GARDENER'S MAILBAG

Avoid nitrogen during summer months

Wednesday, September 21, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: In a recent column you mentioned that St. Augustine shouldn't be fertilized between mid-June and early September due to the possibility of gray leaf spot causing the grass to turn yellow. I had fertilized my lawn a few weeks earlier, and it did just that. What can I do to control the leaf spot? When should I apply the "winterizer" fertilizer I have on hand?

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Possums, raccoons like your fruit, too

Wednesday, September 14, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: We have access to a small grove of old fig trees. For the past several years they have provided a really nice abundance of large, sweet figs. This year they seemed to be on course to do the same thing again when we visited them.

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There is never a safe time to touch poison ivy

Wednesday, August 31, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: Is there a time when you can touch poison ivy?

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Prune branches instead of topping unwanted limbs

Wednesday, August 24, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I know you're against topping trees, but my Meyer lemon tree has a lot of shoots at its top and it's getting larger than I want. Can I cut off the top shoots without damaging the tree? It's about 8 feet tall.

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Searching for the solution

Wednesday, August 17, 2016
By Neil Sperry

To my readers: I've been slammed by tree questions this week. I've addressed as many as I could here, and I'll catch up with the rest next week. This is an "all-tree" edition!

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Prune hydrangeas after blooming

Wednesday, August 10, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: My hydrangeas don't bloom since I cut them back several years ago. Is there anything I can do to turn that around?

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Pruning of crape myrtles discouraged

Wednesday, August 3, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: My granddaughter applied one of the best-known brands of DEET to her legs and feet, and it killed the grass (blades only, not the runners) where she was standing. I've banned it from our yard. What would you suggest?

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Post oaks struggle with change

Wednesday, July 27, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: We have lost two post oak trees, probably due to construction around our new house. No one bothered to tell us how sensitive they are. Can I replace them with two more post oaks? I don't see them in nurseries.

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Summer heat causes trees to drop leaves

Wednesday, July 13, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: How long should I leave the drip irrigation running beneath my fruitless mulberry tree? It loses so many leaves every summer.

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Bloom date may vary for crape myrtles

Wednesday, June 29, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I have three 4-year-old crape myrtles in my backyard. Last year they were full of blooms, but this year only one has flowers. They are in a part of the yard that remained really wet this spring. They also have a powdery substance on their leaves. What should I be doing?

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Tips for seeding bluebonnets

Wednesday, June 15, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I successfully grew bluebonnets from a packet of seeds this past spring. They all made seeds, and I have now harvested the pods. They had turned brown and crispy and the seeds are easily removed. Should I plant them still in the pods?

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Rid leaves of lace bugs with general-purpose insecticides

Wednesday, May 25, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: Almost all of the leaves on my loquat tree are afflicted with this problem. Is it an insect or disease? How should I treat it?

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Use detergent to adhere clover killer

Wednesday, May 18, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I have clover all through my St. Augustine. Should I pull it, or can I spray it?

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Pick adaptable over native

Wednesday, May 11, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: A neighbor gave me this tree, and I'm wondering what it is. I saw one like it labeled as a "loquat" at a nursery. Is that what this is, and is it one of those non-native plants I don't want to use?

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Replace mountain laurel with shorter shrubs

Wednesday, May 4, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: What could the problem be with my one mountain laurel? They were twins until recently. I know they don't like boggy soil, but if anything, the one on the right has better drainage. I can't afford to replace one of that size. What suggestions do you have?

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Onions tricked to early bloom

Wednesday, April 27, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: About 80 percent of my onions have bolted into bloom already this year. I was told it was because of the warm days in early spring, then a late frost, tricking the onions into thinking it was fall and time for them `to bloom and set seed.

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Woodpecker damage is rarely cause for concern

Wednesday, April 20, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: Our 14-year-old pecan is riddled with what we assume to be woodpecker holes in rows around the trunk. Is this damaging? What can we do about it?

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Nothing to fret about with fruitland silverberry’s spots

Wednesday, April 13, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: The local county Extension office identified this plant as Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia). She told me this is neither an insect nor a disease - that she had the same thing on her plants. Can you tell me what is going on and what I might do?

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Care in transport prevents windburn

Wednesday, April 6, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I bought two trees and some shrubs a week ago. They looked a little wilted when I got them home, and now all of the trees' leaves are brown and crisp. I assume I did that damage while transporting them home, but will they come back?

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Certain types of fungus are not harmful to plants

Wednesday, March 30, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: This weird stuff grew overnight. What is it, and do we need to be concerned?

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