QUESTION: Which Nandina is it that seems to get
about 4 to 5 feet tall and doesn't seem to spread? Only
a nice clump that seems to be only about 8 inches in diameter
at the bottom and plumes upward to about 12 inches? Comprised
of many canes, but doesn't seem to send up new plants. This
is exactly what I need to fill in several strongly vertical
areas I have which doesn't have room for a lot of top spread.
I have seen them in neighbors' yards and was noticing my
parents have several which are over 30 years old and are
nice and compact vertical.
ANSWER: I do not have personal knowledge of a Nandina
that does not spread by underground rhizomes. However, Sunset's
New Western Garden Book has this to say about a variety
named 'Stribling Little Princess': Dense, tight clumps 3
to 4 feet tall; very slow?growing, slow to spread. Other
than that, my suggestion would be to query your neighbors
about where they might have bought their plants and what
they were called.
Nandina height, and to some extent its breadth, can be
controlled by cutting the tallest canes to the ground. This
will force new growth and keep the bottom filled in.
QUESTION: I am interested in knowing if the berries
of Nandina plants are poisonous. We have several such plants
around our yard and would like to know how careful we need
to be with our little boy.
ANSWER:According to this North Carolina State University
web site, the berries of Nandina have a slight toxicity.
It would appear that there is little danger:
Scientific Name, Nandina domestica
Common Name, Nandina, Heavenly bamboo
Family , Berberidaceae
Plant Description; Evergreen shrub; leaves alternate and
clasping at base, 2 to 3-pinnately divided; flowers white
in a terminal cluster; fruit bright red berries.
Where Found, Weedy in disturbed areas; in landscape, cultivated
ornamental woody shrub, persisting after planting and escaping.
Mode, Ingestion. Poisonous Part, Berries, caution.
Symptoms ? No cases reported in humans, but berries are
possibly toxic to cats and some grazing animals.
Toxic Principle, Unknown.
Severity, CAUSES ONLY LOW TOXICITY IF EATEN.
QUESTION: We have some Oleanders that are in BAD
need of pruning, and were previously cut back/pruned about
2 years ago. I do not recall, but when is the best time
to prune these plants? And how much?
ANSWER: Oleanders may be pruned as severely as you
desire. However, if the blossoms are important to you, I
would wait until they have finished their first flush of
blooms to do your pruning. At this PLANTanswers web site
there is a fine article on pruning. You should follow the
instructions given for pruning broad-leafed evergreens:
Broad-leaved evergreens such as gardenias, camellias, azaleas,
pyracantha, hollies and photenias require very little pruning.
Lightly thin broad?leaved evergreens grown for their showy
fruit such as pyracantha and holly during the dormant season
if needed for shaping. Remove old or weak stems. This group
can go several years without pruning except for some slight
cosmetic pruning to keep them neat. If too much wood is
removed from these plants at anytime, summer or winter,
the amount of fruit is reduced the following season. When
these plants become old and straggly, cut them back 6 to
8 inches from the ground before spring growth begins. Don't
cut them back too early, however, because a flush of growth
could freeze and set them back. Prune only after the danger
of the last killing frost is past. Such pruning stimulates
the growth of new shoots from the base of the plant. Many
gardeners prefer to remove only about 1/3 of the branches
at one time and retain the general contour of the plant.
QUESTION:: Is it feasible to grow Pampas Grass from
seed? I have some left over from last year's plant.
ANSWER:A general indication of the ease with which
a plant can be propagated by seed is whether or not you
can find seedlings around the mother plant. I have never
seen a pampas grass seedling that has come up volunteer.
In Lewis Hill's book Secrets of Plant Propagation, he recommends
that pampas grass be propagated by dividing the clumps in
early spring. He makes no mention of propagating by seed.
QUESTION: I need the following information about
the pecan tree for my high school Biology class:
Phylum (in plants it is division) Magnoliophyta
Habitat Native to Texas and the Mississippi River
Is it endangered? No
QUESTION: I am in need of information that will
help me to properly place herbs, flowers, and vegetables
so that insects, bugs, etc. are minimized. I plant to planting
the following: tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, crookneck squash,
butternut squash, garlic, onions, bell peppers, chamomile,
spearmint, oregano, chocolate mint, rosemary, dark moss
curled parsley, lavender, cilantro, Italian sweet basil,
daisies, sunspot sunflowers, marigolds & zinnias.
ANSWER: There are many books on companion planting.
The veracity of their information, I cannot vouch. However,
you should have fun experimenting. A trip to your library
or bookstore should allow you to look at some of these books.
Here are a few that I have seen;
Carrots Love Tomatoes ISBN 0-88266-988-5
Roses Love Garlic ISBN 1-58017-028-5
Rodale's Successful Organic Gardening Companion Planting
Also a search on "companion planting" on one
of the internet search engines will turn up many references.
