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Lawn (106)

How do you get rid of “creeping charlie” in your lawn?

The best weed killer to use for creeping charlie is Bonide’s Chickweed and Clover Killer. Just like all liquid weed killers, Bonide’s Chickweed and Clover Killer is absorbed through the leaves of the weed. It kills the roots too but is absorbed through the leaves. Because of this you need to apply it when rain isn’t expected for the next 24-48 hours. Naturally you won’t want to water it in so you’ll need to shut your sprinklers off for a couple of days. You also need to know that no weed killers should be used on a lawn when temperatures are expected to go above 85° of it will also kill the lawn. Adding a drop of dish washing liquid to the spray will help it coat the weed’s leaves for better contact.

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We use scotts products and do as the bag says, we still have CRAB GRASS and clover what should I do ?? The weed and feed didn’t work.We purchased Chickweed and clover oxalis killer on the clover from you and it didn’t work.First priority is the crabgrass. Thanks, Pt

The directions on Scotts products are kind of vague since they have to cover a wide variety of customers. Since Hewitt’s only has locations here in the Capital District of NY. I’ll assume that you are local and give you this tip for applying crabgrass preventer in this area. The most effective way to stop crabgrass is to apply crabgrass preventer right at the end of the blossom cycle of the forsythia bush right as the flowers are dropping off (just as the lilacs begin to flower). This stops the crabgrass seeds from sprouting and since crabgrass is an annual that grows from seed each year, it is a very effective control. Very often a customer will apply their crabgrass preventer just as soon as the lawn greens up. Since crabgrass only acts on crabgrass during the sprouting phase waiting a bit and using the timing I described above will give better results. Since the crabgrass preventer form a thin film on the surface of the soil it is vulnerable to getting eroded or washed away before it has a chance to act on germinating crabgrass seeds. The opportunity to use crabgrass preventer has passed for this season so the spray is your only option at this point. Repeat sprayings will likely be necessary. The chickweed and clover killer you used will work but needs to remain in contact with the LEAVES of the weed for at least 20 hours (and longer is better). If you watered or it rained within 24 hours of your application then the herbicide was washed off the leaves and it won’t work. Remember, weed killers are absorbed through the LEAVES of the weeds. They will kill the roots but must be absorbed by the leaves.

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How to get rid of mushrooms in your lawn.

Once mushroom spores blow into your lawn they need a couple of things to grow into the mushrooms. First, there needs to be plenty of moisture available…mushrooms love dampness and won’t grow in dry lawns. In a damp year like last year mushrooms seemed to spring up everywhere. In a normal season the lawn usually dries out well between rainstorms so mushrooms are less of a problem. Very often mushrooms are a problem in a lawn that has a sprinkling system installed. Folks with these sprinkling systems seem to like to see them operate and have them set to water the lawn frequently but not very heavily. This causes all kinds of problems for the lawn including encouraging mushrooms and, worse yet, fungal lawn diseases. Properly programmed, a sprinkling system should provide 1″ of water per week in one single watering. This amount of water will penetrate at least 8″ into the soil stimulating deep root growth. It also allows the blades of the grass many day of dryness which makes it much harder for mushrooms and fungal diseases to take hold. Everyone with a sprinkling system should do a test to see how long it takes each zone to put out 1″ of water. This can be done by placing a small tuna fish or cat food can in the zone and run it until the can is full and note how long it took. Then each zone should be set to run for that amount off time just once a week. The second requirement for mushroom growth is the presence of rotting organic matter. This could be an old tree stump rotting below the surface, buried construction debris or something as simple as rotting grass clippings and leaf debris. Removing buried debris and bagging your clipping can help prevent mushroom growth. Mushrooms don’t harm the grass and are actually helping the lawn by breaking down organic matter that the lawn will eventually benefit from. The main reason to eliminate mushrooms is for the safety of small children who might eat them.

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HELP! Crabgrass has taken over my normally lovely lawn – and I mean taken over – it’s about 25 to 30% covered – what can I do!

The bad news is is that the best time apply crabgrass preventer is in the spring just as the forsythias are finishing up their flowering cycle (just as the lilacs are starting). There are summer crabgrass killers but they need to be applied to a wet lawn and not get watered off for a couple of days (like weed killer). Usually it takes a couple of applications for summer crabgrass killer to work. Even then, the crabgrass plants will probably already produced seed so you’ll need to apply a crabgrass preventer in spring anyway. I’d suggest that you apply crabgrass preventer for the next two to three spring to be sure you’re rid of it. Then monitor the lawn for the next couple of years since seeds may be redepostied onto your lawn by birds and such. Any digging may stir up crabgrass seeds from deeper in the soil to the surface where they’ll germinate into a new crop in that area. Crabgrass seeds buried too deep to germinate can remain viable for as long as 75 years!!!

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My lawn has a lot of purple violets (I think that is what they are) What can I do to get rid of them? Thanks

Bonide Weed Beater Ultra will take care of the violets in the lawn. Here’s a link to my recent blog post that explains how to use lawn weed killers. http://ourgarden.freedomblogging.com/2011/05/11/waging-war-on-weeds-2/5705/

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HOW DO I RID MY YARD OF MOLES ? HOW DO I RID MY LAWN OF GROUND IVY ?

To get rid of moles from your yard you should apply the repellent Mole-Max. It is a granular product that you apply with a lawn spreader and then water in. Once the active ingredient is in the soil, the moles can’t stand it and leave the area. This is a good time of year to use it since young moles have been kicked out by the mother mole and ore out exploring the world for a place to set up a burrow. Moles like to stay in one place so, once they leave, they’re gone. Of course the Mole Max’s effect wears off by spring so a new mole might set up shop. One application in spring and another in late summer/early fall should keep your yard mole free. Most weed killers do fine with dandelions and plantain since they have individual roots systems. Ground ivy is, of course, a vine so it is a little harder to kill and a stronger herbicide is needed. I’d suggest Bonide’s Poison Ivy and Brush Killer . You can use it on the lawn without harming the grass if you follow the directions. This is a good time to go after the ground ivy since the temperatures have backed off from summer’s heat and the soil is moist..perfect conditions for weed killing. You can find both Mole-Max and Poison Ivy and Brush Killer at your local Hewitts.

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HOW DO I GET RID OF THE HUGE NUMBER OF ACORNS THIS YEAR?

Sorry, there’s no good answer other than to rake them into piles and shovel them up. Oaks will produce an extra heavy crop of acorns every 3 to 5 years and this looks like an “on’ year. Worse than all the acorns is the population explosion of destructive chipmunks that has happened due to all the easy food available. Peter Bowden

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what is the best time to control grub and which product I can use

The best time to apply grub control is once a year during every July.  The product we sell for this is Bonide Annual Grub Control.  It MUST BE watered in immediately with 1″ of water (a lot of water).  Don’t count on rain or a quick spray from the hose to do the job.  Left unwatered, the grub killer breaks down quickly and won’t work.  You put the spreader away and get the lawn sprinkler out.  Put a small tuna fish or cat food can in the area and, when it is full of water, you have properly watered in the grub killer.  If you have a large lawn, do it is sections to insure that the grub control gets watered in quickly after application.  Failure to properly water in grub control is the reason many folks don’t get it to work…always read the directions on the product package and, more important, follow them.

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I recently purchased a home that literally has no grass in the yard what-so-ever. I would love to grow some, but I don’t know which kind would survive in our soil. I did a soil test and got a 9.0 on the pH, low levels of Nitrogen, medium levels of Phosphorus, and high Potassium. Our property has pine trees on it. It is even possible to grow grass here?

Congratulations on the new home Jade. The good news is that you can grow a lawn in just about any soil including yours. . . . The results of your pH test are a little confusing though. One would expect a yard with pine trees to have a low ph (more on the acidic side) than you 9.0 which is quite alkaline. There are a 3 reasons I can think of that would lead you to get such a high reading. The first is that the soil is clay which is very alkaline. If the soil isn’t clay then the previous owner might have been spreading lime or wood ash on the lawn without checking the ph and has overdone it. The third reason you might have gotten such a high reading is that you used tap water instead of distilled water when you performed your test. Tap water will contain minerals and chlorine both of which will make your reading come out higher than it should have. Distilled water is neutral and won’t affect your test. If you used tap water or well water then you should redo your pH test using distilled water. . . I like blends and of the blends we have at Hewitt’s, I like the Sandy Blend the best. It has 3 types of deep rooted tall fescue grass types. Tall fescues will have the best chance to grow and thrive in your difficuly area. . . . The next step in starting a lawn from seed is to turn organic matter into the area to be seeded. The more organic matter that is turned in, the thicker and more drought resistant the lawn will be for years to come. Peat moss is the easiest form of organic matter to use for improving the soil before seeding. Peat moss is capable of holding 20 times its weight of water. In very sandy soil, the addition of one 4 cu. ft. bale of peat moss per every 100 sq. ft. turned in to a depth of 6” will be necessary. This sounds like a lot of peat moss (and it is) but it is well worth the effort. For a large area, you should rent a roto-tiller to blend the peat moss and lime (if needed) into the soil to a depth of 6”. Once the soil and peat are blended together, the area should be raked smooth. This is easier to accomplish with one of those extra-wide aluminum rakes. If you can’t borrow one, a metal bow rake will do but it will take longer to get the contour you’re looking for. Next you’ll need to roll the soil with a water-filled roller to compact the soil. If you can’t borrow one, rent one. Again, if you skip this step, the project won’t come out as you’d hoped. After you’ve rolled the soil, take another look at the area to see if it is nice and smooth and has the proper contour. If not, rake and roll the area until you’re satisfied. You’ll be looking at the results for many years so take the time now to get it right. Once you’re satisfied, lightly rough up the surface of the soil with your metal rake. Finally it’s time to broadcast the seed. Consult the folks at your local garden center to determine the best grass blend for your particular soil and light conditions. For late–summer seeding, avoid cheap blends that contain annual ryegrass. Broadcast the seed evenly over the area at the recommended rate. Then roll the seed with the water-filled roller to press it into good contact with the soil. If it is a large area, you’ll want to cover it with straw. A smaller area can be covered with burlap or horticultural fabric. The reason you cover the seed is to help keep the sun and wind from drying it out while it’s germinating. After all this is done, you can start watering and watering and watering. This is the trickiest and most important part of the project. No matter how high the quality of the seed used, it won’t germinate unless the area is kept moist CONSTANTLY. It can’t be allowed to dry out, even for an hour. IF THE AREA DRIES COMPLETELY, THE SEED DIES AND CAN’T RESTART. Premium blends of fescue and bluegrass will take 2 weeks just to sprout so be diligent about watering and be patient. If you use a blend that has perennial ryegrass in addition to bluegrass and fescue, be aware that the ryegrass will sprout a week or more earlier. Even after the ryegrass sprouts, continue watering as if nothing has happened to ensure the germination of the desirable fescue and bluegrass seeds. After the young grass is up, apply a slow release winter or starter type of lawn food to stimulate quick root growth. Look for a starter food with a higher middle number (phosphorus). When the grass finally grows to 4”, mow off an inch (and no more) to promote even more root growth. In spring, apply another shot of the starter lawn food to insure that the young grass develops a mature root system

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When is the latest that I can plant grass seed in the fall?

The best time for this project would be mid August through the end of the first week in September. This will give the grass seed a chance to sprout in the last warm days of summer and get mature enough to winter over. While it can be done later you’re gambling a bit. It might be OK if we have a warm fall (and I beleave we will) but it still a gamble.

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Last year was my first spring/summer in my new house. Not ever owning a home before, I don’t know what to do when it comes to my lawn. Over the summer, a lot of crab grass took route. We applied a fertilizer in the fall. Right now, at the end of March, the snow is gone, the grass has not started to green yet, but I can just see all the dead crab grass and the lawn looks horrible. I know that I should wait to apply the crab grass preventer until when? Late April? Early May? But, what about the dead patches of crab grass that are there now? Should we plant some more grass seed? Will the new grass grow “over” the dead patches of crab grass from last season? If we should plant new grass seed, when should that be done? Thanks!

Crabgrass, unlike most lawn weeds, grows from seed that the mother plant produced the previous summer. The mother plant dies completely over the winter never to be seen again. In early spring the seed germinate and start to grow. Crabgrass preventer is an agent that dissolves and forms a coating on the surface of the soil. ANY seeds that try to sprout and push a root through that barrier are killed. The best way to time your crabgrass preventer application is to keep an eye on a forsythia bush that is growing in your yard or neighborhood. The best time to put your crabgrass preventer down is right as the flowers are falling off the bright yeallow forsythias (right as thelilacs are just opening). It is a convenient coincidence that crabgrass seeds germinate at the same time that forsythias are finishing flowering. Spring weather can be fickle but, if you use the forsythia as your clock, your crabgrass preventer will always go on at the right time. Remember that crabgrass preventer forms a thin film on the surface of the soil so make sure that all your raking is done before you apply crabgrass preventer. If you rake afterward, you will scratch up the barrier and crabgrass will be able to grow.

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When applying crabgrass preventer,do you water the lawn before or after applying,or doesn’t it matter.

Crabgrass preventer needs to be lightly watered after application. Rain ususally does the job. Weed killer which we apply in a month or so, wants to sit on the leaves of the weeds for a couple of days without watering. Folks get the two confused very often.

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I live in Voorheesville. A 20’x15′ section of lawn is interspersed with obvious dead patches…i.e., no grass where there was grass last year. I dug in a few spots and found grubs. I seem to recall having this problem a few years ago and then no problem for a few years. Anyway, I would like to know when to treat and wonder if I can go ahead a reseed now? Is the damage done for this life cycle or would any new grass just get eaten up by the grubs? Thanks for taking the time to answer…

Go ahead and reseed. The grubs that are in your lawn hatched last year and will have turned into Japanese Beetles before they are a problem for the new grass. You need to treat with Imidachloprid (Bonide Annual Grub Beater) in July. Apply and water in gently with 1″ of water…don’t think rain can do the job, it won’t. Imidichloprid needs to go on in July so it has time to get absorbed into the lawn’s roots before the tiny new grubs hatch in mid August through September. Applied in July and properly watered-in, Imidichloprid will kill 98% of the grubs that hatch. They are tiny when they hatch and easy to kill then before they do any real damage to the roots. You need to apply Imidichloprid every July. Another option is Milky Spore Disease. You apply that twice a year (now and late August) for three years. After that it reproduces itself every year but infecting each new grub hatch. I’m conducting 2 free lawn care seminars today (5/15) at our Guilderland store at 11 AM and 2PM. If you have an hour you’ll learn everything you need to know to take the confusion out of grub control and all other aspects of lawn care.

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How do I get rid of brown spots in my lawn?

The answer to this will depend on what is causing the brown spots. Brown spots in your lawn could be from something as simple as a female dog peeing on your lawn or it might be one of several fungal diseases…without seeing it, it would be impossible to diagnose. In the case of a dog being the problem you’ll have to prevent the dog from peeing on the lawn. If this is impossible then keep an eye on the dog and, once it finishes peeing, hose down the area with at least a couple of gallons of water. This will dilute the urine to the point that it won’t burn the grass plants. As far as brown spot caused by diseases, you’ll need to first identify the disease. Here’s a good site to help with that: http://www.american-lawns.com/problems/sick_lawns.html You should also bring a sample of the brown patch into Hewitt’s and let one of our experts identify it and the proper solution…usually a high nitrogen lawn food or a fungicide. Make sure the sample includes the transition zone from healthy grass into the diseases area. The folks that usually have an issue with fungal lawn diseases are folks that have an underground sprinkling system that is set up to run for a short time each day. A damp lawn is the perfect breeding ground for fungal disease. Your sprinkling system should be set up to provide 1″ of water per week all at once. This will soak the soil at least 8″ deep promoting a stronger, deeper root system. This also allows the lawn to enjoy extended periods of dryness which makes it far less likely that a fungal disease will be able to take hold. To figure out how long a sprinkler zone takes to put out 1″ of water, place a small tuna fish or cat food can within the zone and let it run until the can is full. Then reset the system to run that zone just once a week for as long as it took to fill the tuna fish can. Do the same for all the zones and your lawn will be better for it and you’ll use way less water and save money on fungicides too.

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Mr. Bowden [on TV] stated that when cutting the lawn the mower deck should be approximately 4″ above the ground. At least that is how I interpreted it. Did I mis-understand? It was in reference to the dry period we had without rain. Thanks,

Yes, in my garden segment (which you can find on my blog here: http://ourgarden.freedomblogging.com/ I suggested letting the lawn grow to about 6″ and then mowing it back to 4″ during the hot part of summer. These taller blades will shade the soil below preventing it from overheating. If the soil temperature goes to above 85° to 90° for three or four days the roots start to die. In mid August or so when rain gets more regular and the high heat of summerwanes we can go back to letting the grass grow to about 4″ then mow it back to 2 1/2″ to 3″ to encourage side growth and thickening of the lawn through fall.

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I am wondering what the wide blade grass is that pops up in my lawn every year about this time. It is a lighter green and seems to grow faster than the rest of my lawn, it will take over large patches. what can I do to prevent this or get rid of it? Thanks, Nate

The bad news is that it is crabgrass. The good news is that it is easily controlled. The bad news is is that the best time apply crabgrass preventer is in the spring just as the forsythias are finishing up their flowering cycle (just as the lilacs are starting). There are summer crabgrass killers but they need to be applied to a wet lawn and not get watered off for a couple of days (like weed killer). Usually it takes a couple of applications for summer crabgrass killer to work. Even then, the crabgrass plants will probably already produced seed so you’ll need to apply a crabgrass preventer in spring anyway. I’d suggest that you apply crabgrass preventer for the next two to three spring to be sure you’re rid of it. Then monitor the lawn for the next couple of years since seeds may be redepostied onto your lawn by birds and such. Any digging may stir up crabgrass seeds from deeper in the soil to the surface where they’ll germinate into a new crop in that area. Crabgrass seeds buried too deep to germinate can remain viable for as long as 75 years!!!

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Can you spread grass seed in November so it will germinate in the spring? I planted a new lawn in a shadey area in mid August, and the germination wasn’t what I had hoped for. I chose a shadey mix seed (mostly fescues). I wondered if I were to spread some seed in November on the sparse areas, if it would sprout in the spring. I also wanted to know if it would help to put down fall fertilizer now, or is it too late. I did use a starter fertilizer when I planted the seed in August. If I can put the seed down in Nov., should I mulch it with straw, or isn’t it necessary?

Yes, you can put seed down in November (the later the better). This is called ‘dormant overseeding. The seed will get pounded into the soil by snow and rain and sprout naturally when the soil warms in spring. There’s no need to use a starter food on the area until the grass sprouts in spring. If you are seeding bare ground then a layer of straw will help hold the soil in place over the winter. If there is already some grass there then there is no need to mulch with straw.

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Is there anythings to put on lawn that will kill ticks and fleas and not harm the dog?

The best way to treat for fleas and ticks is to use the drops on the animal itself. I use Frontline. The only non chemical flea and tick control is diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous earth is like shards of glass on amicroscopic level. It cut the insects and they die. It is harmless to humans and animals when used on the lawn. Here’s a link to an article about using diatomaceous earth for fleas and ticks. http://www.ehow.com/how_2070717_rid-fleas-yard-naturally.html Remember fleas and ticks don’t like the hot, sunny areas of you lawn. They lurk in the cooler, shady areas so focus your efforts there.

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As the snow melts there are many raised trails apparent on the lawn. What causes this and is there a remedy? Also there are crows pecking at the lawn–any connection ?

The trails on the surface are from voles. Those are trail that they used over the winter to search for food under the snow. They will disappear once you rake the lawn and it starts to grow. The mole repellent Mole-Max will keep the voles away as well as the more destructive moles. Crows pecking at the lawn is often an indication that there are Japanes Beetle grubs in the soil. Those grubs eat theroots of your lawn and can cause the lawn to thin out if there are enough of them. Here’s the scoop on grub control: Controlling Grubs As usual every spring, there’s a lot of interest in how to kill those nasty grubs that have had a hand in wiping out some lawns. And, as usual, I have to tell folks that, if they had treated their lawn before the grubs hatched last August and September, they could have saved their lawn from all this damage. There’s so much confusion about grub control that garden centers will sell a much larger percentage of grub control in the spring than in summer when, logically, it should be the other way around. I’m sure that much of this has to do with the fact that the damage that the grubs do in late summer and fall isn’t visible until the following spring. The first step is to understand the life cycle of the Japanese Beetle. Let’s start at the beginning. The female Japanese Beetle, after feasting on your beans and rose bushes all summer then lays her eggs into warm sunny areas of healthy grass. The healthiest grass around is probably the sunny areas of your beautiful lawn that you’ve worked on all summer. She won’t lay her eggs in the shade since soil temperatures are too low to keep the eggs alive. Each female is capable of laying a couple of hundred eggs. These eggs will all hatch within four days after they’re laid. Are you listening? There are no grubs hatching in the spring. None. They ALL hatch in late August or September. After the grubs emerge from their eggs in late summer, they must eat and what they eat are the roots of your lawn. They eat and eat and eat and eat until they are the size that you are familiar seeing when you find them in your garden while you’re planting. As the soil’s temperature drops in the fall the grubs must burrow down below the frost line to avoid being frozen over winter. Naturally, there is nothing for them to eat down that deep in the soil so they survive on all that body fat they put on by eating the roots of your lawn. Finally in spring, the soil’s temperature begins to rise and the grubs (who are ravenous after months in hibernation) burrow their way back to the root zone of your lawn. Now the feast begins all over again. After putting on another round of body fat (compliments of your lawn) they pause and pupate; that is: they form a hard shell and begin the transformation into the adult or beetle stage of their life. They will enter this pupae stage during Early to mid-June. In mid-July the beetles emerge from the soil and the cycle begins again. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve realized that by the time you get out there in spring with your grub killer three quarters of the damage the grubs cause has already occurred. This is a classic case of closing the barn doors after the horses have run off. There’s no way we’ll ever convince the Japanese Beetles to change their habits so, we must try to change ours. The best time to wipe them out is during the hatching period in late August or early September. If you have a severe grub problem you may need to treat this spring just to save your lawn from extinction but you should try to time your grub control application so you can prevent the situation from happening again. If you find that you need to apply a grub control as an emergency measure in spring, you should pick one that is fast acting. The best choice for spring applications would be Dylox (Bayer Advanced 24 Hour Grub Killer Plus). It kills quickly and on contact then breaks down quickly once it’s killed the grubs but, since there are no new grubs hatching in spring, it is of no concern. As with all grub controls, it is imperative that they get watered-in for a couple of hours IMMEDIATELY after application. DON’T COUNT ON RAIN TO DO THE JOB! Rainfall is never hard enough to get the chemical off the surface of the soil and down to the roots where the grubs are. You must realize that all grub control chemicals begin to break down as soon as they are out of their bag. Sunlight and air both begin to strip the chemicals of it’s potency the instant it’s out of the bag. Left on the surface of the soil, it will lose about 33% of its potency every 24 hours. As soon as you put your spreader away after you apply your grub control, get the sprinkler out and soak the area with an inch of water. Use an empty tuna fish or cat food can.

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Peter: Can I apply grub killer like Bayer Advanced and milky spore at the same time? Also can I plant new grass around the same time? Thanks Dick

You shouldn’t use chemical grub control if you are using Milky Spore. As the grubs are killed by the MS their decomosing body leaves the disease in a new spot. Over time the entire lawn carries the MS disease so grubs that hatch catch it and die reproducing the the disease every year. If the grubs are killed by chemical grub control they can’t spread the disease. Grub controls have no effect of starting grass seed.

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Peter, We live in Ballston Spa. We are infested with ground bees. Last year we had one nest, put gasoline down it, and it was gone. This year, there are hundreds of holes, and thousands of bees. PLEASE HELP. We cannot even enjoy our yard or garden for fear of getting stung. We love our yard and gardens, but we are stuck inside. I have heard you are the expert on “just about everything” so I am hoping you can help us. Thank you in advance. Kim and Brian

There are a couple of suspects possible. Yellowjackets, which mimic bees nest in the ground. There is one entrance and all the insects would go in and out of the one hole. Yellowjackets are wasps and should be eliminated. I’d mix up some insecticidal soad in some hot water and pour it down the hole at night when the yellowjackets wasps are dormant. Trying this in the daytime would be dangerous. Mark the hole and douse it at night when it is safer. Plug up the hole with a wad of newspaper or a rock to seal them in with the insecticidal soap. There are also ground nesting bees which can appear in large numbers in spring and seem to like sandy soil. These bees stay for only a little while. They are females who dig a nest. Lay their eggs and leave. Later the eggs hatch and they fly off as well. These beneficial bees will be one to a hole but there will be many holes. Below is a description of them from this site: http://www.nybiodiversity.org/summaries/bees/species.html The majority of bees in New York State are digger bees, ground-nesting, solitary bees, such as Andrena, Lasioglossum, and Melissodes. Digger bees comprise roughly 60% of the species of bees in New York State. Species of Andrena are typical of ground-nesting bees in their life history. At the start of the active season (in the spring, summer, or fall, depending on the species) females begin constructing their nests, subterranean systems of tunnels. At the ends of the tunnels, females construct oblong cells which they line with a hydrophobic secretion produced in a gland specifically for this purpose called the Dufour’s gland. After foraging on nearby plants for pollen and nectar, they store several loads of pollen and nectar within each cell, form the pollen into a variously shaped loaf or ball, and lay an egg on it. Larvae consume the pollen/nectar provisions. When larvae complete feeding they may enter diapause (a resting stage) as last instar larvae (the developmental stage just before pupation). Most digger bees overwinter as last instar larvae. Development is completed in the following spring or summer, and adults of a new generation begin the cycle again. Some digger bees (such as Andrena, Halictus, and Lasioglossum) overwinter as adults. This is presumed to allow for the earlier adult emergence in the spring. Other important genera of ground-nesting bees in New York State include Colletes, Halictus, [mentioned above, as digger bee genus] Svastra, and Anthophora. All of these make subterranean burrows, like Andrena. Colletes inaequalis is a common vernal bee in the earliest days of spring. Females construct nests in grassy areas such as lawns, cemeteries, and gardens. Nesting aggregations can be huge (with several thousand nests) and dense (with over 100 nests in a square meter). If you are lucky enough to find these bees nesting in your yard, don’t try to kill them; they won’t sting, and they are probably good for soil aeration. They are also fun to watch! It is possible that you had some yellowjacket wasps in the one spot last summer and are experiencing a temporary outbreak of nesting ground bees. You’ll have to observe them more closely to see which it is.

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I seem to have skunks digging for grubbs. It appears to be near an ash tree. Does the ash tree attract the beetles. any solutions?

Ash trees can be eaten by Japanese Beetles but so are many other plants.  If you want to treat for grubs, that is best done by applying Bonide Annual Grub Control in July followed immediately by 1″ of water.  If the grub control isn’t watered in with an inch of water right away the chemical will break down and not work.  Don’t count on rain or a light spraying with a hose to do the job.  Set up a lawn sprinkler and put a small tuna fish or cat food can in the area.  When the can is full, you have applied enough water.  Here’s a link all about that.

In the meantime, an application of MoleMax to the area will keep the skunks and any other rodents away from the area.

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I have ‘creeping charlie’ throughout my lawn- first time ever. Is there a way to get rid of it? Too much to pull out.I’m ready to ‘weed and feed’ for dandelions. Will that take care of charlie?Thanks,Judi KozlowskiMelrose, NY

Weed and feed works well against dandelions and other “single weeds but a vine like Creeping Charlie requires a stronger liquid weed killer like Bonide Chickweed and Clover Killer.  This needs to be sprayed on the leaves of the weeds (it will kill dandelions as well) when night temperatures are 45° or higher and when rain isn’t expected for at least 24 hours…the longer the better.  Weed killer enters the plant through the leaves.   Creeping Charlie will probably take a couple of application to kill and regular applications to keep it a bay in the coming years.

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Peter: I have a squirrels nest high in the tree in my front yard – so I have tons of busy squirrels coming and going ! Unfortunately they love digging little holes in my lawn and my potted flowers! Is there anything I can do to prevent this? Thank you !!

On the lawn you can use Mole-Max.  It repels moles of course but no rodent will dig in soil that has been treated with it.  That will take care of the burrowing for about 6-8 weeks… long enough for them to find somewhere else.  If they return in late summer/fall to bury nuts, another application will be needed.

 

On the surface of the gardens and on your pots you can use a spray of Bonide Repels All.   It is the smell that repels them.  You notice a slight garlic smell when you spray but that isn’t noticeable once it dries.

Both these products are considered organic but, as always, read and follow the directions and warnings on the labels.

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how do you get rid of creeping Charlie???????????????????

To kill ground ivy (aka creeping Charlie) you need to spray it with Bonide Chickweed and Clover Killer.  Make sure to spray it when it isn’t going to rain within 24 hours or longer.  The longer the spray remains in contact with the leaves, the better it will work.  This will be an ongoing battle if your ivy infestation is come from the neighbor’s yard.  Since it is a vine, it will always try to come back so repeat applications will be required.  Make sure to read and follow the directions on the package.

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Best way to grow grass in shade?

Make sure you pick the right blend for shade.  Hewitt’s Super Shady Blend is made of grass types that thrive with no direct sun at all.  Here’s a link on how to get the seed started.  Once it is established, it should be pretty self-sufficient.  If it is growing under a shallow rooted tree like a Maple tree, it may need some extra watering during the hot part of summer since the tree will be hogging so much of the moisture from the soil

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What can I do to rid my yard of nutsedge? A few plants have turned into many plants in several locations.

We sell HiYeild Nutsedge control for this Nutsedge is difficult to control…it may take several applications.  HERE’S a great link with all the details.

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We have grubs in our front lawn and they have killed it totally. What should we do?

You’ll need to apply Bayer 24 Hour Grub Control right away and water it in with a full inch of water from your sprinkler…don’t think a quick spray or rainstorm will do the job.  That will kill the grubs that are in your lawn now that you should’ve killed last year.  Then you’ll need to re-seed the area and keep it moist until the lawn is up and established…about 6-8 weeks.   Here’s a link about lawn seeding…it was written for end of season seeding but the procedure is the same.  Then you’ll need to treat for the grubs in July with Bonide Annual Grub Beater.  This will kill the grubs as they hatch in August and September.  This kills them before they do all the damage and you won’t ever need to treat in spring again as long as you continue the July treatments every year.  Here’s a blog post all about the proper time and way to treat for grubs.

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my question also have to do with browning. this is a new lawn that i was so excited with because until now, i have not had a lawn for some years. i followed the directions on seeding and watering, making sure it did not get dry. the seeds sprouted and i havent cut it yet. now it is starting to brown. should i stop watering it everyday? will i lose my lawn yet again?

Yikes!!! Stop watering it every day! The requirement for constant moistness is for the grass in its seed form. Once it sprouts you can stop watering it every day. Sure, the lawn only has tiny roots but you need to encourage those roots to go down into the soil to get moisture. Let it dry out and only water when it starts to look wilty. A really good idea would be to apply a grass starter lawn food like the Fas-Start that we sell at Hewitt’s. This food will feed those roots to help get the lawn established. Aplly and water in the starter food on a cooler day or apply it before a cool rainy stretch. Don’t feed your lawn (or any lawn) during a warm spell where temperatures can go above 85°. In other words, take a break from watering and let that new lawn enjoy some dry weather and sunshine so it can grow.

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Good morning – This morning I woke up to 5-6 “dead spots” on my lawn all around the same area (under a tree). It literally happened overnight. I do have 2 dogs, but they don’t spend any time in the front yard so I ruled out pet damage. The only thing I can think of is either insects or fungus. I attached a picture – would you mind offering some assistance on how to kill and prevent it from happening again? The only thing different I have done with my grass since the weekend is water it. heavily. The last watering was on Monday, for about 3-4 hours starting at 8am. This is actually the only time I have watered it all summer. PH and other nutrients are at good levels and I aerated it in the Spring of 2009. Any ideas? Thank you so much for your help, Robert

Robert, Considering the time of year, the speed of onset and the fact that you recently watered the area heavily, I’d suspect that you have an outbreak of Summer Patch’ which is a fungal disease. Here’s the address to a Purdue University pdf file describing the disease and suggestion on what to do about it. . . . www.ces.purdue.edu/extmedia/BP/BP-115-W.pdf . . . It looks like your watering may have played into the hand of the disease and that’s why it appeared so suddenly after your watering. We have a couple of fungicides ‘Bayer Lawn Disease Control’ and Bonide’s ‘INFUSE’. Both have the same active ingredient ‘propiconazole’. These products can cure many diseases but with summer patch it is suggested that it be used starting in mi-May as a preventitive. In your case I’d start using the Bonide Infuse since it is in a throw away hose-end sprayer. A liquid application will get deeper into the soil and get at the disease at the root level. This should prevent the disease from spreading too much farther. Make sure to start using Infuse as a preventative in next spring May as suggested since you know you have the disease present in your lawn. Peter Bowden

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Peter, its me Laura! Hows the office looking? lol two questions…I have literally thousands of tiny hills with one entrance hole all throughout my lawn…. is that from beatles emerging from last years grubs? two.. I have bent grass and want to know the easiest way to get rid of it…. can i kill it with a herbicide, rake the heck out of it and reseed or does if have to be dug up? HELP????

