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December 1, 2018
This plant just appeared in my yard. One friend says its asparagus fern. Is it edible
The plant in question is a native perennial called dog fennel - Eupatorium capillifolium.
The plant spreads both by seeds and rootstocks which come from the main taproot and
grow laterally in all directions, so it can spread aggressive. When crushed, the leaves and flowers release an unpleasant odor. The common name refers to the fennel-like odor, which dogs appear to enjoy, thus the
common name. It is not edible, and I find it too invasive to be desirable.
November 3, 2018
What is the blue flower? It came in a flower arrangement and we would like to identify
The flower in question is commonly called sea holly, Eryngium planum. It is a perennial
plant in Arkansas and has beautiful deep blue thistle-like blooms. It dries well
and is often used in flower arrangements, because it is pretty for a long time in
September 15, 2018
I was given a start of this plant, said to have come from my grandparents’ home place
in west Tennessee. It went in the ground in April, has a rather prostrate growth
pattern, and started to show a bloom cluster in the last few weeks. The flowers looked
white at first, then turned pink.
The plant in question is commonly called Bouncing Bet or Soapwort, Saponaria officinalis.
It is an old-fashioned plant that can become a bit aggressive in the garden. It spreads
by underground rhizomes so be aware and contain it if needed.
August 18, 2018
My mother said you might be able to identify this flower. It has a big bloom at the
end and smaller ones on the shaft. Any help would be appreciated.
The plant in question is a perennial called clustered bellflower – Campanula glomerata
‘Superba’. In our climate they would prefer morning sun and afternoon shade. The
color of these blooms is intense and beautiful, but they are not huge fans of heat
May 26, 2018
We are trying to identify this plant that keeps returning each spring at my niece’s
house in Mountain Home. Is it a weed or a plant we want? It has never done anything
but have green foliage.
The plant is called Lily of the Valley. The rhizomatous roots are called pips. They
are one of a few bulb type plants that bloom in the shade and it can be used as a
groundcover in a shady garden. However they struggle in hot, dry climates. The plants
should be kept evenly moist and like a rich site. They bloom with fragrant little
bell shaped blooms in the spring. The plant is poisonous, so deer leave them alone.
March 4, 2017
I live in NW Arkansas and we got really cold last weekend. I had a few perennials that
had emerged and I did not cover them, and some of the leaves look a little sad. Do
you think I need to replant?
I would not throw in the towel just yet. If the leaves are definitely dead, then cut
them off, but then leave the plant alone. See if you don’t begin to see some new
growth in the next few weeks. We were fortunate the cold did not linger, but we still
have almost a month to go before we are considered frost-free, so keep some extra
mulch handy in case of another cold snap.
November 7, 2015
I have cleared brush-honeysuckle vines, briers, little trees etc. Today, I am beginning
to plant 1200 bulbs in this area. I am wondering, after the bulbs are all planted,
is there some kind of pre-emerge that I can apply so the vines and briers will not
come back with a vengeance?
Unfortunately, most of the weeds you are describing are perennials or woody plants
which a pre-emergent has no effect on. Pre-emergent herbicides only work on annual
weeds—those that germinate, grow and then die in one season. The herbicide prevents
the weed seeds from germinating. It will not prevent the roots of perennials from
growing, so just be vigilant, mulch and keep it as clean as you can. Once the bulbs
have had at least 6 weeks growing time following bloom, then the bulb foliage can
be mowed down and the weeds too.
October 31, 2015
I have seeds that have sprouted from my Harmony Pearl Anemone. My question is, would
it be better to plant them in the ground now? Or should I take them indoors for the
winter and plant them in the spring. They have their true leaves and look healthy.
If they have been outside the entire time, I would get them planted. After a killing
frost, add some extra mulch. Wait for them to go dormant before mulching. Now that
we have finally have had some rain, I would recommend quick planting to give them
time to get growing before a hard frost.
My calla lily blooms have filled with seed pods and have gotten so heavy that the
plants are now laying on the ground. Do I just leave them there, or can I cut them
off and plant the seeds? If I can plant them, will they come up next year?
If the calla lily seed pods have dried, they are ripe and can be planted. Grown from
seed, it can take up to three years before you see a bloom. I am too impatient for
that, so I would recommend cutting off the spent flower next season when it finishes
blooming to prevent seed set and the added weight which is causing the plants to be
top-heavy. Since they are already laying down now, you probably will not get the plants
to stand back up for this season, so you may want to allow the seeds to ripen fully,
then cut back the old foliage. The original plant should grow back next spring and
hopefully bloom, as well as new seedlings can begin growth.
