xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Garden Q&A: Keep the greenbriar and rotate the flowers

Greenbriar is a thorny, fruit-bearing vine that is native to Maryland.
Greenbriar is a thorny, fruit-bearing vine that is native to Maryland. (Ellen Nibali/For The Baltimore Sun)

I have thorny plants growing in a wooded area. I think they’re native greenbriar, but I just don’t like the nasty thorns. Do you think it’s a good idea to remove and replace it with something that attracts pollinating insects and birds/wildlife?

First get a positive ID. You can send us photos of the plants through the Home and Garden Information Center website to see what you are dealing with. They could be invasive plants. Or, view ‘weed identification photos’ on our website, which includes vines.

Advertisement

If you want to attract wildlife and birds, by all means keep the greenbriar. It provides berries for birds and wildlife. Thorns ward off predators, providing a safe haven. Another good thing about greenbriar (Smilex rotundiflora) is that deer don’t eat it. Since our deer over-population is wreaking havoc with natural areas by eating all the natives that wildlife need (and leaving invasive non-native plants), woods can use all the native plants they can get. For exciting native additions, go online to “Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping: Chesapeake Bay Watershed.”

Of course, avoid greenbriar in gardens. Dig it up when small, as soon as you spot it. Removing an established plant can take years of cutting and digging.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Last year, my zinnias looked great all summer and fall. I want to plant zinnias again, but people often advise not to put the same plants in the same place in consecutive year for vegetables. Does this apply to annual flowers, too?

You are referring to crop rotation. Zinnias are susceptible to powdery mildew and some leaf spot diseases. Usually in the first season or two you may not get a lot of insect and disease issues but, yes, these problems can build up over time. Crop rotation combats that. Using crop rotation, you try not to grow plants from the same botanical family in the same spot because they may be susceptible to the same problems.

If you cannot rotate, one of the best defenses is to choose plant varieties bred for disease or pest resistance. For example, with zinnias look for seeds or transplants labeled for powdery mildew resistance. And, as always, the healthier the plant, the more robustly it fights pests. Keep proper plant spacing, good drainage, soil, light, and proper nutrients. Mulch to keep weeds down. Add native plants to your landscape to encourage beneficial insects that eat pest insects. On the Home and Garden Information Center website, search ‘crop rotation and crop planning.’

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.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement