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Questions for the Week


QUESTION : How long can tomato seed be stored?
ANSWER : ou should know that offspring from seed saved from hybrid plants may very well not come true to the parent plant. This PLANTanswers web site will probably give you more information than you ever wanted on saving seed of hybrid plants:
Tomato seed, when properly stored, will remain viable for up to 4 years. In his book, The Vegetable Book , Dr. Sam Cotner recommends storing seed in an airtight glass jar in the refrigerator. He also recommends adding 2 tablespoons of dry milk wrapped in tissue paper to act as a desiccant.

QUESTION : How do you propagate the flame leaf sumac? Can you use the seeds or do you graft it? How big does it grow? Is it good for the Texas Hill Country?
ANSWER : It can be propagated from seed, underground runner cuttings or rooting --mainly from seed. It is invasive and should be planted with care to possible areas of spread. It is a thicket plant.

QUESTION : We have a medium sized oleander in our apartment. We've discovered that it is a poisonous plant. Now we're worried that our cats could get sick from this plant if they chew on it. Should we should or shouldn't we have this plant with cats.
ANSWER : Unlike some people, animals are smart enough not to eat enough poisonous plant material to hurt them!! Otherwise, there would not be a living pet in the area with as many potentially poisonous plants and plant parts as there are in the home and landscape.

QUESTION : I was really impressed by the striking yellow fall foliage of the big tooth maple on the Boerne Frost Bank property. I asked a local nurseryman about it. I was told it adapted well to this area. I bought two 5 footers and planted them three weeks ago. Can you tell me if I made a wise choice and if the trees are likely to do well for me? I live 6 miles South of Boerne and 3 miles west of Leon Springs.
ANSWER : Acer grandidentatum sinuosum --Bigtooth Maple should be a good landscape plant for you. According to Jill Nokes in her book How to Grow Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest these trees can tolerate low summer rainfall but are generally not found on drier upland sites.
Make sure that your trees do not dry out, especially while getting established. Water the root ball and surrounding area about every week to 10 days in the absence of rainfall. Once established, you should only have to water when the tree tells you to, i.e, it starts dropping leaves out of season.

QUESTION :My mother-in-law wants to grow either an orange tree or a grapefruit tree here in San Antonio. So here are my questions, 1.) Can orange trees, or grapefruit trees grow here? 2.) If so, where can we purchase the trees?
ANSWER : Citrus can be grown in San Antonio. However, they must be protected during freezing weather. The Satsuma Mandarin Orange is the best one for her to try. They can be found in most of the area nurseries. Information on this plant can be found at these PLANTanswers web sites:

QUESTION : We have been searching the Internet in hopes of discovering the origin of the name "horseradish." Last night while dining, my Mother casually asked why it was called horseradish, and now we have set out on this venture to discover the answer, and who better than an expert.
ANSWER : Anything to insure that you stay in Mama's good graces. I don't think that there is a definitive answer to how the name 'horseradish' evolved. However, this Oregon State University web site gives the best I could find:
It says: 'The name "horseradish" is thought to have come from an English adaptation of its German name. Germans called the plant "meerrettich" (meaning "sea radish") because it grew wild in European coastal areas. The German word meer (sea) sounds like "mare" in English. Perhaps "mareradish" became horseradish". The word "horseradish" first appeared in print in 1597 in John Gerarde's English herbal on medicinal plants.


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