Garden Q&A Archive
Each week the University of Maryland Extension's Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information. Have a question about your home or garden? Call 800-342-2507 or send a question to the website at hgic.umd.edu.
2:28 PM EDT, May 10, 2013
Vultures have moved into a very tall tree above our house and car. To say there are "bird droppings" is an understatement. Not to mention our house looks cursed. What can we do?
3:42 PM EDT, May 1, 2013
I was given a potted hydrangea flower as an Easter gift. Can I plant that outdoors?
6:23 PM EDT, April 26, 2013
Stiltgrass has taken over a 20-by-10-foot area of my woods and now it's getting into my lawn. I will use crabgrass pre-emergent for it on the lawn, but should I rake away the leaves and apply it in the woods?
7:23 PM EDT, April 17, 2013
Please settle an argument. You say to spread no more than 1-2 inches of mulch around a tree. Since mulch holds moisture in soil, isn't more mulch even better?
7:11 PM EDT, April 11, 2013
People with old boxwoods are being warned not to plant new boxwoods nearby, but what about those of us with no boxwoods who want some? They're so deer-resistant.
4:44 PM EDT, April 4, 2013
I'd like to grow carrots, but I hear it's tricky. Any tips?
2:08 PM EDT, March 27, 2013
The last couple of years my lilac hasn't bloomed. It's always been a favorite. What can I do?
12:25 PM EDT, March 21, 2013
I want to plant a butterfly garden for my grandchildren. What plants would you suggest beyond butterfly bush?
6:43 PM EDT, March 14, 2013
I want to start a compost pile, but I'm worried that kitchen scraps will attract animals from the woods nearby. Any thoughts?
12:15 PM EST, March 7, 2013
My trees look ratty. Can I prune now before the leaves come out? Should I put that black gunk on the cuts? I've never done this before.
6:11 PM EST, February 21, 2013
The soil test on my garden says the pH is 6.7. I need to find out what plants grow in that pH.
7:05 PM EST, February 14, 2013
Maryland Garden Q&A
On a nice winter day, I took a stroll and found my garden covered with weeds. This garden was bare soil last fall when I put it to bed. Not a weed in sight. Now it's a blanket of bright green flourishing weeds! How can that be?
11:35 PM EST, February 4, 2013
There seem to be an awful lot of vines on the trees in our area. We're having a community meeting to discuss it. What should we do about them?
4:57 PM EST, January 30, 2013
What do I do with the stalk on my amaryllis, now that the flowers are gone? Will it flower again?
7:14 PM EST, January 17, 2013
I'm losing one blue spruce after another. Branches die at the base near the trunk, though tips stay green at first. Then it works its way up until the entire tree dies. It takes a few years. I don't see any signs of insects. They're planted on a hill in clay soil.
January 6, 2013
We lost several shade trees in storms and hurricanes and need to replace them. What are some good fast-growing trees? How much should I fertilize for fastest growth?
December 30, 2012
Do I have to I clean up my hosta's leaves after they die?
2:16 PM EST, December 21, 2012
We had a big wasps' nest last summer. We were told that it's safe to remove the nest after frost, but we still see wasps. When will they be gone?
3:40 PM EST, January 9, 2013
After the recent hurricanes, I'm worried about a tree by my house. Should I get it topped so it's shorter and less prone to fall over?
6:59 PM EST, November 20, 2012
My young fig tree is on the north side of a fence. Last fall we had one fruit which did not ripen, and that branch died over the winter. This year fruit appeared in late fall but didn't ripen before frost. How do I winterize my fig tree so I get figs?
November 10, 2012
Is it too late to put fertilizer on my lawn?
5:38 PM EDT, October 24, 2012
Are invasive plants invasive in their native country? I have to tackle the porcelain berry vines growing up my trees. Is fall a good time to do this?
3:59 PM EDT, October 17, 2012
Is it too late to transplant crape myrtle or birch?
3:29 PM EDT, October 12, 2012
My azaleas are so big that they're growing above my kitchen windowsills. I know you're not supposed to prune until after they bloom in spring, but I can't wait that long. Will I ruin these shrubs by pruning now?
2:18 PM EDT, September 19, 2012
My apples looked good until recently. Now they have tiny black spots and gray blotches that look like mildew but are dry. Are they ruined?
12:56 PM EDT, September 12, 2012
More than 90 percent of the leaves have fallen off our 30-year-old English walnut trees. They started falling several weeks ago, and two neighbors also have this problem. What is wrong, and what can I do about it?
3:29 PM EDT, September 5, 2012
How early in fall can I plant grass seed? I hear fall is the best season.
1:57 PM EDT, August 22, 2012
My lawn has a patch of what looks like cigarette ash stuck to the grass blades. What is it, and what can I do about it?
10:02 AM EDT, August 17, 2012
I see that this is the time to start a lot of fall vegetables, but they like it cool and my yard is like an oven in the summer. How can I do this?
1:59 PM EDT, August 8, 2012
My blackberries had some brown parts on the berries early in the season, but that seems to have gone away. Now I'm having trouble with those little berry "balls" turning white.
4:57 PM EDT, August 1, 2012
My friend and I both saw a bright red fuzzy insect on the ground. Never saw anything like it before! She thinks it's an ant, but I think it's a wasp. What say you?
4:18 PM EDT, July 25, 2012
Something is eating the leaves on my red twig dogwood. On some leaves, nothing is left but the center rib. I suspect it is a caterpillar that birds like to eat, because I saw a lot of bird droppings.
