July 1995 - Indiana Yard and Garden - Purdue Consumer Horticulture

July 1995

Q. What has happened to my peonies? This year my maroons are pink; my pinks are white. Then I have white, too. My red one has never changed colors. – Mary Harden, Clay City, Ind.

A. Flower thrips occasionally feed on peonies, distorting the buds and flecking the petals with red or white. Thrips are most abundant between late spring and midsummer. They’re difficult to control because they’re usually protected by plant tissue, and they often reproduce in nearby trees before infesting your garden plants. Insecticidal soaps or a systemic pesticide labeled for thrips can help. (There are quite a few.) Make sure you read the label and reapply as instructed.

Sunlight or hot weather can cause the flowers to fade somewhat, but I doubt you would describe that as a complete color change.

If you haven’t removed the spent flowers in many years, your peonies may have dropped seed and produced new plants in your garden. They could be vigorous enough to have choked out your original plantings, and you would have quite a mixture of colors.

Q. I read the June issue concerning the lady from Sheridan having problems keeping grass and weeds out of her asparagus. I have read about this problem before. I use table salt or coarse grade salt and really put a lot on. I never have weeds and give asparagus away by the bag full! You can put the salt on really thick before the asparagus is ready to come up or use it later as weeds and grass appear. Asparagus is a salt plant. Hope you can use this tip; it’s so simple. – Thelma Hill, Markle, Ind.

A. Salt on asparagus is an old practice that is not recommended by the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service. Asparagus is quite salt tolerant, and salting the bed does control the weeds. Eventually, though, it will damage the soil structure. Also, very few other plants will ever grow there if you decide to quit growing asparagus in that spot. Salt also harms worms and beneficial insects in the soil, as well as life touched by water runoff from the salt bed.


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