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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 March Links

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Frost Dates

My question is, I live on Whidbey Island and I was wondering how I can find out when our last frost date is in this area?

There doesn't seem to be a definitive list of frost dates on the internet. We put together a page that has some of the best sources that we could find. Check out Frost Dates.

Another possible source is the WSU Cooperative Extension Service on the island. Their number is (360)679-7327.

Heather from Cuttings

Could you answer a question for me?   I have a few heather plants that I would like to propagate. Could I do it by taking cuttings? If so how and when would be the best/ Thank you ahead of time.

Yes, heather can be propagated by cuttings. Growers tell me they take the cuttings year-round. Of course, they start them in greenhouses.

Take cuttings only 2 inches long. Strip off the lower leaves, dip the cut end into a rooting hormone (Rootone) and place in vermiculite. If you don't have a greenhouse, the best time to take the cuttings would be July or August.

Root Weavils

Something is eating the leaves of my rhodies and hydrangeas and violets. They are all in the same area. I can't find any bugs. A neighbor told me I've got root weavils. What are they and how do you get rid of them?

This is an insect that is nocturnal. It is in the soil, and at night the adults climb the plants and eat the edges of the leaves. The immature insects eat the skin of the roots. On rhododendrons, you can wrap a 4 inch band of masking tape around the trunk of the plant. Then put a sticky substance like 'Tanglefoot' on the tape. As the insects climb the rhody, they get stuck in the 'Tanglefoot'.

The violets may be attacked by the same insect or by cutworms. Place some boards among the violets and the weevils will hide under them. Then every few days, lift the boards and collect and destroy the weevils.

Iris Care

Can you please tell me something about how   to care for irises.We have quite a few of them,but they don't bloom nearly as much as they used to.   Do we need to take them up,and seperate them, and replant them?If so,Is there anything special we need to know,as with seperating dalhia's?  And, when,and how deep,and in what kind of soil do they do best? Also do they do better when they are watered often?

It is difficult to answer your question, because there are so many different types of Iris. The bulb type do not require much care. They are usually planted 4 to 6 inches deep, and may need to be dug and divided once every 4 to 6 years. They like well drained soil.

The most common type of Iris is the bearded Iris. They are from a root stock called a rhizome. These are planted so that the rhizome (flat /fat root) is planted right at ground level. Plant them in full sun or at least part sun and shade. They require good drainage. No special watering attention is required. treat them the same as any other garden plant. When they get crowded, they need to be dug, divided and reset (re-planted). Do this every 3 to 5 years right after their normal flowering period; in late June or early July.

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