Q: My tulips were perfectly beautiful this spring. What can I do to help them be equally attractive next spring?
A: One of the best things you can do for tulips (also daffodils and hyacinths) is to cut off the faded flowers. If left on, food (energy may be spent in producing seed which otherwise would be stored in the bulbs for better flowers next year.
The foliage of all spring bulbs should be encouraged to stay green as long as possible. The foilage produces the food (photosynthesis) which is stored in the bulbs for next year's flowers. The more food there is, the larger the bulb, and the better the bloom.
Keep weeds out of your tulip bed.They compete for moisture and nutrients. Water the tulips during dry weather. The longer the foliage remains in good condition, the more food it can produce.
Do not tie up the tulip foliage with cubber bands. When it is tied up, it cannot produce as much food because there is less leaf surface exposed to sunlight. Wait until the leaves begin to droop and shrivel before cutting off the tops or digging the blusb.
Q: The leaves on my American holly are drying up and appear to be dying. The leaves have funny looking splotches on them. What can I do to save the tree?
A: American holly tress usually lose most of their leaves in the spring and get new ones. It is a natural thing for the tree to do.
The splotches on the leaves are due to insects called leaf miners.When there are many of them, they spoil the ornamental value of the tree.
The miners pupate in early spring and emerge as flies. The females puncture the tissue in the upper surfaceof newly forming leaves with most of the punctures being near the edges. Both females and males feed on the juices which exude from the wounds. Seriously damaged leaves may become stunted.
The female lays eggs in small slits or punctures in the lower surface of newly developing leaves, or in the feeding punctures. There may be as many as 16 miners in a single lead but usually only 2 or 3.
Entomologists recommend spraying with Sevin or Spectrocide to destroy the flies before they can lay eggs. Tests have shown that a single application of Cygon applied during June or July can control the miners before they do extensive damage. In all cases, read and follow directions on the label.
Q: What can I do to control white-flies on my tomatoes this year? I used malathion last year without success.
A: Whiteflies are difficult to control once they become established. Their high reproductivity ability - eggs to adults in 7 days - and waxy protective covering prevents good control by insecticides. Malathion is effective only when the population is low. The best way to control them is to prevent a build up. Whiteflies overwinter indoors so you need to battle these pests all year.
Q: Are pine trees more likely to draw lightning than other trees?
A: Lightning is a complex process that basically occurs during thunderstorms when an electrical charge originating from clouds meets an opposite electrical charge originating from the ground. Since pines are good conductors of the ground charge, there is a likelihood of their being struck. Oak trees are in the same category.