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When is the Best Time to Prune Buddleia in California?


“When is the best time to prune Buddleia?” Question from Angie of Fort Bragg, California
Answer: In your coastal Mendocino County location, I would cut your butterfly bush (Buddleia spp.) back when your cool, wet winter hits. Butterfly bush does not look its best when chillier temperatures hit, even though it remains evergreen to semi-evergreen where you live, so prune it back by 1-2 feet […]

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What Potting Mix is Best for Planting Agastache in the Southwest?

Licorice mint is one of the best species for New Mexican gardens. (Image by Jessie Keith)
“I have rooted Agastache cuttings in perlite and seed starting mix, but now they are ready for real pots and soil. What would you suggest for the soil or soil mix?” Question from Melissa of El Prado, New Mexico
Answer: Hyssops or hummingbird mints (Agastache spp.) are fragrant perennials in the […]

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Is Bat Guano Good for Flower Beds?


“I have a large amount of bat dung in our barn and have heard that it is an excellent fertilizer for flowers. Is that true?” Question from Catherine of White Cloud, Michigan
Answer: Bat guano makes an excellent plant fertilizer once it has been composted. Fresh bat guano is rich in nutrients, particularly nitrogen, but it needs to be broken down and mellowed before use. […]

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When is the Best Time to Plant Spring Bulbs?


“When is the best time to plant spring bulbs?” Question from Donna of Smithfield, Pennsylvania
Answer: Fall is the best time to plant bulbs–starting in late September and ending in late November. This is the ideal window, but I have even planted bulbs in December when the soil could be worked, and the flowers appeared as expected in spring. Just don’t wait until the soil […]

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What Bulbs Can I Force in a Vase?


“Other than hyacinths, which bulbs can I force in a hyacinth vase?” Question from Robin of Warner, New Hampshire
Answer: There are several factors to take into consideration when choosing bulbs to force in hyacinth vases. Only certain bulbs can be easily forced, in water, gravel, or soil, during the winter months. And, most require a chilling period before they are forced or sold for […]

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How Do I Care For My Butterfly Bush in Fall?


“What’s the best way to care for my butterfly bush, now that all the flowers are gone?  I usually cut it all the way back in the spring, which usually makes for a beautiful bush throughout the summer.  This year, not so much.  It was not very full, although it did grow quite tall.  Should I be doing something to it in the fall?”  […]

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How Should I Overwinter Gladiolus in Southern Florida?


“We live in Miami and planted gladiolus bulbs this spring. They bloomed beautifully! How are we supposed to cut them, so they bloom next spring? Should we dig them up or just cut the leaves?” Question from Brenda of Miami Florida
Answer: Gladiolus hybrids will thrive year-round as perennials in your Miami garden (USDA Hardiness Zone 10), so they don’t need to be dug up […]

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What is Causing Leaf Spot and Drop On My Desert Roses?


“My desert roses are dropping their leaves and they have brown to blackish spots on them.  I have attached an image.”  Question from Charles of Sebastian, Florida
Answer: The yellowing and black blotching and spotting on your desert rose (Adenium obesum) leaves is likely caused by the fungal disease, anthracnose leaf spot (Colletotrichum spp.). Yellowing of the leaves is caused in the early stages, and then […]

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What Are Good Hardy Orchids For Southern California Gardens?


“I grow Bletilla orchids in my Southern California garden. Do you know of others that don’t need cold? I’m interested in having some more hardy orchids in the ground outside.” Question from Sandra of Thousand Oaks, California
Answer: When thinking of good hardy, terrestrial (ground) orchids for your Southern California garden, seek out area nurseries that offer greenhouse-grown local native orchids or adaptable non-native orchids. You […]

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Why Didn’t My Hydrangeas Flower and Why Do They Have Spots?


“My hydrangeas didn’t flower this year and also have “black/brown” spots on the leaves.  Any ideas on what to do?” Question from Debra of Saint Inigoes, Maryland
Answer: Mophead or lacecap hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) are prone to fungal leaf diseases when there is excess moisture and the shrubs are poorly aerated. And, there are a couple of reasons why hydrangeas fail to bloom. 
Hydrangea Leaf Fungal […]

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