The Gardening Diva
Never be too busy to stop and smell the beautiful flowers.

Ask the Master Gardener



 


     The Gardening Diva stands ready to answer all of your gardening questions with the latest and most up-to-date information. Please be sure to include your hardiness zone with each question.

Juila from New Orleans said:

    I have 12 knock out roses 8 years old they were beautiful this season. I have not sprinkled or watered the bushes and for the first time they are loaded with yellow leaves. Should they be treated or once again should I cut them back?

Answer:

    Knockout roses do like it quite dry, and we have had a LOT of rain over the last week. It could be that they are getting too wet. I too have a lot of knockout roses and they are doing great, I did just cut them back because the had gotten too tall. I do believe that the rain is the problem but it never hurts to treat them.

 

Carmen from New Orleans said:

     I have a lot of evergreen shrubs in my front yard and I am "zero maintenance," but I want a little color so what do you suggest?

Answer:

                         Rainbow Knockout roses                                  Loropetalum

       I suggest knockout roses because they are re-blooming and provide color most of the year. Knockout roses are disease resistant, only need watering in extreme drought conditions, but best of all they are self-cleaning and never need deadheading. They come in a variety of colors with both single and double blooms. I especially love the delicate petals of the Rainbow Knockout roses. 

       Another choice would be the loropetalum shrub. This shrub boasts lovely plum foliage year round and is not fussy at all.  Loropetalum comes in both an upright growing variety and a weeping variety.  The upright shurb  can be shaped into a hedge or topiary.

 Bernel from New Orleans asked:

       I moved to a new home, it has a wonderful front porch but it faces west therefore I get so much sun in the evening that I can't enjoy my porch. What do you suggest?

Answer:

       Consider planting a sweet deciduous shade tree like the Red Maple in your front yard to shield your porch from some of the glare and heat in the summer. When the maple drops its leaves during the winter month the heat coming through may allow you to enjoy your porch, if it is not too cold.

 

 Pam from Fort Lauderdale asked:

     When should a Katrina (Peggy Martin) climbing rose be pruned so as not to destroy future blooming?

 

 

Answer:


My Peggy Martin rose bush

    

       Rosarian Peggy Martin (whom the amazing Peggy Martin Rose bush was named for) gave a lecture at one of my Master Gardener meetings in March of this year. I had never pruned my bush basically because it is high up forming an arch over my carport. So I asked Mrs. Martin that very question, "When to prune the Peggy Martin Rose?"  Her response was, " The Peggy Martin Rose does not like to be pruned AT ALL."  So I have never pruned mine and it blooms like crazy. The only time that pruners touch my three Peggy Martins is when I take cuttings to make new plants, or when a stray branch iands just in the wrong place."

        The image above is what my (Calla's) Peggy Martin bush looked like last Spring and I am starting to get new blooms for the fall.

                          

 



Julia  from New Orleans asked:

      I live in the New Orleans area. I have 12 knockout rose bushes that are 8 years old, and  they were beautiful this season. I have not sprinkled or watered the bushes and for the first time they are loaded with yellow leaves. Should they be treated or should I cut them back? 

 


Knockout Rose

Answer:

      New Orleans is in a mini drought right now, it has not rained since the last week in April and now it the middle of May and still no rain. Great for Jazz Fest but bad for plants.

      Under normal conditions you should not water Knockouts a lot, but in a dry patch like this your Knockouts too need some water. I would suggest pruning
off  the yellow leaves and give them a good drink of water.

 

Paula asked:   

      I bought two small camellia plants two years ago and planted them
in my garden. 
Full, western facing sun. They are healthy but are still the
same size as when I bought 
them and never bloomed. I recently tested
my 
soil with one of those soil testers from home depot -- and it seems
my PH very high alkaline 
and high phosphorus and very low nitrogen and
low potash. What can I do to improve it and will that help my camellias? 

Camellia bush

 

Answer: 

      Camellias prefer acidic soil so you are going to have the lower the pH, that is the first thing. There are several fixatives that you can purchase, most will contain sulphur and you can find them at your local gardening center. Secondly and most important Camellias prefer partial shade, and definitely not that full western facing sun. I would suggest moving the plants or using shade cloth if that is an option. 

      When you purchase fertilizers you will see three numbers across the label, for example 15-8-7. This is the NPK ratio. The first number represents the amount of Nitrogen (N) contained in the fertilizer, and nitrogen improves foliage. As you have said the plants looks health nitrogen is not the problem. The second number represents the amount of Phosphorous (P), which encourages blooms.  As your soil is high in Phosphorus, your camellias should be setting buds.  I think providing some shade for the camellias and making your soil more acidic would take the stress off of your plants and allow them to set buds. The third number represents the amount of Potassium or potash (K), which improves the plants root system.

       Camellias are slow-growing so I would not be too concerned about the size of the plants. I have a Camellia japonica bush that I received as a gift two years ago.  It blooms its head off every year.  It is setting blooms right now but it has not grown very much.

                                                                                                                   
 

Hi Sylvia!
 
Sorry to hear that your crepe myrtle is experiencing some trauma. There could be a number of causes for your problem. First check around the base of the trunk of the tree, make sure that it has not been nicked by some overzealous weed eating. If you find some wounds to the trunk of the tree smear a little Elmer's glue over any open gashes.  The glue will seal the wound keeping insects and disease out, and the glue will not harm the tree.
 