Laura, If The Beatles are emerging from your lawn then you need to start selling tickits!!!! Seriously though, there are several insects that could emerge from the soil as they go from the pupa (cocoon) stage to the adult stage. Japanese and European Chaffer Beetles are among those insects but there are also other beetles wasps and bees that also do this. The fact that there are ‘Thousands’ leads me to believe that it probably Japanese or Chafer beetles that caused this in your lawn. Naturall you’ll want to apply your grub control this month (July) so thre next generation of grubs will be killed when they start hatching in August. To get rid of bentgrass you’ll need to kill it and reseed in mid-august. You can spray the area with Kleen-up then rake off or dug out the dead grass. You could also cover the area of bent grass with clear plastic and anchor the perimeter with rock or something heavy so the plastic is sealed to the ground. The sun will heat the air under the plastic so high that the grass dies. You’ll still neeed to rake off or shovel ot the dead grass before reseeding.

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is compost from the colonie landfill good for repairing a lawn?

Thanks for your question John, Yes, the soil (compost) produced by the Town of Colonie will be fine for use on your lawn. The PH is a little high but that will come down quickly.

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How do I get rid of voles? As the snow melts I see they’re ruining my lawn. Any suggestions?

You can apply Bonide’s MoleMax when the snow melts again. MoleMax is a repellents that will gat rid of voles and moles which are a bad problem every spring.

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My husband and I are having serious differences about when is best to give the lawn its first raking. I think it should be when all frost danger has passed — he says NOW! Who is right?

There’s no reason I know of to wait to rake the lawn until after the danger of frost. I have to agree with your husband. You can do a better job with less effort if you rake he lawn before it starts to grow so get crackin’! You two must have a great relationship if this is all you have to have a serious difference about ;)

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Peter, My daughter lives on New Scotland Road in Albany and her grass is coming up in large areas as white in color-no green. This seems to be covering more area than last year. I noticed other homes in Albany with the same problem. The grass is thick but no green color. As I said it’s “white” grass. What is this and what can be done to correct it? Last year, we put turf builder on the area(beside the Scott’s 4-step) and it seemed to help, but in the fall and now it’s noticeable again. Help! Thank you. Susann

I see one of these lawns every day on the way to work. This happens when the lawn is seeded with a single type of bluegrass (I think it is a stran called midnight). For this grass type this is nornal. Feeding helps a little but it is the nature of that grass to do this. I’d suggest introducing a blend like Hewitt’s Sandy grass seed blend to add fescues to the lawn. The easiest way to do this is by dormant seeding…put the new grass seed on the lawn in November. It will get pushed down to the soil over winter by snow and rain and sprout on it’s own in spring. If you overseed now, you’ll have to treat it like a brand new lawn which means watering constantly to keep the seed moist constantly. Dormant seeding is much easier.

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I am looking for a groundcover called bishop’s weed, would like seeds. the area I need to cover is too large for pots to be affordable.

Sorry, we don’t stock Bishop’s Weed since it is considered invasive.  If you see some in someone’s yard, they’ll probably give you all you want.  However, you may regret the day you turned it loose in your gardens.

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I want to spread fast acting Lime-when is it a good time and do I water it in?

You can spread lime anytime and you can water it in if you wish or just let the next rainstorm do it for you.

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I am somewhat confused about when to apply grub control on a lawn, Moles are active now and it was my understand to apply lime in the fall to kill grubs. What product should be applied now (spring) for control of moles and other insects that want to eat my lawn?

I am somewhat confused about when to apply grub control on a lawn,

The best time to apply grub control is in July…”apply in July when the beetles fly”.  Here’s a link that explains grub control.

Moles are active now

Treating for grubs may discourage moles but moles also eat earthworms so, using grubs control doesn’t automatically mean your moles will move on…they won’t.  The way to rid you lawn of moles is to use a mole repellent like MoleMax.  Here’s a link that describes methods of mole control.

 

and it was my understand to apply lime in the fall to kill grubs.

Sorry, lime doesn’t kill grubs (or anything at all) but is used to correct soil acidity.  A pH test should be done before applying lime.  Here’s a link to all you need to know about soil pH testing and lime applications

What product should be applied now (spring) for control of moles and other insects that want to eat my lawn?

The only insects to possibly be concerned about are ticks and ants.  These aren’t a problem for your lawn but, if you want to treat for them there’s this.

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Is it too late in the season to plant the grass seed I never got around to planting?

You need to get this grass seed down and start watering it THIS WEEKEND  (9/13-14).  You should have plenty of time to get it established before freezing weather but you need to get cracking.

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How do I get rid of Bermuda grass without killing the other grass in our lawn?

Bermuda Grass isn’t something we have here in USDA zone 5 of upstate NY so I have no direct experience with it.  Iyt appears that there is a spray available that will control it without harming your other turf grasses.  It is made by Bayer  HERE’s a link.

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when is the best time to put down crabgrass preventer in CT

Same as it is here…right as the forsythias flowers are falling to the ground which is right as the very first lilac flowers are opening.  Use these two shrubs a your clock…not a date on the calendar.  That way your timing is correct no matter whether we have an early (like 2012) or late (like this year) spring.  Trust the forsythia and lilacs in your area. Here’s a link to blog post all about that.

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We live in Niskayuna in sandy soil and have grubs in every shovel full of dirt. I heard there are organic grub controls that get applied in June. Can you suggest something.

You are probably thinking of Milky Spore.  HERE’S a link to a blog post all about grub control and the third one mentioned is the one you’re interested in.

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Im concered about my beagle and putting herbicides on my lawn. I heard that corn gluten is a safe product to use on your lawn that will not harm dogs? Is that true. Thanks PTF

Corn Gluten is certainly safe for the dog.  However, corn gluten is a weed preventer not a weed killer.  It will prevent seeds from germinating.  Weed seeds, crabgrass seeds…all seeds including good grass seeds will be prevented from germinating.  It WILL NOT kill existing perennial weeds, like dandelions that are growing from an already established root system.  For those, you’ll need to use an actual weed killer.  Liquid sprays are the most effective.  We sell Weed Beater Ultra.  This is a spray that you’ll spray on the leaves of the weeds.  It is absorbed through the leaves of the weeds only.  It kills the roots but has to enter through the leaves.  It is still too early to use weed killer sprays (4/30/14)…it is a little too cool still.  Night time temperatures want to be 45° or above for the weed killer spray to work.  Since it is absorbed through the leaves, it needs to remains in contact with the leaves for at least 24 hours.  Don’t water after application and don’t apply when rain is expected within 24 hours.  These liquids are safe for pets as you don’t let the dog walk on the lawn while the spray is wet.  I’d keep the dog off the treated area until rain has washed the weed killer into the soil.  The nice thing about the liquid spray is that you can treat the lawn in sections and don’t bother spraying areas where there are no weeds.  As always, always read the label before using and follow the instructions to the letter.

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weed and feed spring

Yes, late spring…Here’s a link all about that.

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i live on a busy road in glenville, several years ago i planted spruce trees to allow for privacy, they have since overgrown. i would like to replace them with something that might cut down traffic noise and leave some privacy (on front lawn), is there anything you might recommend? would veriegated dogwood shrubs work? thank you!

Sure, variegated dogwood can make a nice privacy barrier but it loses its leaves in the winter so it will only be a seasonal barrier. If this is OK with you and the area gets full sun then you should also consider weigela, spirea, lilacs, burning bush and a whole host of spreading flowering shrubs that can make fine hedges. If you’d prefer a year-round barrier then there are arborvitae and upright or spreading junipers. If you wish to keep the spruce trees, you could prune off the lower branches and plant spreading junipers to fill in below for a very dense barrier.

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Had a company come out a few weeks ago and put down fertilizer mixed with crabgrass and weed control. It’s it okay to plant grass seed now (to fill in empty patches where moss once was)? Will the pesticides keep the seed from germinating?

The crabgrass preventer barrier on the soil should be gone by now.  When you rough up the area prior to seeding, that will make it impossible for what’s left of the barrier to hinder the seed.    Get that seed down right away!

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The recent draught has been tough on my lawn. I am interested in overseeding my lawn. From what I have read clover is the way to go, and white clover is superior to the red variety. Clover fixes nitrogen, is heat tolerant, and it resistent to pet spots. What do you say? Please describe the optimal procedure for overseeding with the variety of seed that you recommend.

While we are having a hot summer and there have been many extended periods of dryness, your lawn shouldn’t have suffered much damage if you’ve been mowing properly. As June winds down, make sure you start raising your mower’s blade. By July (our driest month) you should have a lawn 4″ to 5″ tall and only mow it back to 3″. This keeps the soil cooler and the lawn will come back just fine. As far as clover is concerned, you are right in all you say…it can be a great addition to a lawn as long as you like it. The only other thing to take into consideration are the clover flowers. While you might like the flowers be aware that they will attract bees. If you have small children or someone who live there or visits regularly who is allergic to bee stings then you’ll want to think twice. I’d broadcast the seed really early spring right after the snow melts. Spring rain will pound the seed into good contact with the soil and it will sprout with the first warm weather in late April or early May. You can also use this procedure for grass seed. I always like to suggest Hewitt’s Sandy Blend since it has deep rooted tall fescues as a majority of the blend. Modern tall fescues are fine bladed but deep rooted for better drought resistancy.

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Peter – I had some patches of lawn in my back yard in Glenville which has low spots which have been filled in. Some typical weeds are growing in – so its “green” for now but I’d rather have grass. What is the protocol for fall planting of new grass – i.e. when to seed, when to fertilize, use a rye for 1st year growth or go with regular seed r mix of both?. Areas are partly shady with sandy soil with one area under 60 foot pine trees.

The shorter, cooler days of late August and early September make it the ideal time to make permanent improvements to the condition of our lawn. Turf experts agree that this is the best time of year to start a lawn from seed. This is the best time to tackle this project but the window of opportunity is a small one so don’t put it off. The first step in starting a lawn from seed is to turn organic matter into the area to be seeded. The more organic matter that is turned in, the thicker and more drought resistant the lawn will be for years to come. Peat moss or peat humus are good choices. Peat moss is capable of holding 20 times it’s weight in water. In very sandy soil, the addition of one 4 cu. ft. bale of peat moss per every 100 sq. ft. turned in to a depth of 6” will be necessary. Peat moss must be turned into the soil so the soil will retain moisture where the roots are growing. This sounds like a lot of peat moss (and it is) but it is well worth the effort. For a large area, rent a rototiller to blend the peat moss into the soil to a depth of 6”. Once blended, the area should be raked smooth. This is easier to accomplish with one of those extra-wide aluminum landscape rakes. If you can’t borrow one, a metal bow rake will do but it will take longer to get the contour you’re looking for. Once the area is raked smooth, tamp the soil down with the back of your shovel. For a large area, you’ll need to roll the soil with a water-filled roller to compact the soil. If you can’t borrow one, you can rent one. Again, if you skip this step, the project won’t come out as you’d hoped. After you’ve tamped or rolled the soil, take another look at the area to see if it is nice and smooth and has the proper contour. If not, rake and roll until you’re satisfied. You’ll be looking at the results for many years so take the time now to get it right. Once you’re satisfied, lightly rough up the surface of the soil with your metal rake. Finally it’s time to broadcast the seed. Consult the folks at Hewitt’s to determine the best grass blend for your particular soil and light conditions. Broadcast the seed evenly over the area at the recommended rate. Most folks overdo it and put down way more grass seed than is necessary. Finally, tamp or roll the area to press the grass seed into good contact with the soil. If it is a large area, you’ll want to cover it with straw. A smaller area can be covered with burlap or horticultural fabric. The reason you cover the seed is to help keep the sun and wind from drying it out while it’s germinating. Now the tricky part After all this is done, you can start watering and watering and watering. This is the trickiest and most important part of the project….here’s why. No matter how high the quality of the seed used, it won’t germinate unless the area is kept moist CONSTANTLY.It can’t be allowed to dry out, even for an hour. If the area dries out completely, the seed dehydrates and dies and it won’t restart. If that happens you’ll have to buy more seed and start all over again. Premium blends of fescue and bluegrass will take 2 weeks just to sprout so be diligent about watering and be patient. If you use a blend that has perennial ryegrass in addition to bluegrass and fescue, be aware that the ryegrass will sprout a week or more earlier than the other two. Even after the ryegrass sprouts, continue watering as if nothing has happened to ensure the germination of the desirable fescue and bluegrass seeds. Finish up with a good meal After the young grass is up, apply a slow release starter lawn food to stimulate quick root growth. Starter foods should have a higher middle number (phosphorus). Phosphorus stimulates root growth, and that’s what’s needed for a new lawn. The stronger the root system, the quicker the grass gets established and the better it will come through winter. Avoid high nitrogen lawn foods on a newly sprouted lawn. It will stimulate excess blade growth that the young root system will have a hard time supporting. The roots are the foundation of your new lawn. Just like building a house, you need to start from the bottom up. Keep the young grass tall but mow frequently When the grass finally grows to 4”, mow off an inch (and no more) to promote even more root growth. In spring, apply another shot of the starter lawn food to insure that the young grass develops a mature root system before summer heats up. By midsummer your new lawn should be well established, and you can start feeding and mowing it in the same manner as the rest of your lawn.

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I bought some country estate winterizer fertilizer and have a republic ez rotary spreader and need to know what setting to use. (its the same as the old ortho rotary). thanks

Joe, As it happens, I still have one of the old Ortho rotary spreaders. On the Country Estate Winterizer (and all CE foods) you’ll see a setting for a Cyclone spreader. That’s the one to use and the setting for Winterizer is 3 3/4. Thanks for your question.

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My front lawn has been taking over about 75% by crabgrass so I am starting from scratch and going to reseed. I also had a problem with grubs. I have thatched the lawn to get up all the dead crabgrass but a couple of weeks ago I put down weed and feed as well as Grub and insect control. I plan on putting down 1-2 inches of new topsoil as well as fertilizer. Since this is my maiden run at this my question is will the weed and feed keep my lawn seed from growing? Thanks.

I hardly know where to begin Doug. My best advise is to send you to Hewitt’s to talk to the manager about your project. I wouldn’t do a thing untill you have the new soil in place. Then put your grass sees and starter food downand start watering to get the seed to sprout. If you cover crabgrass seed with 2″ of soil then it won’t sprout anyway. I’m not sure what grub control you used but the best time to treat for grubs is during July with Bonide’s Annual Grub Control. The weed and feed was put down WAY too early so the weed killer won’t do anything and isn’t effective against crabgrass anyway. Crabgrass Preventer is made for that. The answer to your question is: No, your weed and feed won’t keep your lawn seed from growing since you’re covering it with 2″ of soil. Before you go any further with your lawn, you need to learn more about it since you are wasting a lot of time and money applying the products improperly or at the wrong time. Either visit one of the Hewitts and have the manager there set you on the right course or come to one of my lawn care seminars. Here’s the schedule: http://www.hewitts.com/meetpeterbowden.html

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Is there any plant or product short of putting up a fence that will act as a deterrant for neighbors dogs from doing their business on my lawn and killing the grass. I am in the process of reseeding and don’t want all of our hard work to go to waste. Thanks.

“Fences make good neighbors.” There is a dog and cat repellent that can ‘help” dissuade the dogs from using your yard. It is called “Go Away Rabbit, Dog and Cat Repellent” by Bonide. It is a combination of white pepper, cinnamon oil and Thyme oil. You’ll apply the product around the perimeter of your yard so they will smell it and go the other way. Problem is they’ve already claimed your yard as their dumping ground so the product might not work as well as you’d hope. Also, rain washes the repellent away so you’ll need to reapply frequently. A fence would be the only sure fire way to solve this problem. In the meantime, if you see the dog peeing on the lawn, soak the area down right away with a couple of gallons of water. That will dilute the urine enough that it won’t harm the grass.

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My yard is being over run by wild oregano how do I get ride of it.Thanks for your advice.

Any broadleaf plant growing in the lawn can be killed with a lawn weed killer such as Weed Beater Ultra. If it is growing among other plants or shrubs it will need to be pulled up. Twice a year applications of corn gluten will keep seeds from sprouting in the future.

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What is the best thing that I can do at this time of year for grub control? Are there some products that are more eco-friendly?

The only eco-friendly grub control is Milky Spore Disease. Milky Spore is a disease that only affects white grubs. It won’t hurt earthworms or even a bird that eats a grub that has the disease. Milky spore needs to be applied two or three times a year for three years to reach “epidemic” proportions in the soil. Milky Spore is best applied in spring and fall and must get watered in heavily right after application just like the other grub controls. After that the grubs that hatch into your lawn will contract the disease then die reproducing the disease and spreading it throughout the soil. Milky Spore is more expensive up front but will last at least 20 years once it takes hold. Not a bad investment really. Over the years it will actually save you money to say nothing about the time you won’t need to spend spreading chemicals and running sprinklers.

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I want to overseed my lawn and I have both sun and shade areas. What is the best type of seed to get? I was in the EG store and saw sun, shade and sturdy grass seed. Which would be best? Also, my lawn was treated about 1.5 weeks ago and won’t be treated for another few weeks. Can I seed now? Thanks.

I would use Country Estate Sandy Mix which is a blend of fescue grass seed. Fescues grow equally well in Sun, Shade, Sand or Clay. Fescues have very deep root systems, which make them tolerant of drought. Ask the Store Manger for seeding and fertilizing intructions, and most important, be sure to water daily until the seedings being to sprout.

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bouht 7 yards of top soil so I could cover roots and reseed barespots. there is a lot of stones and glass chips in soil. will I be able to grow grass?

Try to rake out as much of the glass and stone that you can. If this is not possible, I would try to put down a layer of clean sifted topsoil and then proceed with your overseeding. I would still be leery of letting little ones or dogs run on your lawn dependent on the size of glass involved

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Do cherry blossom trees weather well here in new Latham. If so do you have the ability to get them.

Cherry Blossom Trees do very well in the Capital District area, and Hewitts’ carries a couple of different varieties. Weeping Cherry and Kwanzan Cherry are among the most beautiful flowering Cherry Trees, with long lasting blossoms, provided that we dont get a drenching rain storm. Any one of our locations will have these trees in the spring. The weeping variety will sell between $80.00 and $150.00 apiece, while the Kwanzan sells between $30.00 and $75.00 dollars. These trees carry the Hewitts’ Lifetime Guarantee as well. We are currently running our end of the year clearance sale, where you might be able to locate one of these trees at a deep discount, however, they are not covered by the guarantee..

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What’s the difference between weed preventer vs weed killer?

Weed preventer like Preen or Corn Gluten prevents weed seeds (or any seeds for that matter) from germinating but will not kill existing weeds that already have a root system.  Weed killers DO kill existing weeds but won’t stop seeds from germinating later.  There are weed killers on the lawn that will kill the weeds but not the grass and there are plant killers like Round-up and Kleen-up that kill ANY PLANT that they are sprayed on including your lawn or flowers…use these with caution.

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I have recently had a large maple tree removed from my lawn. I got a little impatient and decided to sod instead of seed. I usually put down a weed n feed from the dandelions. The sod has been on the ground for two weeks and I have noticed the sod has started to grow a bit. Can I put down the weed n feed on the new sod or should I hold off?Thanks… Seth

The weed and feed won’t hurt the sod although there probably aren’tany weeds in the sod so you don’t really need a weed and feed there.  A starter lawn food like our Country Estate Winterizer/Seed Starter blend would make more sense.  Also, it is still too cool (5/6/14) for weed and feed to work…it is still too cool for the weed killer to work…we want night time temperatures to be hovering around 45°- 50° before applying weed killer liquid or weed and feed.

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do you have sod and do u deliver it i would like 30 pieces delivered to albany zuo cide 12208 tu

Yes, we do stock sod.  Deliver will be up to the store you are purchasing the sod from so inquire about that when you go to make the purchase.  There is an additional delivery fee.

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My neighbors tree is always dropping some sort of seeds from it now I have which looks like forms of little tree like stems in my yard. What is this and how can I rid my lawn of them

Assuming it is tree seedlings, they will probably be killed simply by mowing them.  Certainly spraying them with a lawn weed killer like Bonide Weed Beater Ultra will wipe them out.  Make sure to spray them when rain ISN’T expected for at least 24 hours after you spray the area.

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trying to get rid of voles. Any vole poison?

I never advise poisoning voles since you are also going to poison anything that may feed on the dead vole.  This would include cats, dogs, owls, hawks, ravens and other carnivores.

 

I’d suggest using a repellent like Bonide Mole-Max to drive them from the area.  It works quickly.

 

You can also bait regular mouse traps with peanut butter and place them in the vole pathways and kill them that way.

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Do you carry a lawn fertilizer with a 3-1-2 ratio

No.  By law, you will not find a lawn food with any phosphorus (the middle number) for sale in New York State.  The closest we can come to your formula would be the Espoma Lawn Food 18-0-3

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Is clover a bad idea? We’ve tried for years to get grass to grow in our lawn. Long story short, it only works in some areas, not all – and so we have some beautiful sections of lawn surrounded by small patches that don’t grow. We’re sick of spending the time/money to keep trying and just want something low maintenance instead. Would clover work? Or should we assume if the grass won’t grow, the clover won’t either? Thanks

Clover is often used in difficult location.  I have to wonder why you haven’t been able to grow grass.  Perhaps the soil is very acidic and you need to do a soil pH test and apply lime.  Even clover will struggle to grow in the area if the pH is very low (high acid).  Before giving up I’d do a pH test to see if that is a problem.

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Is the any type of reliable treatment you can put on you lawn to minimize or even eliminate ticks?

You can minimize ticks in your yard with an application of Bonide Ant, Flea and Tick Killer.  Make sure to follow the directions.  There is no product that can totally and forever rid your yard of all ticks.

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est grass seed or sand

A blend of turf quality tall fescue like you’ll find in our Country Estate Super Sandy Grass Seed Blend

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Is there anything to put on lawns that kills ticks but does not harm pets?

Bonide Ant Flea and Tick Killer will work and is safe as long as you read and follow the directions on the label.

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I aerated and overseeded this past labor day weekend, 9/1/14. I used the Country Estate mix with Ryegrass, two types of fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass (I think it was the Sturdy Mix). This particular area had been hurt by snow mold and a lot of voids were created that resulted in crabgrass over about a third of this particular area. I pulled a lot of it to create room for new seed prior to aeration. I’ve been watering three times a day since (for a minimum of 20 minutes each time). Some grass has definitely come up (the Rye did right away) and there is certainly an improvement, but many of voids and bare spots are still somewhat bare, with just a blade or two of grass here and there. It’s now 10/2/14 and I was hoping for a slightly better result. I put some starter fertilizer down right away and we also have a lawn care company who put some more down a couple of weeks later. The beginning of September was unseasonably cool, but warmer weather has happened in the last couple of weeks. Could this have something to do with a delay in germination? How long does it take to see the full result of fall overseeding? I’m hoping the moderate amount of new grass germinated is taking good root and spreading underground preparing to wow me next year!

All the seed you put down should have sprouted by now.  It sounds like you watered it plenty…possibly so much that the seed floated around into some areas leaving others without seed.  Hopefully the lawn care company didn’t use any weed killer with the lawn food application as that will kill young grass as well.  In either case that was way more feeding than necessary.  You can over seed the area in spring in late April or early May is it still seems sparse.  The small plants you see now will each become a much larger patch of grass as they mature.

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My front yard is infested with ant hills and crabgrass. What do I do to eliminate both at the same ensuring they will not return. Also what do you suggest I do to start a new lawn. Thank you laurie

You can kill the ants with Bonide Ant, Flea and Tick Killer.  Crabgrass requires the use of crabgrass preventer for a few years to prevent the crabgrass seeds from germinating.  It is a little late to do that this year since the seeds have already sprouted.  You can use a crabgrass killer spray but that is not as effective.  There is no real “forever” solution to these problems.

HERE’S a link to all about starting grass from seed.  The blog post is from last August but the procedure is the same.  Get to your lawn seeding right away.  The longer and hotter the days become, the harder it is to keep the seeds watered and moist.

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Hi Peter,Is it too late (September 13th) to kill grubs this year? Should I just wait until next summer? Thanks for your advice!

This late in the season you’ll have to resort to the contact killer from Bayer called 24 hour Grub Control.  Apply it and water right after with 1″ of water…don’t count on rain, it wont be enough.  Next year apply Bonide Annual Grub Control in July and water that in with an inch of water.  It is more effective that the contact killer and is a safer chemical to use.

 

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Where can I purchase extra strength vinegar locally in the Capital District Area?

No where that I know of.  I assume you are wanting to use it for killing plants.  Since 20% vinegar is much stronger than food grade vinegar, it generally not available to the general public.  You might try searching for it on the internet if you are really set on using it.

We do sell an organic plant killer from St Gabriel Organics called BurnOut II.  I is a combination of Citric Acid and Clove Oil and will kill plants much like Round-Up does.  Make sure you’re not using this product on the lawn since it kills everything it touches…weeds or grass.  Make sure to read and follow the direction on the package since, organic or not, it must be used correctly to be safe.

 

 

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When do I put insect control down?? When do I put grub control down???

Insect control for ants fleas and ticks can be put down anytime as needed.  Grub control is best put down and watered in with 1″ of water in July.  HERE’S a link to a blog post all about grub control.

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ground ivy

To kill ground ivy (aka creeping Charlie) you need to spray it with Bonide Chickweed and Clover Killer.  Make sure to spray it when it isn’t going to rain within 24 hours or longer.  The longer the spray remains in contact with the leaves, the better it will work.  This will be an ongoing battle if your ivy infestation is come from the neighbor’s yard.  Since it is a vine, it will always try to come back so repeat applications will be required.  Make sure to read and follow the directions on the package.

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I have a weed that I haven’t found on the internet, and I have no idea what it is, and what would kill it, is there any way you could identify, it for me?Thank you, Carolyn

Call the nearest Hewitts and find out when the manager will be there and bring in a sample for them.  They can then suggest option for killing it.  If you can send a good picture and description of it and where it is growing to peterb@hewitts.com  I’d be happy to assist.

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How do I get rid of crabgrass all under and around my full grown Nelly R Steven Hollies?

I’d spray the crabgrass with a product from St. Gabriel’s Laboratories called Burn Out.  It is a blend of Citrus and Clove oils.  It will kill anything that you get it on the leaves of so be careful with it.  Spray when it is not breezy.  Read and follow the directions on the label.

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I have Red Thread on parts of my lawn and am told it is because of a lack of Nitrogen in the soil. Is this true? I have a lawn care company fertilize my lawn, shouldn’t they be applying enough Nitrogen Based Fertilizer to prevent Red Thread? This never happened when I had a different company fertilizing my lawn. Also do you do ph and Nitrogen soil testing? Thank you.

Yes, timely applications of nitrogen can eliminate red thread.   You should talk to you lawn care company to see what they have applied and what they plan to apply.  I’d have to assume they’ve been applying nitrogen.

We sell test kits for testing pH and soil nutrient levels but do not perform the tests.

 

Here’s link to a good fact sheet on red thread:

 

https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/BP/BP-104-W.pdf

 

 

 

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hi my lawn has turned like hay looking all dried out and has a yellowish white color to it all in the last month while i was away i cant figure out what happenedto it .i cut it just before i went away . wonder if grubs are eating my lawn.there are no extreme bare spots either . can you tell me anything i should know ?any lawn eating diseases that i should know about that could bedestroying my lawn? thank you so much please email me back at tjhgram@aol.com

It is tricky diagnosing lawn diseases without seeing the problem or knowing whether the lawn is in sun or shade and other environmental conditions.  HERE’S a link to an overview of the common lawn diseases.

 

To me it sounds like you might have an outbreak of Powdery Mildew.  This is based on your mention of “yellowish white color”.

 

If this turns out to be the case, I’d suggest applying Bonide Infuse fungicide using the instructions on the label of the product.

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red thread

Red thread is a lawn disease

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I recently bought a home and half of the front yard had no grass and tons of weeds and crabgrass. I rotatilled and planted new seed and layed Scotts starter fertilizer. The grass is grown great but now there’s still crab grass and clover growing back in. Is there any thing I can use to get rid of it and not harm the newly grown grass.

The thing to do would’ve been to use the starter food with crabgrass preventer that will prevent crabgrass from germinating but not your lawn grasses.  It costs quite a bit more but prevents your problem from happening.  The best thing to do at this point would be to let it all grow all summer.  You can use Bonide Chickweed and Clover Killer on the area once temperatures are correct again in September (used now in the eat and on young grass it will kill the grass as well as the weeds).  Then, next spring, apply Hewitt’s Country Estate Lawn Food with Crabgrass Preventer when the lilacs are just starting to flower to prevent the crabgrass from returning.

 

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What is the best way to kill clover in my yard without harming my dogs. They both eat grass but the clover has taken over on almost my whole yard.

You’ll need to spray the area with clover with Bonide Chickweed and Clover Killer.  You’ll need to spray where rain isn’t predicted for a couple of days.  The killer needs to sit on the leave of the clover and other weeds for at least 24 hours to work.  It kills the roots but is absorbed through the leaves.   After the two days, you can water the area heavily which will wash the herbicide into the soil.  Since your dogs eat the clover, I’d keep them off the lawn for  the week and a half or so that it will take the herbicide to kill the clover.

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How do you get rid of low red moss or some kind of low growing flowers

If it is moss then you’ll need a moss killer.  If it is a low growing flower the an liquid weed killer spray should do the job.  I need more to go on that what you’ve provided.

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Can I use iron sulfate to reduce moss in lawn with acidic soil?

Iron (or ferrous) sulfate is the active ingredient in many lawn moss control so the answer is “yes”.   This will not correct the conditions that allowed the moss to take hold so there is more you need to do to get your lawn to thrive in that area or the moss will bounce right back.

 

You’ll need to do a pH test to see how much lime you need to counteract the acidity that has built up in the soil.  HERE’S a link about pH testing.  You’ll need to rake out the dead moss and then put down some grass seed to crowd out any moss that attempts to re-establish itself in the area.  This is the perfect time to start grass from seed.  HERE’S a link to more on that.

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About 3 months ago we moved into our new house. We sodded the yard with st Augustine grass. We have had more wasps in the yard that I can ever Remember. Is there something I can use that is pet friendly to rid the yard from them

I’m not familiar with southern turf problems but it sounds like you might have Digger Wasps.  HERE’S a link to more on them.  If they are Digger Wasps then you’ll want them to do their thing since they are actually helping your lawn.  If you can identify the wasp, that woud be a great help since many of the are helper and not hurters.

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I have an accu green drop spreader. According to the instructions on the bag of Country Estates Winterizer I should use a setting of 4.5. It doesn’t seem that this applied anything to my lawn. Is this setting correct?

I’m not familiar with the setting on that spreader.  Your CE lawn food should be applied at the rate of 4 lbs./ 1,000 sq. ft.  The instruction manual that came with the spreader should give you a setting for that rate.

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Should the grass be cut long or short on the last cut before winter.

Short during the cool damp days of spring and fall..long during the hot, dry days of summer.  The last cutting can be a low mow…2″ or so.

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Peter, I have a growing patch of yarrow in my front lawn. The previous owner had a flower bed, and had planted this. I thought it would eventually just fade away with time. WRONG! Spreading, and hardy :( Please advise best way to rid lawn of this. I heard I was hard to get rid of. Rotterdam, NY

You can kill yarrow with any good lawn weed killer like the Bonide Weed Beater Ultra that we sell.  It is too hot right now to apply it (late July).  Wait until mid August when it gets below 80° in the daytime before you use the weed killer.  If you spray during hot, dry weather, the weed killer may kill the grass as well.  Also make sure that the lawn is well hydrated before you spray since a dry lawn can also be damaged by weed killer.  Once you do spray make sure it doesn’t rain within 24 hours of application and don’t water the lawn for at least 24 hours after.  Read and follow all the directions on the product’s packaging.

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(Help!) Thanks for all the educational online info. I’m trying to restore a lawn that was neglected for far too long. After recently applying much weed killer, I’m left with many bare spots and some dead grass on a sandy/sunny front lawn in Ballston Lake. The pH level is currently 6.0. I want to apply lime in the next few days (late July) to bring the pH up to 7.0, then plan to scatter seed at about mid-Sept. After reading about making sure to get the lime deep, I’m wondering whether I should just roto-till everything after applying the lime. What would you recommend?If roto-tilling would be best, have you any helpful tips about how to avoid buried cables whose approximate locations are known?Many thanks!

For the lawn, a surface application will be fine especially since your pH is close at 6.0  40 lbs. of pelletized lime per 1,000 sq ft should do the trick.  I’d suggest our Super Sandy Grass Seed Blend whether or not you have sandy soil…it is great in any soil.  It is a blend of grasses that can put roots 2′ deep into the soil making it very hardy and drought resistant once it is established.   Keep the seed moist the entire time it is sprouting and getting established and use a good starter food…the best is our own Country Estate Winterizer/seed starter.    Your plan and timing sound good.

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Good evening. Does Hewitt’s still carry the Nematode spray for the end of a hose? My daughter has pets and her lawn is being dug up by the neighborhood skunk and moles. I assume she must have grubs. When is a good time of year to treat this problem?

No, nematodes have been found to be ineffective in controlling grubs this far north.  Her best be is to apply Milky Spore, a non-chemical control 2 time a year for 2 years starting now.  Make sure to water it in with an inch of water right after applying the product.  We do sell milky Spore at Hewitts.

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I have bent grass on my lawn and want to know the best way to get rid of it and if after getting rid of it should I put down sod? Do you actually do this work and if so how much?

You’ll need to kill the bentgrass with Round-up spray and till the area before the sod goes down.  Sorry, we don’t do landscaping or lawn work.

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When is the best time of the day to water the lawn?

