Here are this week’s gardening questions and answers, provided by Parker County Master Gardeners. To submit a question, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Parker County Master Gardeners, or to become a member, call 817-598-6096 or visit www.pcmg-texas.org.
How do I make my fall asters bloom in the fall?
Now is the time to cut back asters by half. This prevents the plant from becoming leggy while it prepares to bloom
In fall when the blooms begin to die, cut the spent flower stalks back to just above the leaves. This will allow the plant to flower again and keep it from self-seeding.
Remove any dead, damaged or diseased foliage from the asters as they occur. Cut it off at the ground when the foliage dies in the winter.
We have not had luck with shrubs on the west side of our house. The bed receives full sun, and we want shrubs for shade. What do you recommend?
If you have plenty of space, you might plant a couple of good quality trees 15-20 feet from the house to provide shade. Be sure to consider the mature size of the tree before planting.
Planting trees a good distance from the wall will allow space for a bed filled with perennials, annuals or smaller shrubs. Make sure you provide adequate irrigation, and mulch heavily to reduce evaporation.
You might consider choosing more than one kind of plant for the bed, and grouping them in threes or fives rather than a straight line. This will give the bed a more natural look.
Recommended shrubs and trees include althea, crape myrtle, southern wax myrtle, chindo viburnum, rusty blackhaw viburnum, possumhaw holly, yaupon holly, Nellie R. Stevens holly, Mary Nell holly, elaeagnus, pomegranate, chaste tree (vitex), carolina buckthorn, cherry laurel, little gem magnolia, and eve’s necklace.
For more information, see our handbook, the real dirt, or our website, www.pcmg-texas.org.
My neighbor uses weed and feed, but I hear it’s not a good idea. Can you tell me why?
The timing is critical in the application of fertilizer as well as weed killer. According to the lawn experts at Aggie Horticulture, the herbicide in weed and feed products is not selective, and may cause damage to ornamental plants and trees.
It is important to identify your specific weeds, select an herbicide that is appropriate for those weeds but safe for your particular grass, and then apply it at the proper time as indicated on the label.