Here are some simple solutions to common problems:
Q. I have a ponytail palm that is over 40 years old. It is outside in the summertime and very healthy. When it gets below 40 degrees outside, I bring it inside. This plant is approaching the point of being too tall to be inside. I am thinking about cutting it at 4 feet and letting it regrow. Can this be done, or will the plant die? There are several knobby bumps on the trunk, and I am hoping that it will sprout new growth from there. –Rolf Mishker
A. Spring is the best time to prune the ponytail palm. Cut the top off at the desired height and put a commercial sealant on the top of the cut. Within a month or two, you should see new growth. If you like, you can replant the top. Dip the top end into rooting powder before planting.
Q. I live in Austin, Texas, and would like to try growing some dwarf nasturtiums. Is it too hot outside in the summer for them? I have a grow light indoors and am having some luck with other plants. What do you suggest? –Karen Thiemermann
A. In mild climates, such as Zone 8b where you are, nasturtiums can be planted in late summer/early fall for fall/winter bloom. They can also be planted in spring. Nasturtiums like the cool (not cold) season, but some survive during the heat of summer if properly cared for. In some mild climates, they may even act as perennials.
Q. I have a problem with moles and grubs in my lawn. What is the best and safest way to get rid of them? –Sarah Preston
A. The moles are there because they like to eat the grubs, so getting rid of the grubs may get rid of both. There are two organic solutions. The first is Milky Spore, a bacteria-based powder that you apply to the lawn and will infect the Japanese beetle grubs, one of the most common culprits. It will not hurt other living critters, including earthworms. It may take a couple of years to get rid of the grubs this way. A quicker approach is to treat your lawn with Hb nematodes. They parasitize several species of grubs and infect them with a bacterium that causes death.
Do you have a question that you want answered? Pick up our 2015 edition of the Garden Guide and see if we have the answer! If you don’t see the answer there, check out Almanac.com/Gardening.