QUESTION: I have several Amaryllis that are dropping
seeds. I have heard that they are easy to start from seed
and would like to give it a try. What is the best way to
get them to germinate and how should I care for them?
ANSWER: Refer to this University of Nebraska web
site on the Culture of Amaryllis:
Which has this to say: "Amaryllis can be propagated
by seed, offsets or cuttage. Since seeds do not always produce
plants similar to their parents, most of the named hybrids
and selected strains are propagated by cuttage.
Seed pods of amaryllis develop rapidly and are mature within
4 to 5 weeks after the flower has been pollinated. Pods
should be picked as soon as they turn yellow and begin to
break open. Seeds should be removed from the pod, allowed
to dry for a few days and planted immediately. The seed
bed should be partially shaded, and the media used for seed
germination should be well drained. Following germination,
increase the light until the plants are receiving full sunlight.
However, in Lewis Hill's book Secrets of Plant Propagation,
he offers little encouragement about this process. He says,
"It is possible to propagate them from seeds, but they
germinate slowly and unevenly, and take many years to bloom".
QUESTION: I have seen an armadillo in my garden and
around the house. He/she is alive and well, digging up lots
of sand and dirt, but is an armadillo a good thing to have
in the garden and around the house?
ANSWER: The armadillos are just doing you a favor
by cultivating and aerating your soil. You don't buy that?
I don't blame you.
The armadillos are in search of food (and probably finding
it) in the form or grubs and other insects. You can rid
your flower beds of these insects by treating with an insecticide
such as diazinon or dursban granules. However, it will probably
not help to treat the area now because the grubs are probably
too deep for the insecticide to be effective. We usually
treat for them in mid?summer (late June - early July). The
grubs will be small and close to the surface making it possible
to kill them.
Another remedy is trapping armadillos with 'hav-a-heart'
traps and relocating the critters. However, this only moves
the problem to someone else's yard.
QUESTION: I have a bougainvillea that has been in
the ground for about 1 ½ years. About 6 weeks ago
I trimmed it back drastically and now have new growth that
is very healthy. I would like to move the plant to a sunnier
location and need information on how to transplant it.
ANSWER: You don't say where you live but you should
be able to relocate your bougainvillea at this time. It
may be necessary to cut back some of the new growth if it
is already excessive. First, prepare the hole for the plant
in its new location. Then dig the plant getting as big a
root ball as you can handle, keeping the soil intact around
the roots. Move the plant to the new hole and backfill with
the soil removed from the hole. The plant should do fine.
QUESTION: I just purchased a Carolina Jessamine
(Gelsemium sempervirens) and I read that all parts of the
plant are poisonous. There was no reference to it being
poisonous on the planting tag. I have two small grandchildren
and a cat that will be in the area of where I plan to put
this plant. Are all varieties poisonous or by chance, are
the ones being sold here in Texas (Fort Worth) non?poisonous?
If they are, what would be another good vining plant for
an arched garden trellis?
ANSWER: Yes, the Carolina Jessamine is poisonous.
See this North Carolina State University web site:
Whether or not it would be of danger to your grandchildren
or pets is questionable as there is nothing about the plant
that would invite ingesting. However, it is sometimes prudent
to err on the side of safety. This Aggie web site has a
listing of the recommended landscape plants for North Central
QUESTION: I'm from northwest Tennessee and I'm wondering
if there are any differences in a crape myrtle bush and
a tree. I have several bushes, but was wondering if they
would eventually grow into trees.
ANSWER: Whether a crape myrtle grows as a shrub
or as a tree is a matter of pruning and training. There
are varieties that better lend themselves to the tree form
than others and will grow to tree size. If your's are at
their mature size, they would get no taller if you tried
to train them into trees by eliminating many of their trunks.
If you want one as a tree it would be better to buy one
of the proper variety and train it from the beginning into
a single trunk. See this PLANTanswers website for a very
good article on pruning. You'll also get more information
on training new trees:
QUESTION: I am having a hard time growing my Ficus
Trees indoors. At present, many leaves are spotty, dropping
off and turning brown. I have a plant light on the trees
and the soil is not dry. I need to know what I should do
to save my trees.
ANSWER: Ficus are notorious about dropping leaves
any time their environment is changed. They need to be allowed
to acclimate to their location and are usually quite happy
when they do acclimate. Ficus will do well if it has good
light, rich soil kept evenly moist, and frequent light feeding.
Guard against over?watering and protect it from cold drafts
and dry heat. If the leaves are developing leaf spots it
may be suffering from one of the diseases described in this
Michigan State University website:
Anthracnose turns the leaf tips yellow, then tan, then
dark brown. The browning may extend completely around the
leaf and extend in from the margin. The leaves eventually
die. Pale rose-colored pustules develop in infected tissue.
Wounding enhances disease penetration. Fiddleleaf fig (Ficus
lyrata) is rather susceptible to Anthracnose. Pick off and
destroy infected leaves. Several leaf spots cause spotting
on leaves. These are rare in most homes due to dry air.
Pick off and destroy infected leaves. Leaf scorch and leaf
drop are cultural problems usually caused by poor drainage,
excessively dry or wet soil, low humidity, or too much direct
QUESTION: My yard is almost completely shaded by
large oak trees that make growing grass difficult. Bare
areas seem to be invaded with sprouts from Live Oak trees.
Is there a way to prevent their growth? There are too many
to pull by hand, and I'm afraid that anything I spray will
prevent any grass growth.
ANSWER: Your problem is common to anyone with a
lot of oak trees and unfortunately, there is not a good
answer. About the best solution I have heard is to use the
sprouts as a ground cover. Let the sprouts grow but keep
them cut short as if they were some other type of plant.
You could put Asiatic Jasmine in a bed where the sprouts
are a problem and then keep the sprouts trimmed to the height
of the Asiatic. You are right in that anything that would
kill the sprouts would also kill the tree or other vegetation.
The only other alternative is to keep them closely mowed.
QUESTION: A few years ago I planted some Bird of
Paradise seeds and after all this time they have finally
grown into plants about 8-12 inches high. This year they
seem to be more active in their growth then ever. There
are new leaves and the old ones are getting larger but I'm
also noticing some of the leaves are half- gone from what
I'm not sure. I don't see any bugs. I would like to know
when to move the plant to a larger pot, its watering needs,
potential insect and other problems, will they ever flower,
etc. We are originally from San Angelo, Texas but now live
at Scott AFB, Illinois---30 miles east of St Louis, Missouri.
ANSWER: This information on the Bird of Paradise
(Strelitzia reginae) comes from Jack Kramer's book The Illustrated
Guide To Flowering Houseplants: "Only mature plants
with 7 or more leaves bloom, and then reluctantly indoors.
Even so, it is worth a try because of the spectacular flowers.
Grow this plant at your sunniest window - it must have at
least 3 hours of sun daily to prosper. Use a standard houseplant
soil and feed every 2 weeks in summer, but not at all the
rest of the year. In winter, keep it cool at 50 degrees
F and allow the soil to dry out somewhat, but in summer
flood the plants with water. Use large tubs. It is rarely
bothered by insects. Propagate by division of tubers or
from seed. either way new plants will take several years
New plants need to grow in a medium- to- large pot until
almost root-bound before they will bloom.
I don't know what has eaten the leaves on your plants.
Could they have been infested with slugs or snails? Check
them in the dark with a flashlight to see if you can find
the culprit that is eating on them.