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.


In The Grow


Q: We found a plant in our woods about a week ago, and I wondered if you could identify what it is? – R.B. via email A: That is one of my all-time favorite woodland wildflowers, the trillium. There are numerous species of Trillium. I believe yours is the prairie trillium, known botanically as Trillium recurvatum. Despite the common name, prairie trillium is native to woodland habitats rather than open prairie. Some members of this […]


Friend supplied more than hosta


Q: A friend gave me some starts of hosta last year, and where I planted them, this lovely surprise came up early this spring. I did not plant this so I’m guessing this came as a bonus with the hostas from my friend.  Can you identify?  – T.C., Tippecanoe County A: What a great bonus! This appears to be Corydalis solida, (common name fumewort) most likely the cultivar ‘Beth Evans’. Fumewort is a spring ephemeral, […]


How to tame a slope


Q: Behind my house I have about 3/4 acre that is on an incline of about 30 degrees and all sand. It is about 330 feet long and about 75 feet up the slope. I have had all the mulberry trees, bushes, vines, and poison ivy removed and would like to have some kind of cover crop. What would you suggest? The slope is too steep to mow, so I have spent more than  300 […]


It’s For The Birds


Q: I would like to plant bushes that will attract birds in fall and winter. I’m thinking of something that produces a berry they eat? – J.W., Winfield, Indiana A: Birds require not only food such as fruits and seeds, but also shelter and water. Planting a variety of plants that offer these resources across the seasons will help attract more birds to your yard. Some native shrubs to consider include: Aronia (chokeberry) Callicarpa (beautyberry) […]

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What’s killing the oak trees?


Q. In 22 years I’ve had more than a dozen oaks die because of a grub or larvae. Symptoms: First the leaves die and turn brown at the top of the tree. It slowly spreads down the tree until all the leaves are brown and have fallen off. Then the bark begins to peel away from the trunk, and then it falls off pieces at a time. You can see where it cuts off the […]

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Honeyvine – a native plant that can be both friend and foe.


Q: This vine has perennially volunteered in my garden for a few years now. I let it grow because it seemed to please the butterflies, and the small white flowers smelled nice. At present it has grown chartreuse seed pods. Can you tell me what this vine is? Is it something I should destroy? – W.B. A: Ah, beauty and function are in the eye of the beholder. I believe your plant is what is […]

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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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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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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