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Ed Hume Answers Your Gardening Questions

Ed Hume cannot answer all of the garden questions he receives, but questions of general interest will be answered here every month.  Email your questions to HumeSeeds@aol.com.  Please note: we do not accept attachments.

Before submitting a question, be sure to check the index of previous questions and answers or search our site using key words.  Many questions have already been answered here on the site.

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Other December Links

"Mold" on Houseplants

Q I recently fed my houseplants with a organic formula mixture that I purchased from a flea market. A couple days after feeding them I was dismayed to find a thick layer of white mold covering the top of the soil. I have tried digging down with a small spoon to remove it, as well a trying to keep the plants as dry as possible, but this doesn't seem to be working. The leaves are slowly turning yellow and I have been removing them. Please, what am I doing wrong?

AThe white you see on the soil surface is 'salt' from the fertilizer. Scrape it off with a fork, then water the soil thoroughly (so that about 10%of the water goes through the pot). By doing this you are cleansing the soil.

I would suggest that you not use any more of that particular product. If the fertilizer was too hot, it could be burning the leaves and causing them to turn yellow. So, watering to dilute the fertilizer is going to be the best thing you can do for your plant.

Wild Green Onions

Q My garden has been invaded by wild green onions. I have used round-up and it doesn't phase them. How do I get rid of them?

A This is a very difficult weed to control. Grub them out as best you can, then treat the soil with a pre-emergent weed control product...which should help control the seed. Grub any of the mature plants if they reappear. Your local garden store can recommend the particular product they feature.

Hostas - Winter Care

Q I live in the north and my hostas are dying back. Should I mow them over or just leave them alone?

AIt is natural for them to die to the ground. Most are very hardy, so it is seldom necessary to mulch them for winter protection. Don't mow them over, just remove the dead leaves.

Rhododendrons -Winter Care

Q I just came across your site while trying to find information on how to care for Rhods. We are putting in a Japanese Garden, in small sheltered area. Do we need to mound around it like we do Roses, if so what materials would be advised.

A Rhododendrons usually do not need winter protection. There are, however, 31,000 varieties and certainly some are hardier than others. So, if the temperatures get down in the teens (Farenheit) I suggest that the plants be covered with some type of cloth material (burlap or moving blankets are ideal). Cover them only during the cold spell. As soon as the weather moderates or it rains, remove the covering. Be sure to use stakes when covering, so the material does not touch the foliage.

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