GARDENER'S MAILBAG

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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Sprouting daffodils not threatened by cold

Wednesday, January 14, 2015
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: Do I need to worry that my daffodils are sprouting? It seems like it's way too early to be seeing this.

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Don’t be afraid to compost Oak leaves

Wednesday, December 31, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: Am I remembering a recent column correctly? Did you advise against using oak leaves in compost?

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Looking for bright fall colors?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I'm looking for a shrub or small tree that has bright red leaves in the fall. Obviously, it also needs to be adapted, and I need one that can handle partial shade. I've seen some around the state in the past several weeks. What options do we have, and do nurseries commonly sell them?

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Black spots signal iron deficit

Wednesday, December 10, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: Black spots showed up on the leaves of our sweetgum tree. What causes this, and what can we do to correct it?

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Use light to fool Christmas cacti into flowering later

Wednesday, December 3, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: My Christmas cactus did it again. It flowered too early. What can I do to slow it down?

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Don’t kill butterfly larvae, nurture them

Wednesday, November 19, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I started growing parsley three years ago. Each spring, a particular caterpillar attacks them, both curly and flat-leaf types. The pest is neon green and black-striped. It's beautiful, but it strips every leaf off a plant if I don't watch it. What is it, and how can I control it?

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Whiteflies tough to control

Wednesday, October 22, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I have whiteflies on my fall tomatoes. I've tried an insecticide, but they're still there. Any suggestion?

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Trees grown from seeds produce poor quality fruit

Wednesday, October 8, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I don't think my problem is unique, but I haven't seen it here before. We threw peach pits out into the pasture for the birds for a period of time.

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Bark sloughs off as tree trunks grow

Wednesday, October 1, 2014
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I bought a home last year. It came with a very old pecan tree. The tree basically seems healthy, but this year it shed big chunks of bark (bags of it). I thought I'd taken good care of it. Do I need to worry?

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