Q: We are planning to buy a living pine to use as a Christmas tree and plant outdoors later on. Is it a sensible thing to do? A: There is a considerable risk involved, enough perhaps to discourage attempting it. The tree will be dormant when you buy it, hardened for winter. aIf it goes indoors to warm temperatures for 10 days to two weeks, it may break dormancy enough to die if taken back outdoors. On the other hand, it needs a period of about 1,000 hours at temperatures around 40 degrees F. during the winter months. Q: I was given a Flamingo Flower plant for my birthday. Please tell me how to take care of it. A: This plant (Anthurium) comes from tropical areas of South America where average rainfall is about 390 inches a year. It requires so saturated an atmosphere that it is almost impossible to grow it successfully in the home. aIt requires very good drainage, warm temperature (80 degrees to 85 degress F.) and light shade. Q: My African violets have stopped blooming. The new leaves are stunted and really hairy. Can you tell me what is wrong? A: The African violets probably are infested with cyclamen mites. These very tiny insects feed in the buds and cause the flowers to be distorted or die. Use a magnifying glass to check the infestation. These mites are very sensitive to heat. You can submerge the infested plants into water maintained at 115 degrees F. for 10 minutes. This will not damage the plant. Repeat the treatment in 10 days. Q: I've tried several times to grow parsley from seed, but the seeds never come up. What is wrong? A: Parsley seeds are slow to germinate, so be patient with them. Plant the seed indoors in Jiffy-7s (available at garden centers), keep the soil moist, and when they sprout, plant pot and all in a six-inch clay pot indoors or in the ground outdoors after the weather gets warm enough. Q: I have tried several times to grow the Franlin tree from seed with no success. Can you tell me how to do it? A: Both seed and cuttings of Franlinia alatamaha can be propagated successfully in acid soil. Q: We get a fine crop of apples from our three trees but they don't keep very long. How should they be stored? A: Apples keep best at 31 degrees F. and 85 percent humidity. They can be kept for several months at a higher temperature if they are not overripe when stored. Basements are usually a poor place to store them because most basements are 55 degrees or more. The back porch may be a better place than the basement. Q: Our oak tree has had a lot of acorns for many years but there were none this year. Why would this happen? A: It could be due to very low vigor of the tree or to inadequate pollination. Fertilizing the tree now or in late winter should improve vitality. If something happened to prevent development of pollen or prevent pollination (both male and female flowers are on the same tree) the tree would skip a year in bearing acorns. Q: Is it necessary to add chemicals to our compost pile to help it decompose? A: No, but a compost pile often needs an activator, which is an additional source of nitrogen to speed decomposition. The nitrogen provides food for the soil bacteria that cause decay. Q: When is the best time of year to prune a pear tree? A: After the tree is completely dormant, which is usually in December. Pear trees should be pruned lightly. Heavy pruning may cause a lot of new growth and increase the risk of fire blight, a disease that destroys most kinds of pear trees. Q: I have four orange trees growing in a large wooden tub. I started them from seed three years ago, keep them outdoors during the summer, indoors during cold weather. Will they ever bear fruit? A: It is unlikely they will ever bear because they cannot get the sunshine they need in late fall and winter. When they are old and large enough, it will be too much of a problem to move them in and out of doors, and winter weather will kill them outdoors.