I bought a century plant several years ago. Just recently, it seems over night, a
strange ‘thing’ sprang up in the middle of the plant about three feet long. It first
started shedding seeds, and then, it looks like about ten little plants started growing
on the sides of the appendage. There are also a number of smaller plants growing around
the base of the “mother" plant. My question is, can I remove the plants from the mother?
The century plant is an agave. While it can take a long time before the mother plant
blooms, it doesn’t take 100 years. The bloom stalk appears in the center of the plant
and as it begins to grow, I think it looks like a giant asparagus spear before the
blooms open. The flower stalk can get quite tall and begin to branch out before the
flowers open. It does set seeds and then the stalk will wither and die. The mother
plant also dies after it blooms, but produces numerous pups or babies around the base
of the plant. You can start removing the babies and giving them their own space to
I have a perennial garden that is almost 20 years old. It is in need of an "extreme
makeover", if you know what I mean. I have a lot of creeping Phlox that over the years
has crept over the driveway. When I tackle this project in the fall, can I dig that
up, clean it out some and replant it? I have noticed over the past 2 years that the
blooms are not a prolific as before.
Creeping phlox actually tends to do better in poor soil, than rich, well watered areas.
In my opinion, it is not the most attractive plant after it blooms. I do think you
can clean it up, and replant this fall, but I would use it as a border or edging plant,
and incorporate some other perennials and annuals into your bed. Diversity is a good
thing, and you want plants that can bloom in all seasons. If your perennials get too
crowded, it can reduce their vigor and their blooming. A general rule for perennials
is plants that bloom in the spring, should be dug and divided in the fall. Fall bloomers
should be dug and divided in the spring, and those that bloom in the summer can be
dug and divided spring or fall.
I recently picked a mess of dry seed pods off some lily type flowers. I would like
to plant the seeds and am hoping you will tell me if this will work. For some reason,
I thought day lilies came up from bulbs!
Many bulbous type plants, including daylilies, tiger lilies and even daffodils and
tulips set seeds as well from the spent flowers. It takes a while to get a blooming
plant from a seed of a daylily or Asiatic lily, but it is doable. Just lightly cover
the seeds with soil and be patient. It usually takes two years before you see a flower,
but you will get plants much sooner. A quicker method of propagation is to divide
the plant. Many gardeners like to experiment. If you have a lot of daylilies, they
will cross pollinate so you will get a different bloom.
Can you identify this plant? I found it in the woods around Rison. It was also growing
along the road. It isn’t much of a plant, quite viney, with stickers, these puffball
pink flowers and a long central root.
The plant in question is commonly called sensitive briar, Mimosa microphylla.
With the warm weather, we have healthy winter weeds and tops of tender bulbs and other
perennials coming up. Is there a herbicide that will kill the weeds and not hurt the
Anything that will kill the broadleaf weeds will also kill or damage your emerging
perennials and bulbs, so either use a hoe, or spot spray, making sure there is no
contact between herbicide and desirable plants. Round-up or a glyphosate product will
work, if you can shield the desirable plants. I prefer the hoe or hand pulling to
I have 3 or 4 large hostas plants that have gotten too big for the area where they
are currently planted. When is it a good time to dig these up and relocate them. Also,
is there anything extra I need to do to insure the plants will re-establish themselves.
Hostas are quite easy to divide and replant. When you see signs of them emerging in
the spring, dig up the clump and cut between divisions. I find a serrated bread knife
does the best trick, but anything that makes a nice clean cut will work. Leave two
or three crowns per division. A crown of a plant is the area where the stems meet
the roots. When hostas get growing, they often can have six or more crowns in each
plant. If you over-divide and separate them down to one crown per division, it will
give you a small plant and they will not bounce back as quickly.
I was given a Mexican petunia plant that is bare root and I plant to plant soon. What
can you tell me about it? I have never heard of it before, am told it is very hardy
and blooms well. It has 2 purple blooms on it now.
Mexican petunia is Ruellia. It is an extremely heat and drought tolerant perennial.
There is a standard variety that grows about three feet tall and has purple flowers
and is very hardy. It can also get a little too happy in the garden and spread, so
pay attention to it. There is also a dwarf ruellia that gets no taller than 6 inches
and is marginally hardy in NW Arkansas. Plant yours in full sun and water and mulch
it and it should survive the winter.
Could you tell me what these flowers are and will they survive in NLR area over winter.
If so where is best area to plant, presently in pots with full sun.
