GARDENER'S MAILBAG

Control aphids with insecticides, avoid topping crape myrtles

Wednesday, February 10, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: My husband made sure I read your column telling us never to top our crape myrtles. However, ours had aphids last summer, stopped growing and looks terrible. Short of digging it up, can we not just try cutting it down to the roots and letting it start over?

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Avocado trees not practical for North Texas

Wednesday, February 3, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I have five avocado trees that have yet to bear fruit. I grew them from seeds from grocery store avocadoes, and they are 4 to 6 feet tall. What might the remedy be to get them to bear fruit?

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Compost manure before using it in flowerbeds

Wednesday, January 27, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: Is there anything about donkey manure that would make it unsuitable for use in my garden and flowerbeds?

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Seek arborist’s help to cut tree roots

Wednesday, January 13, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: The prior owner of our house planted live oaks too close to the drive. This one is pushing up the concrete. Would I be safe in cutting the root that is causing the problem?

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Don’t top those crape myrtles

Wednesday, January 6, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: You have repeatedly said that we should never "top" our crape myrtles. We planted 10 crape myrtles three years ago, and they never did much.

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Do not fill holes in tree trunks

Wednesday, December 16, 2015
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: Should we attempt to fill holes in our live oaks' trunks? We have just moved here, and this is being discussed among the neighbors.

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Mulch over elephant ear bulbs before winter

Wednesday, December 2, 2015
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: We have a large row of elephant ear bulbs. Should we dig them or mulch them for the winter?

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Prune bushes in mid- to late winter

Wednesday, October 28, 2015
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: What is the best time of year for heavy pruning of overgrown elaeagnus, redtip photinias and nandinas?

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Chinch bugs kill grass quickly

Wednesday, October 21, 2015
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I have a couple of corners of my yard that will not fill in with grass, even after adding extra sprinkler irrigation for those areas. I'm considering digging down a foot and bringing in better soil. Would that help?

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Castor beans not recommended for use near pets or children

Wednesday, October 14, 2015
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I have a place in my backyard where I would like the color and texture of castor beans, but I have dogs and I hear that the seeds are highly poisonous. Can they be clipped off before they mature and fall?

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Mulch doesn’t attract termites

Wednesday, September 30, 2015
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: What is the best type of mulch to use in a rose garden? I've heard that some mulches attract termites.

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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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