Plant of the week

Rose-of-Sharon 'Helene' (Ellen Nibali Photo, Baltimore Sun / July 7, 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?

Kudzu bug was found on kudzu in three Maryland counties; unfortunately it won't stay there. This dark, quarter-inch, squarish bug also feeds on soybeans or other beans, and in winter will aggregate on homes similarly to the other new invasive house pest, the brown marmorated stinkbug. It's a good incentive to rid Maryland of its kudzu patches once and for all. For more information or to report the spread of this non-native bug, go to mdkudzubug.org

I transplanted some hostas, and now they have white blotches on the leaves. Disease or insect?

Neither. Your hosta has sunburn, known as sun scald. Its new location must be sunnier. Your hosta tailored its current foliage to dimmer light and can't change suddenly. Any new leaves it grows will be suited to this new location. However, if it is extremely sunny, the new location might never be appropriate for hostas, which prefer partial shade. When you have to transplant to a site with different light levels, transplant early in the season before leaves emerge or in the fall.

University of Maryland Extension's Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information. Call 800-342-2507 or send a question to the website at extension.umd.edu/hgic.

Plant of the Week

Rose of Sharon 'Helene'

Hibiscus syriacus 'Helene'

Rose of Sharon has been beloved for centuries for its prolific bloom during summer doldrums when most flowering shrubs grind to a halt. However, because of nuisance seedlings, it was banished from many gardens. Thanks to the U.S. National Arboretum, we have new, improved rose of Sharon varieties that deserve a second chance. "Helene" is one of the Greek goddess series of triploid hybrids that set virtually no seed. Helene's pure white, red-eyed flowers are huge compared to the old rose of Sharon. Its dark green foliage is shunned by deer. Not fussy about soils, rose of Sharon grows in sun to part shade. It requires zero maintenance but may be pruned back in early spring. —Ellen Nibali