September 2, 2014
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The Magic Garden
Podcasting with Flowers
Morton White

We have a Mimosa tree with beautiful booms every spring. Pods from the tree get all over the yard. Is there any way to stop the tree from producing these pods?
Gary, Norwich, CT


If you can sacrifice the flowers, you can stop the pods from forming. Spray with an insecticide when the flowers appear. Sevin lasts one day but will be effective in killing the flower. You indicated that you enjoy the flowers, which attract the pollen to pollinate the plant. Unfortunately, the remnant of the flowers are pods cast upon your lawn.

I purchased a Hibiscus this spring at a box store. The tag says it is hardy. It has orange flowers that are about two inches and drop every day. It continues to bloom all summer and stands about three feet. There is no other name other than hibiscus. Do you think that I should bring it indoors in the winter?
Ruth, Pena, IL

You are in zone 5, which is not hardy for tropical shrubs. Hibiscus mosceutos hybrids with 8-10 inch flowers are hardy enough for zone 5, if covered for the winter. Rose of Sharon aka H.syriacus is also hardy in your area. Tropical Hibiscus mutabilis is hardy in zone 9 south. H.mutabilis has two inch daily flowers. I would not take a chance on this plant that could only be hardy in the south. They make excellent house plants in the winter.

My Lilac "Moscow" has few flowers. It stands about three feet high now. It has very few flowers in the spring. How can I get it to bloom more profusely?
William, Wheelsburg, OH

Smaller lilacs like Syringa microphylla with smaller leaves will sometimes bloom again in the fall. Persian lilacs grow to six feet and have smaller clusters of three inches. S.vulgaris or the common lilac have profuse flowers in the spring. It is possible that although you are in zone 6, the frost may have nipped the buds. It is more likely that you need to add phosphorus the soil. You can apply a handful of bonemeal at this time and work it into the soil around the stem. Additionally six spikes of 5-10-10 about 18 inches from and around the stem will insure more blooms. Clusters on S.persica rarely get larger than three inches, as well.

The interior of some of my evergreens in the foundation plantings have turn brown on the south side of the house. Is this a problem?
Bill, Tulsa, OK


As foundation plants get larger they will be affected by the lack of sunlight to produce photosynthesis. When they are smaller they may be burnt by the sun's reflection on their backside. Usually, most evergreens are brown because of the lack of sun penetrating the outer leaves. You could move the plants or move the house back.

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