Very early in the morning so the water can soak in instead of evaporating away in the heat of the day.  This also lets the lawn dry out during the day so it doesn’t have wet blades overnight.  Wet blades are the perfect place for fungal diseases to take hold.  When you water, water heavily.  You lawn needs an inch of water a week all at one time..more on that HERE.

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My entire back yard is crab grass. What do I have to do to get a decent looking lawn. We have sandy soil. Thank you!

I’d suggest seeding the area with a good grass seed now.  Water constantly to get the seed to sprout among the crabgrass.  Then, in spring, apply crabgrass preventer at the right time to stop the crabgrass from returning.

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what’s the best way to get rid of bent grass? i have an area of about 3′ x 10′ of it in my front lawn

You’ll need to kill the bentgrass with Round-up spray and till the area before starting grass from seed or laying down sod.

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Peter – Is it too late to apply Bonide Grub Beater? Thanks. Joe

Joe, you are at the ragged edge of being too late.  Apply it this week (8/18) and water it in right after application with 1″ of water…don’t even think rain will do the job for you…it won’t.  It is best to apply in mid-late July.

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I am growing a moss backyard but weeds are growing also. If I increase the acidity of the soil, (how best to do this) would it kill the weeds without damaging the existing moss?

No, increasing the acidity (lowering the pH) will not kill the weeds.  Most weeds tolerate or even prefer a lower pH.  The best way to control weeds will be by physically removing them or by misting the leaves with a liquid weed killer when it isn’t expected to rain for at least 24 hours.  You can lower the pH by applying sulfur to the area but I wouldn’t do that.  If the moss is doing well, it will create the level of acidity it prefers on its own over time.

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Hi Peter,What is the best fertilizer to use in early fall and then again in late fall?Thank-youmromano63@yahoo.com

Country Estate Lawn Food.   One application between now and the end of the first week of Oct is all you’ll need.  Let the lawn rest after that without excess stimulation from another feeding.  Late feeding stimulates late growth that is more susceptible to damage from freezing.  Feed now then let the lawn rest.

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I am sure that my lawn has Voles(Pine). This morning I looked out the front window and found approximately 100 or more holes in the lawn where something came up through. What would have caused that many of these creatures to come up at 1 time? and could I be wrong about what it is?

That is too many holes to be moles or voles coming up out of the ground.  Perhaps it is holes being dug by squirrels burying acorns.  You can apply MoleMax repellent to the area and it will stop the damage as soon as the application is made.

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Do you supply milky spores?

Yes we do…in a granular form you can apply with a lawn spreader  More on that at the end of this blog post.

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Should the last lawn-mowing be long or short

Short…2″-3″.  Left long the blades mat down and make a good place for fungal diseases to start.  Fall is also a great time to take care of pH testing and lime applications if necessary.

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how to deal with moles

The best way is with mole repellent…HERE’S A LINK to a blog post all about mole control.

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how do I get rid of moles and not harm my cats or dog

Apply MoleMax mole repellent and water it in for 20 minutes.  Moles will leave within a few days…it doesn’t kill them, it just drives them out of the area.

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Fruits and Berries (17)

How should I prune my raspberry plants cut them all the way back or what and when?

Raspberries and blackberries produce fruit on 2 year old canes (stems/shoots). If you go look at your berry bushes, you’ll see the remains of the the canes that produced berries this year. Those cane grew last year and produced fruit this summer. They will look dried out and less vigorous. You’ll also see the new canes that grew over this summer. These are the canes that will flower and produce fruit next year so you don’t want to prune them off. Pruning can be done anytime after the fruiting period so go right ahead and prune of the old canes (the ones that made berries this year) since they will never make another berry. This is the annual cycle with blackberries and raspberries…always removing the canes that just finished making berries but leaving the fresh canes that will make berries next year.

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We want to plant Blueberry Bushes … We have trenches sixteen inches deep and sixteen inches wide dug. We believe we have to fill them with a mix of sand, peat moss and sulfur … is this so and how much of each? Please make sure that Peter Bowden understands how much he is appreciated on the Channel six segments he has done for years. M. A. Albrecht

Dear M. A. Thank you for the kind words. It is nice to be appreciated. It sounds like you are off to a good start. The sand will improve drainage while the peat moss will retain moisture. As far as how much sulfer to ad, that will depend on what the pH of the native soil is in the area you want to plant. You’ll need to perform a simple pH test. You can get a pH test kit at Hewitts and it is a very simple task ifyou follow the directions on the package. Make sure you use distilled water though since tapwater of bottle water have a pH value of their own and this will skew the test results. Here’s a link to an excellent website that will answer your question and many other you might have regarding blueberry culture. http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1422.html Have a great harvest! PeterB

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What is the best way to get rid of nutsedge in my lawn?

Thanks for your question Joe, At Hewitt’s, we sell a product made by Bonide called Weedbeater Plus Crabgrass and Broadleaf Weed Killer. Follow the directions on the package and you’ll wipe out the nutsedge as well as some other unwanted weeds without harming the grass. Never apply weed killers when temperatures are expected to go above 85° or it may burn the lawn. September is a great time for weed killing.

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thinking ahead to next year! I have a strawberry bed and last summer chipmunks ate the berries faster than I could pick them.What can I do to keep them out of the bed. Thanks

Thanks for your question Pat, I’d suggest a perimeter barrier of the granular repellent Repells All form Bonide. Apply the barrier whent eh strawberries are in flower and re-apply every couple of weeks through the harvest period. By starting early the chipmunks will learn to avoid that area and will be less tempted to cross the barrier when the fruit finally appears. Peter Bowden

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what is the best way to prepare my soil. It is sandy. also 3 years in a row my tomato plants have grown very very tall and spindly with few tomatoes. What am i doing?

Sandy soil has very little nutritional value and dries quickly. Add lots of composted manure to the soil and I’d also get a bag of Espoma Tomato-Tone food. and be generous with that (according to the label of course). You say that the tomatoes “have grown very very tall and spindly with few tomatoes”. This is usually the result of trying to grow tomatoes without enough sun. Tomatoes need 8 hours of direct sun per day MINIMUM. 10 or 12 hours is even better. Perhaps you need to grow your tomatoes in a sunnier location?

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How do I make my HUGE poinsetta turn red? It is all green at this time. Also how do I get the christmas cactus to bloom. It blooms in the back room that is cool and not in the warm livingroom.

Both Christmas cactus and poinsettias are triggered into their flowering phase by the shorter day length. They need to follow the natural cycle of sunlight in October for the change to occur. The lights in your living room are preventing these two plants from getting the message the sun is sending them. Move them into the back room and make sure there are no lights on in that room for more than a few moments. Once you see that the cactus is budding or that the poinsettia’s leaves have started to change color, you can bring them back to the living room to enjoy. Once the change starts, it will continue regardless of the light.

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My pears on the tree are big yellowish with brownish dots and hard. When should i pick them? Will a frost harm them? Thanks.

Sounds like you have some nice pears. The brownish dots are nothing to worry about…they can be avoided by using a fruit tree spray every 2 weeks during the growing season but the spots are harmless and common on organically grown pears. I go ahead an harvest them. A light frost probably won’t harm them but a freeze will. They will finish ripening just fine inside the house.

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Hello Peter, I have a small strawberry patch (8′ X 3′). Do i need to use straw to cover the plants? I prefer not to get a bale of straw for such a small area. Thanks.

You can rake some leaves over your strawberries to protect them. Another choice would be some evergreen boughs which might stay in place better than leaves.

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I want to plant either a Burbank Plum or Bing Cherry tree. Can either fruit tree be planted in two’s to pollinate each other or do both need a different variety to pollinate each other?

Bing Cherry and Burbank plums will not pollinate each other. Bing Cherry tree will need another sweet cherry tree to pollinate it. Black Tartarian wouldbe a good choice to pollinate Bing. Sour cherry varieties will not pollinate sweet cherry types. Burbank Plums can actually pollinate themselves or from another plum variety planted nearby.

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What kind of fruit trees do you need two of to produce fruit

Except for peaches and nectarines most other fruit trees require another for cross pollination.  Here’s a great fruit tree cross pollination guide for you to refer to.

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Peter, you did a show on channel six how to plant blueberry brushes. Could you send me that link. You allways do a wonderful job on your segments

HERE’S a link to a blog post about proper planting.   I’m planting a dogwood tree but the procedure is the same for blueberries or any woody tree or shrub.

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Do you sell Meyer lemon trees

Yes we do but please call the Hewitt’s location before you visit to confirm that they still have some available since the selection may vary by location.

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My raspberries last year had a lot of tiny white worms in them. How can I prevent them from coming this year? Thank you. CF

I sounds like you’ve got some Spotted Wing Drosophila, a fruit fly type insect. The worms are the larvae od of the fly.  Start spraying before they show up with Spinosad, and organic insecticide.  We sell the Bonide version called Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew.  Just follow the directions on the package.  Start right away as they are attracted to ripe berries.

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Can I plant rasberries in the fall?

Yes, but wait until a couple of frosts nip the leaves and send the plants into dormancy…usually mid October or so.

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When to transplant Raspberry Bushes

Raspberries are quite durable.  If I had to pick the absolute best time to transplant some, it would be in spring as soon as the ground thaws enough to dig.  Late fall after they are sent into dormancy by a few freezing nights would be my second choice.  Anytime while they are dormant. really.

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Trees and Shrubs (148)

Hello, We recently moved into a house that has had bamboo growing for about 30 years. Last spring we dug up the stalks that took up a 10′ x 20′ area. As the summer came around we continued to pluck what ever bamboo came up. And it still continues to come up. It’s very frustrating. My husband did some investigating and found that it takes a very long time to get rid of bamboo and the only way to do it is to keep cutting the stems as the come up because it will exhaust the roots. Is this true? Do you have any advise for us? Thanks, Kristin

I’ll assume that you’re dealing with ‘false bamboo’ aka Japanese Knotweed. This is a former ornamental that will eventually take over the world. I also moved into a house that had the bed one whole side of the house filled with that stuff. We cut it back for a couple of years hoping that that would kill it but it didn’t. What finally did work was covering the area with a plastic tarp 4 layers thick. I actually used an old pool cover that I found by the side of the road. We made sure that the area was covered right up to the house and out about a foot beyond where the knotweed was growing. We then covered the tarp with a thick layer of cedar mulch so we wouldn’t have to look at the tarp. We left it all summer and the next spring I peeked under only to find weak shoots still trying to grow. We left it covered for another summer. Finally, after two years it seems to be dead. We removed the tarps and dug around. We found a few weak roots that we removed and planted the bed with perennials. Every once in a while a shoot would pop up but we’d dig it out rather than just snapping it off….gotta get those roots. Now, several years later, we seem to have finally won our battle. There are weed killers that will kill it and sterilize the soil for two years but we were afraid that it would get into the roots of some nearby shrubs and kill them too so we went the tarp and mulch route. Be diligent and patient and you get it gone.

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I’m looking for a non flowering green shrub for in front of my house to replace an arborvitae that has gotten to large. It should be about 2 ft wide and would like it to stay under 4 ft in height. Any suggestions? I’ve seen these twisty looking things with tiny leaves but can’t seem to find out what they are. Thanks for your input. Paula

You are probably thinking of corylus contorta.  It can get larger than you want but isn’t particularly fast growing in out region.  You can control the size with annual pruning.  Another option would be the weeping varieties of Japanese Maples which stay small and isn’t fast growing at all.  We have both in our nursery…come check them out and you may find others that fulfill your requirements.

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We bought a house a few years ago and never paid any attention to the perennials and shrubs until now. We have 4 HUGE rhododendron bushes that do well every year, despite no care given. Since I’d like to attempt gardening, was wondering ab out some basic care: when is it ok to prune them? What type of mulch is the best to put around them? If they need fertilizer, what type? Thanks!

Thanks for your question Jen. It’s great that your rhododenrons are doing well on their own. That tells us that they are planted in a location that suits them and that’s half the battle right there. You should prune them right after they flower in spring. Rhododendron, azaleas and other broadleaf evergreens form their flowers buds during the summer and fall. Those buds must winter over and then open in spring. If you prune them late in the season, you’ll be removing the flowers you wish to enjoy. As always follow the pruning rules of 1/3. Never prune off more than 1/3 of the branch structure. Usually that isn’t necessary but if it is, prune it partway back then wait a year to do more. It is also a good idea to snip off the remnants of the flowers in spring. If you remove the seed pods then the energy the rhodos would have put into those seeds will go instead into more flowers the following spring. I like cedar mulch but and good bark mulch will be fine. You can mulch 4″ deep but make sure that you don’t pile mulch up against the trunk. That can smother the bark and cause more harm than good. I really like Espoma Holly-tone. It is a granular food that you should apply as early in the spring as you can. I like to pound hole with a small length of pipe down about 8″ and then pour the Holly-tone down the holes. That gets the food to the roots that can absorb it. You’ll need several holes and they should be made out away from the trunk of the Rhodo about as far as the outermost branch tips. Scattering the food on the mulch is wasteful since the nutrients have a hard time making it through the mulch into the soil where the roots are.

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I would like to purchase a Rose of Sharon. When will this item be available at the Western Ave. location? Also with regard to lawn: What seed would be most appropriate for the mostly shade north side of our home

The althea (Rose of Sharon) should be available in a month or so and more arrive in late summer as well. Hewitt’s Super Shady is the grass blend you want…it can grow in the shade of a building with no direct sun at all.

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I have a lot of surface water in my backyard . What shrub can I get to suck up the water ?

The best choices for this will be willows.  Pussywillows, dappled willows and, if there is room. a weeping willow tree can grow in wet areas and help dry them out.

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Hi Peter, We have a series of four arborvitae that are planted on our fence line and facing north. They were planted 2 years ago. We have clay soil. Two of the arbs are doing very well. The other two have died and need to be replaced. The only difference that we can tell between the dead ones and the thriving ones is the amount of moisture in the soil. And when I say moisture I mean REALLY wet. We know that there is a drainage problem along that section of the planting bed however I would like to replace them and hopefully rectify the soil issue at the same time. How would you recommend that we amend the soil for these two replacement shrubs to give them the best chance? Thank you, Natalie.

The best way to overcome this problem is to “mound plant”.  Dig a shallow hole about 1/4 the depth of the ball of the tree you’re going to plant and add you Bio-Tone starter food to the bottom of that hole.  Then and place the tree into that shallow hole.  The n cover the rest of the exposed ball with soil making a mound (it will be fairly wide) to cover the rest of the root ball up to the crown of the plant.  This will elevate most of the root ball above the wet soil so it won’t drown.  When it does dry out during the heat of summer, you may need to water these plants a little extra for the first few years until they are established.

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What is happening to the rhodendrons this year? All the leaves are turning brown and falling off.

This last winter was colder, windier and longer than normal.  This was rough on broadleaf evergreens like holly and rhododendron.  At this point all you can do is cut off all the dead leaves.  Bend the small branches and, if they are brittle and snap easily cut them back to where you find living tissue.  You should feed them with Holly-Tone in the soil below (this should be done every year).  To stimulate some quick leaf growth you can use some Mir-Acid soluble evergreen food.  Mix with water in a watering can as the package directs.  Sprinkle this food all over the stems and remaining leaves.  This food can be absorbed directly into the plant without having to come up through the root system.  It is an emergency method of feeding and, if they is any life left to the plant, this will stimulate quick leaf growth.  Do this every week and a half until mid-June.  Also make sure you haven’t piled mulch up against the base of the tree.  This smothers the bark and slowly kills it.  Mulch is good but not against the bark of the plants, any plants.

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I bought 3-Hydrangea Mac Harlequins at Hewitts. It says color: pink/red. They told me these would be mult-colored but after doing a search, I was unable to find anything using the name on the tag. Can you confirm the color and also explain how to prune them. There are different techniques depending on the type you have so I would appreciate it if you could let me know how to prune this particular type. Thanks:) Suzanne

Your Harlequin Hydrangeas have a bicolored flower…here’s the link to an image: . . . http://www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com/images/harlequin1.jpg . . . Harlequin is a ‘Mophead Hydrangea’ and only require that you prune of stems after they die having been replaced by new stems or cabes. Here’s a link to a great site that will fill you in on everything you need to know about mophead hydrangeas. Other areas of the site cover all the other hydrangeas as well…it is a great resource! . . . http://www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com/mopheads.html

 

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We planted some pine trees last year (about 2 ft. tall) and since then, a few have been hit by the lawn mower. The bark is missing, and we’re worried they won’t survive. Is there anything we can do to help repair the damage?

I’d say you have reason to be concerned Sherry. All the growth action takes place in the bark of the tree. The wood inside is supporting the tree but the wood is kind of like our fingernails. The transfer of sap containing moisture and nutrients flows up through the outer layer, the bark. If the bark is removed all the way around the trunk then that flow stops and the tree will die rather quickly. Obviously you want to stop mowing so close to the trees so you’ll stop damaging the bark. Perhaps removing the grass and mulching around the trees would be a good idea so you won’t have to mow right up to the trunks. Since you don’t mention any od the trees turning brown or dying I’ll assume that the damage you’ve done so far isn’t fatal. Take a close look at the bark to see if you’d scraped the bark off all the way around the trunk. Chances are you’ve damaged one side but there is still bark on the other. The remaining bark has takenm up the task of sending nutrients and moisture up to the branches above. The damaged area will gradually recover and grow bark all around the trunk. You could get some Tree Wrap, a papery material that comes on a roll that you wind up the trunk. This will help protect the bark as it recovers and help prevent any future nicks from happening.

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I had a landscaper plant 14 balled & burlapped Emerald Green Arbor Vitaes about 6-7 weeks ago. Now, half seem dead (needles brown, falling off, no green under bark when scraped). I was told to water once a week, which I did until I noticed them starting to turn brown, at which time I watered about twice a week with a soaker hose. Now, I am inspecting them and am wondering if they were planted correctly. The burlap surrounding the rootballs was never pulled away from the trunk, nor was it pulled down/slit to expose the roots at all. Could this have contributed to their early demise? Thanks for any info you might have.

For an arborvitae to go from green to brown in 6-7 weeks it would take more than just the burlap and twine not being undone. Unless the twine and burlap is made of plastic then, over the course of a few years, the arb might grow and get strangled by the plastic twine. If the twine is jute (like baling twine) then it will disintigrate long before it could become a problem. Often, it isbest to just leave jute burlap and twine in place when planting. Trying to unbundle the root ball might cause the root ballto fall apart. This breaks off all the tiny root hairs that absorb moisture from the soil. . . . It sounds as though you’ve been watering them enough so I think there are three possible reason why some of your arbs failed. . . . First, make sure that they have not been planted too deep. The original soil lineon the trunk where the bark meets the root bark should be at soil level, not below. If they are planted too deep with the bark buried, the flow of moisture up the trunk is greatly impaired. . . Second, make sure that mulch hasn’t been piled up against the trunk. Mulch as heavily as you want away from the trunk butnever pilemulch against the exposed bark of the tree. It has the same effect as burying the truk too deep in the soil. . . . If you check and they seem to have been planted and mulched properly then the only conclusion is that they experienced a period of severe dryness at some point in spring before they arrived at your home. In that case I hope for your sake that they have some sort of guarantee and will be replaced.

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I’ve bought and planted a hydrangea about 3 years agon. It has never bloomed. I moved and replanted it at the end of last summer to a sunnier spot b/c I thought that was the problem. Still hasn’t bloomed. Any suggestions?

Hydrangeas and other woody plants take some time to get established. Now that you’ve moved it, I’d leave it where it is for a few more years. I always suggest adding bone meal to the planting hole to provide a slowly available source of phosphorus that lasts for several years. Phosphorus stimulates root growth to get you hydrangea established and also enhance its ability to flower. In addition I’d feed it with Espoma Flower-tone as soon as the ground can be worked in spring and again about 8 weeks later. This agressive (but gentle) feeding will hasten establishment of a good root system and shorten the time until the plant can spare the energy for a flowering cycle.

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Can you tell me if lilac bushes have to be pruned? They didn’t bloom this year on the same branches that they did last year. If i cut off the old dead flowers will it kill them or make them bloom there next yr. It was there when I bought my house 4 yrs. ago. It is about 7ft. tall. & just as wide. I would say it is pretty old.

No, pruning off the old, dead flowers (that have become seed pods by now) won’t hurt the lilac. A better time to do this would be right after the flowers finish up in spring. This prevents the lilac from putting any energy into producing seeds and that energy will then be put into growth and more flowers the following season. Since we know that you have an old large, well-established lilac, it may be time to rejuvenate it with some heavy pruning. You’re going to need a pruning saw for this. You probably have some very large, older trunks coming out of the middle of the lilac that are not producing many flowers. These older trunks may be 10 or 20 years old and no longer have the vitality to produce flowers the way they used to. Get in there and cut them off as close to the base as possible. Make sure that you don’t remove more than 1/3 of the total branch structure to avoid shocking the plant. Remove all these older trunks and the energy that they were using will now go into younger shoots that will produce the most flowers. Ideally you should have done this in spring right after the lilac bloomed. Lilacs form buds in the summer after flowering. Those latent buds winter over and produce flowers in spring. If you had pruned the lilac this spring, you’d have lots of new growth with buds ready to go. There’s nothing wrong with cutting your lilac back now but you won’t get the big benefit until the spring after next. People are often shy about pruning heavily but, as in this case, it is the best way to get the most out of your lilac. Once you remove the old, unproductive trunks, it will be several year before you need to do anything more than light pruning.

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our endless summer hydrangea stopped blooming in the third year. what can we do to get them to bloom?

Thanks for your question Charles. There are a couple of things that can prevent ES hydrangeas from blooming. Lack of enough direct sun. In our area (Albany NY) you’d want to get at least 7 hours of direct sun per day during summer. Even more is better. It is claimed that they will do well in ‘partial shade’. That may be true in the southern US but, up here in the north, they will flower better with more sun. If your hydrangea grew lush, large leaves but no flowers then it probably isn’t getting enough sun. Not getting fed. Hyrdrangeas don’t need a lot of food but, especially in sandy soils, they do need some. Espoma Flower-Tone would be a nice, gentle option. Don’t feed it now but as early in the spring as the soil can be worked. Without knowing the conditions your hydrangea is planted in I can only offer those possibilities. Here’s a great site that might help your sort out what has gone wrong. http://www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com/

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I have 6 shrubs that we purchased late in the season, and were unable to plant them. What can we do to keep them till Spring.??? They are now starting to dry, and I was going to put them into the cellar, in the furnace room till spring. Thanks

Often the plants I get during fall sales don’t look like much with the leaves falling off as they go into dormancy, but as long as the roots and stems are in good shape, I’m willing to take a chance. Sometimes the bargains are so good that I buy plants that I have no plan for but the price is so good that I can’t pass them up. These plants will often have to spend the winter in their pots while I come up with a plan for them. I’m not afraid to winter-over perennials in pots or balled-in-burlap shrubs or trees. It’s all a question of knowing how to bring them through the harsh winter ahead. First, scout out a sheltered location. We know that our prevailing wind comes from the west and north. The east facing wall of a garage, shed or even the house is a great spot. The building will block the cold, dry air that can dehydrate our wintering plants. I’ve got a 4′ high retaining wall on the western side of my vegetable garden that works well for this purpose. Parallel to the wall, I’ll dig a trench deep enough to set my potted and balled bargains into. If I happen to have a tree that is so tall that it sticks out above the wall, I’ll tip it on its side so the branches are below the top of the wall, protected from the wind. Then I’ll fill around the pots or root balls with loose soil and tamp it down well. Until winter sends my treasures into complete dormancy, I’ll keep an eye out that they don’t dry out, but with rain such a regular feature this time of year, that’s not of much concern. As early as I can in spring, I’ll find places in my landscape for my fall bargains and plant them (adding bone meal, of course).

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My lilac bush has scale and I tried to treat it several times last summer. I had some results but there still is a problem and I want to rid the bush totally before it blooms this season. What is the best way to totally eradicate the scale????

Scale is tough to get rid of. I had it on a weeping beech so I understand your frustration. There a way though. You’ll need to use a soil drench of Bonide’s Annual Tree & Shrub Insect Control. Follow the directions on the package carefull but you’ll dilute the liquid with water and soak the soil at the base of the tree using as much as the directions indicate. The lilacs will absorb the insecticide and it moves throughout the plant killing the scale as well as their offspring that hatch later. It worked great for me…one application did the trick but it does take some time to start working so be patient.

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Can 5 year old hydrangea bushes be safley transplanted to a new location?

Yes it can but do it as soon as possible. Transplanting is best done when the plant is dormant. Lucky for you the weather is still quite cool and your hydrangea is still dormant. To reduce transplant shock have the hole where it is to go dug and ready. Dig up the hydrangea with as large a root ball as possible to keep as many of the fine root hairs intact. Make sure to use some bone meal in the planting hole. Water in thououghly and keep well watered this entire season.

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It appears that my PJM rhodies got some winter burn – the tips of some of the leaves turned brown but are still pliable (not brittle). What can I do about this if anything? Could it be something else? Also, how do I get them to fill in better? This will be the third season they are in the ground and haven’t grown or filled in very much. They normally flower rather well though.

Winter burn is pretty common on rhodos…especially after a windy winter like the one we just had. Those leaves are nipped forever but will be masked by new growth this spring. Any that are totally brown can be removed any time. A burlap barrier on the north west side over winter can help prevent this in the future. It takes a while for shrubs to get established and yours has only been in the ground for 2 seasons so it is still getting settled in. You should feed your rhodos (indeed all your landscape plants) as soon in spring as the ground can be worked (right now). For the rhodos use Espoma Holly-Tone. Pound holes out away from the trunk as far as the outermost branch tips and pour a small handful of food into the hole and poke it shut. Do this in several places around the shrub. Throwing food down on the surface is easier but mostly benefits weeds. Get the food down to the roots and it will work better. Deadheading will also help the PJM fill out and flower more. After the flowers have finished, pinch off the seed pods that begin to develop after the petals fall off. The rhodo will put a great deal of energy into these seeds. By removing the seeds, you are redirecting that energy into leaf growth and flower buds for the next season’s show. You can also do any light pruning right after flowering. If you haven’t been feeding and deadheading try that first. It should be enough to get them to start filling. Try that for a season before you resort to pruning.

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can you please advise on type of fertilizer for (1)arborvitae (2) boxwoods (3) flowering plum tree and frequency

For the arvorvitae and the box wood I’d go with Espoma’s Tree-Tone. This is a granular food that you’ll place into holes pounded onto the ground (an old broom handle or pipe works well for making the holes) and then fill the holes 3/4 full of the food. The holes should be out away from the trunk or stem about as far as the outermost branch tip (this is called the ‘dripline’). For the flowering plum I’d use Flower-Tone using the same method above. Feed right away and every spring as soon as the soil thaws. This way the plant is getting the food as new growth is forming in spring. Once a year is enough…never feed in the fall.

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I have what I think is a Purple Plum Tree out in front of my house, it has pretty pale pink flowers all over now, my quest. is , it is leaning toward one side, and I like to know what to do so it doesn’t do that, the weight is all on one side, it is beautiful , and I don’t want anything to happen to it, could you give me some advice on this. Thank You Pete Appreciate it…

If the tree is small enough, you could use a tree staking kit to bend it back so it is straight. After a couple of years of staking the tree will conform to it’s new position. If it is older and too large to bend then your only option is to trim some of the branches off the ‘heavier side to force the tree into more growth on the other side to balance it out. Never remove more than 1/3 of the total branch structure per year. This may take a few years to accomplish so be patient.

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Hi there. I bought my lilac tree from Hewitt’s in 2007 (I think. I’m still looking for the receipt.) It was blooming when I bought/planted it, but it has not bloomed again. It’s growing, and is full of lush green leaves, but no blooms. What am I doing wrong?? Help! THanks.

A lilac may not flower while it is establishing a roots system. Once that is done it can expend the extra energy on flowering. A lack of sun and phosphorus can slow down this process. Feed your lilac each spring with Flower-Tone by pounding holes out away from the trunk and pour the Flower-tone into those holes. Do this in several place around the lilac so more roots can find and use the food. If you have been pruning your lilac in summer you have been cutting off the buds for the next season’s flowers. Lilacs form the buds for next spring’s flowers this summer. Always prune your lilac in spring right after flowering so the buds form on new growth. If it is planted in shade then it may never flower.

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What are some good types of shrubs to purchase for creating nice hedges about 3-5 ft high for a natural border or fence. I don’t want to go with the arborvitae because they grow too tall and tend to get brown in the middle. I have heard boxwoods are good. Are they the ones that can be trimmed nicely and literally look like a green wall? (That’s what I’m looking for) What size shrub should I start with so I don’t have to wait 5 years for it to be at least 3ft high and how far apart do I plant them? Thank you again for all your help.

Your boxwood idea is a good one but they are slow growing. Buy the largest you can. There is also Little Princess Spirea which gets 3′ tal and 6′ wide. Low maintenance with little pruning needed. If it is a very sunny location then miniature roses are another option. Miniature roses aren’t grafted and are very winter hardy so no special care is needed (wrapping & mulching) to get them through winter, There are also som low growing cotoneasters that might work for you as well.

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what is needed to plant a cherry tree?

Click here for a blog post that will give you step-by-step planting instructions for your cherry tree or any other tree or shrub for that matter.

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Peter; Saw the clip on CBS6 about putting card board under mulch. But in the fall can you blow the leaves out from the box wood hedge with out blowing the mulch all over?? Help!!!! Otto

Putting cardboard down won’t have any effect on whether you leaf blower blows mulch out of the bed.  By the time fall arrives, the cardboard will have smothered the weeds and will be becoming part of the soil.

 

If you are having trouble with the leaf blower in the beds I’d suggest a small leaf rake to get the leaves out of the landscape beds.

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Hello Peter, I have a second question regarding tiny black bugs on my burning bushes that are causing the leaves to curl under. I have tried an organic detergent spray but they ( I think they are aphids?) are persistent. What would you recommend using in order to cure this infestation? Thank you again, Natalie

When you are using a contact killer like insecticidal soap, you’re killing the adult insects.  The eggs are not killed.  You need to commit to spraying VERY THOROUGLY once a week for three weeks.  This will generally kill the you adults that hatch before they mature enough to lay more eggs.  If you wait too long before the follow-up sprayings, you’ll never break down the reproductive cycle of the insects.  If you use a systemic insecticide  that you dilute and pour into the soil at the base of the tree, it will be taken up into the plant and any insect that chews on or sucks nutrients from the plant (like aphids do) will be killed.  This insecticide remains in the plant long enough to kill the original population and successive generations that hatch from the egg.  This effectively breaks the reproductive cycle.

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I’ve had pretty severe deer damage to a large stand of rhododendrons. What will bring back foliage and flowers more effectively, pruning the dined upon branches or simply letting them be?

As long as the branches bend without breaking then they might make it back.  If they are brittle cut it back until you reach supple living branches.  Feed the roots with Holly-Tone, a granular long term feeding.  More importantly, get some Mir-Acid soluble food.  Dilute as directed and sprinkle it from a watering can all over he branches leaves and stems.  This type of food can be absorbed directly into the cells of the bark.  It will quickly stimulate bud and leaf growth.  It is an emergency method of getting nutrients into the plant quickly.  Do this every week and a half until mid June when it starts to get hot..  By then you should see a little new growth.

 

You can use Repels-All animal repellent spray to keep the deer from doing further damage.  Apply it in fall and winter one a month on days that are above freezing.

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I’m one of those people that stupidity bought a few Majesty Palms. I’ve researched their needs and wow, seems like they may be impossible to care for. Now, i really, really wanna prove the internet wrong! What do these poor things need from me? Any suggestions would be awesome. Thanks and love you Peter!

Keep the soil just lightly moist all the time and feed it lightly once a month except in winter…don’t feed at all from Nov. through Feb.  The biggest problem for them inside is light.  Unless you have a greenhouse or sunroom then it will struggle.  Once summer arrives, you can give it some relieve by bringing it outside.  Place it in a sheltered location at first and gradually move into brighter location to avoid sun scald.

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We want to put in some evergreen barrier in Speculator, NY that will not be eaten by deer. Is Arborvitae a good choice or do you have other suggestions?Thanks,Connie

Dark American and Emerald Green Arborvitae, the most commonly sold and used arbs for privacy barriers are NOT deer resistantGreen Giant Arborvitae are the only one that is resistant to deer damage.  In addition, as their name implies, green giants are large and grow quickly once established.  It would make a great privacy barrier and windbreak.

If the area is part sun to shade, another option would be Canadian Hemlock.  They are extremely winter hardy and are the best option for an evergreen barrier in less-than-sunny locations.

We sell both these plants at Hewitts but you might want to call ahead to make sure they have them in stock before you head down.  We do transfer merchandise from location to location as need be in case you need more than one of our stores has in stock.

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We just planted rhododendroms last week and now they look like they are wilting? We put them in with top soil and peat moss and made sure we dug the hole twice the size of the plant and put it in no deeper than the top of soil and also put some mulch on it…..what have we done wrong? How can I get my shrubs to look healthy again? Thanks

If you have not buried soil or mulch up against the stem (bark) of the plants then I suspect that you are watering too much and drowning them….especially if you have heavier soil and you’ve added peat moss which retains 20 times its weight of water.  Newly planted shrubs and trees need to be kept moist but not soggy wet all the time.  About the only thing that can cause such a quick reaction is drowning.  We’ve had plenty of rain lately so let the dry out a bit so the roots can breath.  If things get hot and dry later in summer, you’ll need to water.  You can always check before watering.  Poke your finger into the soil as deep as you can and if it feels cool and moist, don’t water and check again in a few days.

