q: Our new house has a few apple and pear trees. They are older trees, but they don't have a lot of fruit. How do we tell when they are ripe?
A: The first thing to know about apple trees is how many days it has been since the tree was in bloom. The length of time from blooming to harvest is listed in information about every apple tree variety, ...Read more
Q: I lost all twelve of my Leyland cypress trees to seiridium canker. I was told by an arborist that the disease spread via the ground, and that there wasn't anything I could have done to prevent it in the first place. He explained that once they were infected, there was nothing I could have done to save them.
Some of the trees were higher than...Read more
Summer is rose time, so let's answer some of your questions about roses.
Q: My roses are dropping their leaves. They turn yellow and fall off. What can I do?
A: Take a close look at the leaves. Are they just turning yellow, or do they have some black spots on the yellow leaves? If they are just yellow, there are several possible causes. ...Read more
Q: We have some bearded iris that have spread out from their original planted spot and now form a circle with an empty spot in the middle. Can we divide them and replant them back into the spot they came from? It is the best location to see them from between some bushes.
A: Yes, you can divide them, and now is a good time to do it. Generally, ...Read more
Q: Would it harm a tree if I built a simple tree house in it? It would be nothing elaborate: a deck, three walls and a roof. I was thinking of the nails that would have to be used to make firm steps for my grandchildren and for the support braces.
A: A few nails or bolts in a tree trunk will not harm the tree. The tree needs to be solid to ...Read more
Q: We built a new home, and sod was laid yesterday. I did a fair amount of watering yesterday. How much do I water from here on? I have heard all types of things ... as much as six hours a day for the first two weeks. What do you recommend?
A: It is only necessary to water new grass (sod or seed) to keep the soil damp. Not waterlogged and not ...Read more
Q: My neighbor has a plum tree near our yard. This year, I have discovered about a dozen plum tree sprouts in my flower beds and lawn. Is there a way to control them, short of removing his tree? Digging them out is leaving holes in the grass and beds.
A: First, you need to see if there are sprouts coming up from the roots or if they are new ...Read more