GARDENER'S MAILBAG

Deter stinkbugs from tomatoes with frost cloth

Wednesday, August 26, 2015
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: My tomatoes were hit by early blight. It caused them to lose major portions of their leaves. The fruit have dimples, and they have hard spots inside those dimpled areas. Is that also due to the early blight?

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Trees and shrubs dropping leaves early due to heat

Wednesday, August 19, 2015
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I'm seeing most of our native grapevines losing their leaves. What's up with that? Why are they dying?

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Winter’s cold hurt oleander flower production

Wednesday, August 12, 2015
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: We have moved into a 50-year-old house that has a mature Arizona ash. I'm fine with its height, but it's too wide for where it is. I'm afraid its branches will break in a storm. When can it be pruned?

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Scale insects kill all types of cacti

Wednesday, August 5, 2015
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: A few of my Christmas cacti get this white, scaly stuff every summer. What is it, and how can I eliminate it?

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Black spot easier to combat than rose rosette

Wednesday, July 29, 2015
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: How can I tell the difference between black spot and rose rosette disease on our roses? My roses aren't doing well, and they are producing far fewer flowers.

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Drought, fungus hamper Texas ash

Wednesday, July 22, 2015
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I have a very large Texas ash that is about 15 years old. For the past 8 years, it has dropped many dry leaves between April and July. It's unattractive to have all those leaves on the lawn, plus I worry about what might be wrong with the tree. I have not fertilized it. Could that be part of the problem?

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Affordable, natural-looking and organic makes pine bark mulch a favorite

Wednesday, July 1, 2015
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: You have mentioned a favorite type of mulch. What is it again, and where can I find it?

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Lilac plants not suitable for Texas

Wednesday, June 17, 2015
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I just returned from a trip to Minnesota, and the lilac plants were in full bloom. I miss their aroma and was wondering if they would grow here in Texas.

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Use copper-based fungicide to treat peach leaf curl

Wednesday, May 27, 2015
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: Are those ugly galls on my peach tree harmful? What can I use to treat them?

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Lightning strikes lead to tree death

Wednesday, May 20, 2015
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: A tree in our front yard took a direct lightning strike. There are no dark burn marks we can find, but the tree lost all of its bark and there are split marks running up and down the trunk. This happened more than a week ago, and the leaves have still not wilted. There isn't much hope for a tree in a situation like this, is there?

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Repot new bromeliad pups

Wednesday, May 6, 2015
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I received three bromeliads in bloom for Mother's Day a year ago. One plant has one new plant alongside it, and the other two have two each. But none of the five new plants has flowered. Do I need to pot them into their own pots?

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Plant bluebonnets where grass is unable to grow

Wednesday, April 29, 2015
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: Is there any way to keep grass from covering up our bluebonnets? Before they're through blooming, the bluebonnets are always obscured.

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Spray yourself, not the landscape to battle mosquitoes

Wednesday, April 15, 2015
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: What do you spray in your landscape to eliminate mosquitoes? They are horrible.

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Rhubarb can’t thrive in Texas heat

Wednesday, April 8, 2015
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I saw rhubarb in a nursery last weekend, and I'm wondering how well it will do here? I grew up in Ohio, and it was a nice part of our garden each spring.

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Mothballs, camphor in flowerbeds won’t deter wildlife

Wednesday, April 1, 2015
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: Will mothballs or camphor keep squirrels from digging in my flowerbeds and vegetable gardens? Is there any other solution?

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Follow directions when applying fire ant baits

Wednesday, March 25, 2015
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I have an awful dose of fire ants in the area where I'd like to have a vegetable garden. If I put down the poison bait and then cover it with fresh soil, will the poison affect the vegetables and get into our bodies as we eat the produce?

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Replace true grass with mondograss in shady areas

Wednesday, March 11, 2015
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: Between my house and privacy fence, I have an area that's about 6- by 60-feet. I've tried several types of grass with no success. It gets one or two hours of sunlight. Would Turffalo grass grow in that area?

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Don’t bring wild onions to the dinner table

Wednesday, March 4, 2015
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I have what look and smell like wild onions in my backyard. Their leaves are very thin, and they have small, white bulbs. Are they edible?

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White grub worms problematic for St. Augustine

Wednesday, February 4, 2015
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: We have St. Augustine that has not gone dormant this winter, and we're seeing yellowed and dry patches in it. I read that it could be grub worms, but I sprayed and it is getting worse. What could be causing it?

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Nellie R. Stevens hollies are ‘go-to’ shrubs for tall screens

Wednesday, January 21, 2015
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: The slope in our backyard is so steep that I can see directly into the neighbor's yard in spite of a 6-foot cedar fence. I currently have Ebbengi elaeagnus, but the long shoots are unsightly.

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