Garden Q&A: Repotting citrus houseplants

For The Baltimore Sun

Leaves suddenly fell off my beautiful orange tree, and now it's a stick. Same goes for my lime and lemon trees. I recently repotted using soil specifically made for citrus plants. Should this happen? Will my trees die?

Repotting can be stressful for houseplants, and it's not uncommon for plants to drop some foliage. Compounding that, citrus prefer repotting in spring. Scratch the branches with your fingernail. Green tissue under the bark and supple branches suggest the trees are still viable. Provide proper care and give them some time to put out new growth.

Do snakes urinate in winter while holed up in an attic?

Snakes are normally in hibernation (called brumation) during winter months and likely do not urinate, though we are not entirely sure. Snake urine is similar to birds' — not much liquid, mostly white uric acid. You could look for that. We wonder why you ask. Snakes usually come in homes because there is food, such as mice. Mice do not hibernate and actually urinate often, within specific parts of their nest (which you can smell), but also while they are running around. If it is warm enough in your attic, both may be active. Set several mouse traps baited with peanut butter. Once warm weather arrives, plug gaps where these guys are coming in.

University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information at extension.umd.edu/hgic. Click “Ask Maryland’s Gardening Experts” to send questions and photos.

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