I used the Alta Vista engine and got 891 sites. That engine
is located at this URL: http://altavista.digital.com/
QUESTION: I am a third grader. I would
like to know why a sweet potato is considered a root, and
a potato is not. This is part of a homework assignment.
ANSWER: The part of a sweet potato plant which is
eaten is the swollen root. It functions as a root by up
taking nutrients and water as it expands. The potato (Irish
potato) is a storage structure called a tuber. During periods
of optimum growth, the potato plant stores extra carbohydrates
manufactured in the leaves during photosynthesis in the
tubers. Also, the root of sweet potato has buds which will
sprout into new plants on one end of the root; the potato
sprouts new plants from randomly distributed structures
on the tuber called eyes.
QUESTION: Last summer, I planted a
Chinese Pistache in my back yard. It grew quickly grew straight
up and what was a 5 foot stick is now 10 feet. But it's
still a stick. It lost its leaves in the winter and now
everything else is green and its little red buds are just
sitting there. Is it a marshmallow stick for camp-outs or
should I give it a few more weeks? .
ANSWER: Your Chinese Pistache should leaf out soon.
It probably has a couple of whorls of limbs coming out of
the main trunk. Select a whorl that is high enough up to
walk under and cut the main trunk above that point. This
will help the tree develop its crown. See this Aggie website:
This is partially what it says:
Ugly Duckling To Beautiful Swan
Although considered by many experts to be near perfect
for this area of the U.S., the Chinese Pistache does have
a couple of minor faults. First, young Pistache in 5?gallon
containers (a nice size to purchase) are often rather awkward
and gangling in appearance. Rest assured that after 5 to
6 years of tender loving care in your landscape, this "ugly
duckling" will have been magically transformed into
a most "beautiful swan" as its canopy develops
and begins to mature. Secondly, shaping and pruning your
tree when it's young may be necessary to encourage proper
branch spacing and structure and for best crown development.
Even without such pruning however, the vast majority of
Pistache will eventually make very nicely shaped trees on
QUESTION: What causes the "lumps",
bumps, etc. on red bud trees. Mostly on the trunk and main
limbs of red bud trees. Is this normal?
ANSWER: I examined several red bud trees and didn't
find bumps such as you describe. One of those I looked at
did have flowers all over the main trunk. Perhaps what you
are seeing are the buds that are just about to erupt into
flowers. If this in fact occurs soon, I certainly wouldn't
worry about them and would just consider it to be a characteristic
of the tree.
QUESTION: Please explain filtered light.
Does that mean away from the window, with the blinds open
and not necessarily in the sunlight?
ANSWER:By filtered light I mean that the plants
are in good indirect light but getting no direct sunlight.
This can be achieved through curtains, blinds or just positioning
the plant where the direct sun doesn't hit it.
QUESTION: I will be 71 in a couple
years and want to know how long I have to live until you
will perfect some kind of rhubarb that will grow in Port
Arthur, Texas. I was born in Ohio and raised in Michigan
and know too well the joys of rhubarb pie and sauce. I have
about 3 plants coming up now that they claimed would grow
in region 10, but I am not counting on it. Expect they will
die out as other plants and seeds that I have tried. Don't
want to move to Missouri or any place north of there. Want
to stay right here and harvest my own, rather than going
to the market. Any hope?
ANSWER:Since you are sort of "in a hurry"
for some rhubarb in Port Arthur, you should plan to grow
it as a fall-planted, spring-harvested annual. Rhubarb is
a cold-resistant perennial that thrives in the coldest winter
weather Texas has to offer but dies where maximum daytime
temperatures average above 90 degrees F. Therefore, it will
not grow well during the summer in most areas of the south
and only thin leaf stalks which are spindly and lack color
will be produced. However, if planted in the early fall
and fertilized heavily, you might get some semblance of
rhubarb production. Otherwise, the supermarket is your best
QUESTION: I realize spider mites are
not plants, but they sure cause big problems with our plants.
What would be a good way to keep from being infested and
what do we do when we're infested?
ANSWER: Spider mites can indeed be a real pest.
The secret is to not let the population build to problematic
proportions. This requires constant vigilance on your part.
Spider mites cannot tolerate humid conditions, so at the
first sign of their presence, spraying the leaves daily
(especially the underside) can help keep them in check.
Also, the application of a horticultural oil can help. Since
you did not specify what plants you are talking about, be
sure that the label on the horticultural oil includes use
on the plant in question. Also beneficial insects such as
the green lacewing will help in controlling spider mites.
If their population gets out of hand, the most reliable
control is the use of a miticide.