Q. Is it best to cut my zoysia lawn grass close for the winter or leave it longer? I've used spectracide for brown patches on my lawn, but I still have some.
A. During the growing season, mowzoysia (all varieties) to a height of 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches. You may raise the mowing height about 1/4 inch during late fall until the grass is dormant but lower the blade again the following spring.
Zoysia should be fertilized only during the warm months. May through early September, when it is making its most active growth.
Spectracide is used only for insect control. Spraying with it may get rid of the insects (if there are any), but it certainly will not cure the damaged grass.
Q. If peonies are cut back after blooming, will the blooms be affected the following year?
A. Practically all of the food for the peony plant is made in the leaves with the aid of sunlight. No food, no flowers. The leaves must not only be left on the plan until they die naturally, but they should be helped to stay healthy and flourish. Even when blooms are cut, the plant is deprived of food if leaves are taken also. Whe the plant has only a few leaves, the blooms should be cut with short stems, thus leaving all the foliage on the plant. It is important to water the plants during dry weather and to keep weeds and other plants from competing for nutrients, moisture and sunlight.
Q. Please tell me how to take care of my amaryllis plants. I have one planted in the ground and two in pots; they have been outside all summer.
A. Assuming they are not the hardy varieties of amaryllis, bring them indoors before the first frost. The one in the ground should be dug with some soil around the bulb.
Gradually withhold water, and when the foliage turns yellow, cut it off. Store them in a dry, cool place for two or three months. Then report them preparatory to bringing them into bloom again.
When brought back into light and warm air, the growing cycle will repeat itself.
Q. In your column you identified the tomato hornworm as the hummingbird moth (adult form). Are you sure this is correct? I am not an expert, but I think the tomato hornworm is a sphinx moth.
A. You ar correct. All hornworms are larvae of sphinx moths (family Sphingidae). The tobacco hornworm and the tomato hornworm are almost alike, and both feed on the same kind of plants. The main difference is that the tobacco hornworm has a red horn projecting from its rear while the horn of the tomato hornworm is green with black sides. It is the tobacco hornworm adult sphinx moth that is sometimes called the hawk or hummingbird moth, not the tomato hornworm.
Q. Please recommend a variety of grass seed for dense shade. I have had a very hard time getting grass to grow under my Norway maple trees. I've spent a lot of money with no results.
A. There is no grass that will grow in dense shade for long. Tests have shown over and over again that unless the grass gets at least four hours of good sunshine daily it will soon go bad.
According to specialists, the best varieties for shaded areas are a mixture of Jamestown and Pennlawn creeping red fescue. If shade is quite heavy and continuous, your best bet is to give up on grass and use a ground cover such as pachysandra or English ivy.