My azalea have gotten too tall and I'm afraid the wind may damage[WORD ILLEGIBLE] this winter. Can I cut them back this time of the year?

The azaleas can be cut back in late fall with no great risk to them. Pruning may result in loss of many flowers the following spring but it can result also in more attractive plants and better flowers in succeeding years.

Then azaleas become too tall and leggy (it happens when they are in rather heavy shade), it is better to spread the pruning over a period of years, instead of doing it all at once.

Select about one-third of the stems, spaced throughbout the plant and cut them back to 8 to 12 inches. The following year do another third, and finish the job the year after that.

Q. One of my rose bushes has a stem growing from the ground that has a lot of small leaves on it. It wasn't there in the spring. Should I do anything about it?

A. Modern roses are mostly propagated by budding. A bud of the variety desired is inserted onto the stem, close to the root, of a different species, a very hardy vigorous wild rose, known as Rosa Multiflora. This method is used to produce strong plants with unusually vigorous root systems.

Occasionally shoots will grow from the wild root system. They are called suckers. They come from well below the soil and originate from the understock below the bud union. The sucker usually can be distinguished because of the difference in foliage.

The sucker should be removed immediately. Dig some soil from the base of the rose bush so you can trace the shoot to where it originates in the root. Then tear it out of the root. If you cannot tear it out, use a sharp knife and gouge it out. If any portion of the sucker is allowed to remain, it will send up more sucker shoots and nothing will have been accomplished. If allowed to continue to grow, they quickly completely overcome the desired rose variety.

Q. Last fall my Japanese holly was loaded with berries and this year there are none. What is the reason? It appears to be healthy.

A. Many kinds of plants skip a year when they have particularly heavy crops one year. It is because they are exhausted by the demands of producing the heavy crop and they rest up for a year (store up energy) before bearing again.

Some apple trees that are alternate bearers can be made to bear every year by removing a lot of small fruit early in the season.

Q. How old must a pine tree be before it starts to bear cones?

A. Most pine trees start to bear cones (seed) when 15 to 20 years old, some when only 10, and some, like the sugar pine of the West, seldom bear cones before they are 40 to 50 years old.

Q. I haven't been able to plant my tulip bulbs. Can I store them and plant them next fall?

A. There is little hope of being able to store tulip bulbs for that length of time and then get good flowers from them. They will have exhausted much of the energy that was stored within them, the energy necessary for the production of blooms.

If the ground is frozen, why not plant them in pots and store them in the garage or some other dark place where the temperature stays around 40 degrees. When the weather gets warmer in the spring, bring them out into the sunshine and they may bloom very nicely for you.

Q: Wire grass got started in our lawn three years ago and nothing we have tried seems to help get rid of it and it gets worse every year. What can we do?

A: Bermuda grass (wire grass) is hard to eliminate. New plants are created by formation of roots at the stolon nodes, and scaly rhizomes (underground stems) and seed contribute to its spread. Bermudagrass rhisomes are capable of emerging from beneath macadam or asphalt paving. The grass can become a serious problem in a vegetable garden.

Control in small areas is possible by covering it with black plastic. Anchor the black plastic with soil or bury the edges. The black plastic shuts out light and prevents food production. One growing season should be sufficient to kill the existing plants. However, more plants may be produced from seed in the soil the following year.

Q: What would be the cause of pansy plants growing long stems and very small flowers?

A: Too much shade or overcrowding. A good strain of seed, good soil, protection in cases of severe cold, and not too much shade are necessary for good results with pansies.