GARDENER'S MAILBAG

Prune oaks before Valentine’s Day

Wednesday, February 15, 2017
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: We've heard that you're not supposed to prune oaks in the spring to lessen the spread of oak wilt, but with temperatures getting warmer year 'round, we are concerned about pruning them in February. What should we do?

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Prune lantanas after year’s first freeze

Wednesday, February 8, 2017
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: When is it safe to trim my lantanas back?

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Get rid of dollar weed easily

Wednesday, January 25, 2017
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: We had a really bad outbreak of dollar weed a year ago. I have physically pulled it up, and I tried two rounds of a broadleafed weedkiller that was supposed to eliminate it. It's just beginning to reappear now in my St. Augustine. What can I do?

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Consider hollies for privacy shrubs

Wednesday, January 11, 2017
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: We have lived in the same home for several years. Now two new two-story houses are being built right behind us. We need privacy. What are the best tall evergreen shrubs or small trees to block a view?

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Lichens won’t hurt trees but could indicate dying branches

Wednesday, January 4, 2017
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: Do I need to be worried about the fluffy moss that's growing on some of the branches of my pecan trees?

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Shade caused by ball moss may damage trees

Wednesday, December 28, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: We have just acquired property in South Texas. The trees are covered with what we are told is ball moss. What can we do to stop it?

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Indian hawthorns susceptible to disease

Wednesday, December 21, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I have five well-established Indian hawthorns in a row. Late August, one developed a small area of dead, brown leaves. I removed the dead leaves and observed a brown streak in them and others, also in some of the other shrubs.

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Keep your yucca plant dry this winter

Wednesday, December 14, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: What might be happening to our yucca plant?

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Thin out fruit for best produce

Wednesday, December 7, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I bought a grapefruit tree at a local hardware store a few years ago. It has produced fruit, but they've only been 2 inches in diameter and they're really sour. What could be causing this? Do they need another variety for cross-pollination?

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Trim lantanas in winter

Wednesday, November 16, 2016
By Gerry Lewis

Dear Neil: A couple of years ago I planted several lantanas. They were protected enough that they didn't freeze to the ground last winter, and this year they have looked crowded (see photo). Can I thin them out this winter? When is the best time, and how?

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Save the stress; plant fresh for fall

Wednesday, November 2, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: My Celebrity tomatoes are now 8 feet tall. The plants are healthy and quite bushy. The tomatoes that have now formed are ripening when they are no larger than golf balls, and they are mushy. Would I have been better off with new plants for a fall garden?

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Leave spiderwebs up to keep pest population down

Wednesday, October 19, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I have a white, web-like material growing on my shrubs. It appears to have started at the ground and engulfed the stems and branches. Leaves are not affected yet. I have no idea how to treat it.

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Too hot out for pansies

Wednesday, October 5, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I have a large bed of Asian jasmine I want to remove. What is the best way to take it out?

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Trees often capable of healing on their own

Wednesday, September 28, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: We have several very old post oak trees on our property. One was recently hit by lightning that blew off a 4-inch strip of bark from top to bottom. We've had other trees destroyed in past years. We lost them, but the damage then was much worse. What can we do for this one?

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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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