The purple flowered plant is Duranta erecta, commonly called golden dew drop or sapphire flower. It is a tender perennial. It
comes in purple or white flowered forms and there is also a variegated yellow and
green form, which is not as hardy. I have had the common green form overwinter outdoors
in the ground, but not in a pot. In the ground, it will die back to the ground. If
you want you can move the pot into a protected spot this winter in a garage or crawl
space and bring it back out. The yellow flower is Esperanza (Tecoma stans) and it is a tough summer blooming tropical. It is winter hardy in far south Arkansas,
but would not fare well in central or north Arkansas. Move it to the garage for the
It looks like I may have "killed" my asparagus fern. I have had it for 29 years and
it was beautiful. It was in a pot on my porch and had kept it watered well and it
was doing good. Then all of a sudden it turned brown and is dying. I thought back
and the only thing I can think of that I did - was, and this is dumb, I watered it
with some vinegar water. I had always heard that ferns like acid soil - so thought
I would give it some - Evidently Wrong!!! Do you think that I could cut it all back
and keep it watered and fertilized - or is it gone????
I hope it isn't totally dead, but never use vinegar on a plant you want to live. Vinegar
is often touted as an organic weed killer—and it is non-selective, meaning it doesn’t
treat the good plants any differently than the bad. Regular household vinegar is a
5% acetic acid concentration. Acetic acid is what has the potential to kill vegetation
because it draws moisture out of the leaf. Research is ongoing as to the effectiveness
of vinegar as a non-selective weed killer, so we are not recommending it at this time,
but so far, they have found that strong concentrations of acetic acid are needed to
kill tougher weeds, but any amount can burn a plant. Since you did dilute your solution,
it should be even less than 5%, so hopefully you just burned the plant and there is
still life left. Cut off the damaged parts, and put the plant in your sink or shower
and let water run through it to leach out any residue. If the plant is not totally
dead, it should begin to sprout back out.
My husband and I are getting ready to re-vamp the outside of our house with siding,
windows, gutters, etc. There is a very mature hickory tree growing just a few inches
from the gutter and we are considering having it cut down. My concern; however, is
that there is a beautiful resurrection fern growing at the base of the tree, approximately
4" from the ground. If we cut the tree down and leave a stump, will the fern die.
The resurrection fern is an epiphyte or air plant--taking all of its nutrients and
water needs from natural rainfall or supplemental irrigation. It dries up, appearing
almost dead when it is dry and then miraculously resurrecting itself when it gets
moisture. Since it doesn't take any nutrients from the host tree, a dead tree shouldn't
matter, however full sun is not conducive to its growth. I am worried that without
the shade of the tree limbs it may be too exposed to thrive.
This year I bought quite a few plumbago plants and planted them in pots with other
various annuals. The plumbago have outlasted all the rest. Is there any way I can
over-winter them under the house or in the garage like sometimes works with geraniums?
I am assuming you are referring to the light blue flowered plant Plumbago auriculata. It usually does overwinter in the ground in central Arkansas, however it does freeze
to the ground. It comes back fine for me, but usually doesn't start blooming until
late summer. It has great blue flowers. Another plant commonly called Plumbago is
Ceratostigma plumbaginoides with much darker blue flowers which is hardy statewide. For your plumbago, do one
of two things--either plant it in the ground and mulch for the winter, or move the
pot into the garage after a killing frost for winter protection.
Have you had any other comments about the clematis vines just drooping over night
and looking wilted? One day they were beautiful, then the next they were looking sad
and wilted. They eventually began to grow back at the base, but I did not get any
flowers after that.
It sounds like your clematis is suffering from a disease called clematis wilt. This
disease tends to be an issue on large flowering early blooming varieties. It is often
worse in heavier soils or soils that do not drain well. Unfortunately, the disease
often attacks the plant right as it is about to start blooming. The disease enters
the stem and clogs the vascular system, cutting off the supply of food and water to
the top of the plant, causing it to wilt and die, seemingly overnight. It only affects
the plant at the soil line, leaving the crown and root system unaffected. The plant
eventually grows back from the roots, but if yours is a spring only bloomer, you have
lost the flowers for that season. All season bloomers, can rebound and still bloom.
Some gardeners are plagued with this disease annually until they raise the level of
planting or move it to a new location. Others find that as the plant matures it seems
to outgrow the problem.
