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.
10:25 PM EDT, September 11, 2014
My pumpkins turned orange in August! How can I make sure they survive until Halloween?
7:45 PM EDT, September 17, 2014
A plant shot up about 6 feet in our yard recently. I never saw flowers, but the seeds remind me of ragweed. The leaf is not lacy like ragweed, though. It looks more like a stork footprint. What am I dealing with?
4:45 PM EDT, September 3, 2014
I'm tired of planting tulip bulbs for voles to eat. What bulbs won't they eat?
8:04 PM EDT, August 27, 2014
My new compost pile is attracting swarms of wasps. How do I handle this?
2:03 PM EDT, August 15, 2014
I'm afraid I have poison sumac at the edge of my lawn and that in the fall its red berries will spread it. Doesn't it sucker, too? What should I do?
10:21 PM EDT, August 21, 2014
Fishing with my nephew made me wonder — would bait worms be good to add to my garden?
6:21 PM EDT, August 7, 2014
When we realized our zucchini were dying of squash vine borer, we tried making the vertical cuts in the stem and fishing out the white grubby worms, but we were too late. How can we never have that happen to our beautiful zucchini?
4:29 PM EDT, August 1, 2014
A company sprayed my neighbor's yard for mosquitoes, but when I called the company it admitted that its chemical killed all kinds of insects, including pollinators and beneficials. So I don't want to do that, but we are getting eaten alive by mosquitoes all day! Help!
5:10 PM EDT, July 24, 2014
Tiny flies are coming through the screen by my lamp table and dying in piles. How can I stop this?
4:47 PM EDT, July 10, 2014
All of the leaves on some of my tomato plants have curled down, except a few twisted in all directions. They were growing great for a while. It looks contagious because they're all together. What is this?
5:06 PM EDT, July 2, 2014
Every time baby squash in my garden starts to grow, it dies. I hose down the garden every day, but it still gets fuzzy and dries up. How can I stop this?
7:27 PM EDT, June 25, 2014
My Crimson King Norway maples are slowly dying, one by one. I see trunk cracks but can't see any disease or insects. How can I save the rest?
5:24 PM EDT, June 18, 2014
My son has had Lyme disease twice — serious infections requiring intravenous antibiotics. How can I keep ticks out of my yard? He plays in our wooded lot every day, and I'm at my wit's end!
12:02 AM EDT, June 6, 2014
I found a shiny green bug in my yard, and I'm afraid it is the emerald ash borer that is killing ash trees in Maryland. What should I do about my ash tree?
4:00 PM EDT, May 28, 2014
My row of Leyland cypresses suffered terrible winter burn this year. Will fertilizer help them recover faster? A couple of them look dead. Is that possible?
7:49 PM EDT, May 21, 2014
My mugo pine has white things on the needles like paint flakes. Do I need to address this?
3:04 PM EDT, May 14, 2014
Last year, all my tomatoes (all the same kind) ripened all at once and then I didn't get any more. How can I get tomatoes all season?
4:27 PM EDT, May 2, 2014
How can I save pollinators like honeybees and still use pesticides when I need them?
4:03 PM EDT, April 23, 2014
With all the invasive species out there, should I cut down my Japanese maple?
5:18 PM EDT, April 16, 2014
When a plant is listed as invasive, how far does it spread? How far apart should I plant bamboo for a privacy screen?
7:41 PM EDT, April 2, 2014
I bought grass seed last fall but didn't get a chance to plant it. It sat on the porch all winter. Is it still good?
7:46 PM EDT, March 19, 2014
I want to prune branches out of a tree so the wind will blow through it and it won't fall on my house. Is that possible?
8:24 PM EDT, March 26, 2014
What grass blend do you recommend for shade? I live in the woods.
4:10 PM EDT, March 14, 2014
My dogwood had leaf spots last summer. Now my neighbors say it's dead and I should cut it down. Should I?
6:14 PM EST, March 5, 2014
Nothing will grow in one area of my lawn. I've tried shrubs and perennials multiple times and watered when needed, but they still die. How do I test for a toxin in the soil?
2:49 PM EST, February 26, 2014
I ordered some trees from North Carolina and the nursery wanted to send them in February. What is a good time to have them delivered?
2:52 PM EST, February 19, 2014
I'm feeling a little guilty about starting a compost pile for my kitchen scraps. Don't landfills need organic "trash" sources to counterbalance the inorganic trash?
3:46 PM EST, February 11, 2014
Deer have stripped all the leaves off my evergreen and my Nellie Stevens holly. Will they grow back, or should I cut them down?
3:00 PM EST, February 5, 2014
I recently purchased several truckloads of composted horse manure for my garden. Why are there so many rocks in it?
2:14 PM EST, January 29, 2014
When I trim my shrubs, they seem to go crazy, with new branches growing in all directions. My neighbor's shrubs never do that. They look natural and graceful. How come?
2:14 PM EST, January 22, 2014
What can I do outdoors when we have a surprise nice day? I'm itching to garden.
5:33 PM EST, January 15, 2014
How can I get rid of cockroaches? I keep my apartment clean, sprinkled Borax and tried sticky traps, but they're still here.
12:48 AM EST, December 28, 2013
Some very slow-moving gray bugs I call "skinny" stink bugs (not aggressive or biting) are getting inside from the floor or fireplace. Are they breeding in walls? My kids are scared of bugs, and I would love a safe solution.
