Gardening Question of the Day

How can I make my nearly pot-bound clivia bloom? It's about 12 years old and has never flowered.

If the plant hasn't bloomed in 12 years, it may be impossible to get it to do so, but we'd certainly try. Keep the plant cool; it likes temperatures around 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Water it sparingly, and don't worry about fertilizer. Clivias like to be root-bound, so repot it only when absolutely necessary. Should you get the plant to flower (which will occur toward the beginning of summer), place it outside, where it can enjoy the sunshine and heat (water it well), then bring it back inside in the fall and follow the low-water, cool-temperature routine. If you'd like to experiment, try dividing the plant. We don't know if this will help it flower, but it's worth a shot.

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Last 7 Days

I have a cereus cactus that has never bloomed. It just keeps sending out shoots, getting long and leggy. How can I make it bloom?

Cereus cacti have spectacular, fragrant blossoms, but they aren't known for blooming very often. We don't think the legginess has anything to do with your plant's inability to bloom, but perhaps you can trim some of the excess growth back and root the cuttings. To get your cactus to bloom annually, give it a mixture of equal parts water and 20-20-20 fertilizer monthly during the spring and summer. Don't feed it at all during the fall and winter, and let the plant go a bit dry between waterings. Since this plant prefers to be root-bound, don't repot it too often.

Can I grow carnivorous plants in my garden?

Most carnivorous plants require humid conditions (50 percent or higher) in the summer and no hard freezes in the winter. A backyard bog may be one way to develop an environment for carnivorous plants, which prefer the same conditions as the wild habitats in which they usually grow. A bog may mimic this, or you might try growing something carnivorous in a terrarium or greenhouse. They are not easy to grow, so don't be discouraged.

I have a large spathiphyllum plant. How do I get it to bloom?

Spathiphyllum, or the peace lily, grows in low light and any ordinary soil. Keep the soil fairly moist and fertilize regularly with a diluted liquid fertilizer. The plant grows up to two feet tall, so it needs a lot of room. If flowering is poor, move the plant to a brighter location, but not in full sun.

Can the monkey puzzle tree grow in the United States?

Yes, the monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana) can grow in the United States. It tolerates cold but not prolonged freezing. It should be planted with caution, however, because it grows very tall and will drop large cones on your lawn.

In late winter/early spring, I am going to prune a large burning bush. I want to prune it to about half its size. Is that too much?

You don't say what type of burning bush you own, but the most common variety is 'Compactus', which is a silly name for a plant that can grow ten feet tall. In fact, unless you have a dwarf version of the shrub, such as 'Nordine Strain' or 'Rudy Haag', you're going to end up with a pretty big plant. We didn't find any information on whether such excessive pruning will harm the plant, but since it sounds as if you want a smaller shrub anyway, go ahead and try it. If the plant dies, you can replace it with one of the smaller versions.

Which flowers are edible?

Among the most common edible flowers are peonies, pansies, carnations, chamomile, chrysanthemums, dandelions, daylilies, gardenias, geraniums, gladioli, lavender, lilies, nasturtiums, primroses, roses, squash blossoms, sweet violets, pot marigolds, and yucca blossoms.

Can I use the ashes from coal in my furnace in my garden?

No! Coal ash contains toxic trace elements which could include heavy metals, arsenic, mercury, and cadmium. Its alkaline level would also be harmful to plants.

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