I have a plant that I transplanted last year from my son's yard. I have no idea what
it is but it has been very interesting to have in my garden. I planted it last spring
and it appeared to have died when the weather got hot. To my surprise last fall, there
it was !!!. It came back and flourished all winter through the snow and extreme cold
that we had. Today I got another surprise. It has a beautiful bloom. I have no idea
what this plant is and would like your help identifying it. I have never seen a plant
such as this survive in the yard in Arkansas.
The plant in question is called an Italian Arum- Arum italicum. It is a hardy perennial which thrives in cool weather. Once the temperatures heat
up, the foliage dies away, resting until the following fall. Since yours is producing
the spath-like bloom, it will probably set berries. At first the stalk will be covered
in green berries, but they eventually turn bright orange. The berries persist after
the foliage dies away. We get lots of questions on identification of the berries without
leaves. It will tolerate sun, but is most commonly planted in woodland gardens
What is the recommended rate of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per year for annual
When we talk about fertilizing annuals, we usually want to use a complete fertilizer
as opposed to a nitrogen only fertilizer. With the huge range of fertilizers that
are on the market, and the various forms—granular, slow release, water soluble, etc.,
it is best to find a product you like and follow the label directions. I like to start
the season with a slow release product (often 20-20-20) and follow that up with regular
applications of a water soluble form. The key with annuals is to push them as much
as possible to get the most flowers.
Our daughter has moved in to her great grandmother's house and would like to reclaim
the garden from the weeds and Bermuda grass so we can plant it next year. How do we
do that and can we keep the Bermuda grass in the yard and not in the garden?
If you aren’t planning to use it until later—even this fall, you can solarize the
site now and kill out most of the grass and weeds. I would scrape the surface free
of as many of the weeds and grass as possible, then till the soil and wet it thoroughly.
Once wet, cover the site with clear plastic, getting firm contact between the soil
and the plastic. Weigh down the sides with soil, rocks or bricks to exclude air. Leave
it covered for two to three months this summer and you can generate enough heat under
there to kill out the weeds. You could then plant a fall garden, or if you want to
wait until next spring, leave it covered until you plan to plant. Bare, exposed soil
tends to invite weeds and grass.
I live in Magnolia, AR and I planted Gold Mound lantana around the edges of my patio
three years ago and the first year had glorious blooms on each plant. For the past
two years shortly after the green growth emerges the tips of the leaves turn brown
and curl. The plants continue to grow and produce some flowers but nothing compared
to the first year. I don't trim back the lantana until after danger of frost is past
so I'm not certain what the problem is. The plants are on the east side and get full
Lantana thrive in heat and sun. What you are describing sounds like some type of burn.
Could you have over-fertilized, dumped some type of chemical nearby or gotten drift
from a lawn weed killer? In Magnolia, Arkansas, most lantanas are perennial. Have
your soil tested to make sure the pH is in balance and to make sure you don't have
a salts buildup. If none of the above conditions apply, try digging up a small plant
and taking it to your local county extension office so they can send it to the disease
diagnostic lab. If your soil is particularly poor, and over-fertilization and salts
is not an issue, try using a slow release fertilizer such as osmocote, then using
a water soluble fertilizer every two to three weeks. Water when dry.
I have grown elephant ears over the past 30 years but have never had one to bloom.
One now has had two blooms and two others budding. When the flower wilts there is
a pod left below the bloom, could this be some sort of seed? Should I cut them off
or what? The bulb has really grown this year producing the largest leaves ever.
Elephant ears have the ability to bloom like other members of the aroid family. If
you find an open flower, you’ll see that it consists of two main parts. A spathe,
or modified leaf, covers the spadix or stalk—similar to a peace lily bloom. The spadix
is actually a cluster of tiny flowers, with the male flowers on top, female flowers
on the bottom and a string of sterile flowers in between. They actually have the ability
to set seeds, but rarely do we see that in a growing season in Arkansas, since it
takes months for the orange seeds to mature. The flowers are pollinated by beetles.
Cutting off the spent flowers won’t hurt, unless you get one really early in the season
and you want to try to get seeds.
If you have time, I would sure like to know when you would recommend pruning Crape
Myrtles, Lantana, Coral Bells, Weigela, and Dwarf Maiden Grass. We planted all these
plants last summer.
There are several different types of plants you are asking about from annuals to perennials
to woody shrubs. Let's start with the woodies. Crape myrtles bloom on new growth.
If they need it, prune them before new growth begins in late Feb. Weigelia is a late
spring bloomer, but it has its flower buds set now, so prune it after it blooms. All
ornamental grasses benefit from a haircut before new growth begins--in late Feb through
mid March. Before pruning, check to see how much new growth there is, and then cut
as low as possible, without cutting into any new green. Coral Bells--or heuchera (
I assume you mean the perennial--not Coral bell azaleas) is a semi-evergreen perennial.
