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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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I Need Help Growing Hydrangea in My Central California Garden!


“Some tips please – I planted a Hydrangea, and it lasted just a couple of weeks.  I love the plant and would like to try again. Help!” Question from Rita of Dinuba, California
Answer: Hydrangeas are lovely when they are blooming at their prime, but many can be finicky, especially when it comes to soil and moisture levels. I see that your city has a […]

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What Is the Best Narrow Conifer for Snowy Colorado Landscapes?

Eastern red cedar
“What is a good upright juniper, or other narrow conifer, to plant that stays nice and narrow and tight so snow doesn’t bend the branches down and damage them? My planting area only gets partial sun and is very dry for much of the year. I tried Skyrocket junipers, but they broke under the weight of the snow.” Question from Sharon of Westminster, […]

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My Barbados Cherry Flowers are Dropping Prematurely. Help!


“The flower blooms of my Barbados cherry are pink with yellow but they fall off the whole stem while in bloom. What am I doing or I should ask what I am not doing? I water it a little extra, but they seem to keep falling off.” Question from Carol of Joaquin, Texas.
Answer: It sounds like you are hoping for fruits in addition to […]

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My Gardenias Have Root Mealybugs. Help!


“I have tried growing gardenias, but they always die. When I pull them up there are white bugs all over the roots. What are these and how do I get rid of them?” Question from Sheila of Tampa, Florida.
Answer: There are several pests and diseases that will attack gardenia roots. I am glad that we narrowed yours down to root or ground mealybugs (Rhizoecus […]

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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 Soil Do You Recommend for Avocado Seedlings?


“What type of Black Gold soil is recommended for potting avocado seedlings?” Question from Rusty of San Diego, California
Answer: Excellent drainage is one of the most important attributes of soil for avocado growing. They cannot endure wet soil for any period of time without being subjected to root rot. This means planting them in very well-draining pots as well as planting them in a […]

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What is This Orange-Flowered Shrub?


“Do you have any idea what this orange-flowered shrub is?” Question from Donna

Answer: This pretty, drought-tolerant bloomer is a hybrid orange Scotch broom (Cytisus ‘Lena’). It’s sweet-pea-like orange and orange-red flowers flower from May to June, and its fine green stems are lined with small leaves. This shrub is tolerant of wind, salt spray, and infertile, well-drained soil. Most brooms can be quite invasive, […]

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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 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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