Gardening Question of the Day

Should climbing roses be trimmed back the same as other roses?

Yes, but avoid pruning them too much. Novice rose growers often make that mistake. Climbing varieties usually fare better with light pruning. Generally, you should trim them after they bloom, to make room for new blooms. Different varieties behave differently, though, so you should consult your local nursery to find out what is best for your variety. No rose will bloom well if its blossoms don't get enough sunshine and air because they are too crowded.

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Last 7 Days

I want to know whether garbanzo beans grow above the ground or are like peanuts and grow under the ground.

The garbanzo bean, also know as the chickpea or Egyptian pea, is a member of the legume family and is related to beans and other peas. Like them, it grows above ground. The pods are about one inch long and contain one or two light-colored seeds.

Can I use manure to fertilize my garden bulbs?

No! Manure can encourage bulb rot and disease. Instead, use a sprinkling of bonemeal.

What can I use to stake my sunflowers?

Bamboo stakes are a good choice for any plant that has a strong, single stem and needs support for a short period of time.

We’ve been having trouble with rabbits in our yard. We planted some arborvitae toward the back, and the rabbits have eaten away half of the trees. They also seem to like the lawn in the back as well. Will the foliage at the bottom of the arborvitae grow back? Should we even try to save the trees? Any suggestions for the lawn? How can we get rid of our piggy guests?

Foxes and coyotes have kept the rabbits in check in our area, but deer are doing a number on our shrubs, including arborvitae. Arborvitae doesn’t like to refoliate, but can if needles aren’t eaten down to the nubs. As far as your lawn goes, rabbits are much more interested in lawn weeds than grass. A 3/4" wire-mesh fence will effectively keep bunnies out. It should be buried 8"–12" deep and needs to be only 30" high. Repellent plants include castor beans and onions. Commercial repellants may work, too. Let’s hope that it’s "hare today, gone tomorrow." --Gardening experts George and Becky Lohmiller, Hancock, New Hampshire

Is the flowering plant called Dutchman's-breeches part of the bleeding heart family? What is its real name, and how do I grow it?

Dutchman's-breeches does come from the bleeding heart family; it's a wild relative of the cultivated bleeding heart. Its scientific name is Dicentra cucullaria. It can be found from eastern North Dakota south to Kansas, east to the Atlantic, and west to parts of the Pacific Northwest. It is a perennial with fernlike leaves. Its drooping flowers, which look like someone's breeches hung out to dry, bloom from mid- to late spring. It does best in a deciduous woodland environment. This plant can be propagated from seeds sown as soon as they are ripe, but it will do better if raised from rootstock. Plant it in the fall, setting the fleshy roots 1 to 1-1/2 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches apart.

Is there another name for a plant called lady's-mantle?

Yes, Alchemilla vulgaris is a hardy perennial that grows to about 12 inches tall. The name lady's-mantle comes from its fan-shaped, pleated leaves, which resemble the folds of a medieval cloak. The leaves collect sparkling droplets of dew or rain, which were prized by alchemists, hence the Latin name Alchemilla. The plant makes a handsome ground cover and bears clusters of small yellow blossoms that dry nicely for in-house arrangements.

I have a tea blend that lists horse nettle as an ingredient. What is this?

Horse nettle comes from a South American nightshade plant, which also grows in Florida. Also called solanum, bull nettle, or radical weed, it has sedative powers, so it's best to drink that tea before bedtime.

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