Two plants: one healthy, one sickly

GARDEN Q&A

Garden Q&A

May 06, 2006|By JON TRAUNFELD AND ELLEN NIBALI | JON TRAUNFELD AND ELLEN NIBALI,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

I have two rhubarb plants -- one healthy, the other small with a few spindly leaves and many, many white flower stalks. What's wrong?

The large number of flower stalks indicates stress and should be cut off at once. Your sickly plant may be a different variety that is not well-adapted to your area or could have been planted too deeply. It could also be planted in a bad spot, e.g. hot, dry conditions, compacted soil, a rock or some other obstacle buried in the soil, etc. Keep your plant well-watered and fertilize this spring. If it doesn't improve this year, replace it with a new plant.

Sections of my lawn are forming seed heads prematurely. This grass is a different, lighter green, and turns brown and ugly in summer. These spots spread from a back shaded area.

You're speaking of annual bluegrass, a grass that golf course superintendents have been trying to control since the game of golf began.

Poa annua (annual bluegrass) germinates in fall, then goes to seed and dies when weather warms in the spring. It's best to change the conditions it likes by correcting moisture problems, relieving compaction by aerating, mowing at 3 to 3 1/2 inches, and reducing nitrogen fertilizer.

Over-seed to thicken your lawn. In severe cases, you could apply a pre-emergent herbicide labeled for annual bluegrass (ingredient: bensulide) in late August and again in March to prevent the seeds from germinating.

Checklist

Where possible, knock down bagworm bags from evergreen trees and shrubs, especially spruces, and drop them into a bucket of soapy water.

Houseplants can be cut back now and taken outside on mild days and returned indoors at night.

Jon Traunfeld, regional specialist, and Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, work at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, which offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's "hotline" at 800-342-2507 (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.) or e-mail plant and pest questions through the Send a Question feature at hgic.umd.edu.

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