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.


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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. […]


Best fruit tree for central Indiana / What to do about moles?


Q. Do you have a suggestion of a good/easy to grow fruit trees in the Indianapolis area? Any tips on the “how to” will be appreciated. – N.D. A. A dwarf, scab- resistant apple cultivar would likely be the best adapted of the fruit trees for the central Indiana area. There are quite a few cultivars to choose from. Most apple cultivars require cross pollination from a compatible cultivar in order to reliably set fruit. It […]


Common culprits of tree damage-April 2016


Question & Answer Common culprits of tree damage Q.  This is a very beautiful large tree that I lost last year. It’s the second one I have lost in the past seven years. Would you be able to see from the photo what might be happening to my trees? I have more beautiful trees on my property that I would like to save if I can. – L.P., Elizabeth, Indiana A. While I can’t be certain […]

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