May 2000 - Indiana Yard and Garden - Purdue Consumer Horticulture

May 2000

Q. Can you make some suggestions as to what I can plant in soggy soil? Since this part of my yard is the property line, I’m looking for some type of tree and/or tall shrubbery to create a privacy fence. – Joyce Haney

A. If space is not an issue, you could consider clump river birch. You would be able to see through them in the winter, but the peeling bark would give nice winter interest. Shrubs that tolerate wet soil include quince, fothergilla, hibiscus, hydrangea and arrowwood viburnum. If you’re looking for an evergreen, you might choose a chamaecyparis or arborvitae.

For more extensive lists, contact your county Extension office and request a copy of Plants for Wet Areas (HO-227) or Plants for Moist to Slightly Moist Areas (HO-226).


Q. I have two rather large pecan trees (about 30 feet). They are over 10 years old but have never bloomed. Any suggestions? Also, I have been trying to raise English walnuts, but they get about 6 feet tall and then die out. Finally, I have one American walnut tree that never blooms and yet produces nearly a peck of walnuts every year. – R. J. Flaherty, Jasonville, Ind.

A. Pecans have inconspicuous blooms that hang in strands from the branch, so you may have missed noticing them. If there are no nuts, you may need to plant another pecan cultivar in the area to maximize pollination and fruiting. If there really are no flowers, the trees may be too shaded. Pecans require full sun.

Several possibilities exist for the walnuts. Take a sample of a dying tree to your county Extension office. If you’d like to try again with new seedlings, I’d suggest planting them in a different location to avoid any soil-borne problems. Walnuts prefer good, deep, well-drained soil. Water regularly, enough to wet the soil 5 to 6 feet deep. Avoid wetting the trunk and crown of the tree.

Regarding the productivity of the American walnut, the flowers are there! They are inconspicuous, but you can’t have fruits or nuts without flowers.

If you’re nuts about nuts, contact the Indiana Nut Growers Association at They can provide you with a wealth of information!


Q. I have planted mango or sweet peppers along with tomatoes. They have been in the soil 10 days and are not up yet. The tomatoes are up already. – Arthur R. Holdcroft, Vevay, Ind.

A. Most tomato seeds germinate in five to eight days, while peppers take about 10 days. You should see pepper seeds germinating any day! If they don’t sprout, a number of problems should be considered, including a lack of viable seed, improper watering, temperature or light, and planting depth.


Q. I have a dog that loves to dig in my garden, and I’m tired of it. The neighbor’s dog does, too, and leaves “calling cards” around my garden. Is there something I can put down to keep them out besides fencing? I would prefer a cheaper route. I’ve heard of pepper and other things but haven’t tried any. I have 7 years of hard work out there, and I don’t want it destroyed.
– Melissa McNeely

A. Most of the deterrents on the market keep animals from eating the plants with a foul taste. Digging in the garden is another matter entirely. Some repellents are available; one is called Scram. It cannot be applied to the foliage of shrubs or perennials and is effective for 12-24 hours when applied daily. The directions say it works best in conjunction with voice commands.

There are also some devices that set off water sprinklers with motion detectors. I’d be interested in hearing from readers who have tested these.

Exclusion is your best bet, although, I agree, it can be costly. The cheapest route is to call your neighbor and ask that the dog be kept at home, but then you’re still left with your own dog’s damage to the garden. Dogs and landscaping rarely go well together, and concessions need to be made for them to co-exist. You can come up with a way to exclude the dogs from your flowerbeds or lower your expectations for the garden’s appearance!

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