If you have a question for Tom Stevenson, write to him at the Weekend section, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW Washington, D.C. 20071.
Q -- We want to order some dwarf apple trees to plant in the spring. Which kinds are best for eating out of hand and for apple sauce?
A -- Apples considered best for eating fresh and for salads include McIntosh, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Cortland, Jonathan, Stayman Winesap, Melrose and Franklin. For apple sauce and pies, the best are Golden Delicious, Melrose, Yellow Transparent, McIntosh, Cortland, Jonathan, Grimes Golden, Stayman Winesap and Rome Beauty.
Q -- I bought 10 pounds of Irish potatoes at the grocery store and all of them have green skins. Are they safe to eat?
A -- After extended periods of light, chlorophyll and solanine are produced in the flesh. The green tubers acquire a bitter, pungent taste. If eaten in quantity they may be poisonous.
Q -- I have had a bromeliad plant for about four years. It had a bloom when I received it but has not bloomed since. How can I make it bloom?
A -- One never knows exactly when these plants will bloom. Some flower each year but many species may go for years getting bigger and bigger without blooming. They can be made to bloom by giving them a treatment of ethylene gas. Put the plant in a bag, add an apple, close and tie the bag and leave it alone for four days. Then remove the bag and the apple. In one to six months, the plant will bloom.
Q -- Are poinsettia leaves poisonous? We have been told that they are.
A -- Extensive research at Ohio State University showed poinsettia leaves and other parts of the plant are not poisonous. The milky sap can be irritating to the skin, mouth and stomach of susceptible persons and perhaps cause vomiting, but otherwise produces no ill effects.
Q -- Are there threes that can be used for foundation planting?
A -- Small ornamental trees can be used; this includes dogwood, saucer magnolia, Japanese maple, river birch, redbud, crape myrtle, mountain ash and sourwood. These trees have landscape characteristics that make them desirable.
Q -- The leaves of my rubber plant have lost their glossy appearance. What should I do about it?
A -- Wipe the leaves gently with moist tissue or a soft cloth. Add a small amount of hard sap to the water to remove residue. A shiny appearance also can be obtained by wiping the leaves with a cloth moistened with milk.