GARDENER'S MAILBAG

Training shrubs as trees proves difficult

Wednesday, August 29, 2018
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I have a vitex that is trained to be a tree. I have continually cut the limb sprouts off but more keep coming back. I'd like to start another one, but not for all that work. Any suggestions?

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Lichens cause no harm to tree

Wednesday, August 15, 2018
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: Over the past 10 years, my 30-foot magnolia has grown thinner and thinner. Now, it has the patches of white growing on its trunk and branches. What causes this, and what can I do about it?

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Texas lawns ravaged by chinch bugs

Wednesday, August 8, 2018
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: My husband fertilized our yard twice, and he thinks he killed it. He fertilized the backyard once, and it looks fine. What could the problem be?

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Wrap oaks, Chinese pistachios for protection in summer

Wednesday, August 1, 2018
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: We have a fairly new red oak tree that has developed a vertical crack down its trunk. It is turning black along the sides of the crack. Should I wrap it, paint it with diluted latex paint, do nothing, or what?

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Eliminating tree trunks in a fence line

Wednesday, July 25, 2018
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I am currently replacing an old chain-link fence with a wooden privacy fence. There are trees with trunks growing right in the chain-link fence. How can I eliminate them so they won't be a problem for my new fence?

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Cold winter, hot summer affecting magnolias

Wednesday, July 18, 2018
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I'm used to my magnolia trees shedding leaves in the spring. We've had them for 40 years, and this is the first time they've continued dropping leaves this long. Why would that be happening?

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Do these simple steps to plant new grass

Wednesday, July 11, 2018
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I live in an area where centipede grass grows fairly well. I was tired of my old lawn that was overrun with weeds, so I applied a grasskiller to get a fresh start.

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Cold winter can prevent lemon tree from flowering

Wednesday, June 27, 2018
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I have property in South Texas where I have a Meyer lemon tree that has borne fruit regularly up until two years ago. The past two years, no blooms and no fruit. There is an orange tree nearby so it should get pollinated. I had it trimmed 18 months ago. What might the problem be?

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Learn about bamboo before planting

Wednesday, June 20, 2018
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: My daughter's backyard is halfway filled with bamboo and it's spreading. How can we get rid of it?

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Picking the right soils for planting

Wednesday, June 13, 2018
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I have a sick hydrangea, and I've read online that they should be planted in soils that are amended with peat moss. I've also read that their soils should not be amended with peat moss because it will lead to root rot and plant loss, but that sand should be used to amend a clay soil. I'm confused. Can you help me?

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Try several smaller plants rather than one

Wednesday, May 30, 2018
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I'm wondering what to do with this plant? It came from Puerto Rico via a leaf and is now 4 feet tall and has to be supported. It is now producing these little plants at the edges of its leaves and it is getting ready to bloom at the top of the plant.

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Plant tomatoes in proper containers

Wednesday, May 16, 2018
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: Last year I had trouble with my tomato plants on my patio. The fruit turned black at their ends and were unusable. I don't want that to happen again. What can I do to prevent it?

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Pay attention to what is used on lawn

Wednesday, May 2, 2018
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: My neighbor and I use the same lawncare company. We have runners of St. Augustine that are lying on top of the lawn. The runners are green, but their roots are brown.

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Allow standard vitx to reach full size

Wednesday, April 25, 2018
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I would like to keep my vitex plant at approximately 6-1/2 feet tall. Can I prune it to accomplish that task?

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Forgo planting trees close to sidewalks

Wednesday, April 18, 2018
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: Are there any good medium to tall trees I could plant in the small space between a sidewalk and the street?

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Brown patch fungus leads to turf issues

Wednesday, April 11, 2018
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I spent a ton of money having my St. Augustine sodded again two years ago. This winter it developed a bunch of brown circles. What caused it, and what can I do to stop it?

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Winter chill likely spells end for Esperanzas

Wednesday, April 4, 2018
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: My Gold Star Esperanzas may have frozen this past winter. I have yet to see any green growth. I cut the tops back to the ground and still have them mulched in pecan leaves. Should I give up on them?

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Wrap up new pistachio and oak trees

Wednesday, March 28, 2018
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: Someone told me that I needed to wrap the trunk of my new pistachio tree. Do you agree? If so, why?

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Make grub treatments in mid-summer

Wednesday, March 21, 2018
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: My St. Augustine is dying. We put down a fungicide last year. I just saw a June bug and am tempted to put down an insecticide to kill the grub worms. What can I do?

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Hollies are good choice for privacy hedge

Wednesday, March 14, 2018
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I want to plant a hedge for privacy behind our house. What are my best choices for plants that will grow 8 to 12 feet tall and stay nice and dense? If it flowers, that would be great.

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