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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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Controlling Wysteria

I have Wysteria growing out of control.I live on an old homeplace where it was planted long ago and as the last owners got older the Wysteria grew and grew.I cut it back,sprayed it with full concentrate Roundup,but it comes back and comes back fast.I want it gone.What can I do?

Cut it off at the trunk, then treat the cut area with a stump remover product. The actual name of the product is "Stump Remover". Apply according to label instructions.

Perennials Under Pines

 Could you tell me what kind of perennials are best to plant under evergreen trees? Also, can the pine needles falling on the flower beds be harmful to the plants. I remove them several times a year but, my plants still keep dying.

Shade perennials can be planted under evergreens. Perennials like Primroses, Hosta, Astilbe, and Bleeding Heart do well.

Pine needles do have a resin in them that can limit plant growth, so remove them on a regular basis.

Perennials are competing with trees for water and nutrients, so feed the perennials under the trees with a liquid fertilizer directly on the foliage. Foliar feeding is the direct route to the plant, rather than to the greedy trees above. Plants under evergreen trees also need special watering attention. Check watering needs twice a week during summer.

See Also:  What to grow under evergreens

Weeds in the Borders

I have a problem with weeds and grasses in the borders.  Two fellas just finished four days' work pulling 'em up, weedeating, and so on.

The question is what is the intelligent thing to do next?

Probably the best solution for you is to put down a weed fabric (a.k.a. landscape fabric) then bark the area. The fabric allows water to penetrate into the soil, but keeps the weeds from growing up through the fabric. When you are ready to plant any new plants, you will have to cut a hole in the fabric to set out the new plant.

Canterbury Bells

This is the first year I have planted Canterbury Bells from seed. They have bloomed fabulously but are now in the process of dying off and going to seed. Is there any special procedure that I should you at the end of their bloom, i.e. dig them out, cut them back?

After flowering, the best thing to do is cut off the dead flower stocks. No other care is needed.

Planting Winter Pansies

Can the winter pansy be sown right now (early August) in flats and then transplanted. Stanwood Wash.

Yes, they can be started now. The problem is that it is a little late for a good fall bloom. You want to start them in June or earliest July for fall color. Those started now will give you best color next spring.

Earwig Problems

I live in south midwestern Michigan and we continuously fight the earwigs and Japanese Beetles for our foilage. Once one plague is over; another begins. I have tried suggested techniqes from a well known organic gardening resource that have proves no good in terms of getting rid of these pests. Do you have any concrete suggestions? My leaves are stripped from the earwigs and the butterfly bush can barely develop blooms before the beetles attack and ruin.

Early in the season, put a band of making tape about 4 inches wide around the trunk/stems of these plants. (Put it on tight so the insects cannot crawl under it.) Then apply a product called 'Tanglefoot' onto the masking tape. Follow application directions. As the insects climb the plant they get stuck in the sticky 'Tanglefoot'. Check every now and then to be sure the insects do not form a bridge over the backs of the dead ones. Bear gloves because 'Tanglefoot' is very sticky.

Dividing Iris

A number of years ago my wife received from a friend numerous beautiful assorted Iris. Because of a family illness over a long period of time they have been neglected. For the first few years we had gorgeous flowers in the spring. Over time we have done nothing with them and the number of blossoms each year has declined significantly. We have not done anything in the way of fertilizing. It appears that the area has also become root bound. What would your suggestion be:

1. In fertilizer

2. Separating plants

3. Any other actions.

First, the plants are over-crowded and need to be separated and spaced. This is generally done right after they finish flowering, but it is not too late to do it, now (August). Mix some compost and processed manure into the new planting soil. Be sure the roots (rhizomes) are set right at ground level...or at the same depth as they are already planted. After bloom the tall foliage is cut back about 2/3 of the way to the ground in a 'Tee Pee' shape. Feed the plants with a Rose type fertilizer in mid-February. Water-in thoroughly after application.

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