Q - I have three miniature roses growing outdoors in the ground. What should I do with them when winter comes?

A - Pot them, bring them indoors and grow them under fluorescent lights where they should bloom freely.

Q - Is it true that almost always lawn clippings should be removed when the grass is mowed?

A - If the grass becomes quite tall before being mowed and is cut way back, the clippings may lay to top of the grass and be a nuisance. If the grass is cut before it gets high or if only a small amount is taken at one time, the clippings will sift into the grass. Such clippings decompose readily and slowly release nitrogen and other nutrients that contribute to good grass growth.

Q - I sheared my yew this morning and discovered it was almost all dead inside. Can you suggest the cause and a cure?

A - Repeated shearing of yew, juniper and arborvitae (in fact, nearly all plants) results in a dense outer surface which shuts out light from the interior. Unless there are several green twigs inside there is little hope for new growth to develop, even if light is provided. The interior is no longer capable of initiating new growth.

Q - My lily bulbs rot and I have to replace them every year. Is it because something is wrong with my soil?

A - Good soil drainage (in addition to surface runoff) is essential for lily bulbs because soggy soils provide ideal conditions for growth of fungi, which cause bulbs to rot. Sloping land would tend to insure good drainage but it cannot be depended on. The soil around the roots must drain quickly after heavy rain, snow or watering. Heavy clay soil usually is the problem.

Q - The leaves of our two Chinese elm trees are eaten through in a lace-like pattern and are falling from the trees. What could cause this?

A - Most likely it is due to Japanese beetles. They are fond of Chinese elm foliage, also rose, grape, raspberry, early apples, willow oak and many others. They skeletonize leaves, leaving only the midribs and veins. A heavy infestation can cause a big tree to lose almost all of its leaves. The season is about over for them this year and they will soon disappear.

Q - I've had Oriental poppies for seven years and the clumps are getting right large. Should they be divided?

A - Such clumps can be dug, divided and replanted. The best time to do it is after the foliage dies down in mid-to-late August when the plants go dormant for a month or so. Growth starts up again in the fall. It is best to replant them in a new location where the soil is fairly good.

If you have a question for Tom Stevenson, write to him at Weekend

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