2:11 PM EST, January 10, 2014
The top of my Douglas fir is dead. What killed it? It's a native tree, so shouldn't it grow well? If I cut off the top will it grow back?
3:13 PM EST, December 24, 2013
Why are my garlic cloves brown? I grow it from certified disease-free heads and rotate the garlic to avoid disease.
6:06 PM EST, December 19, 2013
Since I can't use fertilizer as a de-icer now that Maryland has a new lawn fertilizer law, what should I use instead that won't damage my plants? I'm on a fixed income.
2:19 PM EST, December 4, 2013
I saved my poinsettia from last year and it grew happily all summer. I put it in a closet two months ago to make it bloom red again for the holidays, but it is turning yellow instead. What should I do?
2:33 PM EST, November 22, 2013
Can I bring a lantana indoors? If so, can I prune it so it takes up less room?
4:49 PM EST, November 14, 2013
As soon as I brought my Christmas cactus indoors, it budded. It has finished blooming before Thanksgiving! How can I slow it down next year?
1:49 PM EST, November 7, 2013
I found an egg case when pruning my shrub. It has light brown "Styrofoam," like a praying mantis egg case, but it's narrow with a cross hatch down the back. Will this hatch caterpillars?
3:55 PM EDT, October 31, 2013
Tree roots are pushing up the blacktop in my driveway. They're either from two beautiful white pines or two equally beautiful American hollies. They were planted by the original owners of our 1931 house. I love these trees and don't want to hurt them but would like to repair the driveway. Any suggestions?
November 3, 2013
Now that autumn has arrived, I'm looking for advice on how to clean the gutters on my house. When is the best time and what tools are needed?
2:27 PM EDT, October 25, 2013
Do I have to cut up fallen leaves with a mower before I use them as mulch? I don't have a mulching mower.
4:49 PM EDT, October 10, 2013
Our yard is absolutely covered with the tips of tree branches. The tree (don't know what kind) isn't dropping fall leaves yet, so what's going on? Squirrels?
2:35 PM EDT, October 4, 2013
How much watering do I need to do after I put down grass seed? Once a day? Twice? Will dew keep it wet?
2:06 PM EDT, September 27, 2013
What kind of lawn fertilizer should I use in the fall? There are so many kinds with different numbers and different chemicals and some with zero chemicals.
2:07 PM EDT, September 27, 2013
Stink bugs are starting to gather on my screens and I know they are looking to get inside and escape the cooler weather. What can I do to keep them out?
5:12 PM EDT, September 19, 2013
I want to do a lasagna garden. Will that work over a zoysiagrass lawn?
5:12 PM EDT, September 13, 2013
A ton of tent caterpillars just ate the leaves on my tree. The branches are too high for us to cut off. Will the tree die?
5:54 PM EDT, September 5, 2013
A gorgeous pink flower that looks like a lily is emerging in spots around my yard. The flowers have long stems 2 to 3 feet tall but no leaves. Did someone plant this, or did it just grow naturally? This is our first year in this house.
1:49 PM EDT, August 30, 2013
My butterflies were magical this year, there were so many! What did I do right so I can do it again?
1:49 PM EDT, August 23, 2013
My Knockout roses are not doing well. First I had to treat them for rose slugs eating the leaves. Now the leaves of two trunks are fading to a pale green. Are they dying? How is that possible with a Knockout?
12:10 PM EDT, August 16, 2013
How can I keep squirrels off my tomatoes?
6:18 PM EDT, August 8, 2013
I hear a new bug that eats kudzu is coming to Maryland. Isn't that a good thing, since kudzu is an invasive plant?
7:26 PM EDT, August 1, 2013
My cucumbers are big but not so beautiful. They have really hard seeds and are yellowish. What do they need?
7:04 PM EDT, July 25, 2013
My neighbor said she will give me a plant that had white flowers with four petals and a center that sticks up like a skinny green nose. Leaves are a pointy heart shape. It filled in a huge bare area for her, but she doesn't know the name.
3:50 PM EDT, July 17, 2013
The tips of my red raspberry canes wilted. They've always been so healthy; what's happening? It's not lack of water.
5:26 PM EDT, July 3, 2013
Is my tomato plant going to be too hot in a black plastic pot on my balcony? It gets full afternoon sun.
6:33 PM EDT, June 27, 2013
My bean, squash, cucumber and pepper plants are stunted and yellow in color. We cut down a huge maple tree and tilled all the wood chips from the cuttings into the garden to improve the soil this spring. The garden has produced well in previous years.
7:18 PM EDT, June 7, 2013
Last year my potted impatiens had that terrible new disease, impatiens downy mildew, and all died. Can I use my old infected potting soil in non-flower beds this year? Send it to the landfill?
4:26 PM EDT, June 20, 2013
I've learned that nandina berries kill cedar waxwings. I love birds! Should everyone cut down their nandina bushes?
12:18 PM EDT, June 17, 2013
My son had beautiful, big willow oaks lining his gravel driveway until he put down a weed killer on the driveway weeds. Now the oak leaves have browned on the tree halves facing the driveway. What can we do at this point to save the trees?
5:04 PM EDT, May 22, 2013
I plan to cover my string beans with floating row cover to keep off the Mexican bean beetles. Can I leave it on after the beans start flowering? What about using it on other vegetables?
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?
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.
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?
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