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.


Pussy willow shrubs can thrive in well-drained soil


Q: I am writing about a pussy willow tree I planted in my backyard in early August 2018. I have wanted one for some time and found one on sale at a discount department store. It didn’t have much info on what it takes to grow by ponds or lakes. So, if you could give me any information, it would be appreciated. A: A number of willow shrub species are commonly called pussy willows, so […]


Blue spruce not a great choice for Hoosiers


Q: We have 5.5 acres with several hundred white pines, 7 blue spruce, and 2 red pines. Several of the blue spruce are dying. Several years ago, two started dying from the bottom up. We put evergreen spikes around them, and after a year or so they came back to normal. Presently some of the large ones are now dying from the bottom to the top. We put spikes around two large and one small, […]


Gaping wounds likely a woodpecker’s work


Q. I saw these holes in my tree and am wondering what they are from. This tree is the only one I have seen them on. – M.S., Chesterton Some species of woodpeckers cause large holes in tree trunks. A. The holes are likely from woodpecker injury, but the tree may have some other issues. Has the tree been in a state of decline for a while? Perhaps branch dieback, leaf drop or other symptoms? […]

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Eastern Red Cedars Volunteer Way Too Often


Q. I am wondering what you might know about the small “red cedar trees” that seem to be invading fencerows and highways, especially U.S. 31 north of Kokomo. I think a column from you would be worthwhile, since I can`t seem to get my neighbors to control the “pretty little trees,” which are much like Canadian thistle and kudzu. — E.W., Kokomo A. The eastern red cedar is a juniper, rather than a true cedar. Known […]


Common Winter Injury Symptoms We Saw this Spring


Q. I have a yucca tree that is 5-6 years old. What was a small plant has become a mature tree. I transplanted my yucca to a larger pot last summer. There was a significant explosion in growth. If you look at the picture you can see the growth. Unfortunately, it suffered through this past winter indoors. Much of the new growth witnessed last year is gone. Please see the attached photo — I think it […]

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Know When to Harvest Your Asparagus


Q. I planted a new asparagus patch last year. I just have a few spears up so far. Do you think the cold weather injured the plants this winter? Is it OK to harvest these spears? Someone told me I shouldn’t harvest at all the first year. A. Asparagus is pretty cold hardy, so if the plants were in good health going into winter, they should be OK. This chilly spring was very slow for […]


When to Remove Maple Tree Sucker


Q. I have a maple tree (it is either an ‘October Glory’ or ‘Autumn Blaze’) that has (what I assume to be) a rather large sucker at the bottom. The diameter of the sucker is about 2 inches, and the tree trunk is 7 inches in diameter. I have attached pictures of it from different angles. I would like to know if it is OK to remove it? I’ve read quite a bit about these […]

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Prune Lavender at the Right Time


Q. I have two lavender plants by our front porch. I’m not sure when to trim them. One time in the fall, I pruned them back and it killed them. I replaced those and the plants are now about two years old. Should I trim/prune them in the fall or spring? If so, how much? – C.G., Knox County A. Since lavender is only marginally hardy in our area, I would wait to prune them […]


The Mystery of the Black Sacs


Q.I’m concerned about the black sacs shown in this picture that are on a tree in our yard. I’m not sure what type of tree this is, but it is approximately 8 years old. The leaves turn purple in the fall instead of any other color. Is this an infestation that can be cured, or does the tree need to be removed? – D. L., Muenster, Indiana A. This appears to be a fungal disease called […]


Getting Christmas Cactus to Rebloom


Q. I would like to know, how do you get Christmas cactus to bloom? – O.S., Floyds Knobs, Indiana A. A little extra care will help bring your Christmas cactus back to full bloom next year. Although a Christmas cactus can adapt to low light, it will produce more abundant blooms if you know how to manipulate the light they receive. For now, keep your plants in a sunny, indoor location away from drafts, heat […]


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