11:33 PM EDT, July 18, 2012
Two of my three mophead hydrangeas have no flowers. I pruned all of them to the ground this spring like the nursery told me when I bought my Blushing Bride hydrangea. Now only the Blushing Bride has blooms. Are the other two getting too old to bloom?
6:21 PM EDT, June 29, 2012
How can I keep my plants hydrated when I go on a long vacation?
6:03 PM EDT, June 21, 2012
Is late blight going to attack tomatoes this year? I've heard rumors. How can I tell if I'm seeing late blight or early blight?
6:20 PM EDT, June 29, 2012
After my peonies and roses bloom, should I cut off the spent blooms?
June 3, 2012
Under some of my cabbage and broccoli plants there are ant hills. The stems look weak on those plants compared to others. Are the ants eating the plants?
5:39 PM EDT, May 23, 2012
The leaves on my azaleas are turning white. They look dirty underneath, too. How can I stop this?
3:04 PM EDT, May 18, 2012
I used to have dozens of monarch butterflies in my garden — now almost none. How can I attract them again?
4:20 PM EDT, May 9, 2012
A huge swarm of bees is hanging on a tree in our yard. It has been there for over a day, and I hate to spray it because I know we need to protect the honeybees that are left. What do I do?
2:24 PM EDT, April 26, 2012
When do I put down grub killer in the spring?
5:35 PM EDT, April 18, 2012
Can I grow veggies in a fully screened-in garden? I want to eat tomatoes without stink bug spots.
12:39 PM EDT, April 12, 2012
My friend offered me extra plants from her yard. She said they are pretty but spread a lot. I'm a little nervous about accepting them. What do you think?
7:44 PM EDT, April 4, 2012
When do I prune my crape myrtle?
2:20 PM EDT, March 22, 2012
I plan to plant 20 low-bush blueberries. I've prepared the beds with leaf mulch, compost and sulfur. How do you recommend planting to maximize survival?
12:52 PM EDT, March 14, 2012
A new grass is invading our property and roadsides. It kind of reminds me of tiny bamboo. How can I control it?
2:06 PM EST, March 8, 2012
Did I hear about a new boxwood disease? I want to plant boxwood this year, because deer don't eat it. What do you think?
12:40 PM EST, March 1, 2012
I just saw a crab apple tree in full blossom. How is this freaky weather going to affect our spring blooming plants and trees? Is it going to be extra hot this summer?
2:46 PM EST, February 22, 2012
Can I cut back ornamental grasses now?
4:31 PM EST, February 16, 2012
My mother's landscape is full of pachysandra and periwinkle ground cover, both of which are on invasive species lists. Do I need to pull all of it out this spring?
6:21 PM EST, February 8, 2012
Our cherry tree was oozing sap all over and had dark dead patches on the trunk and branches. The tree service said it had a fungal root rot and we had to cut it down. Can we plant another fruit tree or a vegetable garden when that fungus is in the soil? Will it sicken us?
5:12 PM EST, February 7, 2012
This winter, Canada geese are eating the grass down to the bare ground on my waterfront. There's 15 feet of nothing but brown along the edge of the river. It looks terrible. How can I get rid of them?
3:41 PM EST, January 25, 2012
How can I have better success starting flower seeds indoors? Few of my seeds sprout, and those that do die of fungus. I'm determined this year, so I'm starting them super-early in January.
2:54 PM EST, January 18, 2012
Should I put dead leaves over the flower bulbs in my yard that are already coming up?
4:24 PM EST, January 11, 2012
We are moving into a new home and purchased a number of plants for landscaping. Our landscaper recommended that we postpone putting any of the plants in the ground. He says that planting them now will not be beneficial because the ground will not provide the nutrients they will need. Instead, we still have them in their pots with mulch all around them. Is this a good solution, or would we be better off going ahead and planting them now?
4:16 PM EST, January 11, 2012
I'm a new rain barrel user and am trying to figure out how to "shut it down" for the winter. I saw some advice online, but it didn't quite make sense.
January 1, 2012
My grass has tiny orange raised bumps on the blades. It started about the beginning of fall. It seems worst where there is more shade and the ground stays moist longer. Will it kill the grass? Numerous blades are completely covered. I fertilize a few times a year, using the recommended amount for my bluegrass.
2:06 PM EST, December 14, 2011
Are elephant ear plants poisonous to cats? I want to give one to a friend, but I don't want to kill her cats!
3:04 PM EST, December 13, 2011
Moths have ruined all the wool clothes in my closet. They aren't the kind that fly around lights at night. They're tiny, and sometimes I only see larvae. I used a trap, which killed some. I also tried cedar balls, blocks and hangers. I bought a bomb, too, but it's so toxic I'm afraid to use it. I saw a commercial for something that plugs into an outlet and sends out a frequency to drive them away. What should I do next?
7:24 PM EST, November 22, 2011
Is there such thing as leaf-cycling? I grass-cycle. Do leaves add fertilizer to lawns like grass clippings do? How deep can I make the shredded leaves?
November 13, 2011
I saw this vine growing in my trees when its leaves turned bright yellow. Now it has pretty orange berries but it's strangling my trees! I'm afraid its weight will pull them down in a blizzard. It's the very devil to remove — I hacked away with a machete, brush hook, and shears for an hour and just made a dent. What is this villain? Any environmentally friendly ways to remove it?
5:49 PM EDT, November 3, 2011
I planted cannas this year for the first time. Do I have to dig up the bulbs and store them for the winter?
8:20 PM EDT, October 18, 2011
What is digging holes in my lawn? The holes aren't deep but it's making a muddy mess.
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