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Last week I purchased a Japanese Maple Tree at the Hewitts on Troy Road in East Greenbush. The tree looked very healthy when we purchased it and we planted it within a few days being careful not to plant it too deep or too shallow. We also added a few handfuls of Biotone to the hole before planting. In the past few days most of the top leaves have turned brown and have dried out. the bottom of the tree still appears red in color and the leaves seem healthy. Is there something we should do to help it along. I know that sometimes transplanting causes a tree to go into temporary shock. Any advice you can offer will be appreciated.

Transplanting is the act of digging up and moving a plant so it wouldn’t be transplant shock.  If the root ball fell apart when you were placing the tree into the hole, that would rip the tiny root hairs away and that would cause some of the foliage to die as you’ve described.

 

The only other possibility is that you are watering it too much and it is drowning…that can also cause the leave to turn brown as the root system drowns.  Keep it moist but not soggy wet all the time.

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MY LANDSCAPER PLANTED MY 6 FOOT MOONGLOW JUNIPER ABOVE THE GROUND ABOUT 5-6 INCHES. iS THAT CORRECT? THE TREE IS YELLOWING AND LOSING LOTS OF ITS NEEDLES

No, not correct.  The part of the trunk where the bark enters the soil when the plant was in the pot or ball should be flush with the soil More on that HERE.  Also, check to make sure that bark mulch hasn’t been piled up, mound like, around the trunk of the tree.  Wet mulch against the bark of the tree has the same deadly effect as burying the plant too deep.  Brush any mulch or dirt away from the trunk until you fine the spot where the trunk enters the soil.

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yellow green bush are turning brown

I’m not psychic.  I need more info than that.

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Our cherry tree, planted last year, has buds on the upper branches but the lower branches do not have buds. I would say 1/3 to 1/2 the tree is without buds. Should we dig it out and not waste any more time on it or should we prune off the branches that appear to be dead and hope the rest take over ?

I wouldn’t dig it out.  It is normal for a young tree to skip flower and fruit production for a couple of years while it is getting a root system established.  Check the base of the tree to make sure you haven’t buried the trunk too deep or piled mulch up against the bark of the tree…this is a common mistake and will eventually kill the tree.  Here’s a link to a blog post about that.

Also, fruit tree are attractive to a wide variety of pest so you should start a spraying program to insure it stays healthy and insect and disease free.  Bonide Complete Fruit Tree Spray is great for this.  Poking holes in the ground around the tree and pouring in some Espoma Tree Tone would ne a good idea right away as well…breakfast is the most important meal of the year for our plants as they wake up in spring.  Here’s a link to a blog post all about spring feeding.  The strong Fruit tree spikes are too strong for your young tree…use the granular Tree-Tone.

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I have 4 Colorado spruces that are dying from the bottom up, they are about 12 years old – 20 ft. I have read extensively about cytospora and needlecast, and know that if it is cytopspora there is nothing you can do but trim dead branches and fertilize. Someone told me that I should spray fungicide for needlecast as well on the top branches. This seems doubtful for the trees to have both. No one seems to be able to determine if it is cytospora. I don’t want to lose the trees, is there an expert to diagnose? Thank you.

I would include some links about needlecast and cytospora but it seems that you’ve already done your research.  A certified arborist would be able to diagnose this for you.  Here’s a website that will help you locate one depending on where you live.  Fred Breglia (region 4) is know to me and is very knowledgeable.  Also Jack Magai in Rensselaer County has been suggested.  magaijack@gmail.com

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Seen a Jacaranda tree in Fl, Do they grow around our area I would love on. Thanks

Sadly, the Jacaranda tree doesn’t grow this far north. It is hardy only in USDA zone 9 and higher…we are zone 5. Jacaranda trees can never survive a hard frost let alone our long, cold winters.

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Deer are prevalent in my yard. What is the best method to “protect” them and when is the best time to wrap them? Does burlap work best?

Burlap will certainly keep he deer from damaging you shribs but a better option would be deer netting. Deer netting is a black plastic mes that comes in large sizes for wrapping shrubs and small trees that deer love to munch on. You don’t really notice the netting on the shrubs where burlap would be much more obvious. You should put you deer netting on in mid to late October after the leaves have fallen from the trees.

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Do you carry an Eastern Red Bud tree?

Yes, we carry both Eastern Redbuds and Forest Pansy Redbuds. You should call your local Hewitt’s to check availability since they are both quite popular and might run out of stock as the summer progresses.

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I have two tree rose of sharons. All of a sudden, the leaves started get nodules on them and they are crinkly like they are dry. Any suggestions?

This sounds like one of two things…or possibly both.  First is overwatering.  Once an Althea is established, little watering is necessary.  If you feel the need, set a slow running hose at the base of it for an hour or two and then don’t water again for a month.  NEVER spray the leaves with water as this promotes diseases.  Also check the base of the altheas to make sure that you haven’t buried the stem too deep or piled mulch up against the bark of the althea.  This is a very unhealthy situation…it is like slowly strangling the althea (or any woody shrub or tree.  It is a VERY common mistake.  When you plant or mulch, the last step is to check the stem where it enters the soil and brush back dirt or mulch until you can see the original spot on the trunk where it enter the soil.  I might also be good to feed the altheas right away with some Espoma Flower-Tone  to help them along.

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Do you have hydrangas that do well in this climate and how much do they run?

Hydrangeas have become quite popular lately so naturally we have plenty of interesting varieties in stock. A quick visit to the nursery here at the Hewitt’s location in Glenville turned up these varieties. Twist & Shout, Lemon Wave, Aplen Glow, Nikko Blue, Domotoi, Harlequin, Teller, Emile Molliere, and Snow Queen. I might have missed a couple. They range in price from $16.99 to $49.99 with most for $25. Mkae sure you keep an eye on our ad in the Times Union every Thursday or you can check the adout here at hewitts.com. New ad appear every Thursday as well.

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Hi Pete, I have a camp in the Adirondacks with a set of dead arborvitae bushes around a sunny part of the driveway. I was told by a local person that the dear eat the arborvitae and its difficult to keep them away from anything green–especially in the cold months. I would like to replace these with a hardy shrub (similar to the arborvitae) to provide some privacy, but I am unsure as to what might be the best option in this setting. Any recommendation? Thanks for your time. Jim

Thanks for your question Jim, . . The local person is right…deer are a big problem for evergreens in the Adirondacks. There is one arborvitae that is deer resistant, the Green Giant Arborvitae. It is hardy to USDA zone 5 meaning it can tolerate temperatures as low as -25°F. Green Giants are also fast growing and can get quite tall…up to 40′ or so in 25 to 30 years. There are a couple of junipers that are also deer resistant. There’s an upright form called Moonglow Juniper. Moonglow doesn’t grow as fast as Green Giant but is a nice silvery color and will reach 20′ eventually. There’s alos a wide spreading juniper that is deer resistant called Sea Green Juniper. Sea Green gets about 6′ tall and 8′ wide. If you want some color, weigelas come in may leaf andflower colors and many will get 6′ to 8′ tall and wide. Being deciduous, they won’t provide privacy in the winter but will do a great job in the summer. It might still be wise to cover them for the first few years with deer netting in the fall to protect them over the winter. Deer netting is a black plastic mesh that you won’t notice but the deer can’t get their mouths through. You could check our Queensbury store for availability 792-3638. Ask for Charlie or Tom and they can tell you what is available there or at other Hewitt’s locations.

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This spring I planted a peony tuber. It has brown leaves on it, yet the one next to it, planted several years ago is very healthy and has a lot of blooms in late spring. What is wrong with it?

Peonies take a while to get established. The older plant clearly is established but your young plant with a very shallow root system is likely struggling as a result of our hot and dry summer. Keep the younger plant watered and feed it in spring as soon as the ground thaws and can be worked. I’d suggest Espoma Flower-tone as the food. It can take 3 years or more for a peony to become well enough established that it has the energy to spare on a flowering cycle. Also peonies, once established, don’t like to be moved. Simply moving and established peony to a new location can cause it not to flower for a couple of years.

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When should the last fertilizer application be of rodies, arborvities and other plants?

The best time to feed these and other woody shrubs is as soon as the ground thaws and can be worked in spring. If you use Espoma’s Holly-tone or Flower-tone youe could feed againg 8 to 10 weeks later. Feeding is pretty much done for the season by early summer except for annuals that can be fed as long as the weather is warm. Other than on the lawn, I don’t suggest fall feeding. Shrubs, trees and perennials need to wind down with the season and late feeding can stimulate fresh growth that is more easily damaged by frost. Your last feeding for the woody shrubs you mention should be no later than the end of June.

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What kind of tree would you recommend for tall, fast growing, privacy in zone 3-4? I’ve searched online and found a Willow Hybrid but didn’t know if any local nurseries carried this.

A great tree for this purpose would be the Canadian Hemlock. As an evergreen hemlocks will provide privacy year round and can handle the cold of zone 3. Naturally they’ll follow their instinct and try to grow into a tree but pruning the top will force it to branch out and go wide instead of tall. Gradually let it get to the height you want and then trim the top every other year or so to keep it low and bushy. Hemlocks are widely available.

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How much sun does an arborvitae need, does the sun need to be on them directly?

Thanks for your question Don. Arborvitae will perform best in full sun. Full sun means that it the sun should shine directly on the plant for at least 6 hours. More is even better. You can add up all the sun that it gets to get the total. For example it might get 2 hours in the morning and 5 more in the afternoon for a total of 7 hour of direct sun. You should make these estimations during the growing season in June or July for instance. How much sun it gets in early spring, late fall or winter when the plant is dormant has no relevance.

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I am interested in purchasing a tree that blooms in the north each with dark orange blossoms. I don’t know what kind of tree this is, can you help?

Lesley and I exchanged email so I could get more clues. It turns out that the tree seems to flower in fall. Since there aren’t any trees that have showy orange flowers in fall I surmised that she was actually seeing the berry clusters of an American Mountain Ash

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We recently planted 6 arborviate which were around 3ft tall. We planted them in a mix of peat moss and native soil(sandy). They don’t seem to be doing well, leaves are turning brownish. What can we do to help them ?

It sounds like you did a good job planting your arbs. I suspect that the culprit is the hot, dry summer and fall we’re having. Newly planted shrubs need to be kept constantly moist during the growing season. In your sandy soil, this would have meant a thorough soaking every other day. To help them at this point, you shuld try pouring Mir-Acid (a food you dilute in water) from a watering can over the foliage. Mir-Acid can be absorbed directly through the foliage to feed the plant instantly. If you don’t have Mir-Acid then regular Miracle-Gro will also work. Also soak the soil by placing a slow running hose at the base of each plant for an hour or so to give the water a chance to get deep into the soils and the arborvitae’s roots. There’s rain coming that will help but deep soaking will take more than an inch or two of natural rain. This watering is especially important late in the growing season as plants (especially evergreens) are trying to store the moisture and nutrients they need to make it through the winter ahead.

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I’m looking for a shrub, evergreen, to put in my planter in front of my house. I would like to add some height to my landscape. The planter comes out away from the house approximately 30″. What would you suggest? Thanks

Thanks for your question Paul. Before I answer your question could you tell more about the planter. Is it free standing with a bottom (like a windowbox or pot) or more like a small retaining wall where there is no bottom and the plant can grow into the soil below? PeterB Peter, It is a small retaining wall planter without a bottom and ties back into the house. This planter is not in full sun but goes get quite a bit ob sun. It also runs between my house and the driveway. Thanks for clarifying Paul, Hardy perennials, shrubs and evergreens can be difficult to maintain in raised planters. This is because the planter will thaw and freeze repeatedly during late winter and early spring. Plants in the ground will stay frozen and dormant until the ground thaws in spring. Since a planter is raised up from the soil it will often thaw out during early warm spells in February or March. When this happens, it can lure the plants in the planter out of dormancy too early. The plants will start to grow roots and buds swell up with the first flush of growth. Of course normal, sub freezing weather returns and refreezes the planter. When this happens the new growth is killed and the shock of all this can kill the entire plant. It is for this reason you don’t often see hardy perennials or shrubs in raised planter…they have a hard time surviving. Having said that, I HAVE seen hardy plants in planter surviving and thriving. Those planters are usually in a location where there isn’t a lot of afternoon sun so the planter manages not to warm up enough during “false spring” weather and so the plants remain dormant. Perhaps your planter is in such a location and has enough mass to stay frozen in late winter. My suggestion for you would be to give Dwarf Alberta Spruce a try. They are slow growing and very hardy. If it is protected from the west and north wind, you could also try smaller rhododendron, azaleas and holly. Let me know how you make out. Peter B

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Its time for me to cut down my Hydrangea bushes,how far do I cut them down,I have not had flowers either on them in 2 years..Any suggestions? Thank you

There are different types of hydrangeas. Some flower on second year growth and some on new growth. You’ll need to determine what type you have. If you have been cutting back your hydrangea every fall then you might have been cutting off the shoots that will flower the following summer. Heree’s a wonderful site that will help you identify which type of hydrangea you have and when it should be pruned. http://www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com/pruning.html

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I have a flowering plum tree that was place in a retaining wall by a lanscaper two years ago. I did some online research on tree disease because I noticed a some issues with the tree. It looks like it could be Black knot and or Bacterial canker. What do I do?

I have a flowering plum tree that was place in a retaining wall by a lanscaper two years ago. I did some online research on tree disease because I noticed a some issues with the tree. It looks like it could be Black knot and or Bacterial canker. What do I do? Thanks for you question Laura, This is bad news…both these disorders are common to plums and both are dificult to control. Here’s some information from Cornell on Black Knot http://www.nysipm.cornell.edu/factsheets/treefruit/diseases/bk/bk.asp and on Bacterial Canker http://www.ehow.com/how_5786749_treat-canker-plum-trees.html The bottom line is that you’ll need to prune away the infected growth and spray during the growing season with a copper-based fungicide. We sell one from Bonide and you can see it here. It is available in a spray or dust (that can also be mixed with water for spraying). Repeat sprayings will be needed and even then either of these diseases will be hard to control completely but you might keep them under control.

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My rhododendrons have buds on them. When is the correct time to prune them?

Thanks for your question Barb, That’s great that you have buds now…those are the buds that will flower in spring. Right after those flowers finish up in spring is the correct time to do any pruning. That way the new flower buds that form will form on the new shoots that grow after you prune.

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When is the time to prune hygerangea bushes? Should it be done in the fall or spring? Thanks

Thanks for your question Dave, Different types iof hydrangeas get pruned at different times. The best I can do issteer you to this great site. It will help you determine what type of hydrangea you vae and how to prune it. http://www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com/pruning.html

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I have a beautiful zebra grass. I was wondering if I should trim it in the fall or wait until the spring. Thanks!

Honestly, it makes no difference to the plant whether you trim it now or in spring or at all for that matter. If you don’t like the way it looks now (straggly) then trim it back now. I would probably leave it until spring so the dead foliage will catch some leaves ans later snow to help insulated it over winter but Zebra Grass is so hardy that the choice is yours. Peter Bowden

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I’ve heard of a product called SuperRepellent to use on dormant trees and shrubs to prevent deer from browsing on them in the winter. Do you carry it?

Hewitt’s doesn’t carry SuperRepellent…the closest I can come is Liquid Fence Deer Repellent which uses putrescent egg solids, garlic, sodium lauryl sulphite and potassium sorbate to repel deer. It should be applied in fall and again during any thaw periods (above freezing) during winter…especially toward spring. PeterB

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I have a twin pine tree that has been dropping pieces since the fall and hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. My deck and lawn area is covered. The pieces are about 4 inch long small branches with green needles, no sign of brown needles. Any idea why the tree is dropping like this?? Never done this before. Thanks, Andy

I’ve been noticing the same thing. Don’t worry about it, the pines will be fine. We’ve had a very cold winter and we’ve had icing that has coated the pines for days on end. With the ice and extended cold spells the needles and small branches get very brittle so, when the high wind pounds them they snap off. They can even snap off from the weight of snow when the wind hits them as well. As the snow melts you’ll see even more broken needles on the surface. Rest assured, the pines will come through fine and will look great this spring with lots of new growth to replace what winter stripped away. This winter has been particularly cold, and icy. There is usually some damage like this in winter but this one has just been a little worse than the last few. Peter Bowden

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We have 4 globe arborvitaes along our front porch that have grown full and about 4 ft. tall over the past 20 years. We have pruned them annually, but the inner leaves/branches are brown and only the outer exposed leaves are green. We would like to cut these back about a foot, but are concerned that this will kill them or we won’t get green leaves back this season. I think they are worth saving, but my husband thinks they won’t recover well. Can you advise us how to prune these to give them the best chance of greening up this season or should be just replace them for something smaller? Thanks for your help!

I have to agree with your husband on this one. Cutting off a foot all around you globe arbs will remove pretty much all of the foliage. That will shock the plant so severely that it isn’t likely to survive. The general rule of thumb for pruning is :”Never remove more than 1/3 of the foliage per year.” I’d suggest replacing them with something slower growing so this doesn’t happen again. Dwarf Alberta Spruce would be an appropriate option. Peter Bowden

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I received a azalia bush last year. I was told to plant it at end of season. It looks like alot of it has died. Will it come back ?

Let it leaf out and then cut away all the dead stems. Since it was planted at the end of the season, it probably had a tough time over winter. Hardy plants should get planted as early in the season as possible to get a root system established before winter. Water it with Mir-Acid plant food every two weeks until the end of June (don’t feed it in the heat of summer). It should spring back to life and fill back in.

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Hello! A friend was given a mini azalea (assuming from what i was told, its really little) and it looked great. Some time passed and she forgot to water it causing it to dry up to near complete death. Its still alive after a dousing but most of it seems dead. She gave it to me figuring id pay better attention to it. I want to re-pot it into a bigger pot and because I cant put it outside in the ground. I know they like acidic soil and was told there was soil made just for them. Do you carry any? Ive been keeping the soil its in moist and it seems to be doing OK. Also what are these little pepper looking specks all over the underside of my spider plant? I its causing it to turn yellow and die.

Hello! A friend was given a mini azalea (assuming from what i was told, its really little) and it looked great. Some time passed and she forgot to water it causing it to dry up to near complete death. Its still alive after a dousing but most of it seems dead. She gave it to me figuring id pay better attention to it. I want to re-pot it into a bigger pot and because I cant put it outside in the ground. I know they like acidic soil and was told there was soil made just for them. Do you carry any? Regular potting soil will be fine but I’d wait until it recovers before repotting which will only add to the stress on the plant. Feed it with half strength Mir-Acid plant food every three weeks or so and keep it in partial sun until it recovers. It will be a few months before it is ready for repotting. I’ve been keeping the soil its in moist and it seems to be doing OK. Also what are these little pepper looking specks all over the underside of my spider plant? I its causing it to turn yellow and die. This sounds like spider mites. Spray weekly with insecticidal soap sprayfor 4 weeks. Make sure to spray thoroughly on top and bottom of the leaves.

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I asked a question about why my evergreen trees are turning brown and dying? you responded by wanting to know what type of tree they are and how old. they are blue spruce and five years old. I have not given them any food or fertilizer. I need your help thank you.

I asked a question about why my evergreen trees are turning brown and dying? you responded by wanting to know what type of tree they are and how old. they are blue spruce and five years old. I have not given them any food or fertilizer. I need your help thank you. Skip, Since your spruce tree are recently planted I’d like you to check to make sure that the twine that was on the ball is not still around the trunk. Most jute twines will rot away but plastic twine won’t. As the tree grows the twine strangles it. Next check to make sure that soil or mulch hasn’t been piled up against the bark of the tree. Sometimes, if the hole is dug too deeply the crown (where the trunk enters the soil) gets buried. Even mulch piled up against the trunk of the spruce is a problem. The bark needs to be exposed to the air for the bark on the trunk to pass nutrients from the soil below to the branches above. We find that buried stems and trunks and mulch piled against the bark are the leading cause for dead plants getting returned to us. Dig away around the trunk until you find the original soil that was at the top of the original dirt ball that the plant came in. Naturally you’ll get more growth and a healthier trees and shrubs if you feed then each spring…in the case of the spruces you’d feed them with Holly-Tone. http://blog.timesunion.com/gardening/spring-feeding-pt-2-shrubs-trees-and-perennials/650/

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Four years ago we planted two beautiful profusion crab apple trees on either side of a bradford pear tree. Both trees have done really well with plentiful blossoms and beautiful green leaves. This year they both blossomed with their pink flowers, but only one has a full compliment of dense green leaves. The other although it did have blossoms, now has only a scarce leaves and mostly bare branches. I can not see any signs of pests or fungi though it does look as though some branches were damaged by the harsh winter. Is it possible the leaves will arrive later in the spring or summer? Or am I better off looking at replacing it now so it has a chance to establish itself he fore next winter? Thanks so much!

Check around the base of the trees for mouse or rabbit damage. If the bark has been partially stripped off by them eating it over winter then it can cause some of the problems you’ve been describing. If the bark has been stripped of all the way around the trunk then it is fatal. Also check to make sure that you haven’t piled soil or mulch up against the bark of the tree. Scrape away and bark or soil until you see the original soil that the tree came in. Burying the crown of the tree (where the trunk enters the soil) also slows or stops the flow of moisture and nutrients from the roots to the branches. The fact that they flowered and have some leaves is hopeful. Winter was indeed harsh so they are under some stress. I’d give them a chance to recover before ripping them out.

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What are the best shrubs to grow in shade?

Azaleas do well in shade as do holly, japanese andromeda and holly. Yews also don’t need lots of sun. Endless Summer hydrangeas and many other hydrangeas like some shade. Euonymus likes shade too. Many varieties of viburnum thrive in shade as well. There are more as well…maybe come to the garden center to see.

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I have several groups of white birch trees we planted 5 years ago. They’ve been beautiful, until this year. Three groups have almost no leaves on them. They’re in different locations, only 2 groups are close to each other. I never saw signs of leafminers or anything affecting the trees or leaves last year. What could cause this?

There is a birch tree blight that can cause this. It is a leaf disease so it isn’t likely that it will kill the tree. This sometimes happens when we have an excessively damp spring. I might feed them a little Tree-Tone plant food by pounding holes into the soil under the drip line (outermost branch tips). Make sure to rake up and remove any leaves that fall and remove them from the yard…especially the leaves that fall this autumn. Another thing to check is the base of the tree where the trunk enters the soil. Make sure you haven’t buried the trunk with soil of mulch. Brush back the mulch or soil until you find the original soil line where the trunk enters the soil. If the trunk is buried with mulch or soil or slows the flow of moisture and nutrients up the trunk weakening the tree and making it more likely to die from diseases and stress. Peter Bowden

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Hello! We have three Princess Beatrix Hydrangea plants. They are now approx. 4 years old. Last year we did not have any flowers :( We thought it best to just leave the plants alone (did not prune at all) At this time, we have green leaves growing from the bottom up. What are our chances of seeing flowers this year? Most importantly, what is the VERY BEST way and time of year to prune them? Thanks so much! Beverley

I’d say your chances of seeing flowers are pretty good since you did not prune off last year’s growth. Princess Beatrix is a macrophylla hydrangea so it produces flowers from buds on stems that grew last year. Other hydrangeas can produce flowers on new growth. There is a lot of confusion about this and the best site for clearing up the confusion is this: http://www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com/pruning.html#Know For you hydrangea you’ll want to follow ‘Pruning: Method One’

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I have two mature Boulevard Cypress shrubs in front of my home and one more than the other has many brown branches on it. I tried using Jobe spikes but see no results. Could it be damage due to the severe winter or a blight? Also should I cut those brown branches off. Thank you.

This was a particularly rough winter so i expect that is the problem. It is normal for some of the interior foliage to turn brown and fall off as the plant matures but this winter may have nipped them more than normal. The food spike were a good idea and they will help as they dissolve into the soil. Any branches that are totall brown and brittle should be removed. Another thing to check is the base of the tree where the trunk enters the soil. Make sure you haven’t buried the trunk with soil of mulch. Brush back the mulch or soil until you find the original soil line where the trunk enters the soil. If the trunk is buried with mulch or soil or slows the flow of moisture and nutrients up the trunk weakening the tree and making it more likely to die from diseases and stress. Peter Bowden

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Hi Peter,I have a unhealthy cherry blossom tree and it has very few leaves on it, branches seem a little frail and it has no flowers. Can it be saved? Just one more thing, it is a very old tree. Thank you for your attention in this matter.

Fruit trees, including ornamental cherry trees have a lifespan and, if yours is 30 or 40 years old, it may be reaching the end of it’s time. Having said that, I’m hearing of similar problems from others. There are some things you can do. The most obvious is to make sure that you haven’t piled mulch up against the bark of the tree. Next make sure to remove any suckers that sprout from the base of the tree. Suckers will rob moisture and nutrients from the upper branches and leaves. Naturally feeding it with some fruit tree spikes pounded into the soil underneath the outermost branch tips will help as well. If the tree hasn’t been pruned in many years there are probably many interior sucker-like branches that should also be cut off to encourage growth on the main stems. If it has been let go then this pruning needs to take place over a few years to avoid shocking the tree. Without seeing the tree or a picture, it is hard for me to be too specific but here’s a website that does a nice job describing the process. http://www.ehow.com/how_7333120_restore-old-fruit-tree.html

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I have 2 apple trees in my backyards and would like to spray them organically (no chemicals) to control worms, can you recommend anything?

This is a pretty involved question so I think it best to send you the link to this very comprehensive page from Michigan State University. Michigan’s climate is the same as ours so the information given is appropriate here as well. http://web3.canr.msu.edu/vanburen/organasp.htm

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The best product to treat “needle cast disease” in everygreens? Zone 5, northen Saratoga County. Lower branches in tough shape. Have been told to use “both” ground based fungicide application and to spray the complete tree. ? Have over 25 evergreens, Blue Spruce trees are over 15′ tall but looking rather down. Can they be saved? Thank you.

Needle cast can be caused by a number of fungi. Once the needle is infected, nothing can be done.  The fungicide we sell that can be effective (depending on which of the diseases is causing the problem) id Fungonil.  You also want to rake up and remove all the needles from below the infected trees.  It would not be a bad idea to spray that area as well.  Make sure you haven’t piled mulch or dirt up against the base of the trees.  Here are a couple of links you may find helpful:

 

Bonide Fungicides

 

ehow facts on needlecast

 

Another useful site

 

 

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Can I still safely plant shrubs

This is a question that comes up every year as soon as the weather warms up.  Short answer is: yes, you can plant shrubs, trees and perennials all summer long…otherwise landscapers would go out of business.  HERE’S a link to a blog post that explains where the confusion comes from.

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We just moved into a new home in Latham. The soil is clay-like and we are looking for suggestions on a deer resistant hedge for privacy. Arbor vitaes in the neighborhood do not do well with the deer and perhaps the soil.Thanks.

If you have room for them, Green Giant Arborvitae make a great evergreen barrier and deer don’t like them.  There’s also hemlock although they don’t prefer locations with all day, full sun.  Otherwise there are nice choices of flowering, deciduous shrubs like lilacs, weigela, spirea and others.

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We planted 3 mountain fire plants and a Green mountain boxwood. We are need to know How and what we should use to fertilize them.

The best food for them would be Espoma Holly-tone, a granular, organic food.  You probably use a couple of cups per plant.  You can pound several holes  in the soil in a ring around the plants about as far from the trunk as the outermost branch tips and pour the food into these holes.  Here’s a blog post that covers the “how to” of spring feeding our landscape plants.

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We put an antidesicant our holly’s every year, but this year they are totally brown. We were in Florida all winter and understand that it was a rough one. What do we do now to bring them back. there is a little green in some areas.

You just asked “the question of the year” as we’re now calling it.  HERE’S a link to my blog post all about what happened while you were away and what you can do to bring your holly back.

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The school I work for wants to plant a Dwarf tree in memory of a staff member that just passed away,we want to put it on the side of the building,where there is some sun light but not all day long,what size do you carry and price range.Thank you.Marlene

This is one of those questions that is difficult to answer since there is little clue about the amount of daylight the areas is actually getting.  Is “some sun” one hour or 6 hours.  There is a wide range of possible amounts between “some sun” and all day sun.  The best I can suggest is a Weeping Japanese Maple.  They are $150.    With 7 hours of sun, weeping cherries and snowfountain crabapples would be possible to grow in that location as well.  They run about $100-$150.

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We have a weeping cherry tree that looks out of control. Can it be trimmed now or is there a better time to do it?Also, the ornamental grasses that we have are showing very little if any green on them – any chance they could still come around ??

Now, just after the flowering period, is the best time to trim your weeping cherry.  They form the buds for next spring’s flowers over this summer.  If you prune later in the season, you’ll be pruning away the buds and won’t have as many flowers next spring.  Weeping cherries are grafted (with two grafts).  Prune away any suckers at the base of the tree whenever you see them sprouting since they are robbing energy from the upper part of the plant.  The top, weeping part of the tree is also grafted to the main trunk so look for any branches that are trying to grow from the trunk below that upper graft and remove them whenever you see those.  They won’t weep and, if you let them go, they will grow faster than the weeping upper part and take over.  In other words. prune away any shoots are branches that are growing anywhere below that upper graft.  Never prune away more that 1/3 of the desirable weeping branches each year to avoid shocking the tree.

 

If your grass hasn’t shown any signs of life by now, I’d assume it is dead.

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What is a great deer resistant perennial?

Just one?…Iris.  Here’s a great site if you want to learn more perennials or other landscape plants that are deer resistant.  Bear in mind that this site is for NJ so check the results to make sure the plants it suggests are hardy in this area.

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My holly bushes seem dead. The friut was exceptional this fall/winter. Help. are they dead?Have just put holly tone around all 20 of them.thank you in advance.

Check the bark at the base of the plants.  If mice have stripped the bark off all the away around then they are probably gone.  Also check that you haven’t buried the stem with mulch.  Brush back the mulch until you find the original soil that the plant came in…hopefully you didn’t plant them too deep…a common mistake and always fatal although it may take a couple of years for the shrub to die.  Bend the smaller branches and, if they are brittle and snap easily then the branches are dead.  If there seems to be any life left to them at all, get some Mir-Acid  plant food and dilute it in water as directed, (no stronger) an wash it down over the stems and trunk of the plants.  This type of food can be absorbed directly into the cells of the bark…like an emergency intravenous feeding.  if there is any life left at all, this will help the plant grow leaves as quickly as possible.  Do this once a week.  If no signs of life appear after a month or so, then they are done in.  Holly and other broadleaf evergreen shouldn’t be planted in very windy locations exposed to the dry, cold north and west wind.  Perhaps that is part of the problem.

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what kind of water should I give my indoor Kentia Palm?

If you have city water, let the water stand in the watering can overnight to let the chlorine escape overnight before using.  If you have well water, this won be necessary.  Avoid using water that has been processed by a water softener.

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Hi, I attended the seminar at the Wilton store on Saturday and afterward showed you photos of a group of 5 douglas fir trees in my yard, 2 of which are not doing well. I purchased the Holly Tone and Miracid as you suggested, but would like some more specific information on how and when to apply these products. Should I apply the Holly Tone in the soil around the tree trunks first? How many days/weeks should I then wait to apply the Miracid? And is the Miracid also applied in the soil around the tree trunks? How frequently should I apply the Miracid, and is there a point at which I should stop applying it? Thank you in advance for your help!

Get the Holly-Tone into the soil right away since it takes some time to dissolve and start working.  In the meantime start using the Miracid right away.  Dilute as directed on the package and wash it down over the stems, twigs and what is left of the foliage.  The idea id to get nutrients directly into the bark to stimulate some quick growth…Miracid can do this.   No need to soak the soil with the Miracid…the Holly-tone will feed through the roots. Apply the Miracid to the plant about once every 2 week until early June when it starts getting hot…finish the applications by the end of the first week of June.

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I have leaf spot on my Rhododendron. Help! What can I do to save it.

First, prune away and discard ant affected leaves and clear any fallen leaves and plant part form below the plants.  Feed them right away with Espoma Holly-tone organic food.  Make sure any sprinkler systems are NOT spraying the plants with water.  Start a preventative spraying program with a sulfur or copper fungicide.  Nutrition and hygiene can go a long way to preventing leaf spot in the future but the fungicide spray may be need to get it under control.

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We have two hydrangeas from Hewitt’s. One Nikko Blue and one Forever Summer type. They are winter killed down to base…2 or 3 leaves at ground level? Do I cut back all the dead branches?? They are 4 feet tall. Help!! Sarah at tsridge@gmail.com

Yes, you can cut them back although the Nikko Blue won’t flower on new growth.  NB forms buds the season before for this year’s flowers.  Those latent buds rarely make it through winters in zone 5…probably not worth growing in our area (assuming you’re from Upstate NY).  I’d wait on the Endless Summer hydrangea and see where it starts to grow from and prune it back to just above that spot on the stem…don’t prune it all the way back to the ground.  Here’s a great link to all things hydrangea.

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Two years ago, I built a new porch between two very healthy holly bushes. I used sonotubes and portland cement to anchor the posts.This spring, both bushes have suddenly gone brown and seem gone.Any speculation on why?

It is possible that you damaged the roots of the hollies when you dug the holes.  Also the very alkaline nature of the concrete leaching into the soil could also harm acid-loving hollies.  Follow up all that stress with one of the coldest, windiest winters in recent memory and it was probably more than the hollies could take…especially if they face toward the west or north.  Broadleaf evergreens like holly and rhododendron really too a beating over this last winter.

