GARDENER'S MAILBAG

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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Pruning of crape myrtles discouraged

Wednesday, August 3, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: My granddaughter applied one of the best-known brands of DEET to her legs and feet, and it killed the grass (blades only, not the runners) where she was standing. I've banned it from our yard. What would you suggest?

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Post oaks struggle with change

Wednesday, July 27, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: We have lost two post oak trees, probably due to construction around our new house. No one bothered to tell us how sensitive they are. Can I replace them with two more post oaks? I don't see them in nurseries.

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Summer heat causes trees to drop leaves

Wednesday, July 13, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: How long should I leave the drip irrigation running beneath my fruitless mulberry tree? It loses so many leaves every summer.

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Bloom date may vary for crape myrtles

Wednesday, June 29, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I have three 4-year-old crape myrtles in my backyard. Last year they were full of blooms, but this year only one has flowers. They are in a part of the yard that remained really wet this spring. They also have a powdery substance on their leaves. What should I be doing?

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Tips for seeding bluebonnets

Wednesday, June 15, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I successfully grew bluebonnets from a packet of seeds this past spring. They all made seeds, and I have now harvested the pods. They had turned brown and crispy and the seeds are easily removed. Should I plant them still in the pods?

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Rid leaves of lace bugs with general-purpose insecticides

Wednesday, May 25, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: Almost all of the leaves on my loquat tree are afflicted with this problem. Is it an insect or disease? How should I treat it?

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Use detergent to adhere clover killer

Wednesday, May 18, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: I have clover all through my St. Augustine. Should I pull it, or can I spray it?

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Pick adaptable over native

Wednesday, May 11, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: A neighbor gave me this tree, and I'm wondering what it is. I saw one like it labeled as a "loquat" at a nursery. Is that what this is, and is it one of those non-native plants I don't want to use?

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Replace mountain laurel with shorter shrubs

Wednesday, May 4, 2016
By Neil Sperry

Dear Neil: What could the problem be with my one mountain laurel? They were twins until recently. I know they don't like boggy soil, but if anything, the one on the right has better drainage. I can't afford to replace one of that size. What suggestions do you have?

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