If you are having extended drought in your zone, the lack of water can cause the problem.  Crepe myrtles are drought-tolerant but long periods of drought can spell trouble. The good news is a little watering should solve your problem, but just a little water because crepes don't like wet feet. On the other hand! if you have received some overly abundant downpours over an extended period of time, that's a real problem because there is nothing you cam do about that. But as the soil dries out your tree should bounce back.
 
 I hope that this information is helpful. Remember never get too busy to stop and smell the beautiful flowers!
Sylvia asked:
     What is causing the leaves of my crepe myrtle  trees to turn yellow and
 drop off?
 
Crepe Myrtle trees
 
Answer:
     Sorry to hear that your crepe myrtles are experiencing some trauma. There could be a number of causes for your problem. First check around the base of the trunk of the trees and make sure they has not been nicked by some overzealous weed eating. If you find some wounds to the trunk of the tree smear a little Elmer's glue over any open gashes.  The glue will seal the wound keeping insects and disease out, and the glue will not harm the tree.
 
      If you are having extended drought in your zone, the lack of water can cause the problem.  Crepe myrtles are drought-tolerant but long periods of drought can spell trouble. The good news is a little watering should solve your problem, but just a little water because crepes don't like wet feet.
 
    On the other hand, if you have received some overly abundant downpours over an extended period of time, that's a real problem because there is nothing you can do about that. But as the soil dries out your tree should bounce back, because as I mentioned before crepe myrtles do not like soggy soil.
 
    I hope that this information is helpful. Remember never get too busy to stop and smell the beautiful flowers!

 

Rochelle from Miami wrote:

     What kind of flower is the yellow flower? It has a velvet/suede texture. A friend in my leadership class loves it and wants to know. Thx. Going to send u other close up pics of it. 

Rochelle's photo

Answer:

     That is a yellow cockscomb, the botanical name is Celosia. They also come in red, which is where it originally got its name because the red one resembles that red comb on top of a rooster's head. It also comes in the color orange.

 

Question from Ashley in California:

    I cut into a lemon and it was dried out with a sprout on each side, can I
plant the sprout?

Answer:

     A couple of the seeds in the lemon have germinated, that is where the
sprouts have come from. What a wonderful phenomenon, and what a gift! Definitely place the sprouts and the lemon half in soil, in full sun, water them
and see what happens. You may very well get a lemon tree out of it.  Just remember that citrus trees take two to three years to set fruit, so be ready to be patient. 

                                                                                                          

 

Question from MG Linda in New Orleans:

    Love your website! Where are your weekly articles published?

Answer:  

    Thank you so much! My gardening articles are currently published in Data News Weekly, a community newspaper in New Orleans. Complimentary copies are available at Rouses, on all of the college campuses, and over 200 other locations. Also I am in negotiations to syndicate my gardening article around the country, and now we are posting the articles on this website on our "Gardening Articles" page for your convenience; as well as on ladatanews.com.

                                                                                                               

 

Question from Lisa from Covington, Louisiana:

    When is the best time to start spring planting tomatoes on the Northshore?

My action:

     I thought that there may be some spring planting schedule for that area which is zone 9A, so I contacted Dr. Dan Gill with LSU AgCenter and posed that question.

His response:
 

     There are few absolutes in gardening. When gardeners decide to plant tender plants in the spring is not just a matter of following a calendar – nature and weather are far too variable for that. We also weigh the desire for early production and how much we are willing to gamble to get it.
 

My answer:

     When all else fails I go old-school. My father, who was an old Mississippi farmer said never plant veggies before Easter (and that is when Easter falls in April). So with that rule in mind, I say never plant tender veggies before April 15th. 

 

 

Question from Deborah in Kansas City:

      I love bromeliads and I buy them and they keep rotting in the middle. I keep water in the cup in the middle which is what you are told to do so what am I doing wrong?

My answer:

      Keeping water in the cup of the bromeliad is exactly why they are rotting in the middle. In order to understand what these plants need you must first understand the anatomy of these wonderful plants. The root system of bromeliads is very small as most bromeliads are epiphytes (plants that grow on or attach to other plants or structures) in their natural habitats; and they do not need to be in soil to survive. In Brazil you see bromeliads attached to branches in trees, on telephone lines, on rocks, and buildings.

                      

      Their roots are only there to anchor the plant. Unlike other plants bromeliads do not take in water or nourishment through their roots. Bromeliads have microscopic scales that cover the plant's foliage and these scales catch the dew and nutrients that feed the plant in the wild.  The most critical and important thing that you must do for bromeliads is mist them twice a day is best  but once a day is mandatory, as you mimic nature's morning dew. If the plant is indoors ONLY water the soil of the plant when it has completely dried out, and do not let the plant set in water. Bromeliads do not like wet feet, and DO NOT put water in the cup of the plant.  The only time that you should keep water in the cup of a bromeliad is if the bromeliad is kept outdoors, as the heat from the sun will warm the water creating steam that will hydrate the plant.


                                 

     

 

Ask you question in the section below:


    Our Shopping page will be up shortly packed with wonderful rare plants and garden accessories.


(504) 282-6113