Q: I have two maple trees that need a lot of pruning. Is this a good time of the year to do it?
A: Heavy pruning of trees and shrubs during late summer and early fall is not a good idea. It may delay the plants in hardening (adjusting) for winter and cause considerable injury. Early Deember should be a good time to do it.
Q: I'd like to dry some flowers for indoor decoration; can you tell me how to go about it?
A: There are a number of garden flowers as well as wild ones that can be dried simply by hangin them upside down in a warm, dry place for several weeks. Take flowers of good quality, slightly immature, remove foliage from stems, group them into small bunches, and hang then upside down in a warm, dry, dark place with good air circulation until thoroughly dried.
Q: I bought three pots of chrysanthemums that are covered with flower buds. Should I leave them in the pots or plant them in the ground?
A: Plant them in the ground, where they should survive the winter in good shape and give good results year after year. It's a good idea to divide them every spring -- to keep a clump intact would mean that five to 50 plants would be growing in space large enough for only one. They would be crowded, tall and spindly.
Q: The black-eyed Susans that grow along the roadside are beautiful. Can I grow them by taking some of the seed and planting them?
A: The seed can be taken, usually in early to mid-September, stored in a cool place and sown indoors in February and March or outdoors in April and May. Once they have bloomed for you, they selfsow plenty of seed year after year.
Q: Every year my camellia bushes get flowers buds on them, but when the buds get almost large enough to bloom, they dry up and fall off. Is there any way to prevent it?
A: In all probability te cameillias are not adapted to the area. Some varieties respond to warm eather in late fall or during the winter by partially opening their buds; then when it turns cold, the buds are damaged and later on fall off. Perhaps if you use gibrellic acid on the buds inlate summer or early fall it may cause them to bloom before cold weather.
Q: My roses are badly infested with aphids (plant lice) and I sprayed them with malathion. How long will it be effective.
A: Malathion is effective for about two days after it has been sprayed on surfaces exposed to sunligh, for no more than four days on shady surfaces.
Q: The cow-itch vine is taking over my vegetables and strawberries. How can I control it?
A: Cow-itch vine (trumpet creeper or trumpet vine) will have to be pulled by hand or dug out with a hoe. Any chemical that could control it would also harm the vegetables and strawberries.
Q: Our zinnas haven't done very well this year -- there are not as many blooms and the flowers are kind of small. Do you have any suggestions?
A: Many gardeners make the mistake of planting zinnias too close together. The small types grow six inches tall and should be spaced six inches apart; the Cupids and Button types grow 12 inches tall and should be spaced 12 inches apart; the Ruffle and Pumila types reach a height of 24 to 30 inches and should be spaced two feet apart. When rainfall is insufficient, water the plants early in the morning and keep water off the leaves.
Q: Our Chinese hollies have grown much too large and are crowding other plants.Can they be pruned?
A: Most Chinese hollies, such as Buford, require frequent pruning to keep them in bounds. This is especially true if they have been planted for five to 10 years. Plants may be reduced in size by cutting out individual limbs within the plant, using a saw.
Q: We have two large split-leaf philodendrons in our church sanctuary. It's only heated about twice a week during the winter and gets quite chilly at other times. Should they be moved to a heated room? How often should they be watered?
A: The split-leaf philodendron (Monstera deliciosa) does best in a temperature range of 62 degrees to 85 degrees F. At lower temperatures it will be damaged -- the lower the temperature, the greater the damage. Water the plants when the soil feels dry to your touch, usually about once a week during the chillier months.