My spreading junipers look terrible. There is a lot of yellowing and dieback of branches. Is it the weather or some disease?
What you are describing sounds like juniper tip blight, which is caused by two fungal organisms. Prune out affected plant parts. If the plants are in serious decline, consider replacing them with resistant varieties.
I'm trying to get a little flower garden started behind my rowhouse, but seed-packet instructions have me confused. Some of the packets of annuals, such as zinnias and marigolds, say to sow the seed after danger of frost. Am I too late? The seed packets for the perennials (poppies and daisies) say to sow the seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost. Can I plant them now?
You are not too late to enjoy some flowers this summer. Sow your annuals now according to packet instructions. The zinnias and marigolds will be up and blooming in six to seven weeks. As for the perennials, it's really too hot to plant them now. Wait until early or mid-September to sow those seeds to give the plants a chance to get established before winter. They should bloom next spring and summer. Keep seed beds moist to encourage rapid germination.
I'm noticing lots of little, white flying things around my newly planted annuals. Are they a nuisance pest? Where did they come from?
They are whiteflies -- small insects that suck sap from the undersides of leaves. They will feed on just about any tender plant. They probably came into your garden on your purchased bedding plants.
When populations are high, whiteflies can cause significant damage. However, predators and parasites will help to control them. Chemical controls are rarely necessary.
My compost pile is just sitting there. I thought it would really be cooking this time of year. I thought I was doing everything right. What did I miss?
If you haven't been receiving regular rainfall, your pile may be too dry to support the decomposers. Try soaking it thoroughly. Turning or fluffing the pile and adding a nitrogen source might also help "kick-start" the breakdown process. Finally, your pile should be at least 1 cubic yard in volume to heat properly.
Garden tips are provided by the Home and Garden Information Center of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Maryland. For additional information on these questions, or if you have questions of your own, call the center's hot line at 800-342-2507 or visit its Web site at http: //www.agnr.umd.edu/hgic.
Keep all newly planted shrubs and trees well watered through the summer. You cannot depend on rainfall to get woody plants established. Avoid spraying pesticides when temperatures are above 85 degrees. Pesticides don't have a chance to evaporate in such heat and will burn a plant's leaves. If you must apply a pesticide, do so in the morning or early evening. Support all tall flower and vegetable plants. A staked plant is better able to weather storms and avoid diseases. (Held upright, it gets good air circulation and thus can stay healthier).