April "In The Grow" - Indiana Yard and Garden - Purdue Consumer Horticulture

April “In The Grow”

Q. I have two gooseberry bushes that never bloom so, therefore, never produce fruit. They are 8-10 years old and in full sun. Do you have to have male and female bushes to produce fruit? If not, what could be wrong? – Judy Bates, Bloomington, Ind.

A. Gooseberries are generally self-fruitful. You are facing another problem since your plants don’t bloom at all. Try pruning out all branches that are more than 3 years old and any other branches with darker or peeling bark. Contact your county Extension office and request “A Guide to Flowering and why Plants Fail to Bloom” (HO-173) for more possibilities. Make sure you’re not over-fertilizing with nitrogen, which causes foliage production at the expense of flowers.

Q. My father has five persimmon trees, but only one produces fruit. He’s wondering if it’s the male or female tree that bears the fruit, so he knows which tree to buy more of. – Amy Weddle

A. Persimmons, like people, bear young via the female. If your father wants more fruit, he needs more female trees. One male can pollinate multiple females. Ideally, trees are planted 20 feet apart.

Do you need a male? In a recent column, I wrote that persimmon trees are dioecious, which means male and female flowers are borne on separate trees, so both trees are required for fruit production. Several readers wrote to tell me they have lone persimmons that bear fruit regularly. Actually, the common and Texas persimmons are indeed dioecious, with clusters of small male blossoms on one tree while the larger, solitary female blossoms occur on another. On rare occasions, both types of blossoms will be found on the same tree.

The oriental persimmon is probably the most-often eaten and is, indeed, self-pollinating although, for the greatest set of fruit, you should plant more than one tree. The oriental persimmon is only hardy to about 10 F, but I include this information because some readers wrote about trees in other states.

Corrections and additions

Last month, I answered a question about possible gladiolus diseases and possible fungicides. I closed with, “It’s important to know what you’re dealing with before you try to fix the problem with herbicides.” You’ll have no fungus problems if you spray with herbicides, since you will have killed the plant! It should have read “pesticides.”

For more information on last month’s peach question, readers can contact their county Extension office for “Controlling Pests in the Home Fruit Planting” or get a copy online at http://www.agcom.purdue.edu/AgCom/Pubs/ID/ID-146.pdf.

Finally, I mentioned diazinon for chemical control of aphids, but gardeners can also use insecticidal soap, Malathion or Orthene (Acephate).


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