Often you will have some cleanup to do in the spring before new growth begins. Lantana
is a summer annual/perennial. In some parts of the state it comes back easier than
in others. It is rare to see any lantana resprouting above ground. Usually it will
come back from the crown, with the upper portions burned back by winter, so cutting
back the dead foliage before new growth begins is beneficial.
This year I planted Gerber daisies for the first time in pots on my deck. For several
weeks they bloomed and were beautiful. As the flowers faded I pinched them off. No
new blooms have appeared for several weeks now and none are in sight. Will these bloom
again this summer? Also, can I over-winter them in the pots or should I plant them
outside and when? If I do carry them over either in pots or planted in the ground
should they bloom next year?
Gerber daisies like fertilizer. Be sure to fertilize them regularly—without overdoing
it. In containers they need even more, because you are leaching it out with the frequent
watering. Water as needed. I often find that in the hottest months, they can slow
down a bit, especially if they don’t get the nutrition they need. Gerber’s are short-lived
perennials, but easier to maintain in the ground versus in pots. I have had them in
the garden for 3-4 years. Make sure the soil is well drained, especially during the
winter months. Deadheading is important, as well as water. With proper care, they
can bloom throughout the season.
We moved to Hot Springs Village from the Chicago area in 1998. When we were "up north"
we had a plant my grandmother (from Missouri) called "the money plant." It was a perennial.
Since I moved here to beautiful Arkansas, I have searched high and low to find the
seeds again. I go through every display of flower seeds in every store, especially
in the spring. I have looked through seed catalogues and magazines to no avail. Could
you give me some advice as to where I might find them? They made such a beautiful
dried arrangement for the living room or entry foyer. Perhaps you know of a seed catalog
that has some of the older standbys (which I favor because of the lovely memories
of my family members and my childhood).
Money plant or Lunaria biennis or L. annua, is actually a biennial, and should be
available as a seed packet. Parks, Burpees, and Heirloom Seeds all sell seed packets.
If you can find a gardener who has some, they are usually more than willing to share,
since it is a prolific reseeder. The plant grows foliage year one, blooms year two
then dies back after producing the round papery seed pods. To perennially have money
plant in bloom, plant seeds in the spring and fall. It does best in a partially shaded
area, as it doesn't like afternoon sun.
Last year all my Canna Lilies had some kind of worms that caused the leaves not to
open. Are the tubers left from last year still infected, should they be destroyed,
or, is there a chemical I can use to control the problem this year.
There is an insect called a leaf roller that can keep the leaves rolled up tight.
Cleaning up the spent foliage from last season, may help cut down on the problem this
season, since the insects often over winter in the old foliage and mulch. Make sure
all the old foliage and mulch are removed and monitor the plants closely for signs
of problems. Spray if you see a problem beginning. BT - Bacillus thuriengiensis, Dipel,
or Sevin can help, but hopefully, won't be needed.
I spent the summer preparing a 30 x 55 foot 3 season perennial flower bed. I have
two questions that none of my books answer fully. First, do you recommend a pre-emergence
herbicide and if so which one. Also, I've been told that you can actually double your
bed color by planting - example, summer blooming oriental poppies between your spring
I usually don't use any herbicides in my flower beds. Right now, keep it weeded with
a hoe and then mulch after planting. The main summer weed is grass which is not prevented
by a pre-emergent herbicide. I usually have more problems with broadleaf winter weeds,
which it is too late to use now anyway. Plus, be aware that pre-emergent herbicides
can impact any flower seeds you may be planting. Double planting--or close spacing
of spring ephemerals or short-lived cool season plants can work, but make sure you
allow ample room for their root systems to grow and to become a mature size. Bearded
iris doesn’t like competition, but spring bulbs can be interplanted around many perennials.
Here in Fayetteville, my callas have almost ceased blooming, though the foliage is
healthy. I think they have become too dense to bloom much. When is the best time to
divide them? At this moment, due to the very late onset of frosts, the foliage is
Calla lilies are becoming more commonplace in our gardens, but I would consider them
only moderately hardy in Fayetteville. For that reason, I would wait and divide them
in the spring as they are emerging --or lift and store for the winter months before
or immediately after the first frost. Dividing them now and replanting would leave
them open to more winter damage. If you do leave them outdoors year-round, cut back
the foliage after a frost and add an extra layer of mulch to give them a better chance
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