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What is the Difference Between an Annual and Perennial?


“What is the difference between an annual and a perennial?” Question from Christina of Wheeling, Illinois

Answer: These terms refer to the life cycles of  non-woody or herbaceous (leafy) plants. Here are detailed explanations of both.
Annuals
Annuals live once a year, meaning they sprout, grow, bloom, set seed and die within one growing season. It’s easy to remember because the word annual means occurring once every year.
Many […]

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How Do I Make My Rose Fuller?


“I had a question about roses. I have a rose bush that blooms by itself every year. I was wonder if there is a way to make it more full or expand it. Thanks!” Question from Lisa of New York, New York
Answer: The best way to encourage a bushier rose is by pruning. Cutting your rose back in later winter to spring will give your […]

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When Should I Cut Back My Ornamental Grasses?


“I have lots of ornamental grasses in my garden. When is the best time to cut them back?” Question from Mary of Raleigh, North Carolina
Answer: Tall ornamental grasses, like Chinese silver grass (Miscanthis sinensis) and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) provide food and cover for many birds and other wildlife. Their dry blades and seedheads also tend to look pretty through the winter months. So, the best […]

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How Do I Root Begonia Cuttings?


“How do you “root” begonias?” Question from Judy of Louisville, Mississippi
Answer: Good timing! I root begonia cuttings from my favorite begonia to give to friends, and they just rooted (see photo)! You will be glad to learn that they are one of the easiest plants to root. There are two ways to do it–the easy way and the surefire way. I choose the easy way, […]

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How Do I Overwinter My Fuchsia Baskets?


“How do I overwinter my fuchsia baskets?” Sherry from Camas, Washington
Answer: What a great question! Large, happy fuchsias are expensive, so it pays to overwinter them. You have two overwintering options:
Bring Your Fuchsia Indoors
Clean your fuchsia before bringing them indoors (click here to read how), and maintain them as house plants through winter. Place them in a spot with bright filtered sunlight. If your home […]

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When Do I Cut Back Orchid Stems After They Bloom?


“Do I need to cut off the stems after my orchid flowers fall off or will new flowers grow on the stems next year?” Question from Bonnie of Young, Arizona
Answer: It depends on the health and blooming stage of the flowering stem. If the stem/s are still green, prune off the spent flowers to about 1-inch above the closest node on towards the bast of […]

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How to Rid an Organic Garden of White Mold


“What is the best way to get rid of white mold in an organic garden? I pulled the plants this summer but I’m curious if there’s something I can do if it happens next year.” Question from Lynda of West Warwick, Rhode Island
Answer: White mold (Sclerotinia spp.) is a real problem, particularly with legumes (plants in the bean family), sunflowers, and many veggies and bedding […]

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Overwintering Calla Lilies


“I am hoping to overwinter my calla lilies in the cool of my basement! Will this work and any advice?” Question from Robin Van Vleet of Warner, New Hampshire
Answer: Excellent question, Robin! Calla lilies (Zantedeschia spp.) originate from southern Africa and naturally tend to bloom from late spring to midsummer, though they can be forced to bloom at other times of the year. Wintertime is […]

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How to Amend Around Mulched Flower Beds


“On an annual rotation, what do I do with my mulch? Do I strip and reapply every year? How do I amend my soil in a flower bed that already has perennials? Do I  just top dress? Or dig around the perennials and mix with native soils?” Question from Tim of Springfield, Pennsylvania
Answer: Good questions! I am assuming that you apply bark mulch, which is […]

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Flowering Shrubs for Minnesota


“What is a good flowering shrub for Zone 4? Question from Sandra Lee of Cottage Grove, Minnesota
Answer: There are so many great flowering shrubs that grow beautifully in USDA Hardiness Zone 4 winters! Here are three super hardy options to try:
1. Smooth Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens, USDA Hardiness Zones 3-9): There are lots of wonderful varieties of this summer-flowering beauty, and the shrubs grow well in […]

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