Q - My house plants are on the ground outdoors in the shade of a Norway maple. When I watered them today I noticed one had an earthworm in the pot. Will it do any harm?
A - An earthworm in the soil of a potted plant can become a nuisance. It usually leaves a portion of its sticky coat wherever it goes and this tends to cause soil particles to stick together and become a mass impervious to water. It may also stop up the drainage hole, preventing the escape of excess water. You may be able to get rid of it by standing the pot in a sink full of water for about 5 minutes, causing the worm to come to the surface.
Q - My garden faces north and gets very little sun. Because of poor soil and lack of sun, I have been unsuccessful in growing any type of grasses. The moss is beautiful and thick in some parts of the yard. I would like to have the entire area covered with moss, is there a seed to plant, or do you just apply a special type fertilizer or chemical?
A - There are more than 13,000 different mosses of which three or four dozen are common on most areas. They are adapted to a wide range of varying conditions, such as low fertility, too much shade, soil compaction, poor drainage, poor ari circulation, or a combination of these factors. Acid soil may be responsible for moss growth.
Transplanting moss is not difficult. The big problem is in matching the environment where you put it to that from which it was taken. Mosses have no roots and are very sensitive to changes in conditions.
Some require an acid soil while other prefer neutral or slightly alkaline soil. Before trying to transplant, it is best to make some soil tests, using an inexpensive soil testing kit. In other words, try to find a moss that will grow in your particular environment or see if you can change your environment to its liking. Forest mosses may not survive if given increased direct sunlight.
Unlike wild flowers, mosses may be transplanted from the wild into the garden without danger of eradicating them. The moss mat will grow back in a year or two.
Q - Does Moses-in-a-Boat ever bloom?
A - Yes, botanically the plant is Thoeo discolor, and little white flowers appear in the leaf bases or boatshaped bracts, but it needs very good light to bloom. Filtered sunlight is best.
Q - My parents have two rather large miniature split-leaf red maples. Can you tell me how to take cutting from them and root them?
A - The best method probably is to go to a nursery and buy your Japanese maple. To try to propagate your own is not likely to succeed without considerable knowhow.Cutting taken in May and early June may root under intermittent mist, they may even root in a greenhouse without mist but the prospects are dim.
Q - We plan to move in Mid-August and want to take our boxwood with us. Can they be transplanted then?
A - By midsummer English boxwood is an easy to move as it is in spring or fall, but it needs to be done carefully.
Q - How best do we go about growing apple trees from fresh seeds?
A - Seed taken from fruit in the fall after ripening can be planted immediately. Otherwise, they must be stratified (kept at a temperature between 37 and 41 degrees for 60 days), and planted in the spring.
Apple trees can be grown from seed but chances are the fruit will be worthless, small and sour, at least inferior, and it takes about 15 years for the tree to produce its first fruit. An apple tree propagated from cutting or by layering will produce excatly the same kind of fruit as the tree from which they came.
Most apple trees used for fruit production today are grafted or budded onto different root stocks.
A cutting from an immature apple tree can be rooted rather easily and it will be similar to the tree from which it was taken.