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do plum trees interfere with apple trees

Not as long as they are planted far enough apart so each has plenty of room to grow.  No other issues with them being near each other though.

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all my holly bushes have brown leaves will they green up ? i never had this problem in previous years

This last winter was colder, windier and longer than normal.  This was rough on broadleaf evergreens like holly and rhododendron.  At this point all you can do is cut off all the dead leaves.  Bend the small branches and, if they are brittle and snap easily cut them back to where you find living tissue.  You should feed them with Holly-Tone in the soil below (this should be done every year).  To stimulate some quick leaf growth you can use some Mir-Acid soluble evergreen food.  Mix with water in a watering can as the package directs.  Sprinkle this food all over the stems and remaining leaves.  This food can be absorbed directly into the plant without having to come up through the root system.  It is an emergency method of feeding and, if they is any life left to the plant, this will stimulate quick leaf growth.  Do this every week and a half until mid-June.  Also make sure you haven’t piled mulch up against the base of the tree.  This smothers the bark and slowly kills it.  Mulch is good but not against the bark of the plants, any plants.

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This was a hard winter on our rhodos ,many dead branches & wilted leaves. Should they be cut back close to the ground? We also experienced the same problem on azealas, parts of the bushes died. Should they be cut back?

This last winter was colder, windier and longer than normal.  This was rough on broadleaf evergreens like azaleas, holly and rhododendron.  At this point all you can do is cut off all the dead leaves.  Bend the small branches and, if they are brittle and snap easily cut them back to where you find living tissue.  You should feed them with Holly-Tone in the soil below (this should be done every year).  To stimulate some quick leaf growth you can use some Mir-Acid soluble evergreen food.  Mix with water in a watering can as the package directs.  Sprinkle this food all over the stems and remaining leaves.  This food can be absorbed directly into the plant without having to come up through the root system.  It is an emergency method of feeding and, if they is any life left to the plant, this will stimulate quick leaf growth.  Do this every week and a half until mid-June.  Also make sure you haven’t piled mulch up against the base of the tree.  This smothers the bark and slowly kills it.  Mulch is good but not against the bark of the plants, any plants.

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When is the best time to prune an azalea bush?

Right after the flowering period.  That way the new growth will form buds for next springs flowers.  If you prune later, there will be no buds so no flowers next spring.

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I have a Kwanzan Flowering Cherry (Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan”) tree that my deceased son gave me seven years ago for Mother’s day. It has flowered every year since he gave it to me except last year and now it looks like this year it is not going to have flowers either. I have not done anything different to it over the years. It did seem to have a growth spurt last year and I thought that was why it didn’t flower. We always remove the suckers when they start and we do not have mulch around it. Any advise you can give me will be greatly appreciated.

The long cold winter just past may have caused the buds to fail.  If you have been pruning late in the year, after the end of May you are removing the buds for the next years flowers.  If it isn’t getting at least 7 hours of direct sun a day then it won’t have the energy to flower.  If all of the above is not the issue, then it probably needs some food to give it the energy it needs to flower.  Espoma Flower-Tone food should be placed into holes in the ground around the tree.  This should be done right away and every spring as soon as the ground can be worked.  Plants won’t flower until the have the extra energy to do so.  Here’s more on spring feeding.

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I bought a Magnolia from you last year and it has done well.What is your advice on fertilizing my little girl Jane?And pruning?

You should feed it right away.  Pound some holes around the base of it and pour in some Espoma Flower-tone.  The tree spikes are too strong for your recently planted Jane.  Here’s a blog post all about spring feeding.  Pruning should be done right after the flowering is finished.  Magnolias grow their bud for next spring’s flowers over the rest of this season.  If you prune later, you’ll be cutting off the latent buds that will be next spring’s flowers.  If you prune when it has just finished flowering, the new growth will have a chance to produce buds.

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Hi Peter,I have a large Maple tree (taller than my 2-story house), with roots that have popped out of the ground. Would I be able to put a thin layer of mulch down around the tree to cover up the roots? Thank you.

This is normal for maples.  You can cover the roots with a thin layer of much but don’t pile it up against the trunk of the tree.  Mulch on the ground is good…mulch against the trunks and stems of plants is very bad.

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I purchased a white flowering dogwood tree May 20, 2008 and it has never flowered. Can you tell me why? Thank you.

There are a couple of possible reasons.  If the tree is growing in too much
shade, then it probably won’t flower.  While dogwoods don’t prefer all day
sun, they do need to get 7-9 hours daily to flower as we expect.  Another
issue could be lack of nutrition.  Do you feed your tree.  I’d suggest
pounding some holes in the ground about 1′ deep with a pipe around the tree
out away from the trunk of the tree about as far as the outermost branch
tips.  Fill those holes about 3/4 full with Espoma Bio-tone starter food.
This will provide nutrients but, even more important, a dose of beneficial
microbes and fungi that will enhance the tree ability to absorb phosphorus
from the soil.  Here’s a link to more on that.

http://blog.timesunion.com/gardening/sorry-bone-meal-ive-met-someone-new/6303/

Then, feed it with Espoma Tree-tone in the same manner every spring as soon
as the ground thaws.

Finally, check to make sure that you haven’t been piling mulch up against
the trunk of the tree.  Mulch is good on the soil but not against the bark
of the tree.  The mulch prevents the easy flow of nutrients up through the
bark and is slowly strangling the tree.  Brush any mulch away from the trunk
of the tree until you expose the original soil level.

Peter Bowden

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I am looking for a colorful tree that only grows 5-6 tall, any recommendationsThank you,Jim Connors

The only things that spring to my mind that is that short and is a tree is a weeping Laceleaf Japanese Maple or perhaps a Weeping Cherry

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how do i plant and take care of a bloomerang lilac bush

Plant it in full sun.  Feed it with Espoma Flower-tone every spring as soon as the ground can be worked.  Prune away spent flowers as soon as the petals fall off to encourage reblooming.

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i am looking for a small three to four feet flowering shrub which may change color in the fall

Green Mound Spirea would be a great choice. Clethra is another that will give a golden fall color.  Although a bit larger that your requirement, many hydrangeas also have a nice show of fall color.

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I have a ash tree that is diseased, Ihave removed the tree but it keeps putting on sprouts, Can I kill these roots before my other trees are diseased,Can someone tell me how to kill the roots. my email address is crjsinden@att.net, thanks if someone can help.

When you cut the suckers, paint the bark at the cut with Bonide Stump and Vine Killer.  This will get transmitted to the roots and kill them.  This would have been ore effective had it been done when you cut down the parent tree.  It may continue to send up shoots after your initial application but, if you keep cutting and painting the bark with the herbicide, the tree and its roots will eventually die off.  Always read and  follow the direction on the package.

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how to plant a rose bush

http://www.springvalleyroses.com/inthegarden/planting.html

 

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Hi Peter! A lot of our yews & junipers have large brown dead areas this year, we’ve live here for over 20 years, and have never seen this happen. And some of the other trees & shrubs are having a rough time, two of our Althea trees don’t look like they are going to make it. Is this a result of the winter we had, or could it be something else? We live right in Glenville. Thanks in advance! Gary & Barb

It was one of the roughest winters in about 20 years.  You are not alone…there’s been lots of damage to evergreens this year.  Trim away the damaged areas and it will fill back in eventually.  If you haven’t seen any signs of growth on your altheas by now, you can assume they didn’t make it.

 

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Have 2 burning bush 6-8′ tall. Both are leafless. However, branches still bendable. How far should I prune it back?

If they are total leafless then look at the base of the plants where the stems enter the soil.  It isn’t unheard of to have mice or rabbits strip the bark off burning bush to eat over winter…especially this last harsher than normal winter.  If you see that the bark is all stripped off then you might as well cut the burning bush right to the ground.  The roots are still fine and the plants will grow back very quickly.  You may even see shoots already emerging from the root system below.  Don’t cut them off since they are the start of the regrowing process.

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facing northwest, late afternoon sun, looking at ornamental grass first or a flowering shrub, What would you recommend?

It is difficult to suggest plants without knowing how many hours of “late afternoon sun” the area is actually getting.  If it is getting at least 6 hours of sun then you could grow many flowering shrubs.  Lilacs, spirea, weigela and others would be good choices.  Naturally there is a wide variety of sizes in these groups of flowering shrubs.  With less light than that, the ornamental grasses might be a better choice.  Perhaps have some observations to determine how many hours of sun the area is getting and take some pictures to bring to the garden center so we can fine tune our recommendations.

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Last fall I transplanted 10 rose of Sharon trees. They were all about 2 years old. It appears they survived the winter. Some appear to be alive but are not yet putting out green leaves while others are just starting to sprout. How long should they take to come back? Should we cut the branches that appear to have no growth since most new growth is at the bottomNg

I’d wait a little longer.  Althea leaf out very late and even later this year with the cold spring we’ve been having.  In a couple of weeks, cut them back to where you see new growth.  You can expect them to have some dieback from the shock of transplanting.  Poke some holes 8″ deep in the ground where you cut into the soil to dig the holes when you planted them.  Fill the holes about 2/3 of the way with Espoma Flower-Tone to feed them if you haven’t already.

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is there a paint to repair my fruit trees where the rabbits ate the bark off

There is pruning paint but there is some debate  whether is is beneficial to the healing process.  If the bark has been stripped off all the way around the tree, there is no way to save the tree other than bridge grafting.  In the future, you’ll want to wrap the trunks of the tree in fall to prevent this type of damage.

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I had some small apple trees girdled by a rodent is there any way to save them?

If the bark has bee stripped all the way around the trunk then the tree is gone.  If there is any bark remaining then it may eventually grow back.  In the future, wrap the trunk with tree wrap in the fall to prevent this type of damage.  Once the trees are olde and have formed rough, mature bark, the mice and voles will leave it alone but, while they are young with smooth bark, rodents will always be a threat.

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My maple tree didn’t drop propellers this Year (1st time in 25 years). I had a pool put in 7-8 years ago and I know they cut some roots. Also I had a few branches trimmed off at the same time, And I noticed a squirrel entering the tree at that point. I has plenty of leaves, but, I was wondering if it’s dying? Any Ideas? My neighbor has the same tree about 50′ from mine and propellers galore. Thank You Deb

Ugh, none of this sounds too good.  The most telling is the squirrel entering the interior of the tree through a hole.  This indicates that the tree is rotting on the inside.  The bark is still alive but the wood that makes up the strong interior of the trunk is compromised.  I would have to suggest that you have a certified arborist come and look at the tree it determine if it is safe and if anything can be done for it.  If it is near your house, it may be a hazard that is best removed before it causes damage or injury if it comes down in a high wind event.  HERE’S a link that can help you find the help you need.

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LOOKING FOR A TREE THAT ONLY GROWS TO ABOUT 10-15 FEET

REDBUID, FLOWERING CRABAPPLE, WEEPING JAPANESE MAPLE, WEEPING CHERRY, AMUR MAPLE, WEEPING CRABALPPLE ARE SEVERAL THAT SPRING TO MIND.

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I bought one of the larger blossoming cherry trees at a Hewitts a few years ago. It seems to be doing well but has never had one blossom that I can recall. Is this delay normal? I got it as a centerpiece so I’m getting bummed.

There are a coupleof reasons a flowering tree won’t flower.

 

Until they are well established and have energy to spare for flowering, they will forgo flowering.  To help your tree become well established more quickly, feed it.  Pound 10 or 12 holes with a pipe about 10″ deep around the tree out from the trunk about as far as the outermost branch tips (this is called the drip line of the tree).   Fill the holes with Bio-Tone starter food.  This will help the root system expand  and mature.  This will provide the tree with the extra energy it needs for flowering.

 

Also, if the tree isn’t getting enough sun, it will not have the energy for flowering.  It would require 6-7 hours of direct sun per day minimum (more is even better…all day full sun would be best) to be able to flower.  If it is in shade most of the day, then it will have trouble ever flowering.  It will survive and grow lots of leaves in the shade but may not flower.

 

 

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Three years ago I purchased two Hydranga bushes. As of now they still do not flower. Am I doing something wrong. I have tried to cut baack in the fall and the next year I didn’t cut them back but still no flowers.

How you prune a hydrangea to get blooms depends on what kind of Hydrangea it is.  HERE’S A GREAT SITE that can help you figure out what you have and how to prune it.

 

Also, if it is Nikko Blue Hydrangea, it blooms on second year growth.  In or USDA zone, the branches or canes die over the winter on Nikko Blue.  The roots live so new canes grow each year but won’t produce flower.  Bottom line, Nikko Blue can survive here in Zone 5 but will never flower.

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We purchased Arborvitaes, how often must these plants be watered?

Just enough to keep them moist.  Feel the soil and if it is cool and damp wait a couple of days and check again.  It is best to water them heavily once a week with a long soak (leave a hose trickling at the base of each one for a half hour or so).

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I just planted hydrangeas this weekend. We had a heavy rainstorm last night and the flowers are now flopped over and droopy. Any suggestions on how to put more life into the flowers and keep this from happening again?

That WAS some heavy rain.  This is a common problem with hydrangeas and peonies.  There’s not much that can be done other that providing support for the branches with the metal stakes with rings at the top to hold the stem upright.  You should feed it every spring with Espoma Flower-Tone and that can make it as sturdy as possible but, when we get a pounding 3″ of rain in a couple of hours, your hydrangeas are going to flop until they dry out.

 

 

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I am looking for a fast growing tree ,that grows to a height of 20 ft and will live in wet soil ,to plant next to a fence

Within your height requirement Magnolia, and ornamental (like Bradford) pears are good choices.

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How do you get rid of Weevil? My 3 yr old Norway Spruce trees (3 out of 5) head leaders turned into a Shepards hook. Ive read that its a Weevil. Another Colorado Blue Spruce that I bought from you Latham store 8 yrs ago has had this same hook. We have cut it off and burned it every year but it comes back. Now my beautiful Spruce trees have it they are 15 ft tall.Help!

The best way to eliminate the weevils will be with a systemic insecticide.  I’ve used Bonide Annual Tree and Shrub Insect Control with great results.   You dilute the product and pour it at the base of the tree.  The tree takes the insecticide up through the roots and it permeates the entire tree so anything that chews on or sucks on any part of the tree dies.  It takes a while to works but is can’t miss like a spray.  Read and follow the directions on the label to the letter.  I’d treat again next spring and then monitor the trees in years to come and reapply only if you see evidence of a re-infestation.

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We have had a rose of Sharon bush blooming beautifully for four years. This year it died. What happened?

We just experienced one of the coldest winters in about 30 years. I suspect you RoS is in an area that is exposed to wind from the north and west where all the coldest, driest wind all winter. If you bought it at Hewitt’s bring it back with your receipt and our Lifetime Nursery Guarantee will allow a replacement,

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Any recommendations for a 6 to 8 tree or shrub for someone on a budget

We have Rose of Sharon and Lilacs on sale right now (7-17-14) for $29.99 and they are within your size requirement.  Some of the weigela and spirea are also in that size range.  Call ahead to the store you’re going to visit to confirm availability.

 

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I have a white fungus on our lilac tree. What can I use to treat it?

Assuming it is powdery mildew, a common fungal disease of lilacs, the best way to control it is with preventative spraying with copper of sulfur fungicide before the symptoms show…around mid-May through mid-June.  It is difficult to control once the white powdery coating on the leaves shows up.  I you had it this year, spray preventatively next year.

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Why is my pyramidal yew dead on one sid3

It is probably only getting sun on one side.  This is common on yews grown against the side of a building.

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I need a juniper ground cover that grows 12″- 15″ tall. What would you recommend. When should I plant it? Do you sell it? Which location would be the best to go to get what I am looking for? I would be coming from Bennington, VT

The store with the best selection at this late point in the season would be our store On Rt. 20 in Westmere.  This is a mile or so past the Rt 20 entrance to Crossgates Mall.  They have, at this moment, 10 Bar Harbor Junipers which get 10″ tall.  14 Blue Star junipers butthey might be larger than you want.   They also have 11 Green Mound Junipers which makes an excellent groundcover but is only about 8″ tall.

Planting now is fine but the selection is much better in early May.  Spring planting gives the plants all summer to establish a root system before the next winter.

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We planted 3arbor vitae trees in August. Now they a ‘re turning yellow brown inside out. Not sure what w e did wrong? If they are definitely are definitely a d do we need to wait for spring to replace them?

First check to make sure that you haven’t buried them too deeply or piled mulch up against the bark….this is a common mistake and slowly smothers the plant.  Brush away any bark and soil away from the trunks until you find the original soil that the plant was growing in and let the bark breathe…more on that HERE.  Also make sure your keeping them moist…it is very dry out there and extra watering is in order even though it is cool out.  Some yellowing on the interior is normal as the arborvitae grows so I wouldn’t give up on them just yet.

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How long does rose of sharon live

Althea or Rose of Sharon isn’t a long lived plant…generally 15-25 years but sometimes less.

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We have arborvitaes in our yard, they are thick and quite lovely. By summer’s end, there are creeping weeds that spread up from the ground, and wrap or attach to arborvitae trunks. What do you suggest to treat, prevent or remove?We would love to prevent this problem, we have physically pulled away these climbers, seems to be the only way to get rid of them, yet are looking for another preventive option if any. thank you!!L Vinton, laura200@comcast.net

If it is an annual vine, then using a pre-emergent weed preventer like Preen or Corn Gluten can help.  These are applied in early spring and prevent the seeds from germinating.

 

If it is a woody perennial vine like wild grapes or poison ivy the you’ll need to cut the stems and paint them with Bonide Stump and Vine Killer.  HERE’S A LINK to that product.  It needs to be painted on the stump of the vine right after you cut it and it kills the roots.  It may take repeated application to fully control the vine.

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when is best time to plant pine bushes

They can be planted anytime anytime but the best times are spring and now in early fall.

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I’m looking for a flowering shrub that doesn’t grow taller than around 5 ft.

Little Princess Spirea, Dwarf Barberry, Carpet roses, winterberry, Cotoneaster and Miss Kim dwarf lilac are a few that spring to mind.

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how far back can I trim a Hydrangea tree?

That depends on what type of hydrangea it is.  There a couple of types and they require different care.  HERE’S a great site that can help you figure out what type you have and how to prune it.

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how far back can I trim a large hydrangea tree?

You can prune up to 1/3 of the total branch structure without shocking the plant.  It is best to do that right after it finishes flowering.

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Is it too late (October 19, 2014) to plant a tree in my backyard? It’s clay andthe arborvitae we planted – two different times – had to be pulled out because they turned brown. I would like a blue spruce or something similar but I’m not sure when the optimum time is to plant it.

The best time to plant in in spring…the earlier the better.  It is also important to know how to plant probpely.  When plant die quickly after planting, it is often due to burying the stem too deep or piling mulch up against the trunk.  More in proper planting procedure HERE.

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What type of evergreen tree is the best one to use for a privacy screen? I am looking for a pyramid shape tree that is somewhat of a medium grower here in Colonie New York. There are several businesses behind my house with bright lights and parking lots that I would like to hide.

I’d suggest Green Giant Arborvitae.  They are evergreen, have the shape you desire and are quick enough growers to make a difference in a short amount of time.  We will have them in stock again next spring.

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I have a very wet area on the bottom of a hillside and would like to plant a showy tree. What are my choices? Thank you.Ingrid Greenfield

Some good choices that come to mind are Dappled Willow (large shrub) Fringetree, Birch, Ash, Hornbeam, Tulip tree and one of my favorite, Shadblow (amalanchier).  There are other to consider…here’s a link to a more extensive list.  http://www.weekendgardener.net/tree-information/wetsoil-090809.htm

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My rose of Sharon bush did poorly this year. Only a few buds and mostly bear branches. It looks healthy and has always had beautiful buds and lasted for months. What could have caused this?

We’ve been having a wet summer (until now that is) and, if you have soil that holds water well (normally a good thing) then the plants may under stress from that and bud drop is a response to that. Both the types of hibiscus you have have deep root systems so rarely need extra watering except in the driest of years. Stop watering. It has also been humid so it is possible that your hibiscus have a fungal disease called botrytis. Earlier spraying with a fungicide might have prevented this but probably won’t help much now that it has taken hold. There are also thrips, a very small insect that may go undetected due to their small size and light color. Take a close looks at the flower buds to see if there are an small white kind insects on them If so, a spray if insecticidal soap once a week for three weeks should knock them out. Thrips are sucking insects so there are no holes or obvious damage but the damage they cause can cause the buds to fall before opening.

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I have 2 Hydrangea bushes that are large, but only have 3 flowers bloom on each one of them. What can I do to get more flowers next year?Thank you.Janetbrock5000@aol.com

Most hydrangeas don’t like full sun but they do need some.  You should also feed them each spring…I like Espoma Flower-tone.  Depending on what type they are, they may benefit from some pruning but there are different pruning methods for different hydrangeas.  HERE’S a link to a great website that will help you figure out which type of hydrangea you have and the proper pruning method.

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Gardening (115)

Hello. I had a container garden last year that did very well. I am wondering if I have to replace all of the soil that is still in the containers or is there something I can mix in to reuse it? Thank You. Pam

No need to replace the soil unless you had disease problems. You can renew the nutritional value of the soil by blending in some Espoma Garden-tone or Flower-tone. I do this in all my large pots and planters every year….works great!

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I planted a Hydrangea plant 3 years ago and it has yet to bloom. It will produce the green leaves.

There are many differnt hydrangeas and several reasons why your hydrangea isn’t blooming…the first that comes to mind is: ‘Not enough sun’ Since I don’t know what type of hydrangea you have nor enough clues to answer your question, I’ll direct you to this website…great information: http://www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com/index.html

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How do I get rid of a rabbit in my garden that is eating my vegetables?

The easy answer is to build a fence to keep the rabbits out of the garden. I’ll assume that you’re not in a situation where a fence is feasible. At Hewitt’s we have ‘Repels-All’ which is a combination of dried blood, putrescent whole egg solids and garlic oil. It can be quite effective and claims to last for ‘up to 2 months’. The reality is that it will last only until the next rain shower washes it into the soil. You’ll need to reapply after every rainstorm to remain protected. Then there’s Liquid Fence which contains fewer ingredients that Repells-All but seems to do the job for many folks. To be most effective, apply these repellents as a stronger barrier around the area to be protected rather than scattering it about everywhere. There’s also Hot Pepper Wax spray which can be sprayed on vegetable plants. Rabbits don’t like the taste at all. You may also find that a repellent works well for a few years and then seems not to work. This means that the animals have become accustomed to the repellent and it is time to switch to a different one for a few years or until the animals become used to that one. This means that you should alternate between Repells-All and Luquid Fence every three or four years.

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We recently dug up some daffodil and tulip bulbs to redo our garden — can we plant them now or do we need to dry them and plant in the fall?

By now the bulbs have stored as much energy for next year’s flowering so it is up to you whether you want to replant now or in the fall. You can replant now if the space is available or later if it is not. I like to see bulbs like daffodils, tulips and such planted as early in the fall as possible so they have a chance to root in and grab some nutrients before winter. By early in the fall I mean late September or early October. The later they go in, the less chance they have to set roots which help keep the bulbs from being forced up but frost.

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do I remove the leafs from my perinnel garden or do I rake if in the spring. Thank you for your help.

I leave the leaves on my perennial bed. They will protect the crowns of the perennials from drying sun and wind over the winter. This is important especially if we have a snowless winter…snow is the best protection leaves second best. Resist the urge to rake the leaves out too early in spring. The layer of leaves will help keep the sun from thawing out the beds during any early warm weather we might get in late February and March. A week of warm weather and sun can thaw the soil and bring our perennials out of dormancy too early. When the cold returns, it can damage or kill perennials that were lured out of dormancy too early. I’d leave the leaves on the beds until mid to late April or so. Peter Bowden

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My flower gardens are covered in moss. I did a PH test (thank you for the “how to” on your blog) and surprisingly they all came out in the 7.0 to 8.0 range. They are fairly shady areas, but they do get at least 4 hours of sun and they are not kept overly wet. Any ideas as what I should do to solve this problem?

I’m glad you pH is good but, as you see, moss can still grow in neutral soil.   I’d rough up the area and consider mulching the area between the plants.  You can tear brown paper leaf bag up and fit the pieces among the plants then cover the paper with a 2″ layer of cedar mulch.  This will smother the moss over time.

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I planted a red bee balm in my garden. I water it at night after the sun is gone from that area of the garden, a few days ago, before this intense heat, it starting looking funny, loosing it’s bottom leaves, the top leaves have a greyish tint the them, almost looks like dust. It is in full sun and I don’t water it every night just when its really hot or we haven’t had rain for a while. Do you have any suggestions to save it. Thanks, Dotty

OK, first of all, stop watering in the evening or at night. If you water at night and get the leaves of the plant wet they will take longer to dry thus providing an extended period forfunal diseases to take hold. Water in the early morning instead. Also use a watering wand so you can soak the soil without wetting the leaves. Wet leaves are just what fungal diseases need to get started and thrive. What you describe is a fungal disease called powdery mildew and it is very common to see this disease attacking bee balm, lilac, garden phlox and some other plants. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the powdery mildew on your bee balm is specific to bee balm and won’t spread to your other garden plants nearby unless the are also bee balm. Once powdery mildew starts, you have no choice but to spray with a fungicide. Since you know that you have this issue now, you can expect it next year as well. You could start spraying or dusting the plants with the organic fungicide Garden Sulfer about once a week or after a heavy rain. Rains washes the sulfer off the leaves. Since the disease has already started, you’ll want something stronger. For this I suggest Bonide’s Infuse fungicide. It is a liquid spray and you want to apply it every 10 days or so following the directions on the package. Remember, these sprays are most effective when used as a preventative before the symptoms show up. If you like bee balm then you should start spraying by early June and continue through the the first half of August.

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Peter,I have been planting my tulips bulbs in late Sept, early Oct, and the moles or something are eating them. always in the same spot on the left side of my house, the ones on the right front they leave alone, what can i put in that is healthy and natural to repell, what I think is moles, eating my bulbs

One of the most common problems folks run into is having their bulbs dug up or eaten by mice, chipmunks, squirrels and voles. In the past this has been dealt with by adding black pepper to the planting holes or, in extreme cases, by surrounding the bulbs with wire mesh. Thankfully there’s a product that has come on the market in the last few years that makes those techniques obsolete and unnecessary. I’m talking about MoleMax. MoleMax is an extract of Castor Beans and the presence of it in the soil keeps moles, voles, and any burrowing rodents away. Just to keep the record straight, moles are NOT the culprit when your bulbs are dug up or eaten. Moles only eat insect larvae (like grubs) and earthworms but not plants or bulbs. Usually chipmunks are the real culprit but their cuteness seems to earn them immunity from blame. I’ll take a mole over a chipmunk any day. Here’s the directions from the package for using MoleMax when planting bulbs: For Bulbs: After placing bulb in hole, apply one (1) tablespoon of product into the hole, making sure granules surround the bulb, then backfill with soil. I’ve used MoleMax and it works great. I’ll apply it again in the spring to the area as a follow up. In reality I apply MoleMax to all my flowerbeds in spring to discourage the moles. If I can keep the moles out of the flowerbed then my dog won’t be tempted to try to dig them out. The mole damage is minor but the destruction the dog can do in a few minute of digging is something I’m glad to avoid.

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I have some Stella D’ora daylilies that I planted about five years ago. The plantings have become quite large. I know I need to separate them, as they are not blooming as abundtantly as they had been. What time of year is the best time to separae and replant them? Should I wait until the fall after they have bloomed, or can they be separated now, when they are just starting to form flower buds?

If there is no hurry to do this, I’d wait until September to divide them.  While daylilies are robust and can probably handle summer dividing, they’ll be all floppy and beat looking for the rest of the summer.  Why not enjoy them for the summer and divide them at the end of the season?   Summer dividing is so rough on them (and any plant) that there is nothing to be gained by dividing them now.

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is it too late right now (June 27) to prune a lilac tree or a hemlock tree. My hemlock tree is dead on the bottom but has branches growing up on the top. someone told me to cut the whole thing down and it would fill in on the bottom better.

You can prune your lilac now without any problems. The best time to prune a lilac is right after the flowers have finished. Lilacs form buds this summer that winter over and open in spring. Be aware that new growth that occurs near the pruned areas might not have time to form buds so there might not be flowers on those branches next spring. To prevent shocking the plant, don’t remove more than 1/3 pf the total branch structure. Likewise the hemlock can be pruned lightly now without problems. It is normal on most evergrees that the lower branches turn brown as the upper part of the plant fills in. As the upper part fills in it block sunlight from reaching the lower branches. Again, don’t remove more than 1/3 of the foliage to avoid shocking the plant.

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2 questions Why are our squash plants only getting false blossom flowers and no squash buds? How long does it take for potatoes to be ready to dig or how can we tell when to dig them up? Thank you

The problem with squash, cukes and other curcurbit producing flowers but no fruit can usually be traced to water washing the pollen out of the flowers before bees and other pollinators can pollinate the flower. If the pollen is washed out of the flower before pollination, the plant aborts the useless flower and puts its energy into producing another fresh flower. Rain can be the culprit but usually it is the gardener him/herself that is causing the problem by spray watering their garden. Remove all LAWN sprinklers from the garden and get a watering wand so you can soak the soil at the base of the plant without getting the flowers and leaves wet. You can also get those black soaker hoses that lets the water ooze out without wetting the plants. Spray watering not only washes off the pollen but wetting the leaves with cold water shocks (weakens)the plant and creates the perfect environment for fungal disease to take hold. There is no good reason to spray water your vegetable garden or flower beds unless you enjoy mushy flowers and vegetable plants that struggle to produce fruit. You can wait until frost kills the plant to harvest your potato crop. If you want ‘new potatoes’ you can harvest them from mid to late summer. I leave mine until frost so they can get as large as possible. You wouldn’t think that home grown potatoes would taste so much better than store bought but they really are…that’s why we grow them every year.

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I bought a Mallow Hibiscus, just about 3 weeks ago. I read on the Internet that they like lots of water. I made sure I watered it at 8am when I went to work and again, around 8 at night to make sure it had plenty, but it is turning all brown Can you give me any suggestions? I have it in front of my house, that gets all day sun, it that the problem? When I bought it, I noticed you had it in front so I thought that would be ok Marlyn

Marlyn, Mallow hibiscus do indeed enjoy full sun. While you need to make sure that the soil stays constantly moist it is possible that you’ve been giving it too much water and the roots are drowning. Soaking it morning and night will create soil that is “soggy wet” not ‘constantly moist’ as is recommended for Mallow Hibiscus. Back off on the watering….you’re drowning the plant! Before you water again, poke your finger into the soil to a depth of 4″ to 5″. If the soil is cool and slightly moist, don’t water. Check again a couple of days later. Only when the soil at 5″ is dry should you water. Soak it thoroughly then check it again after four days or so. Never, never spray the plant with water but soak the soil below to keep the leaves dry and healthy. More on that here: See Wise Watering Without Waste http://ourgarden.freedomblogging.com/ You might remove any really brown leaves so it will grow some new fresh one to replace them. Feed them a high phosphorus liquid plant food like Blooms Plus or Jack’s Classic every fourth or fifth watering to help with the recovery. In spring, your Mallow Hibiscus won’t show any sign of life before the Lilac are blooming or even later. Be patient, they’ll be along. Peter Bowden

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What is the best way to store dahlia bulbs?

Cut off the foliage when you are ready to get them ready for storage. There is no need to wait until frost kills the foliage. Carefully lift (dig up) the tubers being careful not to slice the tubers with your shovel or fork. Gently hose off any soil off the tubers and let them dry for an hour or so. Dust them with a bulb dust (available at Hewitts) to prevent rotting while in storage. Place them into plastic bag like those in your grocery store’s vegetable section. Fill the bag around the tubers with vermiculite or very dry potting soil. Peat moss and sawdust are also used. Place those bags into light-proof boxes and place those boxes in an area that will be between 35° and 50° over winter. Check them a couple times over the winter to make sure they are OK. Remove any that appear to be getting mushy. If they seem to be getting limp from dryness, it is a good idea to mist them a little before they go back into storage.

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Mr. Bowden, We recently added a water softening system to our well system. Will we have problems when watering our raised bed gardens from the water softened system? Should we try to bypass the softener and still use the hard water from the well? Thanks love your info on the news Pete

You should NOT use softened water on your garden or houseplants. Here’s what an ag agent at Texas A&M about it. “Softened water is not recommended for watering plants, lawns and gardens due to its sodium content. Care must also be taken that water used in recharging a water softener be disposed through a storm drain or sewer due to its damaging effects. If you are on a septic tank, the logical method of brine disposal is to discharge the brine into the septic tank and soil absorption field where some leaching of sodium salts will occur. Other alternatives include a separate holding tank which could be evacuated by a vacuum truck or a separate disposal field or discharge point that does not affect neighbors’ property.” Get a bypass installed and use that hard water. The plants may benefit from the minerals in the water but will suffer from the sodium in the water softened water.

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Peter, Want to plant brussel sprouts. Seed packet says 4 months before fall frost, which is Oct 3 here in Albany. Do I sow directly in garden June 3? They sell transplants now, wouldn’t a transplant be too early to plant in May, for Harvesting after frost in October? Your planting guide says direct seed may 15 – June 10. Please help me resolve this confusion. Thanks Peter Best, Larry

Brussel Sprout transplants (started from seed indoors earlier or purchased at the garden center) can be planted now for harvest in summer. Seeds can be sown in June as you state for harvest in October. The crop sown in summer will be the better and more flavorful crop since it will mature in the cold days of October.

