Gardening Question of the Day

What's the best way to keep fresh parsley in the house?

Parsley will keep nicely for about two weeks if you immerse the stems in a glass of water and then tent the leaves with a plastic bag.

Last 7 Days

Our yard has areas that get several hours of full sun daily and areas that spend most of the spring and fall, and all of the summer, in deep shade. Is there a grass that will fare well in both conditions? We now have several varieties growing, and the colors are very different.

All southern grasses except Bermuda grass stand shade reasonably well. The bluegrasses are great for open areas, but rough bluegrass adapts well to moist shade. Fine fescues are good for dry shade. We'd suggest a bluegrass-fescue combination. Remember that grasses perform better in the shade if you don't cut them too short and you fertilize and water them frequently.

How much water should I give my shrubs and trees?

Your trees and shrubs need watering, just like everything else growing in your yard, especially in periods of little rain. Watering cools them off in hot weather and helps the plants absorb nutrients from the soil, as well as make their own food. Don't get overzealous, however. Wait for signs of water stress, including wilting and loss of leaves. Here's a rule of thumb for watering: Give your trees an inch of water every two weeks if you've had less than an inch of rain. Try to saturate the soil all at once, so the water goes deep. To monitor your watering, use a sprinkler and place an empty tuna can nearby. When the can is full of water, empty it and then fill again. Two fills will ensure adequate soil saturation. Water in the early morning or late evening to avoid quick evaporation.

Is there a special way to dry hydrangeas? The last time I tried, they wilted and lost all their color.

Hydrangeas should be picked just as their petals begin to show a slight green color. Tie their stems in a bouquet and hang them upside down in a cool, dark place until they are completely dry. Another method is to place the picked flowers in a solution of water and glycerin. (Glycerin is available at most drugstores.) As the water and glycerin are drawn up through the stems, the water will evaporate and leave only the glycerin, which will help preserve the flowers' color and shape.

I just inherited a wisteria with my new house. How should I care for it?

Wisterias need full sun, which we presume you have. They like to be in moist, well-drained soil that has been fortified with peat moss or leaf mold. If your plant is young, give it a general-purpose fertilizer in the spring. If it is mature, give it a complete fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, in the spring. If you're in one of the northern zones, use pine boughs or leaves to mulch your wisteria in the fall for protection through the winter. Prune established plants to encourage flowering. Do this in late summer by removing new growth to above the sixth or seventh leaf from the base of each branch.

I would like to know what annual flowers the Japanese beetle will not eat.

Japanese beetles prefer perennials, and they do their dining on leaves, not flowers. Try planting marigolds, cosmos, bachelor's buttons, and morning glories. Stay away from yellow flowers (with the exception of marigolds) -- yellow is their favorite color. If you find them to be a problem in your garden, head out first thing in the morning with a bucket of soapy water. Getting rid of the beetles is as simple as shaking them into the bucket.

I often lose my snow peas in mid-July. How can I prevent this?

As you probably know, peas love cool weather. Plant them early in the spring--the sooner the better. Summer's highest temperatures will prevent the blossoms from setting and will leave the pods drying on the vine. That's most likely what has happened to your peas in the past.

The leaves on my five-year-old peach tree turn bright yellow and then fall off. What causes this?

The yellow leaves might mean that your tree has an iron deficiency called chlorosis, or it may be suffering from a fungus such as shot hole. Both indicate that your soil may have poor drainage, which could weaken the tree and make it susceptible to disease. Check the soil. If it's a heavy clay, that's probably your problem. If you think your soil is OK, make sure your tree is getting enough moisture. Water it deeply when the surface is dry but the soil three to four inches down is still moist. You also might want to contact your local county extension office to find out exactly what malady your tree has. It's hard to diagnose the problem without seeing it.

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