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How Do I Start Paw Paw Seeds?


“I want to start and grow paw paw seeds. Can you give me your recommendation on a planting mix? I’m planting seeds in 4×14 containers. They’ll be in the containers for two years in the shade in hot Texas conditions before I plant them in the orchard. Pawpaws are considered tropical. The nursery that sells paw paw seed said I might want to add […]

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How Much Outdoor Cold Can Ginger Plants Survive?


“What is the minimum temperature for growing ginger plants outdoors?” Question from Susan of Pembroke Pines, Florida
Answer: Culinary ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a true tropical plant that originates from Southeast Asia. It survives in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 12, which means that it can withstand outdoor cold reaching down to 25 to 30 degrees F, no colder. Temperatures on the coldest end will […]

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What Time of Year Do You Prune Abutilon?


“What time of year do you prune an Abutilon?” Question from Angie of Fort Bragg, California
Answer: Parlor maples or Indian mallows (Abutilon hybrids) are tropical to subtropical plants that can be pruned to shape at any time. Cultivated forms do, however, bloom on new wood, so late-winter or spring pruning is recommended. Especially if you plan to trim your plant just once a year. […]

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When Should I Trim Tropical Hibiscus?


“When is the best time to trim tropical Hibiscus?” Question from Jane of Tampa, Florida
Answer: You can prune these evergreen tropicals at any time to manage plant size, encourage denser growth, and induce more flowering, but pruning is best done in late winter when they are blooming very little.
These tropical Chinese shrubs flower on new wood, and pruning encourages the development of new wood, […]

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How and When Should I Plant Milkweed Seeds?


“I have some milkweed seeds and wonder when I should plant them. Should I plant now or wait until spring?” Question from Lynda of West Warwick, Rhode Island
Answer: Start milkweed (Asclepias spp.) seeds indoors in mid to late winter. The seeds of these long-lived perennials can be a little tricky to start because they require a chilling period before they will sprout. (Keep in […]

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How Do I Harvest and Store Hardneck Garlic?


“I planted garlic bulbs for the first time and chose the hardneck variety ‘Music’. I understand that they will be fully mature around the first of August. Where is a good place to cure the bulbs for the duration? I live in a USDA Hardiness Zone 6 area.” Question from Belinda of Fort Wayne, Indiana
Answer: I have actually grown ‘Music’ garlic with great […]

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What Are The Best Indoor Grow Lights for Succulents?


“Now that the northern hemisphere is transitioning into winter, and I have more succulents than ever, what’s the best indoor grow light for me to invest in? Broad-spectrum? Red/blue lights? I’m confused.” Question from Stacy or Portland, Oregon
Answer: Plants always grow best with sunlight, which is full-spectrum. So, if you have a South-facing window that can accommodate your succulents, start there. Then supplement with […]

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Can I Grow Asparagus in Central Florida?


“I’m looking for asparagus that will grow in USDA Hardiness Zone 10b.” Question from Lori of Venice, Florida
Answer: Asparagus generally survives in USDA Hardiness Zones 3-8 and requires a winter dormancy period to successfully grow and produce spears.  In northern regions, plants can produce for up to 30 years, but they don’t tend to fare well down south where winters are warmer.
With that said, […]

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Why Are My Tropical Hibiscus Leaves Dropping?


“What are the reasons leaves drop from [tropical] hibiscus?” Question from Brenda of Miami, Florida
Answer: Tropical hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa–sinensis) are lovely shrubs when they are healthy and happy, but they look so dismal when they’re in poor shape–especially when they start dropping their leaves. There are LOTS of problems that can lead to leaf drop. Some of these depend on whether your plants are […]

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What Seed-Grown Plants Attract Honeybees?


“I would like information on ordering flower seeds that would attract honey bees to my garden.” Question from Randy of Bastrop, Texas
Answer: There are loads of garden flowers that are easily grown from seed and especially attractive to bees. Considering your location, your bee plants should also be heat and drought tolerant. Here are a few easy-from-seed plants that will grow well in Bastrop. […]

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