Q: I planted some tulip bulbs and now the squirrels are digging them up. Is there a way to stop them?
A: Cover the ground where the bulbs are planted with one-inch mesh wire and peg it down. You can cover it with a thin mulch if the appearance bothers you. There is no chemical repellant that is effective.
Q: Is there any way to keep squirrels from chewing off young leaf buds on a tree? Can a tree replace leaves so destroyed?
A: Most mature trees and shrubs in fair health have many more leaves than are required for food production and development of new tissue. The loss of some of them should have no harmful effect. If there is any doubt about the vigor of the tree, fertilize it in late November or early December.
Q: We have a big oak tree, with plenty of acorns. We'd like to plant some of them. How do we go about it?
A: Collect the acorns soon after they fall to prevent their being damaged by insects. Remove the cups and plant them outdoors immediately, half an inch to one inch deep. Mulch with an inch of leaves or straw.
Q: What causes leaves on my birch tree to become wrinkled and discolored?
A: It's probably due to aphids (plant lice) feeding on the leaf tissue. They can be seen on the underside of the leaf by opening it so the wrinkled area lies flat. Malathion or Spectracide usually is effective for spraying them. However, effective spraying of a big tree is usually not a do-it-yourself project, and if you don't spray, there is a good chance that predators will move in and reduce the aphid population before it does extensive damage.
Q: The black-eyed Susans along the roadside are beautiful. How should I go about getting some to plant in my garden?
A: Seeds can be collected from the wild flowers after they have ripened, usually in August and early September. Store the seeds in a cool place and sow them indoors in February or March or outdoors in April or May. Once they have bloomed for you, they self-sow plenty of seeds.
Q: I was given a flamingo flower. It was beautiful, but now it looks awful. What does it need?
A: Antharium (flamingo flower) comes from tropical areas of South America. The average rainfall in Colombia where most kinds originate is 390 inches per year. The plant requires so saturated an atmosphere that it's almost impossible to grow it successfully in the home. It requires high humidity, warm temperatures (80o to 95o F.) and light shade.