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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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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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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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How Do I Keep My Evergreen Wreaths and Garlands from Drying Out?


“Every year at the holidays, I hang a live wreath and real pine garland on a fence outside near my patio. I’m wondering if you know of a way to preserve both the wreath and garland so that they last beyond the holiday season without getting brown?  Thank you!” Question from Diane of Newark, Ohio
Answer: You have a couple of options, use either evergreen […]

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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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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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Help Me Understand Cacti and Succulent Mix Components and Characteristics


I belong to the Michigan Cactus and Succulent Society, and I like to create my own mixes. To perfect my blends, I am always trying to figure out what materials will provide the characteristics I need for drainage, aeration, water-holding capacity and so on. I also want to understand how particle size impacts the performance of primary mix materials. Does the blend of ingredients […]

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How Much Light Does Ponytail Palm Need Indoors?


“I just fell in love with the ponytail palm plant. I would like it in my dining room that gets some afternoon light. How much light does it need?” Question from Ann of Lookout Mountain, Georgia.
Answer: I have a ponytail palm, too, and just love it! Ponytail palm (Beucarnia recurvata) is native to arid regions of Mexico and needs low water, especially in the […]

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How Do I Get Lavender to Grow Up North?


“How can I get my lavender plant to grow? I bought it last year and it’s still the same size and hasn’t flowered. I put it this spring and it’s thriving, just not growing. Does it need to be planted in the ground to be happy?” Question from Cassi of Plymouth, Minnesota
Answer: Lavender is truly an outdoor plant, though plants can be container-grown and […]

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Can I Grow Vegetables in Pots in Summer and Winter?


“I am from SC. Will any veggies grow indoors in pots in the summer or winter?” Question from Donna of Newberry, South Carolina
Answer: There are lots of vegetables that are easily grown in containers. The key is choosing large containers that will give their roots enough space to grow and choosing varieties that are more compact. Providing excellent potting mix, like Black Gold Natural […]

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