Q - My gardenia plant was outdoors all summer and is now back indoors. How can I tell whether it needs repotting?
A - Flowering plants such as the gardenia usually need to be changed to a larger pot at least once a year. Some foliage plants can be kept in the same size pot two years or more. Slow-growing cacti and succulents can go even longer.
To find out if the plant needs repotting, remove it from the pot. Turn it upside down. Tap the rim of the pot on the table to loosen the soil ball and let it slide out of the pot into your hand.
The soil should be neither wet or dry when this is done, sort of in between.
If a mat of roots shows on the outside of the soil ball, the plant usually needs to be repotted. This condition is called a pot-bound plant. A pot-bound plant needs to be watered more often because there isn't enough soil to hold enough water to last very long.
The plant can be repotted immediately, but it may be better to wait and do it at the beginning of the growing season next spring.
Q - One of my rose bushes has some seed pods on it. Can they be planted and produce new rose bushes?
A - They can be planted and you may get seedlings, but there's no knowing whether they will be worth anything because chances are they are from a hybrid plant, whose seeds do not come true.
Allow the seed to completely mature on the plant.In other words, wait unti the plant has dropped almost all its leaves. Remove the seed from the pod (hip) and mix with moist peat moss. Then store in the refrigerator for three months at between 40 and 45 degrees. Then plant them in small pots.
Q - When is the proper time to harvest sunflower seeds? We have a lot of plants and want to use the seeds to feed the birds this winter. Usually the birds take them before we can harvest them.
A - Sunflowers can be collected when the heads start to droop. Cut the head from the main stalk. The cut head will continue to dry, and as it gets dry the seeds will become loose. To harvest, simply put the heads over newspapers or cheesecloth and pass you hand gently over the seeds. Most of them will fall out easily.
Q - The bluegrass in my lawn is covered with a white powdery substance. What could it be and is it serious?
A - Bluegrass lawns may be attacked by powdery mildew at this time of the year or in the spring, when days are mild and cloudy and nights are cool and damp. Merion bluegrass appears to be particularly susceptible when growing in shade. Large areas are dull white, as if dusted with flour or lime. The disease significantly reduces the growth of grass, roots and rhizomes. Spraying with Acti-dione Thiram two or three times at 10-day intervals should keep the disease in check. Directions on the label for mix and application should be followed closely.
Q - I have red raspberries that bear fruit in early summer and in the fall. How should they be pruned?
A - As soon as the crop is harvested in late summer or fall, the old canes (the ones that have just borne fruit) should be removed. cut them off at the ground level. Do not prune them during the summer. The removal after fall harvest provides more room for new canes in the spring. In late winter before new growth starts, cut back last year's new canes to a height of approximately 5 feet. Leave six to eight canes to a hill. These will bear the fruit this year.