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My pachysandra is dying in clumps around my maples…it used to be extremely lush…what to do??? thanks!!

Maples have a shallow root system and may be competing with the pachysandra for moisture and nutrients. I’d suggest broadcasting some gentle plant food over the pachysandra…Espoma Plant-tone would be my choice. You should also consider adding a thin (no more than an inch or so) layer of soil over the pachysandra to refresh it. This can be done by lightly sprinkling the soil from your shovel…not the easiest task but, id the pachysandra has been there a while, it could probably use a pick-me-up.

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I have a hosta that has big leaves and when I bought it 2 years ago, it was blue. Now it has come up green. It is currently in a heavy shade area. If I moved it to an area with more sun, would it revert to blue? Or, is it something in the soil that will make it blue? I want it to be blue.

Sometimes if a blue hosta gets too much sun they can take on a greener look. If yours is indeed getting no sun then it might be that you need to feed it to help darken the foliage. I’d trench out away from the hosta just outside the root zone and sprinkle in some Flower-tone into the trench and then cover it up and water it. Do this every spring as early in spring as you can. It may be that the hosta is missing a nutritional element it needs to stay blue. This would be especially likely if the soil is very sandy.

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Good afternoon Peter,I have 2 impatience hanging plants. I bought them a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, I let them in my hot car for about 3 hours…..flowers started drying up. I have them hanging now but they are in some sunlight. I have been watering from the get go and the buds are not flowering. What should I do ? Thank you for your attention in this matter.

Well, I guess you’ve learned to bring your plants right home on a hot day…I’d say you’re lucky they survived at all. Now you’ll need to ne patient with your impatiens. Keep the soil just lightly moist but not wet. You don’t want to drown them at this point. Some sun is good but not a lot of hot afternoon sun. You’ll probably lose some leaves and the first round of flowers since the buds aren’t opening. A light feeding with Jack’s Classic Blossom Booster will help too. Dilute per package but no stronger (more isn’t better). It will take a month or so before they start to look happy again. Peter Bowden

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How to care for a hanging basket

The first step is to chose the right basket for the light you have.  Once you know that, you can go to the garden center and they can help you pick one based on the conditions you have.  Then it is just a matter of watering without drowning, regular feeding  and deadheading.  Click on highlighted words for more details.

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what to do to have more flowers and not all vines on periwinkle plants

Two things can prevent flowering…not enough light (so thin branches above the myrtle) and a lack of phosphorus.  Feed the area wit Espoma Flower-Tone right away to provide phosphorus.  You could also cut it back and that could trigger extra flowering.

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I have beautiful hostas and want to transplant and separate them. They are tall and when I transplant them, they “flop”. Am I supposed to cut them down before moving them?

The best time to transplant hostas would be in very early spring before the hostas have come out of dormanct or in early fall after frost has sent them into dormancy.  Anytime you transplant them after they’ve leafed ot, they are going to do the “flop”.  I wouldn’t cut them back since this will shock them even more than transplanting them at the wrong time.  The best you can do to alleviate some of the shock will be to keep them moist as they try to survive the hot days of summer ahead,

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I want to plant a knockout rose in my yard to replace another shrub. Since it is the middle of August, is it to late?

Not too late at all.  Get it in right away and add some Bio-tone starter food to the planting hole to get it established before winter.

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Hello Peter, I have a couple questions. it’s now the end of April 2014. 1. When can I plant new bushes? I lost 5-7 andromeda’s (think that’s the name) this past winter. 2. What time of year can I move my rose bush? 3. What 3-4 flowering bushes like full day sun from 11-dusk and which ones like morning sun and afternoon shade? 4. Last year my two year old azalea loved being in partial shade under a pine tree, this year there are only about six. Buds on it. Should it be moved or fertilized?, thank you for you help. Stacie Ryan

Hello Peter, I have a couple questions. it’s now the end of April 2014. 1. 

 

When can I plant new bushes? I lost 5-7 andromeda’s (think that’s the name) this past winter.

You can start planting shrubs and tree as soon as the ground has thawed and can be worked…the earlier the better.

2. What time of year can I move my rose bush?

Move them right away before any signs of growth appear.  once it has leafed out, the shock of transplanting will likely killit.  This is true for most shrubs, trees and perennials.  Make sure to blend a good starter food like Espoma Bio-Tone into the soil at the bottom of the planting hole.

 

3. What 3-4 flowering bushes like full day sun from 11-dusk

Lilacs, spirea, weigela, roses, althea…there are too many to list.

 

 and which ones like morning sun and afternoon shade?

Azaleas, rhododendron, Andromeda…all the broadleaf, flowering evergreens.

 

4. Last year my two year old azalea loved being in partial shade under a pine tree, this year there are only about six. Buds on it. Should it be moved or fertilized?, thank you for you help.

Feed them (and all your landscape plants right away.  This winter was rough on azaleas and broadleaf flowering evergreens.  They for buds in the fall and those buds have to survive winter to flower in spring.  The unrelenting dry, cold wind this winter dried the buds out and they have failed.  You are not alone with this problem.  Consider building burlap winbreaks next fall to protect you broadleaf evergreens.

Here’s a link to a blog post about winter protection.  Here’s a link to a post about spring feeding.

 

 

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I noticed tiny black eggs on the underside of the leaves on one of my brussel sprout plants. They are in small, round bunches and resemble caviar. What are they and how do I get rid of them?

Your question is a little tricky since I can only go by your description. I’d suggest bringing a leaf with the sample eggs to one of the Hewitts locations for a positive ID. Having said that, I make an educated guess that you probably have Squash Bug eggs on your brussel sprouts. The easiest way to control them is to remove and discard the eggs before they hatch. Once they hatch, the beetles can be controlled with insecticidal soap or other contact killer rated for use in the vegetable garden. Here’s a link for more information on Squash Bugs http://www.planetnatural.com/site/xdpy/kb/squash-bug-control.html There are other insects that may attack your brussel sprouts. Here’s a helpful link to identifying them. http://www.harvestwizard.com/2009/06/brussels_sprouts_growing_probl.html

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Hello, on Saturday, we lost half of our garden to a ground hog. We had a rabbit fence up but somehow ‘Phil’ got into it. He didn’t go under it and I don’t think he can fit through it. Well today during the six o’clock hour, we lost the other half of the garden except for the red bell pepper. What would you recommend we do to win our battle against Phil? Also, do you think that some of ours plants will battle on? He ate pumpkin, squash, lettuce, tomato, and celery. The vines are still there but not much else…

I’m always sad to hear of this situation but many of us have hade the same thing happen at one time or another. Let’s start with the fence. A fence can exclude a woodchuck (groundhog). You’d need to start with a 5′ fence and bury the bottom foot of it at a 90 degree angle away from the garden since woodchucks will dig underneath a fence. This may deter a woodchuck but, since they climb, it is also suggested that an electric fence also be installed down low to discourage them from climbing. Another approach is to use rodent smoke bombs. This is tricky since you need to find and block all exit burrows before igniting and placing the leathal smoke bomb intothe main burrow. If just one exit is left open, the woodchuck will escape and may reinhabit the burrow again later. Then there is trapping. NY allows leg and body traps but you’ll need a trapping license to purchase and use those. You can use a live trap like a Hav-a-Heart but then waht to do with the living woodchuck. In NY it is illegal to transport or release wild animals unless you are registered to do so. I’d have to suggest that you hire a licensed pest removal person to trap and remove the woodchuck and improve your fence. Consider getting a dog. Here’s a website that has great information on woodchuck control:…. http://www.extension.org/pages/Woodchuck_Damage_Management Whatever is left of the garden will try and grow and you may get some squash and pumpkins tomatoes and peppers the woodchuck is removed.

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I have hydrangeas they were planted 3 yrs ago, first year they bloomed . They have not bloomed since .Ifeel that I have taken good care with them , they are growing taller with lots of leaves. No blooms.

This is pretty difficult to answer without knowing what type of hydrangea you have. The only clue I get is that they are getting taller which means that it is possible that they are getting leggy due to too little direct sun or maybe not enough enough phosphorus is being provided. Espoma Flower-Tone would help with that. The best suggestion I have is for you to visit this website to figure out what type of hydrangea you have and how to properly care for it: . . http://www.hydrangeashydrangeas.com/

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When lilies are done blooming and go to seed (big pods at top), do we need to keep them 6 feet tall or can we cut them down? Will cutting them prevent the little baby lilies from forming below the soil?

You should cut off the top of the lily stem to remove the seed pods that are forming there after the flowers finish. The plant pumps a lot of energy into those seeds while we’d rather that energy be sent to the bulb below to be stored for the next flowering cycle and to create new baby bulbs below the soil. The remaining leaves should be left to gather sunlight (food) as long as they are green. Once they turn yellow they can be cut off. The longer you can maintain those leaves, the faster your lily bulbs will reproduce.

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I was wondering if I could split the pots of mums I just bought. Even though I bought the smallest size, I have some smaller pots I want to plant them in and wondered if splitting the root balls of each mum would kill it. It would be great if I could cut the root ball in half and use a smaller portion of the whole pot in my smaller planters.

Your mums are probably in flower right now. Plants are expending maximum energy during the flowering process. Cutting into the root system during the flowering cycle might not actually kill the mum but it will shock it hard enough to cause it to abort the flowers. I assume you bought them to enjoy the blooms so I’d suggest that you not try and divide the plant right now.

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I have a variety of Lillys of the tall variety I think they are called stargazers. Do I cut them low when they are done blooming? Also, are there any (photo)reference guides to help distiguish weed leaves from the leaves of plants that you wish to nurture? In early summer it ‘s very hard to discriminate. Thanks in advance……..

Thanks for your question Larry. Right after your Stargazer Lily finishes flowering you should cut off the remainds of the flower (called deadheading) to prevent the lily from putting any energy into making seeds. Leave the leaves below the flowers as long as they remain green. The leaves are converting sunlight into food that is sent down to the bulb so it can grow and expand. Little bulbs will form from the sides of the original bulb and become full-sized lily bulbs producing their own flowers within a couple of years. When you have a cluster of lilies growing where you only had one, you can dig them up and replant them as individual bulbs and the process will begin again. make sure to use bone meal in your planting holes to provide phosphorus to help them root in and mature more quickly. This is one of the things I love most about lilies…their ability to reproduce quickly. As far as your question about a chart showing what weeds look like vs. what desireable plants look like, I haven’t ever seen such a chart. There are, however, charts that show what common weeds look like. You’ll have to use one of those to help you learn the common weeds and then go from there. Here’s a link to a good weed chart. http://njaes.rutgers.edu/weeds/thumbnail.asp

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I just dug up the caladium bulbs I planted this spring so that I can reuse them next year. Should I trim off all the roots? One of the larger bulbs have two mini-bulbs attached. Should I seperate the little ones from the big one? How do I store them? I was going to put them in an onion bag and keep in my basement. Is that the best way? Thanks for your help. Kris

Thanks for your question Kris Now that you have them out of the ground, let them sit on some paper for a week or until the leaves have dried out. Trim off the leaves and any roots that have shriveled and dried. Your onion bag plan sounds good but make sure you store them in an area that says between 50° and 60°. The area also needs to be dry…humidity increases the chance of molds and fungus. If your basement tends to be humid, you might consider dusting them with a fungicidal bulb dust (like the Bonide Bulb Dust at Hewitt’s) before storage. Check them regularly in winter and discard any that seem to be getting mushy or very soft. You can pot them up inside in March and bring them upstairs to a sunny window. Then they’ll be a nice size when they go out at the end of May or early June. Don’t let them get any sun at all when you move them outside in to avoid sunburning the leaves . Peter Bowden

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I am starting my veg. seeds at work. We cannot use grow lights. An suggestions on how I can keep them from becoming long and spinly? Thanks.

Thanks for your question Al, How unfortunate that you can’t use grow lights. The reason seedling get long and spindly is that they are not getting enough light and are reaching for more. The ONLY windows that have any chance of providing anywhere near enough light are south windows. Even then, with days as short as they still are. your seedlings will reach for the light. But, lets get back to basics….it is a month too early to start most of your seeds. Planting season for tomatoes and other tender seedlings is the middle of May…three months (12 weeks) from now. The earliest seeds that need to get started like leeks and impatiens need to get started indoors 10 weeks before planting. Tomatoes and peppers should be started 6 to 8 weeks before mid May so that means the middle of March…about a month from right now. All this information is on the back of the seed pack. There is no real advantage to starting your seed a month too early since they will be the stretchy, leggy seedlings you’re trying to avoid. By waiting another month (in the case of tomatoes and peppers) you’ll have longer days and the seedlings won’t get as leggy. Spring won’t come any earlier just because you start your seed too early ;) Get a calendar and designate the week of 5/15 -5/21 as “PLANTING WEEK” . Then mark the week before that WEEK 1 (one week before planting) and keep going back labeling each week with the next higher number. You should end up with the week of March 20 – 26 as WEEK 8. Sometime between WEEK 8 and WEEK 6 is when you should start your tomatoes and peppers depending on the variety. This information is on the seed pack. You can read all the other seed pack and make notes on your new “Seed Starting Calendar” that you’ve created so you’ll know when to start what. Remember, starting your seeds too early doesn’t gain you a thing. I’d also suggest a small fan to move the air around your seedlings once they sprout…it can help strengthen the stems. Be patient and you’ll have better plants for May…now you just have to convince the person with the south-facing window to let you set up shop there ;)

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f a snap hot of an area was brought in are there design people on site to help plan out a ;andscape?

Bring your snapshot into Hewitt’s and we can make some great suggestions for you. We’ll also be able to make better suggestions if you have an idea of how much sun the area gets and what direction it faces.

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I added lime to my vegetable garden last fall and now it has a ph of 7.5. Is this too alkaline to grow vegetables? Should I add gypsum?

Oops! I guess you over did it with the lime. You’ll need to turn in some garden sulpher to bring the pH down to 6.5 or so. Follow the direction on the package to determine how much to use for the size of the area you have.

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I have two Azaleas I purchased from you last fall and planted. Each is about 3 ft high and has a few buds (6-10). They look awful. What should I do? Thanks.

Fall planting is always tough since the plant has no time to get established before winter. The best thing to do at this point is to feed them with Holly-Tone in the soil and get some Mir-Acid plant food. Dissolve the Mir-Acid in water as directed and wash that down over the leaves and stem. Mir-Acid can be absorbed through the leaves and stems for emergency feeding. Do this once a week for the next month or so. The Holly-tone is slower and will feed the azalea for the rest of the season. Use Holly-tone every spring from now on.

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How do you test the Ph level of your soil!

http://blog.timesunion.com/gardening/the-acid-test/567/

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i did a soil test and found my garden has very low nitrogen , it states that i need to add ammonium nitrate . but all the others tested very high how do i add only one thing ? all the furtilizers i have seen are 5-10-5, 10-5-5 etc.

It sounds like you need some Milorganite…it is not real strong but is almost totally nitrogen (5-2-0). Here’s a link…Hewitts has Milorganite as well: http://www.milorganite.com/home/

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i have beets in my garden up about1″.i have noticed quite a few ants at the base of the greens.is this because all of the rain we have been getting or should i be concerned about something else? and should i let them be or try to kill them with something?

Beets are sweet and ants like sweets. A couple of ants aren’t worth reacting to butm, if it seems that they are hariming the beets then I’d sprinkle some diatomaceous earth around the beets . Diatomaceous earth is the sharp skeletons of diatoms. There are very small and sharp (on a microscopic level) and will slice the ants if they attempt to go near the beets. All safe for you thugh I’d wast the beets before eating them. I’m sure you do that anyway. Peter B

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Correct watering of hydrangeas

Hydrangeas like evenly moist soil but not wet soil.  It is best to water deeply but only when necessary than wait a couple of weeks and check the soil.  If you even think it felt moist, don’t water it and check again in a few days.  They need less water than most folks think…nothing kills a plant quicker than over watering.  Water by soaking the soil but keep the leaves dry.  NEVER SPRAY WATER.  Spraying you hydrangea or any of your landscape plants shocks them with cold water and promotes fungal diseases.   It would be a good idea to feed your hydrangea and all your other Shrubs, trees and perennials right away.  More on that here. 

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Is it too early to plant Martha Washington geraniums? I am planning on potting them outside.Thank you!

It won’t be safe for tender annuals like MW geraniums outside until about the second week of May.  As long as there is the possibility of frost tender annuals must be protected. If the posts are small enough to move inside on any night that will drop below 32° then you could plant them and protect them as necessary.

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I have started a new veggie garden this year only to find out my garden and my entire lawn is infested with grubs. What is an effective way to get rid of the grubs that is also safe for my garden and is my garden doomed for this year.

Don’t worry about grubs in the vegetable garden.  If you see them just step on them to kill them.  Early in June they turn into Japanese Beetles and you can spray for them then if they seem to be a big problem.  The lawn, if it is healthy can withstand up to 4 grubs per square foot.  If the lawn is suffering from the grubs then you should start treating every July…the grubs you have now hatched last year.  Here’s a blog post all about grub control

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Is it OK to allow a clematis to climb up the trunk of a maple tree?

Yes, you can allow the clematis to grow up a maple tree.  This will harm neither the clematis nor the maple.  I wonder if the clematis will get enough sun under a maple tree.  With less than enough sun, the clematis will grow but not produce as many flowers as it would in a sunnier location.    Also maples use a lot of water and have shallow roots so the clematis will need extra watering in that location.

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I was given Asian Lilly bulbs for Easter and put them in a pot with the condensed dirt (looked like a hockey puck) that came with them. They are now really tall and have flower buds on them and almost ready to bloom. My questions are: how long do they bloom, do I have to leave them in the pot, can I plant them outside and when (while blooming or when the flower dies like tulips). Thanks, Connie

Enjoy them in the pot while the flower (a week or two) and the cut off the spent flowers but leave all the leaves.  Plant the bulb with the leaves in a sunny spot outside adding a little bone meal to the planting hole.  It will return next year and each year you get more stems with more flowers to enjoy.

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Is it safe to plant impatiens? Last year we were told not to plant because of a fungas and impatience were not being offered in most nurseries. I see them for sale again – is it safe to plant them?

The situation is basically the same as last year.  You can plant them but the chances are that they will fail.  Click HERE for more information on Downy Mildew.  There aren’t any fungicides you can use to control.  Greenhouse growers can produce the plants in their controlled conditions but there’s nothing the public can use.  If you have no history of the disease where you plan on planting them, you may get away with it but the disease is still spreading.  It would be best if everyone stopped growing them in the hope that the disease will subside but that isn’t happening.  It is probably best to assume that this is a forever situation.  Wax begonia are the next best substitute.  They are working on breeding disease resistant varieties but that will take several years at least. There are some people that insist on having impatiens so we still carry a small amount each year.

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have a small red bettle on lilies, he is about 1/4 inch long. how to get rid of itit seems to be eating the liily

You have scarlet lily beetles.  They are a recent arrival from Asia.  To kill the beetles on contact, spray with Bonide Beetle killer.  For ongoing control after that I’d suggest Bonide Bon-Neem II.  sprayed every 5 days the next month until they subside (are no longer feeding). This will kill any larvae that hatch from eggs that the adult beetle may have laid before you killed them with the Beetle Killer.  If you start spraying with the Bon-Neem II next year before the beetles  show up, you may repel them and prevent any damage.

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Hi Peter!I bought one of those new variety Peony plants this Spring. Awesome, huge yellow flowers. But, after the flower falls off, am I supposed to deadhead? And, do I cut to the ground in the Fall?Thanks!

Yes snip off (deadhead) the flowers when they finish to stimulate reblooming.   Yes, cut then to the grown after hard freezes have killed the foliage.  A light covering of evergreen boughs will help keep the soil from thawing out during winter warm spells that may occur.  Resist the urge to uncover them until late March.

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hi I have double headed begonias in a tub, im just wondering why the water is takeing along time to soak in to the soil when I water them also they don’t seem to be flowereing much, I bought them from a garden centre about 6wks, I water them everyday, is this too much or not enough?

I’m not sure why the water isn’t soaking in quickly…probably the type of soil you have.  It sounds like you are watering WAY too much.  Always check the soil by poking you finger into the soil an inch or so..  If it feels cool and moist wait another day and check again. Depending on the size of the pot, it shouldn’t need watering but every few days.  It may be drowning and that will prevent it from flowering.  You could feed it with a soluble plant food like Jack’s Blossom Booster every three weeks or so and that will help give the plant the energy it needs to flower.

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My Peonies are covered with a white mildew and some of them have a blight causing the foilage to turn dark. What should I do for them? Do I cut off the foilage? Will it affect next year’s growth and bloom?

Once the foliage starts to yellow, cut it off and remove it from the yard in a garbage bag.  The best way to control powdery Mildew is with preventative sprayings with copper of sulfur fungicide before the symptoms show…around mid-May through mid-June.  It is difficult to control once the white powdery coating on the leaves shows up.   None of the should create problems for next year’s flowering cycle.

 

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I am new to knock-out roses and have recently planted some in my yard. Can you tell me what I need to do to them to prepare them for winter? Thanks!

The beauty of Knock out roses is that there is little needed for them to come through winter.  Stop trimming off the spent flowers and let the seed pods (called hips) form.  Once freezing weather arrives, you can trim them back about 1/3…that’s about it. When we get snow, you can shovel it onto the rose to help protect it from drying wind. If we don’t get snow then cover the area around the base of the rose with evergreen boughs to keep the soil cold.  Once it starts to grow in spring, feed it with Espoma Rose-tone and trim off any stems that died over winter…that’s it!

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How to water hanging baskets

Always fee the soil before you water your hanging baskets.  If you even think the soil felt moist, wait a day and check again.  Nothing kills a potted plant quicker than drowning from overwatering…it is a VERY common mistake.  Newbies are always asking “how often should I water it?”.  There is no good “one a week”or “twice a month” answer since every plant, container and situation make that impossible.  Also, NEVER spray water…just water the soil but keep the foliage dry.  Here’s blog post that explains why.

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What can I put around my garden to keep the squirrels out, last yr they ate my entire garden. Does that shake away squirrel repelant work and if so where can I get it? thank you

The easy answer is a dog or cat…from there it gets more difficult. Just about everyone with a yard has squirrels. Some of us love them and some of us love them but wish they would leave our gardens alone…but how? At Hewitt’s we have ‘Repels-All’ which is a combination of dried blood, putrescent whole egg solids and garlic oil. It can be quite effective and claims to last for ‘up to 2 months’. The reality is that it will last only until the next rain shower washes it into the soil. You’ll need to reapply after every rainstorm to remain protected. We also have ‘Critter Ridder’ from Havahart that contains oil of black pepper, piperine, and capsaicin and can also work well if reapplied after rain. You also ask about ‘Shake Away Squirrel Repellent’…we have the ‘Shake Away Small Citter Repellent’ which doesn’t list squirrels on the label but is the same ingredient (fox urine). The idea here is that small rodents have a very keen sense of smell and, since foxes eat them, they will steer clear of an area that smells like them. Once again, fox urine will need to reapplied after a rainstorm. To be most effective, apply these repellents as a stronger barrier around the area to be protected rather than scattering it about everywhere. You may also find that a repellent works well for a few years and then seems not to work. This means that the animals have become accustomed to the repellent and it is time to switch to a different one for a few years or until the animals become used to that one.

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Looking into Diatomaceous earth — do you recommend for my garden/yard and do you sell it?

Yes, I do recommend using Diatomaceous earth as and organic solution to many of the insect pests found in the garden and around the yard. DE appears to be a powdery substance but on a microscopic level it is a very hard and extremely sharp particle that ire the skeletal remains of tiny sea creatures called diatoms. When sprinkled on the ground, DE will slice through the exoskeleton of insects or slice slugs that crawl through it. Any insect unlucky enough to actually ingest DE will be sliced form the inside as well. Yes, Hewitts does sell diatomaceous earth.

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I bought some shallot plants at the beginning of June. I transplanted them into a garden plot. It then rained for almost two weeks straight. The green shoots on one plant have all turned brown and shriveled up, the other plant is mostly brown. Every where i look online it says they are ready to harvest when this happens. I dont think they transplanted well. What do i do?

Ugh…what a bummer. It sounds as though they must’ve rotted in the rain. Had they been planted a little earlier and had a chance to start growing they might have been handle the rain better. My only suggestion would be to replant but they won’t get as large as they would have with an earlier start.

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I am a pretty new vegetable gardener. Last year something kept making little bore holes into my peppers. Not into the stem, but the fruit itself. The holes were little, maybe a few millimeters in diameter. I just found the same type of hole in a very timy start of a pepper. I haven’t found any worms/caterpillars/bugs around to explain it. Any suggestions? I have not used any type of insecticide so far, but since I am a little more experienced, I want to try a lttle harder!

Welcome to the world of vegetable gardening. Kudos to you for not getting discouraged by last year’s lousy growing season From your description and the timing (small fruit stage) I’d surmise that you are having a problem with pepper weevils. Pepper weevils are fairly common and easily controlled by dusting or spraying with the insecticide Eight from Bonide. You’ll want to start spraying right away and repeat once a week for three weeks. That should take care of it but if the symptom returns, start spraying again. You can use Eight up until 3 days before harvest. As always read the label and follow the directions you find there. Make sue to remove any fruit displaying the holes from the garden…don’t compost them, throw them in the trash. In the future, you could try covering the peppers with a floating row cover (called ‘Grass Fast’ at Hewitts) early in the season to prevent the weevil adults from getting at the peppers.

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I have 2 Mulberry trees, 1 red, 1 white under which I’d like to plant something perennial and hardy. Right now, I’m dealing with an ugly, almost bare lawn because, of course, nothing grows really well with almost no sun. Am I limited to hostas or do I even have that option? Are there any other options?

K., First I’d like to dispel the idea that “of course, nothing grows really well with almost no sun.” I’m sure that it seems that way because it IS difficult to grow a lawn or plants in shade but, it really has little to do with the shade. The real culprit here isn’t the shade but the roots of those mulberry trees. Your mulberry trees have a large and fairly shallow root system that is competing with the very shallow roots of your lawn. Guess which is winning that competition? That’s right… the trees. If you plant grass types that can grow in shade like those in Hewitt’s Shady Blend of grass seed then it will do fine under the mulberries. This is good news for you though since there are lots of option for perennials and annuals that can thrive in shade. Annuals for shade include impatiens, coleus, non-stop and wax begonias and others. You certainly can grow hostas and there are lots of interesting types to choose from. Other shade perennials to consider would be heuchera, bleeding heart, astilbe, ferns, epimedium lamium, vinca, and lots more. Google ‘perennials for shade’ and you’ll see lists galore. Before you plant under those mulberry trees though, you’ll want to improve the soil’s ability to absorb and hold moisture. This means blending peat moss into the existing soil at a 50-50 ratio. If you can blend the peat moss into the soil to a depth of 8″ to 12″ that would be ideal. Yes, that is a lot of peat moss but it will benefit your new shade garden for years to come. The you can start hunting for shade perennials to add to your new shade garden. Make sure to add bone meal into your planting hole to provide slow release phosphorus to help get the plants get established. Bone meal will last in the soil for several years but must be placed where the roots of the plant will grow into and use it. Bone meal sprinkled on the surface does no good. In spite of all the soil building you’ve done, it will still be necessary to water your shade garden a little extra since those mulberry roots are still down there robbing water from your shade garden. Oozing soaker hoses work great form since they soak the soil slowly while keeping the leaves dry and healthy. Thanks for thinking of Hewitts, Peter Bowden

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I currently work in an office with no windows and I am looking to have plants there. Can you tell me what plants I can get for this situation, any suggestions on how I can have plants is welcome, I was also considering a solar lamp (because I really want a gardenia bush there.

It sounds to me as though this will be a very difficult environment to grow any plants. There ARE some plants that do well in low light but no light??? not really. The best solution will be to place so gro-lights so that they shine down onto the area where your plants will be. Remember, those gro-lights might seem bright to you but they still will only put out a fraction of the light that even a bright window will provide. Keep those grow lights only a few inches above the plants…a gro-light several feet from a plant provides little energy. I’d put a timer on your grow lights so they’ll provide for the plants even when you are off for the weekend or vacation. Even with added light, you’ll want to stick with low light plants. For upright plants you should consider: . . Aglaonema aka Chinese Evergreen. it is a graceful plant with sword-shaped leaves with silvery highlights. Spathiphyllum aka Peace Lily. Similar in stature to Aglaonema the Peace lily has dark green leaves and puts out an interesting white flower once in a while. . . Dracaena fragrans ‘Massangeana’ aka Corn Plant. Not really a corn plant but a tropical plant that reminds folks of a corn plant. It is often found in larger sizes as a accent plant in offices. For hanging plants you’ll want to check out Pothos and the Heart Leafed Philodendron. Both these plants have heart-shaped leaved but those of the Pothos are speckled with yellow. There are a few others but these are the ‘old reliables’ and are commonly available. . . The biggest problem houseplants have is with their caregiver’s overwatering. Remember, low light plants use very little water. In most cases they’ll only need to be watered anywhere from once a week to once a month. Always check the soil by poking your finger into the soil a couple of inches before you water. If you even think it feels moist wait a few more days and check again. Never leave plants standing in water for more than a few minutes or they will drown. Drowned roots are dead forever and the leaves of the plant will whither in a few days to a few weeks after the roots have been drowned. It is actually better to let the plant get a little limp or wilty before you water to avoid overwatering. Likewise low light houseplants require very little food. I would suggest not feeding at all from November through March and then only light, quarter strength feeding every fourth watering from April through October.

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We have a 400 sq ft garden where we grow tomatoes, peppers, corn, peas, lettuce, gourds and a few other vegetables. I would like to plant a cover crop this fall and would like to know the best thing to grow and when to plant it. Thank you.

I’ suggest winter rye. It is fast growing, will control erosion and help buid the soil when turned under in the spring. It can be sown as soon as the crops are finished. It can germinate in coll weather so late September/early October seedings are possible. Winter rye will green up early in spring and can help get the soil dry enough to till a bit earlier. Winter rye can get tall in spring so it may need to be mowed down before getting turned under in spring.

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The soil under my pines is very “rroty” and undiggable. Hostas thrive, but the roses don’t flower, the phlox and mock orrange have died. Can I add soil (2-3 inches) in those spots whre roots are not showing above ground in order to plant more shade-loving perennials? This is how the plot was found when we moved in. thanks!

Thanks for the question. I’m not surprised that the hosta are the only plant doing well under the pines. Roses, mockorange and phlox all need as much direct as possible to thrive and flower…10 hours of DIRECT SUN…not just a bright location. I find that people tend to overestimate the amount of sun they are getting (wishful thinking I guess.The other problem is that, under evergreen like pines, the soil becomes acidic more quickly than out in the open part of the yard. To correct that, you’ll need to check the ph of the soil with a ph test kit (very easy) and apply the amount of lime that the test indicates you need. Yes, you can add some soil to the area but make sure you don’t pile the soil up against the trunk of the pines since that can harm them. Finally, make sure that you choose plants that can thrive in shade. Hostas of course, ferns, huechera, tiarella, myrtle, hecherella, lamium and ladies mantle are a few that pop to mind. Do a search for ‘shade plants”‘ and you’ll find lots more suggestions…just make sure they are hardy for our zone, zone 5. Naturally, once spring arrives, the folks at Hewitt’s can help you pick out the right plants as well. Have fun! Peter Bowden

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We have many leaves that were not raked up last fall, I am expanding my vegetable garden and would like to turn the leaves and some sand into rather heavy clay soil. Should I add anything else because of the leaves?

Adding sand and organic matter to the soil is a great idea. The leaves will break down and help loosen the soil and add somenutritional value as well. Leaves will also lower the pH of the soil so it would be a good idea to check the pH in spring and fall to make sure you’re keeping the soil’s pH around 6.5/ Here’s an excerpt from my vegetable gardening seminar that talks about pH. Here’s alink to the seminar schedule in case you want to drop by: http://www.hewitts.com/meetpeterbowden.html Check the pH Once you’ve beefed up your new garden with plenty of organic matter, it is time to check the pH (acidity) of the soil. The benefits of properly adjusting the pH of the soil and the benefits of limestone itself are far reaching. I could carry on for pages about nutrients in the soil (or from the fertilizer you pay good money for) being “bound up” and unavailable to plants because of acidic soil. I could write reams on how the microorganisms that “feed” your lawn die off in soils with a low pH. I could rant and rave about how important calcium and magnesium (from limestone) are in the formation of plant fiber or how osmosis (the ability of plants to draw moisture from the soil) is impeded in acidic soil. Let’s just say, it’s VERY important. Here’s the deal. There’s a tendency for soil to gradually become acidic over time. Decomposing organic matter, fertilizer and acid rain all contribute to acidification of the soil. In heavier soils like clay, this happens very slowly. In looser soils like sand, acidification occurs more rapidly. The more fertilizer and organic matter you apply to your lawn or garden, the more often you should check the pH. Different plants prefer different pH levels. Most vegetables grow best in slightly acidic to neutral soil (pH 6.5 to 7) while your lawn will be healthier if the soil is neutral (pH 7). Every once in a while I run into someone who’s heard that lime is good for the lawn and they’ll ask, “I’ve got a 10,000 sq. ft. garden and I’ve never limed it. How much lime should I apply?” To the uninformed, this seems like a reasonable question. To me, it’s like asking your mechanic, ”I have a mid-sized sedan. How much oil do I need to add?” There’s no way your mechanic could answer unless you allowed him/her to look at the dipstick. The inexpensive and easy-to-use soil pH test kit is your “dipstick” to determine how much lime you need to apply for healthy plant growth. If I’m asked, “I have a 10,000 sq. ft. garden and the pH is 6.0. How much lime should I apply?” I can then say that you need 10-40 lb. bags of pelletized lime to bring your soil’s pH up to the desired 7.0 that it should be. Of course, you may not need to ask since the information is provided in the pH test kit. Once you’ve corrected the pH, you shouldn’t need to apply it again for 3 to 5 years, maybe even longer depending on your of soil type.

