In the Grow (Q & A)

The following question and answer columns are currently written by B. Rosie Lerner, Purdue Consumer Horticulture Extension Specialist and are distributed to news media around the state by the Purdue University Agricultural Communications. Columns from June 1995 - January 2006 were authored by Bev Shaw, Advanced Master Gardener.


Blueberry damage could be plum curculio, Reduced production of strawberries

Q.  I have a few blueberry bushes planted in the backyard, and they’ve done well until last year. They started getting brown spots almost like a bite (see attached photo). No evidence of a pest and sprayed them with Sevin just in case. But that did not stop the browning, and most of the late season berries could not be eaten. Unfortunately, they appear to be starting that again this year already. Please advise and thank [Read More…]


Mystery plant, and challenging plant woes

Q.  I bought this plant from a nursery about a year ago. On and off, I’ve been trying to identify it with various online plant identification sites, but I haven’t had much luck. Could you take a look and tell me what you think? – R.E., Tippecanoe County A.  I believe your plant is one of the succulents belonging to the genus Kalanchoe. Because this genus is so diverse and numerous, it is difficult to [Read More…]


Caring for storm-damaged trees/How to Acidify Soil in the Yard

Q. Several trees on my property were damaged during recent storms. Some just lost a few limbs, but others are split along the trunk. How can I tell whether the trees can be saved or if they should be cut down? What kind of pruning paint should I use on the broken branches? – I.P., Bartholomew County, Ind. A. It can be difficult to decide whether trees with severe damage should be removed. The first [Read More…]

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Mystery garden volunteer could be giant ironweed/Garden Soil Samples

Q. This plant came up in my back yard last summer. It grew to over 13 feet tall. I would like to know if you can identify it. – R.D., Lanesville, Ind. A. That is an impressively tall volunteer! It is difficult to tell much detail in the photo about the flower structure, but considering the size, stem color and foliage, one possibility would be giant ironweed, Veronia gigantea. While this plant commonly reaches up [Read More…]


Rotten apples and Indiana Big Tree Register

Q. We have fruit trees, including Yellow Delicious, Red Delicious, McIntosh and Northern Spy. We use an all-purpose spray. The Northern Spy has very large apples, and they all rot. This past season, we didn’t get one good apple from it although it was loaded. What spray could we use for this, and what is this disease called? – W.F., Portland, Ind. A. Apples can fall victim to a number of different soft rot diseases. [Read More…]


Potted tulips sprouting, but no blooms

Q. I purchased some tulip bulbs last fall that I didn’t have a chance to plant. I potted them up and stored them in the basement. Now I have leaves, but no sign of flowers. What can I do to get them to bloom? A. Most spring-flowering bulbs including tulips require a period of 8-16 weeks of chilling to initiate flower buds inside the bulb. If they don’t receive that chilling period, the bulbs may [Read More…]

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Pokeweed a Native Nuisance

Q. We have this plant or weed in our back yard. I can’t identify it by looking on line, and was hoping that you can tell us what it is – and whether or not it is a weed that will destroy other plants or take over the lawn – see attached photo(s). –T.S., Munster, Ind. A. This commonly seen plant is pokeweed, known botanically as Phytolacca americana. Pokeweed is a perennial plant native to [Read More…]


Plants absorb water better through soil than leaves/Do roots of dormant seedlings grow through the winter?

Q. Can tomato plants absorb water through their leaves on humid days? Also on cool and hot days, how often do you need to water with our heavy clay soil? – C.W., Crown Point, Ind. A. While plants can absorb water through their leaves, it is not a very efficient way for plants to take up water. If water condenses on the leaf during high humidity, such as fog, then plants can take in some [Read More…]


Ornamental sweet potato roots – edible but may not be palatable/Alternatives to Burning Bush for fall color

Q. I grew beautiful sweet potato vines in my flower garden this year. They looked great all summer, though they grew quite a bit larger than I expected so I had to cut them back to keep them from growing over my other plants. When I was cleaning up the garden last week, I noticed that the sweet potatoes had some fairly large potatoes underground. Are these safe to eat and do they taste like [Read More…]


Roses: A Feast For Many Insects/Mystery Plant ID/Why Hydrangea Flowers Fade Pink to Tan

Q. How can I keep the beetles away and keep the invisible insects from eating holes in my rose leaves? The beetles have not been too bad the last couple of years, but the holes in the leaves never stop. I have tried so many different kinds of insecticides but to no avail. Our soil is not too sandy, but it is not all dirt either. Drainage does not seem to be a problem as [Read More…]


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