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.


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…]


Callery pear volunteers should be removed

Q) I had this tree volunteer in my flowerbed. I transplanted in my yard but I don’t know what it is. It does have thorns. Any info would be appreciated. – P.P., Farmersburg, IN A) This looks to be a seedling ornamental callery pear. For many years, the cultivar Bradford dominated the landscape and was not self-fruitful. But as newer, improved cultivars were introduced to landscapes, they were cross-fruitful with Bradford. So now “volunteer” callery [Read More…]


Large wounds in tuliptrees not likely to heal

Large wounds in tuliptrees not likely to heal Q) I’ve attached a photo of one of my trees. I’m concerned that the tree will not heal, and if it does will be too weakened. Also, you gave me a contact for a state arborist last time we visited. I have lost that info. – G.F., Jeffersonville, Indiana A) Looks like perhaps this was storm-related damage? Tuliptrees are somewhat weak-wooded and can be susceptible to limb [Read More…]


Weed or flower? Sometimes it’s in the eye of the beholder

Q) This flower/weed came up in my flower garden this year. I know that I did not plant it and two other people said that they have it growing in their yards also. I took it to our local nursery. They did not know what it was and looked it up in their books but could not find it. They gave me a few suggestions but when I looked them up on the internet, they [Read More…]


Beware of black cherry toxicity; it’s weedy, too

Beware of black cherry toxicity; it’s weedy, too Q. Was wondering if you could identify what species of tree this is from the photo? – RLW, Galveston, IN A. This is black cherry, known botanically as Prunus serotina. This is a large, fast-growing native tree that can become quite weedy due to prolific fruit that is prized by birds and other wildlife. The foliage and twigs can be toxic when eaten by livestock and pets. [Read More…]


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