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we have kept the decorative sweet vine tubers from last year,I have one in water now –with no roots forming??? Also is it easy to raise real potatoes??

I have saved those tubers as well and am going to plant them right outside in the ground in mid May. From what I gather you can get the roots started in water but folks report varying success with that. Yes, potatoes are very easy to grow. Plant the seed potatoes in early May in shallow trenches and continue to mound soil up around the plants as they grow all summer. By fall you will have mounds instead of the trenches you started with. After frost kills the leaves, dig up your buried treasure. You usually get 5 lbs. of potatoes for every pound you planted.

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I was reading your article about crabgrass and on line says, 3. An area treated with crabgrass preventer should not be raked or roughed up (kids, dogs, etc.) for four to six weeks so that the preventive barrier is not disturbed. I have crabgrass in my flower bed, can I rake it and them put the crabgrass preventer on the dirt? Can I plant in that area and if I do, do I have to wait before planting?

Crabgrass comes from seed each year so, if you have clumps of grass growing already in your flowerbeds then it isn’t crabgrass but some other perennial grass that comes back from an established root system, not from seeds like crabgrass. There are weed preventers that can be used in flowerbeds that will stop weed seeds from sprouting. There’s Preen and the organic alternative Corn Gluten. You’ll need to still pull any weeds or grass that are there now and then apply the Preen or Corn Gluten. Any seeds that blow into the flowerbed (from the lawnmower for instance) won’t be able to sprout through the barrier of Preen or Corn Gluten. If you dig or scratch up the surface of the flowerbed it breaks the barrier and seeds WILL be able to sprout and grow. Wait to apply your weed seed preventer until after all your planting is completed. Peter Bowden

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how deep should i rototill my garden? its going to be 24’x24′. there may be large rock in some spots.

Cover the area with whatever organic matter (aged manure) you’re going to till in and then rototill to a depth of 8″ or so. Good luck with those rocks!

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What would you suggest I use for an organic fungicide? What about Green Cure? Does Hewitt’s carry Green Cure? Our garden last year had fungus on everything except lettuce. Thanks.

What would you suggest I use for an organic fungicide? What about Green Cure? Does Hewitt’s carry Green Cure? Our garden last year had fungus on everything except lettuce. Thanks.

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We wanted to put some vibrant color flowers in our front yard )perferably to stay in their pots) and put some red mulch around with a water fountain to make it look neat and inviting. We just don’t know what type of flowers to purchase that will stay with little maintenance. Any suggestions?

You need to plant annuals every year but they flower all summer and do fine in pots if enough water is provided. Assuming it is a sunny area then there are lots of choices. Geraniums, Ivy geraniums, vinca vine, spike plants, marigolds are just a few durable low-maintenance annuals that pop to mind. There are many more choices. Look at the tags and seek out plants for sun. Naturally you can ask the folks at Hewitt’s to make suggestions based on what is in the greenhouse at the time you visit.

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what can i use or do to kill the grass growing up between my tulips in my tulip garden without harming the flowers themselves?

The only solution is to pull the grass our by hand. Any spray that will kill the grass will kill the tulips as well. After that you can use a weed preventer like Preen or Corn Gluten to keep new seeds from germinating

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My pachysandra are doing horribly this year. The beds are dying. What could be causing this. I read online about a blight that can infect them. What do I do? The beds are about 15 years old.

It is difficult from your description to tell if you have the blight. Here’s a link so you can see if you symptoms match up. http://plantclinic.cornell.edu/FactSheets/leafblight/pachleafblight.htm This was a difficult winter for pachysandra…I’ve heard others with similar problems. The heavy snow cover flattened pachy’s evergreen leaves. Compacted like this pachy will be more susceptible to disease. I’d get in there and rake and rough up the beds as well as removing any bad leaves. I’d go so far as to thin out the bed by ripping out some of the older looking plants. It would be a good idea to lightly sprinkle some plant food over the bed as well. Healthy, well fed plants can ward off disease better than weak anemic plants. I’d use something gentle like Espoma’s Holly-Tone. Lightly broadcast the food and then water it in to get any of the food off the leaves and into the soil. If the problem continues, snip off a coup[le of leaves and bring them to Hewitt’s so they can identify the problem and suggest the exact solution for it.

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i have squash seedlings about 3″to 4″ high.they are covered with these little bugs that look like ground black pepper on them. could you tell me what hey are and are they harmful and if they are, how do i get rid of them?

From your description it sounds like you have some black aphids although, without a picture I’m just making an educated guess. Aphids are easily killed with insecticidal soap. Here’s a link that might help you figure out exactly what you have. http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/pests/plant_pests/veg_fruit/hgic2207.html

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I am desperate to get rid of a grape vine that has taken over my yard. It grows and makes a canopy over my flowers and kills them. I need a permanent solution? What do I use to get rid of this monster?

Go to Hewitts and get a bottle of Bonide’s Stump and Vine Killer. Follow the vines back until you locate the main stem where the vine emerges for the ground. Cut the vine a few inches above where it emerges from the soil. Where you have made the cut, paint the Vine Killer (full strength..do not dilute) onto the cut and bark just below the cut. Be careful not to get it on any of the other plants nearby or it will kill them too. If there are multiple vines emerging from the soil, you’ll need to cut and paint them all with the Vine Killer. That’s it….end of vine.

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I just put my herb garden in on Sunday. In the last three days, ants have taken up residence in the garden…lots of them. Will this be a problem?? If not, I’d rather leave them alone. But if they are going to eat my herbs or if their tunneling is going to cause problems for the roots/new seedlings then can you suggest a good way to get rid of them? Thanks!

Chances are the ants won’t cause a problem. I’d suggest dusting the soil with diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous earth is the ultra sharp (on a microscopinc level) skeletons of sea creatures. It is a harmless powder to us but ants running through it will be sliced and die. This will discourage them without the use of a chemical among your herbs. Peter Bowden

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We just built container gardens, filled them with a mix of topsoil/purchased compost/peat moss, and planted seedlings (started from seeds a month previous) about 2 weeks ago. The zuccini in particular looks a bit rough — yellowish, weathered leaves – almost a bit scorched maybe? The corn also looks yellow-ish. I’m new at this – any ideas? thank you!

When you start seedlings indoors they will have trouble making the transition from the dimmer light inside to the bright sun outside. It is best to provide them shade for the first few days outside and gradually reduce the shade until they can handle the full sun they want. Also make sure that you haven’t buried dirt up the stem any higher than it was in the pot you started them in. While burying the stem is OK on tomatoes it is not OK on the rest of your garden plants including trees and shrubs as well as perennial and annual flowers. Both squash and corn will do better if they are started from seed sown directly in the garden. Squash in particular are sensitive to transplanting and often suffer from the transition. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and a few others veggies need to be started indoors in winter to produce in our short growing season but the bulk of our crops do best when directly sown in the garden…and it is easier and cheaper too! In fact, my blog this week is about just that…fear of seeds: http://blog.timesunion.com/gardening/fear-of-seeds/727/

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Normally this time of the year my impatients are gorgeous, however this year they are dying off daily. It starts with the flowers & buds & eventually the whole plant disappears. I cannot find anything on them that could be eating them. Is it because of the dry summer? I know they like a lot of water. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks Val

I would like to see a sample or photo of your impatiens to be sure. Maybe you could bring it into one of out locations for a Manager to look at. Is there any white powdering substance on the plants? If so, it probably is a fungus called Powdery Mildew, which can be treated organically with Garden Sulfur or chemically with Daconil. If this is not the case, my inclination is to think that is water related. Try to keep your plants evenly moist through-out the growing season, and add a light dose of Blossom Booster fertilizer.

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Peter, We reseeded our lawn a couple of weeks ago and the new grass is growing in but it still looks very patchy. I used the recommended setting on the spreader but I think that heavy rain storm we had last week lifted and washed away a lot of grass seed (I saw a lot in puddles by the road at edge of the lawn )How long should I wait before I start to try filling the bare patches? Will the grass grow or spread out? I don’t want to disturb or destroy the new grass that has grown in with loosening the soil again etc. but I don’t want anything to start invading my lawn again either in the bare spots. Can I just drop some grass seed on the bare spots without and keep it watered or will this not work? Thanks again for all your help!

Fescue and bluegrass seeds take about 2 weeks just to sprout. At first there is a single blade but each will grow into a clump of grass covering about 2″ by 2″ square. Over time they will fill in even more. Since the pesky storms have washed the seed around you may want to overseed the worst areas. You can do it right away just remember that you’ll need to keep it watered even as the other grass matures. Starting a lawn from seed is a tricky task because of the constant light watering necessary. These thunderstorms aren’t helping the situation either.

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I have been told that impatiens have some type of disease could you please enlighten me,Thank you

Here’s a link to a blog post all about the impatien disease that is making it impossible to grow them.  The are working on resistant varieties but it will be a few years before they are available.  Best to look for a substitute in the meantime.

 

 

 

 

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how do I get rid of grubs in my vegetable garden without hurting plants or seeds

I wouldn’t worry about a few grubs in the garden.  In a couple of weeks or so they will pupate and become the adult beetle.  For them you can spray with sevin or eight to kill the beetles but, by then, they will not be grubs in the garden.  Grub controls should NOT be used in food growing areas.

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Any suggestions for flowers in a small container graden which is on the street – State Street – and subject to unwanted attention ?

I’m not sure what you’re asking exactly but wave petunias, geraniums, vinca vine, salvia would be good choices…there are many others though.

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How do I plant flowers

http://www.wikihow.com/Plant-Flowers

 

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My rhododendrons (2) are almost 4 years old and have not bloomed for the past 2 years. They are in the North at the suggestion of a local nursery but do get some sun. Is there a special plant food for them? They are not growing even though I feed them. I would appreciate your suggestions.

Northern exposure is rough on rhodos.  Drying winter wind dries out the foliage unless there is some sort of windbreak.  Rhododendron can take morning sun until about noon so the east-facing wall is best…that way the house will provide shelter form winter winds that blows from the north and west.  Rhodos set their buds the summer before and those buds wait until spring to open.  If winter wind dries out the buds too much, they just dry up and fall off in the spring without opening.  Yes, poke some holes out away from the trunk of the rhodos and pour some Holly-Tone evergreen food into the holes right away.  See the package for the correct amount to use.  They need the food now and you could fee again in 8 weeks, this should be done every spring.  Check to make sure you haven’t piled mulch up against the bark of the stems of the plant where they come out of the soil this smothers the crown of the plant and makes it hard for moisture and nutrients to move through the bark to the stems and leaves.  It may take them a couple of years to regain the extra vigor they need to produce flowers.  If they form flower buds this summer, then you can expect flower in spring…perhaps building some windbreak of burlap will help them endure the northern exposure.  If they are getting less than 4 hours of direct sun a day in summer than they will have trouble flowering.

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My turtle head is up about 3 inches,can I dig it out and move it?

Yes, but do it right away before it grows any more.  Keep it well watered after the move.

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I ?bought some six inch pots of flowers from your green house. Should they be allowed to harden off? How long will they need

No need to harden off those plants.  They can go in as soon as you get a chance to plant them.

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I have many daffodils that never get a flower. What c an I do?

Make sure they are planted un full sun…7+ hours.  Every spring pound holes 6″ deep among or around them and pour Espoma Bulb-Tone into the holes to feed them.  When they do start flowering, make sure to cut off the spent flower stem but leave the leaves on as long as they are green.  You can cut the leaves back after they turn yellow.  More on that here.

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Hi I am making a 4’x12′ garden and I know I have hade a mole problem in the past. Anything you suggest to keep them from destroying my crop possibly a barrier of some type?

You can use MoleMax Mole repellent in a barrier around the garden but NOT in the actual garden.  If they get inside the garden then a mole trap will be the solution.

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Do you sell jamaican thyme

No, probably something to shop online for.  Jamaican Thyme isn’t hardy here in zone 5 so it would have to grown in pots and brought inside over winter.

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hi peter, I started planting my vegetable garden yesterday and noticed a lot of grubs in the soil.what can I use to get rid of them without harming my plants and seeds?thank you barry

Honestly, I wouldn’t bother with them.  By the time your vegetables are growing, those grubs will be pupating and emerging as adult insects (Jap. beetles, June Bugs etc.).  That is a whole different issue.  A few grubs found in you vegetable garden or flower bed doesn’t warrant treatment.  Jap. Beetles are more of a problem for the lawn…not so much the flower or vegetable garden.

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If I use miracle grow, garden soil to ant my vegetables. Do I need miracle grow plant food,as well?

While Miracle-gro soil has some nutrients added, I’d suggest adding additional nutrients in the form of high quality organic garden food like Espoma Garden-tone.  Miracle -gro food isn’t organic and doesn’t do anything to help the health of the soil…the soil that feeds your plants.  In addition to nutrients, Espoma “tone” products also provide a compliment of beneficial soil organisms that help build the soil and release nutrients from the soil that might otherwise be unavailable to the plants.

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I have a hydrangea that was planted and flowered a bit and the moved to the front of my house at the appropriate time. I believe that it is dead because it looks like straw and nothing has happened since it was moved. I am all for digging it up and planting new ones, but my husband thinks it will revive somehow. Any ideas? Also, my husband wants to plant a small veg garden and we have an area all set up. It doesn’t get a whole lot of sun. What will grow best?

I have a hydrangea that was planted and flowered a bit and the moved to the front of my house at the appropriate time.  I believe that it is dead because it looks like straw and nothing has happened since it was moved.  I am all for digging it up and planting new ones, but my husband thinks it will revive somehow.

5/22   If you don’t see any signs of growth from the ground in the next couple of weeks then you can assume it is dead.

 

Any ideas?  Also, my husband wants to plant a small veg garden and we have an area all set up.  It doesn’t get a whole lot of sun.  What will grow best

The best bets in a shady vegetable garden will leafy greens like lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard.  Green beans and peas would also do OK.  Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and the large fruiting tropical veggies will struggle to produce much fruit though they will grow in shade.  Most veggies really need 8 hours of direct sun  per day to thrive.

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what flowering plants do well in flower box type things in partial shade / partial sun in and around schenectady, ny?

Lobelia, New Guinea Impatiens, fuchsia, tuberous and wax begonias, coleus for colorful leaves, ageratum, heliotrope, browelia …there are many more.  The little tags that are in the plants at the garden center will tell you which ones will grow best in sun/part shade.

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I have a few questions… How do I beat red sorrel in my flower beds? I’ve pulled and pulled, gently getting the trailing roots and sifting them out, but it still comes back! I tried adding lime because I read they liked acid soil so I figured if I changed the ph. maybe that would work….. no luck. I tried mulching.. thickly… it still comes… At least with the mulch, it is easier to get out. It is makes me nuts! What can I do? It is now invading my husband’s strawberry beds too. Now we’re both going crazy in our red sorrel battle!My Gramps gave me a shoot from beneath Grandma’s white lilac. It bloomed this year for the first time but it is purple???? How did that happen!? Thank you!Katy

I have a few questions… How do I beat red sorrel in my flower beds? I’ve pulled and pulled, gently getting the trailing roots and sifting them out, but it still comes back! I tried adding lime because I read they liked acid soil so I figured if I changed the ph. maybe that would work….. no luck. I tried mulching.. thickly… it still comes… At least with the mulch, it is easier to get out. It is makes me nuts! What can I do? It is now invading my husband’s strawberry beds too. Now we’re both going crazy in our red sorrel battle!

Mulch with a barrier of cardboard or brown paper  underneath will smother weeds.  Lay cardboard on the ground covering the weeds and covet that with 3″ of bark mulch.  In flowerbeds you can cut up the brown leaf bags to fit around your plants to cover the soil and weeds and then cover the paper with 3″ of mulch.  These barriers last long enough to smother and kill the weeds but then decay adding organic matter to the soil.  HERE’S a blog post about using cardboard to create a bed.  That post was from 2011 and the bed I created is still weed free.   Make sure to over lap the cardboard several inches at least so the weed can’t find a way through.  There is no spray that you can use on the sorrel that won’t kill you garden plants as well.  There will always be some to pull that come up right near your plants but the paper and cardboard method can at least keep the areas in between weeds free.

My Gramps gave me a shoot from beneath Grandma’s white lilac. It bloomed this year for the first time but it is purple???? How did that happen!? 

The white lilac you took the shoot from was grafted.  The white flowering branches were grafted to a hardier purple root stock so any suckers coming from that root stock are going to be purple as well.

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planting schedgual

If you are asking for the Vegetable planting schedule, you can pick one up at the garden center.  Here’s a link to Page 1 and page 2

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Weve been trying to plant a garden for 3 yrs now..and have too much clay in soil..we sdded peat to lighten it up..any other suggestions?

The key to breaking up your clay soil is going to be the addition of organic matter in the form of dehydrated manure (cow or horse) and even sandy loam (we sell bags of ‘topsoil’ which is sandy loam).  Also, the addition of Espoma Bio-tone will provide nutrients but, more important. microbes and fungi that will help digest the organic matter and convert it into loamy soil over time.  HERE’S a link to more on Bio-tone.  You’ll need to turn or rototill the organic matter into the soil to a depth of 8″ or so to break up the clay and blend it with the organic matter and Bio-tone.

The addition of organic matter is an ongoing process.  The best soil additive will be your own homemade compost.

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How do I keep a woodchuck out of my garden, he’s eating all my greens

This is a tough situation.   You’ll need to install a 4′ fence with the bottom foot buried so that the woodchuck can’t push or dig its way under the fence.  The other option is to trap the varmint with a havahart trap.

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Some of the leaves at the base of my clematis are turning yellow or have yellow/rust spots on them. Any suggestions?Thanks!

It sounds like you have a fungal disease like leaf spot.  Start spraying with Bonide fungonil right away asnd follow the spraying schedule on the product’s label.

 

To avoid fungal diseases, NEVER spray your plants with water.  When you need to water, direct the water onto the soil below to water the roots while keeping the leaves of your plants (not just the clematis)  as dry as possible.  With the hot, humid weather and intermittent heavy rain we’re getting, we’re seeing a lot of fungal diseases cropping up.  No need to add to the problem by spray watering.

 

 

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We recently bought a Knockout rose from Hewitts. The plant, leaves, etc are healthy. The problem is the blooms. Many buds form but then turn brown and never open to flowers. Is there a cure for this?Ron

It sounds like your rose has picked up botrytis.   This is a fungal disease and our damp humid season is making fungal diseases a real problem this year.  The first method of control is to make sure you’re pruning away seed pods that form after they finish flowering.  Also remove any flowers that are yellow or spotted.  The buds that are rotting before opening should also be removed.  Don’t let the material you remove fall to the ground but bag it up and put it in the garbage.

Make sure that, when you water the roses, you don’t spray the foliage with water.  Use a watering wand to direct that water to the soil below the plant.  Wet foliage is the perfect place for fungal diseases to take hold.  We can’t do anything about the rain but we shouldn’t add to the problem by spray watering.  More on that HERE.  Always check the soil before watering…if it is already wet, don’t water and check again in a couple of days.

You should start spraying the roses with Bonide Rose Rx . right away.   This is a neen oil spray that can control insects, mites and fungal disease and is organic.  Read and follow the directions on the label.  It would be wise in future years to start spraying earlier in the season before the disease takes hold.

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I accidentally cut part of my rose bush with my mower. Can I propagate the piece? If so how?

It is possible to grow roses from cuttings.  HERE’S a link to a good article on doing that.  You can try it but it is liable to be more trouble than it is worth.

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Hello-a have a purple clementis vine clipping from a friend.How do I root it, ?? Does a honey mixture really work for rooting.thanks so muchbev cdocbci@yahoo.com

Here’s a GREAT LINK all about rooting clematis.  Honey doesn’t have a lot to offer as a rooting helper.  Rooting powder will provide hormomes that will stimulate root growth much more rapidly.

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My rose bush has holes all in the leaves with white spots all over. Some of the stems has white cotton looking stuff popped around. Is this a bug or some sort of disease eating away. Also the rose buds are dried and dead. It has always bloomed well until now.

Yikes, sounds like a mess.  You have a couple of things going on.  The white spots on the leaves are probably Powdery Mildew, a fungal disease that occurs during humid weather.  If you are spray watering your roses, stop.  Every time you wet the leaves, you are inviting Powdery Mildew, Black Spot and other fungal diseases that can afflict roses.  Water the soil below the plants (not just your roses but all you landscape plants, flowers and vegetables)  More on that HERE.

 

Now that the disease is established,   you’ll need to treat it with a strong fungicide like Infuse following the directions on the label.  You can find Infuse at Hewitts.

 

Your “cotton liking stuff” is a soft scale insect.  It is sucking nutrients from the rose.  Between that and the mildew, the rose is so weak that it is aboprting the flowerbuds in a n effort to conserve enough energy to simply survive.  To kill the scale, you’ll need to spray with Bonide Rose Rx following the direction s on the label…it will take multiple spraying to get the scale under control.

In the future, you should consider spraying with Rose RX earlier in the season before the pests show up to prevent these issues.  Above all, DON’T spray water your plants.

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tomatoe stakes. whats best?

I use tomato cages attached to hardwood stakes pounded into the ground.  I will even add metal staked to the hardwood stakes if they get really heavy.

 

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My basil plants, the leaves are turning black, and falling off??

It sound like you have picked up a case of bacterial leaf spot.  With all the rain we’ve been getting, there are lots of diseases cropping up.  The disease comes from the soil and gets splashed up into the plant were it takes hold.  A layer of brown paper and then straw can prevent this from happening.  Also make sure that, when you water, you aren’t compounding the problem by spray watering.  More on that HERE  At this point all you can do is trim away the affected leaves and flower spikes of course and hope the dry weather lets the disease subside.

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How do I get last year’s mandevilla to bloom again?

During the winter, we don’t want to feed our mandevilla since the days are so short.  Once summer arrives and they are growing quickly, they’ll need to be fed every 2-3 weeks with a high phosphorus, soluble plant food like Jack’s Blossom Booster (10-30-20).  We also don’t want to keep the plant soggy wet all the time, just lightly moist.  Always check to see if the soil is moist before watering.  Poke your finger a couple of inches into the soil before watering.  if the soil feels damp, wait a couple of days and check again.  It is better to underwater a bit that overwater…plants drown very quickly.

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how canI get ridof grub that’s what I thinki have they are eating my petunias stems in my large pot

Spinosad is an organic spray that will knock them out quickly.  HERE’S a link to the version we sell at Hewitt’s.

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tried everything in the last 6 years to get rid of tomato blight nothing works is there anything I can add to the soil to get rid of it

You need to move your tomatoes to a new location each year.  Once the spores of the disease are in the soil they will remain and reinfest the next year’s crop.  You should wait 2 years before planting there again.  Black or red plastic mulch covering the soil will also help prevent the spores from splashing up onto the leaves…this is how the diseases get their start.  Also NEVER spray your tomatoes with water.  Wet leaves are the perfect place for disease to take hold.  Cutting off the leaves closest to the soil will also help.

 

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Will the vista red salvia come back next spring?

Here in the Albany NY area we are USDA hardiness zone 5.  Vista red salvia is only hardy to zone 11.  So, if you live in Florida, it will grow all year long but not here in Upstate NY.

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HiI have two stargazer lilies. One is doing well the others leaves are a lighter color green almost yellow at top and pods are a yellow with some brown spots appearing on upper leaves and the pods. They have not opened as yet. Any ideas on what this is or how to treat it?

It sounds like you may have a fungal disease called botrytis   HERE’S a link that discusses that.  During a damp, humid season like the one we’re having, diseases are common.  Don’t promote disease by spray watering your gardens.  Use a watering wand to direct the water to the soil while keeping the leaves and flowers dry.  Wet plants make it easy for diseases to take hold.  MORE ON THAT HERE.    Now that the disease has takn hold, you’ll need to spray with a fungicide like Bonide Fungonil.

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How do I winterize a Knockout Rose Tree planted in the ground The Graft is about 36 inches high this is the first winter in zone 5will it die. if not wrapped up?

You are right to think that tree roses need a little extra care to come through winter.  Here’s a link to fill you in on what needs to be done

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I bought 4 large asters and planted them last week.Two are wiltingAnd might be dead. I gave them lots of water!What could be wrong?

Two possibilities…you buried them too deep hand have dirt piled up too high on the stems.  Brush the soil back until you find the original soil level.  The other possibility is that you’re drowning them.  As long as the soil is lightly moist, they’ll be fine.  If the soil is constantly soggy the roots can’t breathe and the drown causing the plant to wilt…this is a very common mistake.

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when do gladiolias transplant

Most glads aren’t winter hardy so they need to be dug up and stored for the winter.  Once the leaves turn yellow, dig up the bulbs and cut off the yellow leaves.  Store them in a paper bag filled with sterile potting soil in a cool place for the winter.  Plant in spring and throughout the early summer .

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Christmas (3)

I have a christmas cactus at home (I believe that is what it is called) and I cant seem to be able to get it to bloom. I water it so that there is just enough to moistion the soil and i leave it near a window so that it is not in direct sunlight but it gets some. What am i doing wrong?

Christmas Cactus are stimulated to bloom by shortening days so don’t expect to see flowers until late some or fall…at Christmas if you’re lucky.  In the meantime, water it heavily and then not again until it gest bone dry> Feed it with Jack’s blossom Booster about once a month during the rest of spring and summer then stop feeding in September…just water until late February.  Christmas Cacti are epiphytes…they don’t naturally grow in soil but clinging to the bark in the crotch of a tree.  They get water only when there’s a soaking rain then they spend long periods drying out in between…you want to simulate these conditions. Once you see flower buds forming..keep the soil just every so slightly moist.  Keeping it in a cooler location can extend the bloom time and heavy soaking during flowering will make the flower pass quickly.

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What do I do with my Amarillus now that it is dying?

After the flowers are spent, cut off the flower stem. By now leaves have probably started to emerge from the bulb. To get your Amaryllis to flower again, it’s important to promote this leaf growth. Think of the leaves as solar collectors that convert sunlight into energy that’s stored in the bulb for the next flowering cycle. Bright light (but not direct sun) is the source of next year’s flowers. Keep the soil lightly moist and feed with a soluble plant food like Jack’s Classic at half strength about every two or three weeks. Wait to until the flowering cycle has finished before you start feeding. The best way to strengthen your Amaryllis is to sink the pot in a semi-shady flowerbed outside when things warm up next summer. Sink the pot into the soil so that the exposed part of the bulb is almost covered. Before frost, bring your Amaryllis inside and allow it to dry out completely. Keep dry and store at 60 to 65 degrees for at least a month. This dry storage period is necessary to stimulate your Amaryllis to begin its next growth cycle. Remember, Amaryllis like to be potbound, so leave it in the same size pot for two or three years.

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Other (60)

Amaryllis– Actually, I have had my amaryllis (4) for many years. During the year i water them only occassionally. I’ve been cutting the green leaves back. Is that how you take care of them? I get flowers every year. Sometimes not as big as the ones in the stores. Also, Should i separate the bulbs in the pots? I missed the amazing amaryllis. Thanks.

It sounds as though you are doing well with your amaryllis. I’d suggest that you not cut off green leaves since they are gathering sunlight and converting it into food that gets stored in the bulb. They are like solar collectors and should be left to grow until they start to turn yellow on their own. Amaryllis love to be potbound and can spend a few years in the same pot. If you have some that have doubled, you could unpot it and gently break the bulbs apart. I’d wait until the dormant period (late summer) to do this rather than when they are actively growing. Peter Bowden

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My husband and I have an old wire fence and would like to grow vines on it to help with the privacy from our neighbors. Can you tell me what is the fastest growing, sturdy and privacy vine to grow on it? Thank you

A trumpet vine will do the trick. They grow fast but make sure the fence is strong enough to support it. Trumpet vine will provide quick privace and the flowers will attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Yes, we sell trumpet vines.

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I have a problem with chipmunks and squirrels eating the seeds of sunflowers before they get a chance to sprout and grow. Any suggestions for deterring the critters from getting the seeds before they have a chance to sprout? Thanks, Sue

Sue, I think everybody who has ever planted sunflowers seeds has had the problem of chipmunks, squirrels and crows eating the seeds before they sprout. There are repellents you could spray on the area to discourage the critters but there’s another approach that I prefer. After the seeds are planted, cover the row or area with germinating fabric (aka floating row cover). This light fabric will protect the seed and trap heat and allow water to pass through so the seeds will sprout as quickly as possible. Once the plants are growing, the critters lose interest and you can remove the fabric. If you have some cheesecloth or burlap that could be used as well. The next problem will be when the new seeds form on the sunflower’s flowers at the end of summer. All our critter friends will come right back and eat those seeds before they ripen. Once again your fabric comes to the rescue. Wrap those sunflower heads with the floating row cover or other light cloth and that will keep the chippies and birds from getting at them. You might need a ladder if you grow the larger sunflower types. Germinating fabric/floating row cover fabric is available at Hewitt’s under the name ‘Grass Fast”. You can reuse it from year to year and is also very handy when you want to protect plants from late spring or early fall frosts.

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How do I get rid of gnats in my office plants?

The soil gnats in your houseplants are feeding on a fungus that is growing in the soil. The fungus is feeding on rotting plant material in the soil. The rotting material in the soil is, no doubt, dead rotting roots. The reason you have dead rotting roots in the soil of your office plants is because (like most folks) you’re over estimating the amount of water your plants need. Since you mention that they are ‘office plants’ I’ll assume that there are saucers under them to keep the water from ruining the carpet and floors. It is also a good bet that they get extra water on friday to ‘get them through the weekend’. The plants would rather there were no saucers so excess water can drain away. You should never leave any of your office plants standing in a saucer of water for more than a few minutes. There’s no need to give them extra water if you are going to leave them for the weekend or even a week. . . Step one is to stop watering your plants so much. Plants need far less water than most folks realize. You need to know that plants exchange gasses (breathe) with their root system as well as their leaves. When the soil is totally saturated (standing in a saucer full of water), the plant is drowning much like we would. You will drown about 1/3 to 1/2 of the root system of most houseplants simply by leaving them standing in a saucer of water overnight. Once those roots drown, they are dead forever (and now the fungus has a reason to take hold). A better tactic for watering houseplants is to wait until they are so dry that they are beginning to wilt and then soak them. If water then fills the saucer, wait 10 minutes and then remove any water that remains in the saucer so you won’t drown the plant. A plants roots can get very dry without dying and, when rehydrated, will pop back to life. In other words, you can drown a plant in less than 24 hours but to kill it with dryness will take a couple of weeks to a couple of months depending on the plant. Think of it this way: You could survive a lot longer without a drink of water than you could underwater without any air to breathe. Since you already have the gnats, you’ll need to drench the soil with insecticidal soap (which you can get at Hewitts of course) and repeat after a week or so. That, coupled with your new plan for not overwatering should do the trick. If they persist you’ll need to kill the fungus with a drench of fungicide like Captan. I would hold off on that though to see if your insecticidal soap/new watering habit works. In extreme cases, the plant may need to be repotted after removing all the old soil from the root system. Since this is shocking to the plant, it is a tactic of last resort.

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I purchased our hibiscus from you this summer. It is still blooming. I have been bringing in and out of garage for a few weeks. Should we now put in basement and do we prune back? water?How much light?

“I purchased our hibiscus from you this summer. It is still blooming. I have been bringing in and out of garage for a few weeks. Should we now put in basement and do we prune back? water?How much light?” Yes, it is time for your tropical hibiscus to come inside for the winter. Rather than sending it to the basement for the winter, it would be better to find it as bright a window as you can find for it even if it is in a very cool room. I’d prune it back about 25%. No matter how bright the window, your hibiscus is going to get way less light that it does outside in summer. Water it very sparingly and don’t feed it at all. It will lose leaves and won’t flower much if at all. It will go into a semi dormant stage and will require little care other than very light watering. Sometime in March, it will push out some new growth in response to the lengthening days. You can respond to that with a little extra watering and very light feeding (1/4 strength food like Jack’s Classic or Miracle-Gro) every 4th or 5th watering. As it grows new leaves you can gradually increase the water but never so much that the soil stays moist for more than a few days. In late May, it should be warm enough to put it back outside. At first it will want to go in a shady area as it gets used to increased sunlight. Let it spend a week in a shady area then a week in a brighter area and so on until it is back in the sunny spot where it wants to spend the summer.

