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What’s Eating My Empress Tree Leaves?


“I have two baby royal empress trees, something is eating at the leaves. Any tips on how I can kick start these for maxim growth each season?” Question from Lizzy of Ocala, Florida.
Answer: Empress tree (Paulownia tomentosa) is a fast-growing tree from China with lovely violet-purple flowers in spring. Surprisingly it does not have any serious known pests here in the United States, but […]

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What Plants Deter Insects from the Vegetable Garden?


“What are the best plants and/or flowers to deter insects from a vegetable garden?” Question from Vesta of Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia
Answer: Research has shown that some companion plantings will reduce the number of insect pests that attack specific vegetable crops. These companions fall under two categories: trap crops and insect-repelling companion plants. Trap crops are plantings that attract insect pests, luring them away from […]

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What is the Best Method for Growing Potatoes?


“Can I grow potatoes in a 4’X4′ raised bed or do I need something deeper like a garbage can with holes in it? Thanks!” Question from Patricia Froehner or Newton, New Jersey
Answer: Absolutely! Large, soil-filled cans and tubs are convenient for growing potatoes in small-space gardens, but they are not necessary at all. The key to growing really nice potatoes is providing rich, lightweight, […]

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Can I Use 2, 4-D to Remove Weeds In My Ornamental Grasses?


“I have a pampas grass – it grows in our ditches in Iowa. Unfortunately, I have had creeping jenny find it’s way into one area of it. Can you spray the grasses with 2/4D to kill the jenny without killing the grass?” Question from Brenda of Peterson, Iowa
Answer: Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) survives in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 to 10, so it is not […]

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What Are the Spots on My Flowering Dogwood?


“What are the spots on my dogwood tree leaves, and how can I prevent them? They come back every year.” Question from Jennifer of Ramsey, Indiana.
Answer: If you see no stem or branch dieback on your flowering dogwood, then it is likely suffering from spot anthracnose (Elsinoe corni), a fungal disease that is unattractive but NOT deadly, unlike dogwood anthracnose. Another possibility is Septoria […]

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How Do I Prevent Rose Black Spot?


“Please give me advice on the prevention of black spot before it occurs.” Question from Carol of Drums, Pennsylvania
Answer: Black spot (Diplocarpon rosae) is such an annoying fungal disease of roses. Here are six measures to help prevent it:
1. Clean your bushes in fall and winter. Remove all fallen leaves and any dead branches from your rose bushes. The fungus overwinters on dead, infected […]

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How Do I Manage Black Vine Weevils?


“How do I get rid of vine weevils in the garden without using expensive nematodes?” Question from Kathy of Sparks, Nevada
Answer: The greatest damage done to vines, like hops and grapes, and shrubs, like rhododendron and hydrangea, is caused by adult black vine weevils. The adults are also the most vulnerable to treatment. The larvae do chew on the roots of host plants, but […]

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What is Chewing on My Brugmansia Leaves?


“I have a Brugmansia, and something is eating at the leaves. I have tried soapy water with oil, and I have tried broad-spectrum herbicides. Please Help!” Question from Lizzy of Ocala, Florida
Answer: Your pictures came through! The damage is caused by chewing pests and there are several that will attack Brugmansia. Cabbage moth caterpillars (cabbage loopers), snails, and slugs will all chew on Brugmansia. […]

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How Do I Kill Trumpet Vine?


“I am having the hardest time killing trumpet vines & they have taken over my yard. I use roundup every year, but it’s not killing the root system.” Question from Rosie of Wichita, Kansas
Answer: Red trumpet vine (Campsis radicans) is a beautiful native vine with giant, trumpet-shaped, orange-red flowers loved by hummingbirds, but as you have discovered,  it is best left for roadside fencelines […]

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How Do I Manage Grasshoppers Organically?


“What’s the best way to deal with grasshoppers in the garden organically?” Question from Chamisa or Ramona, California
Answer: Grasshoppers (Melanoplus spp.) are severe garden pests in most parts of the United States and difficult to manage. Populations tend to boom in eight- to ten-year cycles, and when they are bad, they are bad. Their swarms are very overwhelming, but there is hope. It’s just […]

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