Hosta's foliage will benefit from flower stem removal

Backyard Q&A

August 07, 2005|By Jon Traunfeld and Ellen Nibali | Jon Traunfeld and Ellen Nibali,Special to the Sun

I just planted hosta 'Francee.' When all the flowers are gone, do I cut the shoots back and how far?

Deadheading your hosta will improve its appearance. Clip off the flower stems near the base of the plant, where the stubs will be hidden by the foliage.

Removing stems diverts the plant's energy from seed production. This encourages stronger foliage growth, which is what you want in a plant such as hosta that is grown primarily for its striking foliage.

My furniture is being riddled with small holes. I haven't yet found any suspect insects. Damage is widespread only on furniture but not my oak floors. The furniture is from various parts of the world.

You may see exit holes from a type of powderpost beetles. Fumigation is the only sure way to rid the furniture of the unwanted guests without damaging the wood. Check with local pest control companies to see if they have a fumigation chamber or contact a local antique furniture dealer for leads to fumigation facilities near you.

Read our publication, "Woodboring Beetle," and the structural insects IPM (integrated pest management) page at www.thornelab.umd.edu for additional information.

I planted my tomato plants in late May. Most are 6 feet now but with little or no tomatoes. What did I do wrong?

Most tomato plants take at least 70 days to achieve maturity and bear fruit, so your late start definitely will push forward the date until harvest. Other factors can contribute to nonfruiting as well. Too much high-nitrogen fertilizer encourages green leafy growth at the expense of flowers. Also, cool overcast weather affects the plants' ability to set flowers, as well as the ability of pollinators to function. Hopefully, with patience and a bit more sunny weather, you will be harvesting fruit soon.

For more information on tomatoes, read our "IPM Series: Tomatoes."

Jon Traunfeld, regional specialist, and Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, work at the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center. The center offers Maryland residents free gardening information and answers to plant and pest questions. Call its hot line at 800-342-2507 (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.) or e-mail questions through the Ask a Question feature on the Web site at www.hgic.umd.edu. (You can also download or order publications and diagnose plant problems online.)

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