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Hi Someone told me that he does not mix fertilizer such as miracle grow or any other to fertilize his perennial gardens, all he does is in the early spring before the snow melts he sprinkles 5-10-5 all over the areas of the beds.. Is this safe??? Is there another alternative if not to mixing all those buckets of miracle grow.. Thanks

Thanks for your question. I reserve the use of miracle gro for my annuals and for container plantings. Miracle gro is fast acting but goes away quickly. You need to use it every couple of weeks. I agree with your friend about using a granular food although I don’t use 5-10-5 since it is a quickly released food (although it lasts longer than M-Gro) and, being a chemical fertilizer, it can burn the leaves or even the roots if applied too heavily. I prefer gentler, longer lasting foods like Espoma’s Flower-Tone. I also like to get the food into the soil near the plants rather than broadcasting to food all over the surface. On the surface, the food ends up benefiting any weeds as much or more than your garden plants. Phosphorus especially has a hard time percolating into the soil so it needs to be blended into the soil to benefit the plants and to prevent runoff into streams and other waterways. Here’s a link to a video where I demonstrate how I feed my gardens in spring. http://ourgarden.freedomblogging.com/2010/04/23/feeding-our-grass-plants-and-trees/481/ Thanks, Peter Bowden

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I wanted to plant Myrtle ground cover on a hilly area in the front of my yard, but will the road salt kill it in the winter or prohibit growth for the following year?

A bit of salt won’t harm myrtle but if it is right next to the road and the plowed snow piles up on it all winter, it will likely not make it. Here’s a site that lists salt tolerant many od which we’ll have later in spring. Make sure that the plant you choose is hardy in zone 5 or lower for our area. http://www.bloomindesigns.com/category/wholesale_2public.salt_tolerant/

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This is my second question. First, Hello Peter! I didn’t realize that it was YOU who would be responding to my question. I read your column weekly and I’m hooked on all your advise, thanks, you’re a wonder! Now…we have moved into my Grandmother’s home and I’m thrilled to work in her gardens that have been long forgotten. Her Whisteria vine has grown massive, at least 50 feet up the trees and the trunks are enormous! It flowers way up in the tree tops, beautiful lavender/bluish flowers (thought it was lilac) but I’d like to cut it down and start over so I can train it properly and save the trees from being strangled. Will it flower if I cut it down or will I have to wait 15 years? I also found it’s seeds all over the lawn, can I plant them? How long before it flowers? 15 years? As I read online? What should I do? Thanks Peter, for the help! Sue

Wow, that is one out of control wisteria. I’d suggest cutting it back right away to about 4′. This will force it to regrow from the roots so you can save the trees and retrain the wisteria to a more managable size. This is severe pruning and the wisteria won’t flower this year and it may take 3 or 4 years to rebloom. Since the root system is well established it won’t take 15 years to rebloom. I have no direct experience growing wisteria from seed but here’s a tutorial: http://www.ehow.com/how_2214274_grow-wisteria-seeds.html This will be a long, slow process and it will likely be 15 years before you see a flower from a wisteria started from seed. Peter Bowden

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ello peter, i have a hill in the back of the yard that is hard to mow every year . i would like to put some type of plant garden with little maintanace if any that will grow every year any help you could give me? im not much of a gardner so all the info you give me will be helpfull. if you have any pic ideas please send thank you ed

You could grow a ground cover like myrtle on the hill but that will require killing the grass off with Roundup spray before you plant the myrtle. Then you’ll need to keep the weeds at bay while the myrtle grows in. Whatever you plant there will be a project while it gets established which may take a few years. It may be less labor to continue mowing the area.

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My trumpet vines are invading my lawn. How can I stop it.

Trumpet Vines are a beautiful plant but can be a real problem.  About the only think you can do is to spray the sprouts that pop up in the lawn with a weed killer like Weed Beater Ultra or Bonide Chickweed and Clover Killer.  Avoid Round-up or Kleen-up as they will kill the lawn as well as the errant trumpet vine.  This will knock back the shoots but never eliminate the problem.  Since they are originating as suckers from the original plant, more will always appear.  Regularly mowing the shoots that appear also helps control them but this will be an ongoing battle.

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Garter snake question. I have a covered pile of rocks (1 to 2″) in the back yard, left over from a previous project. We decided to keep them so we could use them for under the slab of a garage we’re putting up in that spot. The problem is that snakes have taken up residence in there. I’m OK with that, but when the machines come in, it won’t be good for the snakes. Anybody have any ideas so that I can both get my garage AND save the snakes? The yard isn’t that big, so yes, it has to go there in that spot. I hope you have some ideas.

You don’t say when the garage is going to be built but I’d suggest moving the rocks elsewhere now so the snakes have to find somewhere else to go so they won’t be injured by a sudden (to them) construction project.  If your construction starts when it is cold, the snakes will be holed up hibernating and won’t escape.  You want to induce them to move before cold weather arrives.

We do sell a snake repellent but I’ve never used it so I can speak to its effectiveness.

 

Also, good for you for caring about the snakes.  They do eat lots of mice and other disease carrying rodents.

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Peter – I am interested in installing some sort of water feature on my deck. I have a space that i had prepared to support a 6×7 hot tub, but have since decided that i will probably not use the tub enough to justify the expense. Hence, i am interested in filling the space with plants and a fountain or waterfall-type feature to make that area pretty. any suggestions? are there free-standing pools manufactured so i dont have to cut a hole in the deck?? I am open to suggestions. Thank you for your comments. melissa

Melissa, I have only dabbled in water gardening. I once made an in ground pond in a dug holw with a flexible rubbe liner. The other was a free standing water feature made from two whisky 3 whiskey barrel halves. One sat on the ground and one was inverted on the ground behind the first. The third barrel sat on top of the inverted barrel. The top barrel had a plastic liner with a spout molded into ti that directed the water into the lower barrel that also had a plastic liner. The pump lifted the water to the upper barrel where it cascaded down the spout back to the lower barrel. Something like this could be done on your deck for an easy water feature. We also carry new plastic whiskey barrel halves that will be less expensive that the wood version with liner that I used. For anything larger than that you’ll need to build a strong-walled enclosure for the pond. Water is heavy and will need a super strong enclosure and the deck needs to be well supported. A pond above ground will also freeze solid over winter and expand. This will kill any fish in the pond and may force the enclosure apart. Our Clifton Park store stocks some pumps and liners but you might also contact a local pond store to see what else is available…Eddies Aquarium come to mind for instance.

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What is the solution for spider mites on Alberta Spruce and other Evergreens?

The answer that came first tomind was a spray of horticultural oil but I checked the label (always read the label) and find that it can damage the needles when sprayed on evergreens. I’d recommend a spray of Spinosad which is relatively new to the arsenal of insect killers. Here’s a link to more on Spinosad…very interesting stuff! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinosad At Hewitt’s we sell it in a product called ‘Captain Jack’s Dead Bug’. It is a very safe biologically produced spray that gardeners (especially organic gardeners) should know about.

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We just had a patio installed in our yard. This has sparked the motivation to put in pretty plants to spruce up our very bland yard. Any suggestions on what types of shrubs or flowers would thrive in this area? We do have pine trees, and a high pH level in our yard.

This question doesn’t quite give me enough information to make specific plant suggestions. My best suggestion would be to observe the area noting soil type, orientation (NSEW) and how many hours of direct sun does the area get each day. Draw a little overhead view of them, noting which direction is north etc. Bring your map to Hewitts and then look around the nursery for plants you like and the nurseryperson will be able to make informed suggestions for you.

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I am attempting to get rid of lichen that is growing on a corrugated fiberglass overhang (extends about 10′ off the edge of the roof). There is a tree nearby with branches that extend over the overhang that also has lichen growing on it. What is the appropriate herbicide/fungicide to get rid of the lichen?

Thanks for your question Roberta. The product you are looking for is a spray of potassium based soap. You can find it at Hewitt’s under the name of Safers Moss & Algae Killer. Although lichen isn’t mentioned in the name of the product, it will do the job. It comes in a easy-to-use hose end sprayer so you won’t have to do any mixing. Here’s a web address that you can use to find out all about it: . . . http://www.saferbrand.com/store/garden-care/5324

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Every year I buy mums and every year they die on me. I love the way they look, but I don’t have the touch to keep them. I spend too much money and then I’m mad at myself. Is there something else that is hardy and can go in the ground for fall and look nice?

Thanks for your question Linda. First let’s tackle the question why your mums aren’t making it through the winter. First, make sure you are buying ‘Winter Hardy Mums’ There are lots of mums out there these days and the ones you might pick up at the grocery store may not be varieties that are hardy this far north. Go to a real garden center like Hewitts and get your mums there. Even hardy mums want to get into the ground as soon as possible after purchase. Many folks like to leave their mums in the pots for display and then pop then in the ground at the last second before the ground freezes in the fall. This doesn’t give the mum much time to get some roots into its new location and makes it much harder for them to winter over well. Once the flowers have finished, they should be cut off (leave the leaves) to prevent the mum from wasting energy producing seed. If you remove the flowers, that energy will be used to grow roots instead. To get your mums to be low and bushy the following growing season you’ll need to pinch it a couple of times to get it to branch out and look more like it did when you bought it. There is a fact sheet you can pick up at Hewitts that describes this procedure in detail. As far as a substitute for mums I’d suggest hardy asters. Unlike the mum which comes from China, asters are native to North American and there are varieties that grow wild in this area. Fancier cultivated asters have larger blooms that the wild varieties but are just as hardy. You can find a selection of asters at Hewitts along with the mums. It is a personal preference but I prefer asters and have some in my flowerbeds. Give asters a try, I think you’ll enjoy them too.

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What plants will work best in an elementary classroom? One whole side of my room has windows, facing east. Also, school rooms have extreme variation of temperatures during the school year. Thanks

Thanks for your question Bonnie, Your east facing classroom will get a half day of sun at the best. This means that you’ll need to limit your choices to low light plants. Couple that with the wide swings in temperature that classrooms have and you’ll need to only consider durable low light houseplants. African Violets for instance have been crossed off the list. I have some suggestions for a few that should have no trouble with your conditions. Heart-Leaf Philodendron. It is a vining plant most often seen grown in a hanging basket. Your light conditions will suit it. Pothos, A variegated vine that somewhat resembles the well-known heart shaped philodendron except that the leaves are variegated for a splotchy yellow/green look. Asparagus Fern. The foliage does indeed resemble the wispy, feathery foliage of the asparagus we grow in our garden. Also mostly grown in a hanging basket. Peace Lily. Peace lily is will known as the champ of low light conditions. In your setting, low humidity might be an issue so it will enjoy regular misting. Spathipphyllum (another name for the Peace Lily) is one of the most popular house plants due to it’s ability to thrive just about anywhere as long as it is a low light setting. In fact you’ll need to make sure that it is not in direct sunlight in your classroom. Aloe Vera. The healing plant Aloe Vera should also do well. Make sure it gets as much of that morning sun as possible. The gel inside the leaves is great for treating burns and other skin rashes and cuts. These are just a few that come to mind but you should do a search on the internet for ‘low light plants’ to see if there are others that appeal to you. One note though, in your setting you’ll need to make sure that you keep the plants very much on the dry side especially in the winter. Plants only need enough water to replenish what is lost to evaporation. For low light plants the need is very small. During the winter, the days are so short and the room will be so cool at night and on weekends that it will be especially important to keep them on the dry side. It will be tempting to give them “little extra water for the weekend”. Try to avoid this. Plant can tolerate dryness much better than wet conditions. The plant might get wilty from dryness but, once watered< the dry roots and wilty leaves can bounce back much more quickly than if they have been drowned. Think of it this way You could survive much longer without any water to drink than you could underwater without any air to breathe. Peter Bowden

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I have a woodchuck under my deck. I have tried a Havahart trap with no success. I put out carrots, lettuce and tomatoes. Can you recommend a type of woodchuck lure that would help lead my little fella into the trap? Thanks!

The problem with catching woodchucksthis time of year is that there is so much food out in the world for them that it is hard to tempt them into that trap. If it has been eating something in your garden then that would be the first to try as bait. They tend to prefer food that can be found close to the ground since that is where they forage. Tomatoes and various melons will tempt them and I’ve heard that they have a preference for broccoli. Make sure that the bait is kept fresh so you might want to try different vegetables or even flowers every day. If all else fails the I’d also try peanut butter. Keep at it and you’ll find something that will tempt it into your trap.

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I wish to transplant a ferm called Osmunda Cinnamonea. It is currently smushed in a corner of the house in the shade. Whiteflower Farm (from whom I bought it) says it takes full sun to part sun. The American Horticultural Society book for the NE says it takes full shade to part sun. Which is it? If it can take full to part sun, I have many spots where it can be showcased. Does it transplant well? Thanks – Kris

Kris, I’ll come down on the side of the American Horticultural Society on this one…shade to part sun. The sun to avoid with Cinnamon Fern (or any fern) is the hot, infrared afternoon sun. I can see this large fern easily handling a half day of morning sun since early light is much cooler and ultraviolet than afternoon sun. The sunnier the location, the more water it will need. It is likely taht the fern will get larger more quickly in a shadier location. It should do fine with the transplanting but wait until it is dormant before you attempt to move it. As early in spring as you can dig the soil after it thaws would be the best time to transplant it. Give it some room since as you’re probably aware this is a large fern that cab reach 4′ in height at maturity. Thanks for your question Peter Bowden

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How do I winterize my tropicana plants (they are in two big containers). Please help!!

Kathleen, Thanks for your question. Your tropicanna plants are a very colorful type of Canna. Cannas can be grown in containers or planted in the ground. They are NOT however, winter hardy. That means that they will need to be dug up and stored inside over winter. This is actually quite simple. Enjoy your canna as long as you can. Just water it but don’t feed it anymore. This will let it slow down with the season. Once the first frost kills the foliage, lift the tubers from the pot and cut off the dead leaves right down to the tuber. Brush off any excess soil with a wisk broom…don’t spray it with water to clean them…just brush them off lightly. Leave them out on some newspaper to let them dry out so the cut has a chance to scab over. Then place the tubers into a paper bag (don’t use plastic bags..you want the bulbs to ‘breathe’). Now you need to find a nice cool place to put the bulbs for the winter. They want to be cool but they don’t want to freeze. The coolest part on an unheated basement would work. When winter starts to wind down, you can get your cannas going for the next season. In early April, plant the tubers into some smaller pots at the same depth you found them at when you dug them out. You can use smaller pots to get them started to save on space. Once they’re potted, water them in thoroughly to let them know it’s time to grow again. Just keep them very lightly moist so they don’t drown and rot. Place them in the sunniest window you have. No need to feed them yet. In mid-May you can transplant them back into the larger pot and start light feedings with a good soluble food like Jack’s Classic. Late in May move them to a bright but shaded area so they can get used to a little sun. Gradually move them to sunnier and sunnier places until they are acclimated and you’re good to go for another season…have fun!

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How do you get rid of sumac once & for all? I got a rash from it this summer & it was worse than any poison ivy I’ve ever had. Thanks. Carol

Thanks for your question Carol, I’m sorry to hear of your run-in with poison sumac. Just to set the record straight…the sumac are most familiar with is staghorn sumac. This is the sumac we see all along the roadside…it is turning bright red now as we enter autumn. Poison Sumac is actually very uncommon but does grow in this area…usually in damp areas especially near streams, rivers and ponds although it can show up[ just about anywhere. Like the harmless staghorn sumac, poison sumac is a small, woody tree. Here’s a site that illustrates the difference. http://www.poison-sumac.org/ To kill sumac of any kind, I’d suggest a product from Bonide called Stump out Stump and Vine Killer. With great care and wearing gloves, cut the sumac and then use the brush applicator that is attached to the cap to liberally coat the fresh cut with the product. That should do it. As always follow the direction on the label and don’t get it on any desirable plants…this stuff will kill them (roots and all) as well.

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My rhoderdandron does not have any blooms in the summer, why not and what is it lacking?

Rhododendrons only flower once per season. There are a few things that could be preventing yours from flowering. If it is recently planted (within the last 5 years) it may not be well-established enough to flower yet. Plants like rhododendron won’t flower until they have energy to spare…flowering takes a massive amount of energy. To help it get established more quickly I recommend mixing bone meal (phosphorus) into the planting hole. The phosphorus in bone meal stimulates root growth and flower production…both things we want from a new rhododendron. Spring feeding is a must for better flowering (or any flowering in your case). Instead of using an evergreen food like Holly-Tone try Flower-Tone instead. Flower-Tone is a granular food that also will provide phosphorus to help stimulate flowering. To get the Flower-Tone to the roots where it’s needed you should pound holes about 10″ deep in a circle out away from the trunk of the rhodo and full those hole halfway with Flower-Tone. You can use a hammer and pipe to pound the feeding holes. Don’t feed now but in the spring as soon as the ground thaws. Rhododendron make the buts for next year this year so, if there are no buds on your Rhodo now then there will be no flowers in spring. If a Rhodo is planted where there is a lot of drying winter wind (say on the west or north side of the house) they will need a windbreak made of stakes and burlap or, better yet, move then to the east side of the house out of the prevailing winter wind.

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I have a mandevilla plant in a pot on my deck. My friend tells me to just put it in my basement for the winter and it will rebloom next year. Is this true? How do I take care of it during the winter.

Thanks for you question Mary, Mandevilla is a tropical plant as you know. It will probably survive (at least the stems should) if youput it in the basement over winter. The leaveswill all fall off of course. Certainly it would be happier if you can find room near a bright window for it to spend the winter. It will still lose lots of leaves but not all. It won’t need much water either and no plant food. Sometime in Late February or early March you’ll notice that it has started to put out some new shoots in response to the gradually lengthening days. You could then start giving it some plant foo at 1/4 strength to get it going again. By early June it should have lots of new growth and be ready to go outside for the summer. Bring it to a shady location for a week or so so it can get used to the increase in light and gradually move it to brighter and brighter places until it is acclimated. I just noticed that you said it is in a pot on your deck. If that is the case then it has probably already frozen and is already dead. If that is the case then it is not going to come back no matter what you do. Peter Bowden

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Hello there my roomates mother had a outdoor fern hanging basket that we took in for the winter months. Its starting to look a little sad. Or droopy. One leave is also turning brown. I give it water in begining I was doing it every other day and now do it every day. It is by a windwow which I open the blinds for it to get sun. I want to try to keep it alive all winter what can I do. Thanks for your help.

Yikes!!! stop watering so much! The biggest problem houseplants have is with their caregiver’s overwatering. Remember, lower light plants like ferns use very little water. In most cases they’ll only need to be watered anywhere from once a week to once a month. Always check the soil by poking your finger into the soil a couple of inches before you water. If you even think it feels moist wait a few more days and check again. Never leave plants standing in water for more than a few minutes or they will drown. Drowned roots are dead forever and the leaves of the plant will whither in a few days to a few weeks after the roots have been drowned. It is actually better to let the plant get a little limp or wilty before you water to avoid overwatering. Your fern does enjoy high humidity so get a mister bottle and feel free to mist as often as you wish. That will be much better than water every day. Thanks for your question, Peter Bowden

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Hi Peter, I recently bought a tiny evergreen plant from the Saratoga Hewitt’s store. It looks like a ground cover as it has many ‘rootlings’ reaching for the soil. What is it? Care info? Lost 1/2 of it after watering. Did I drown it? Was fantastic. Thanks a bunch! Robin

I’ll have to guess that you bought one of the ‘Frosty Ferns” that we had for sale in December. It is also known as ‘selaginella kraussiana variegatus’ and has more in common with ferns than evergreens. Your “Frosty Fern” will like medium light with no direct sunlight and loves high humidity and soil that is lightly moist all the time. This means that you’ll need to water frequently but lightly. If you have you pot in a saucer make sure that you never let the plants stand in water for more than a few minutes….soggy soil is not the same as lightly moist…if you have done this then you may indeed have drowned your fern. High humidity is difficult in the winter since our homes tend to be dry; especially if you have forced air heat. Misting your fern a couple of times a day can help with the humidity so a spray bottle should be kept handy. Peter B.

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is there any kind of pelletized weed killer to put on a stone driveway

There is no granule or pelletized product for this, only liquids. Kleen-up and Round-up are both sprays that will kill anything that it gets sprayed on be it weeds, grass or your prized rose so great care must be taken and never spray on a rainy day. Any seeds that blow into the area will sprout and grow. Then there’s Bonide’s Total Vegetation that kills everything and stays in the soil preventing any plant growth for up to a year. This product gets put on with a watering can as a soil drench. The directions for this must be read and followed to the letter since, if it leeches beyond the area of application it can kill trees and other large plants if it comes in contact with their roots. Use this product with great caution.

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What can I do to keep my neighbor’s chickens from digging up my flower beds without putting up fencing?

There is no good answer except a fence although it would seem that that should be your neighbor’s responsibility, not yours.

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Every year my clematis come back and bloom but then start to turn brown and the leaves fall off. Usually from the bottom up. The top of the plants stay the longest. What can I do? Thanks.

What you describe is ‘clematis wilt’, a fungal disease. The disease spores winter over on the old vines but doesn’t affect the root system. Make sure you remove all the old vine from the trellis and put it in the garbage (not your compost bin or brush pile) to get it out of your yard. Start spraying every 10 days with Bonide’s Sulfur Plant Fungicide. Sulfur spray is a preventative fungicide so you need to use it before you see the symptoms. Other than when you’re spraying on the sulfur spray, you should never spray your clematis (or any garden plant for that matter) with water since wet leaves are the perfect place for fungal disease to take hold. If the disease shows up in spite of your efforts with the sulfur spray, cut the clematis right to the ground. This will force it to regrow from the roots which are immune to the disease. Continue to use the sulfur spray as a preventative as the clematis reestablishes itself. Large flowering clematis are more likely to catch the wilt than smaller flowered varieties.

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Hi, I’d like to know which evergreen vines I can plant that will produce a fairly good screen affect, grow rapidly and produce berries for my lovely backyard birds. I’d like to have evergreen varieties so I’ll have the leaves all winter. Zone 5 please. I will also mix some annual vines as well. Any suggestions? Much appreciated! Thanks, Sue

I’m not aware of any evergreen vines that produce berries for birds. In fact there are few evergreen vines that can survive our winters. I think the best you can hope for is growing cardinal vines to attract hummingbirds. There is also Moonflower vine, a member of themorrning glory family that blooms at night and can attrach nocturnal moths like the giabt Luna Moth. Sorry I cn’t help but there nothing for zone 5 that will fulfill your need.

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i have about 4 tomato plants. that have leaves at the botom that are turning ayellowish color. what does that mean?

It isn’t uncommon for the first leaves on a tomato to turn yellow and fall off as the upper plants takes over and starts to shade the base of the plant. If the new growth looks OK without spotting and such then all is probably well. The best way to avoid fungal diseases on your tomatoes is to keeps them as dry and warm as possible. This means watering only when necessary and especially keeping the water off the leaves as much as possible. NEVER SPRAY YOUR PLANTS WITH WATER! It is bad enough that the rain wets the leaves but you shouldn’t add to the problem by spray watering. Get a watering wand so you can direct the water into the soil at the base of the plant without getting the leaves and flowers wet

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Peter, HELP! We have red spider mites everywhere! We have a stone patio with walls and pillars the length of the back of the house (faces SE direction). The tiny red mites have spread to the siding of the house and over the patio furniture, and are even crawling on the patio door frame. They try to come into the living area if we leave the patio door open with the screen for fresh air and breeze. What do you recommend we use to get rid of these annoying insescts?

The good news is that this will be a temporary situation. It sounds to me like you have clover mites invading the area probably coming from the lawn. They enjoy all the dampness and it sounds like you have a population explosion this year. You can get Bonide Eight in the disposable hose end sprayer to spray the stone patio but make sure to test it on a small area of paint before spraying large painted surfaces to make sure it won’t damage the paint. If they get inside you’ll want to vacuum them up since they can stain is squashed. They will subside within a week or so even if you don’t spray. This may happen every few years or so. Here’s a link to more information. http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/resources/clovermites312.shtml

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Do you sell top soil loose or in bags? I need about 45 cubic feet of soil for my garden.

We sell bagged topsoil.  Each bag is about 1/2 cubic ft. so you’d need 90 bags.

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Thistles have taken over an area in my yard, they get HUGE, how can I get rid of them?

Bonide Weed Beater Ultra can killer thistle.  Wait until nigh time temperatures are 50 degrees or above (usually mid-May to mid-June).  Spray the leave of the thistles so they are thoroughly wet…the weed killer is absorbed through the leaves.  Apply when rain is not expected for at leas 48 hours..the longer the weed killer is in contact with the leaves the better it will work.  Kill them before they produce seeds.

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I’ve purchased Miracle Gro potting soil for years to pot up my vegetable and herb seedlings. My bags last for a long time, at times, and all I do is roll the tops over to keep the bags shut so they don’t dry out. They’ve been fine. Recently we bought a bag at WalMart, I used some for a few seedlings and closed it back up with a clamp. Two weeks later I opened it up to transplant a few more and the entire top of the soil was molded over heavily. Have you ever seen that?

Well, how about purchasing your soil at Hewitt’s since this is where you go to get answers?  There are two types of Miracle-Gro soils…potting soil which is sterilized and garden soil which just a bag of topsoil with a fancy name and not sterilized.  The garden soil may indeed  have mold spores present and could grow mold as could any bag of topsoil.  Also a bag of sterile potting soil is only sterile until the bag is opened.  Don’t buy a ripped or damaged bag of potting soil (especially if it is being stored outside) since it is no longer sterile.  You pay more for sterile potting soil…make sure you get what you are paying for.

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Are Purple rain flowers annuals?

There a several flowers called Purple Rain  The salvia know by that name is hardy to USDA zone 3 so it is plentry hardy here in zone 5.  Here’s more on that plant.

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do you carry true peppermint

If by “true peppermint” you mean mentha piperita, then yes.  It is in the 4″ Gilberties herb selection and the tag says “Mint White Peppermint”.  This was found at the Glenville Hewitt’s .  The stores get the same selection but some might have sold out sooner and not have gotten refilled yet.  It might be a good idea to call the Hewitt’s nearest you to check before you make the drive.  You can go here and click on the map for the store locations and phone #s.

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I just purchased a “Knock Out” rose bush at your Queensbury store and when I got it home discovered that it is for zones 5-11. We are in zone 4. My question is do you think it will winter over alright if I mulch and cover it well? I would appreciate any advise you can give. Thank you.

The USDA hardiness zone map currently show most of Queensbury as Zone 5a.  Click on the link and see if you can find you exact location.  FYI, the hardiness zones were redrawn  few years ago and everyone was moved to warmer zone designations based on more recent climate data.  In either case, the Knockout will benefit from some winter protection since you are on the edge of their hardiness range.

 

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I am trying to eradicate Japanese Bamboo from my yard. I covered the area with tarps, pool cover, etc., for 5 years. Everything died but the bamboo, in fact, it crept out from underneath the tarps and has actually spread. Any suggestions? Do I need to dig up my whole yard?

You can try covering the area and a bit outside the surrounding area with clear plastic sealed to the ground with boards or rocks around the edges.  It will get so hot under there (greenhouse effect) that it will overheat the plants basically steaming them to death.  This method works best when it is very hot and sunny outside already.  It is important that the plastic be sealed to the ground all the way around to trap all the heat.

 

If this fails (it usually doesn’t if it is hot and sunny enough) then you’ll have to resort to a soil sterilizing chemical like Bonide total.  This is a soil drench and will kill any plant it comes in contact with the roots of.  It needs to be used with EXTREME caution since it can leach into the soil and kill desirable plants, shrubs and tree nearby.

 

 

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to speed germination, will liquid miracle-gro be of any help?

No, it is time, warmth and moisture that determine the speed of germination.

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Are there any perennials that can be planted in plant boxes?

Any perennials can be planted in window boxes and pots.  The problem is that they won’t survive winter unless the planter boxes or pots are sunk into the ground in fall.  Otherwise the pot or box will repeatedly freeze and thaw and refreeze and rethaw.  All this thawing and refreezing will kill perennials or hardy shrubs and trees planted in containers.  Once they go dormant in the fall and the ground freezes, they need to stay frozen in a state of dormancy until spring.  Besides, perennials only flower for a couple of weeks so aren’t the best option for containers.  Annuals flower continuously all summer long making them a much better choice for window boxes and planters.

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my white clematis vine (I bought at Hewitts) end of last yr. bloomed in early June, has lots of green vine and no sign of any more blooms. I tested my soil, high in ph and low in PP&N. What can I do or add to soil to make it continue to bloom all summer? Thank you.

Clematis aren’t continuous bloomers.  Sometimes you can get a second round of flowers by cutting it back slightly (removing spent flowers that are forming seed pods).  Yould should also feed your clematis with Flower-Tone plants food as soon as the ground thaws in spring and again about 8 weeks later.  This will give it extra energy for stronger blooming potential.  Th pH will gradually come down as long as you don’t add lime to the area.

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How can I get rid of grubs for good. I put out beer for them which they love, but this does not get rid of them permently. Thanks, Christine

Beer is used to attract slugs so, if that’s your question then there is a better slug killer that is save to use around animals and food crops There’s no way to get rid of slugs (or grubs) forever but you can control them quickly. HERE’S A LINK TO A BLOG POST ALL ABOUT THAT. 

 

If you were asking about lawn grubs the HERE’S a blog post all about that.

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smudge pots for mosquitios what do they look like

HERE’S what mine look like.  Basically like a Tiki Torch but lower.

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Short of pulling out a lot of crabgrass invading my pachysandra, is their a product to apply that will not kill the ground over?

Anything you spray to kill the crabgrass will also kill the pachy.  The best you can do is apply Preen or Corn Gluten to prevent more seeds from sprouting once you have it all weeded.

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do i use any bone meal to plant spring flowering bulbs

Yes, it is a good idea.  Mix it into the soil below the bulbs so the roots grow into it.

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How do you get rid of Japanesse beetles

There are lot of sprays that will kill Japanese Beetles Sevin, and Eight are sprays that you can use that remain on the leaves and kill the beetles when they eat it.  They are washed off by rain so  need to be reapplied occasionally.  There are also contact killers  that will kill them on contact at the time you spray. Here are some links to products used for killing Japanese Beetle.

 

http://www.bonide.com/products/product.php?category_id=195

http://www.bonide.com/products/category.php?category_id=3&page=1&per=all

http://www.bonide.com/products/product.php?category_id=442

http://www.bonide.com/products/product.php?category_id=196

http://www.bonide.com/products/product.php?category_id=026

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A co-worker recently gave me a sunflower plant as a gift and I keep it in my office. I have had it 1 week today. Last week it was doing well and I come in today and the leaves are all blotchy and spotted. I water it every 3 days. Any ideas of what it could be? The flowers are still blooming. Thank you.

It sounds like it is probably drowning.  Rather than watering it on a schedule, feel the soil and, if it feeld moist, wait a couple of days and feel it again.  When it feels dry a couple of inches down, give it a little water but don’t soak it.  Plants drown much more quickly than they die from dryness.  Honestly, a sunflower needs full sun all day to survive and thrive.  Inside the best you can do is enjoy it…it is more like a cut flower.  Offices need low light plants and sunflowers aren’t.

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How do I get rid of a woodchuck living under deck/ do you sell Shake Away?

We do sell Shake-Away repellent and it might work.  The best approach is trapping with a Hav-a-hart trap.  Bait the trap with some broccoli…woodchucks love broccoli.

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When is the best time of the year to divide hostas?Anthing special to do when replanting?Thanks so much for your help.

The best time is in fall or early spring while the plants are dormant or going dormant.  HERE’S a link all about dividing hosta.  This was from last year…now I’d suggest adding Bio-Tone instead of Bone Meal…it’s like supercharged bone meal.

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I’m infested with chipmunks there are a lot of holes and plies of dirt. How do I get them to relocate? If possible, I would like not to have them exterminated but I am becoming concerned about the damage they can possibly do to my walk or worse yet – get in between my walls. Or is there someone I could call for service?

Bonide MoleMax granules are effective against all burrowing rodents including chipmunks.  This is a great time to apply it before they settle in for the winter.  You need to apply it every spring and fall to keep them away.

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Whats a good floor plant for an office space

It depends on how much light the area gets but low light plants are usually the best.  Here’s a link to a great list of low light plants for indoors.

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I have a Christmas cactus and I need to take some cuttings to share with some friends. It really is too big for my hanging pot{12 inch}. Can I use commercial cactus soil for rooting? Thank you.

Christmas cactus are an epiphytes (grow in trees) so, while they are a type of cactus, they don’t grow in a sand, desert type soil.  Regular potting soil or even orchid soil would be more appropriate.  Simply break odd some sections, let them air dry for an hour  and slip them into the soil.  Lightly moisten the soil.  Don’t keep the soil wet all the time.  Wet it well then let it get dry between wettings. Christmas Cacti root very easily.

 

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After using a flea dogger in your home, do I have to have my furniture cleaned before using it again?

No, no need to have all the furniture shampooed.  Make sue to clean all tables, countertops and other surfaces that may come in contact with food.

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when do i dig up dahlia bulbs to store for winter

As soon as frost kills the foliage but before the ground freezes.

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we have fungus gnats in our office. We just had a pest control company here and told us there is really nothing you can do about them except get rid of all your office plants or re-pot them with new soil. We have a fungicide spray, which I guess if used on a regular basis might work

Fungus gnats do feed of fungal growth in the soil of plants.  Their presence usually is a clue that you’re keeping you plants too moist.  Let your plant get very dry between watering and NEVER let water stand in the saucers below the pots for more than a few minutes.  You want to water heavily then let the plants get nearly bone dry before watering them again.  Let them start to wilt before you soak them again.  Drowning is the #1 cause of houseplant death.  As the days get shorter and the windows are closed for the winter, plants inside will need a tiny fraction of the water they’ll use during the long days of summer.  Back off on the watering and stop feeding.

 

You should go to Hewitts and get some systemic insecticide for houseplants.  It will kill any insects in the soil then grow up into the plants and kill any insects that are attacking the plants.

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