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.


Warm, wet conditions prime for algae


Q. For the last few years we have noticed some green blobs on our gravel drive. It only grows in size when it rains and dries up and turns black when the weather is sunny. It looks like turkey droppings and feels like jelly when wet. It is very unsightly and gets tracked into the house. We never saw this stuff until the last few years and only on limestone gravel. It seems to grow […]


Leaf galls common to oak trees


Q. We have a pin oak tree that is approximately 30 feet tall. On the north-facing side of the tree there are many wilted leaves, and there are many balls of strange growth. Pictures of the leaves and the balls are attached. Can you help to identify the problem and any solutions that we need to pursue? – M&L W, Indianapolis A. My best guess is one of the many leaf galls common to oak […]


Ugly scale on hollyhocks could be fungal rust


Q. The last three years I have had scale on my hollyhocks. They just start to bloom, and the scale appears and they die. Is there something I can use to get rid of the scale? After they start to die, I clean up everything and burn. – I.T., Paoli, Indiana. A. I wonder if you might be referring to hollyhock rust, a fungal disease that commonly affects hollyhocks. The rust-colored blotches can resemble scale […]


Hops need good management through growing season


Q.  I need information on how to manage hops from the ground up and when and how to do what. Any information you can provide will be greatly appreciated, such as when to dig rhizomes, prune, storage, etc. A. Hops for production require good management through pruning, training and fertilizing and through a fairly long growing season of 120 frost-free days. Note that there are some varieties of hops that are ornamental rather than for hop […]


Tree Onions Keep on Giving


Q. My landlord gave me a start of this plant. They didn’t explain what it is. I have looked in the seed catalogs and don’t see anything like it. Would like to know if the little bulbs are edible. – P.B., Summitville, Indiana A. Excellent photos! This distinctive perennial onion is known as Egyptian, tree or top-set onion, so-named for the cluster of aerial bulblets, called bulbils, produced at the tip of the leaves. The […]


Consistent Soil Moisture Helps Prevent Blossom-End Rot


Q. I was wondering if you had any solutions for tomato rot. I throw my grass clippings on the soil to keep the weeds out. Does that have anything to do with it? – RM, Tinley Park, Illinois. A. Blossom-end rot is a common problem of tomatoes; it’s named for the black, leathery scar that develops on the blossom end of the fruit opposite the point of stem attachment. The black scar tissue is caused […]

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Consistent Soil Moisture Helps Prevent Blossom-End Rot


Q. I was wondering if you had any solutions for tomato rot. I throw my grass clippings on the soil to keep the weeds out. Does that have anything to do with it? – RM, Tinley Park, Illinois. A. Blossom-end rot is a common problem of tomatoes; it’s named for the black, leathery scar that develops on the blossom end of the fruit opposite the point of stem attachment. The black scar tissue is caused […]


Protecting Rhododendrons from Winter Winds


Question & Answer Protecting Rhododendrons from Winter Winds Q. I planted a new rhododendron a couple of months ago, and the leaves are already turning yellow and curling up this winter. The plant is on the west side of the house, which was the sunniest location we have. Is there anything I can do to save it? D.L., Lafayette, Indiana. A. Extreme cold and high winds are especially tough on broadleaved evergreens such as rhododendron because […]


What’s the Buzz about Yellow Jackets and Evergreen Trees?


Q. I have small evergreen trees planted in my yard. They are the small, slow-growing type. They are around 8 years old. Every fall the yellow jackets start swarming around them, crawling in and out of the inside of the tree. They don’t seem to hurt it, but it looks like they are trying to find something – acting like a honey bee on a flower. But these have no flowers. They don’t bother us […]


Plants and Fall Color Factors


Q. We have several firebushes whose leaves never turn that spectacular red in the fall. They just remain green until they fall off. We have fed them spring and fall, and yet there are several other firebushes, treated the same, whose leaves do change color. Any suggestions? J.L., Terre Haute, Indiana A. Fall color or lack thereof is affected by a number of factors, including genetics of the plant and environmental conditions such as temperature, […]


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