Gardening Question of the Day

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Can I use my Christmas tree for mulch after Christmas?

Yes. Remove the branches and chop the trunk for use as mulch.

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I have a healthy gardenia in a pot. The plant is well over a year old and has yet to bear flowers. Any ideas as to why?

Gardenias are very sensitive to temperature changes. They prefer 70 degrees F during the day and 60 to 65 degrees F at night. Nights above 65 degrees F will reduce bud growth and increase the chances of buds dropping off. Gardenias like high humidity and bright light. Keep the soil moderately moist at all times.

Will asters survive the winter in northern Kentucky? What measures should I take to ensure this?

Asters will generally do nicely in a Kentucky winter. Mulching does provide protection, and we recommend it. It's good for preventing soil crusting, conserving moisture, and controlling weeds. Don't go too heavy, though. This can result in too much moisture retention and crown rot. Pine bark, pine straw, wood chips, and a variety of other materials may be used successfully.

Should I mulch my perennials for the winter?

Yes, you should do this once your ground is frozen hard.

What is the best way to get rid of thistles?

The thistle is one of the most difficult perennial weeds to control because its underground stems can travel up to 20 feet a season. After chopping them down, use a plastic mulch to cover the entire area. A straw mulch, laid at least three inches thick, also will smother thistles. (Do not use a leaf mulch.) Your weed-control program must be long-lasting because the roots can lie dormant for several years. In addition to mulching, plowing the garden deeply in the fall will bring the rhizomes (stems) to the surface. But avoid rototilling, because this will cut the rhizomes, and each piece will become a new plant.

What causes the yellowing leaves on my rubber plant?

Yellowing leaves on indoor rubber plants is a common problem. It is usually a sign of overwatering. Check your plant to make sure it has adequate bottom drainage to draw excess water away from the roots. If your plant has been in the same container for a long time, remove it and its soil ball and loosen the bound roots you'll find. Remove some of the soil at the top of the ball as well, then transplant it all into a larger pot.

What's the best way to prolong the life of my Christmas cactus?

When the buds of a Christmas cactus look as if they're about to open, make sure you water the plant regularly and keep it cool.

What is the effect of the Moon's phases on plant growth?

The age-old practice of performing farm and planting chores by the Moon stems from the belief that the Moon governs moisture. The new Moon and first quarter (waxing phases) are considered fertile and wet; the full Moon and last quarter (waning phases) are considered dry. The waxing phases are thought to be good for planting aboveground crops, putting down sod, grafting trees, and transplanting. The waning phases are supposedly the best times for killing weeds, pruning, mowing, cutting timber, and planting belowground crops. The best time for planting in drought conditions is just before the full Moon, which is considered particularly wet. Some farmers think that seed germination is much better then.

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