Rosie Lerner

Rosie Lerner's website
Extension Consumer Horticulture Specialist
Purdue University
Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture
625 Agriculture Mall Drive
West Lafayette IN 47907-2010

Voice: 765-494-1296
Fax: 765-494-0391

699 articles by this author

Article List

Mystery plant likely a flowering quince


Q: Can you help me identify this shrub that flowered this spring? We’ve lived on this property for over 10 years but have never noticed it because it is on a part of the property that is not mowed. I only noticed it because of the bright red flowers. – T.G., Noble County A: This looks to be one of the flowering quince species, most likely the common flowering quince Chaenomeles speciosa. Although the plant […]

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Fall Leaves Are Treasure, Not Trash


The hot dry weather experienced throughout much of Indiana in late summer is bringing an early leaf drop to many landscape plants. But even under the best weather conditions, the shorter, cooler days of autumn signal deciduous plants to begin their color change and eventual leaf drop. For some, this marvel is overshadowed by the chores of raking and disposing of leaves. What’s needed here is an attitude adjustment! Autumn leaves don’t have to become […]


October Garden Calendar


HOME (Indoor plants and activities) Keep poinsettia in complete darkness for 15 hours each day — for example, between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. — for eight to 10 weeks until red bracts begin to show. Pot spring-flowering bulbs to force into bloom indoors. Moisten soil and refrigerate 10 to 13 weeks. Transfer to a cool, sunny location, and allow an additional three to four weeks for blooming. Houseplants, especially those grown outdoors during the […]


Don’t let sap-sucking squash bugs get old


Q: We have been battling squash bugs for years. This year we went to preventive measures. Well, they are back. I now need to know what can we do to apply to kill them on contact. We are totally organic here. – T.H., Bremen, Indiana A: Squash bugs can be a persistent pest on all of the cucurbits, but especially on squash and pumpkins. This pest overwinters as adults in crop residue or nearby weeds, then fly to […]


September Garden Calendar


HOME (Indoor plants and activities) Prepare storage areas for overwintering tender flower bulbs and garden produce. Thanksgiving (or Christmas) cactus can be forced into bloom for the Thanksgiving holidays. Provide 15 hours of complete darkness each day, for instance, from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m., for approximately eight weeks. Keep temperature at about 60-65 degrees F. Temperatures of 55°F will cause flower buds to set without dark treatment. Dig and repot herbs, or take cuttings, […]


Native Shrubs For Fall Color


                    If you’re looking to add native shrubs to your home landscape, fall is an excellent time to look for those with good fall color. While many factors affect the display of fall color, there are a number of native shrub species that perform reliably in our area. Here’s a short list to consider, including their mature height as well as flowers and fall color. Most […]


Her ‘Sensation’ lilac looks different this year. Enjoy!


Q: I have had a ‘Sensation’ lilac for several years. It has always produced lovely pinkish purple flowers edged in white. But this year it produced a few odd clusters that had only pale pink flowers. What causes this to happen? Should I prune off the odd branches? A: Many horticultural cultivars of plants, particularly those with interesting color variegation, begin as genetic mutations (sometimes called sports) of the species. If the sport with the […]


Squash blossoms drop, and sometimes that’s normal


A common complaint among vegetable gardeners is that their squash plants have a lot of flowers, but many of them just fall off without producing any fruit. This same observation can be made of cucumbers, melons, pumpkins and gourds, all of which are collectively known as “vine” crops to home gardeners. These plants are all members of the Cucurbitaceae family and are also commonly referred to as “cucurbits.” All of these vine crops produce separate […]


August Garden Calendar


HOME (Indoor plants and activities) Take cuttings from annual garden plants such as impatiens, coleus, geraniums and wax begonias to overwinter indoors. Root the cuttings in media such as moist vermiculite, perlite, peat moss or potting soil, rather than water. Order spring-flowering bulbs for fall planting. Cut flowers from the garden to bring a little color indoors, or dry for everlasting arrangements. YARD (Lawns, woody ornamentals, and fruits) Check trees and shrubs that have been […]


Remove errant branches to save ‘weird’ tree


Q: Please don’t think I’m totally crazy, but I couldn’t get anyone around here to answer this question and I thought someone at Purdue could. I have two trees in my backyard that are growing branches that are completely different from the rest of the trees. It is NOT another tree coming up under them, which is what most people tell me. Am I correct in guessing this is a cultivar that went wrong? Do we […]