Don't prune from late summer until plants are dormant

GARDEN Q&A

Garden Q&A

November 17, 2007|By Ellen Nibali and David Clement

Two weeks ago, I pruned four shrubs (an evergreen, a flowering species, a prickly bush and a green-yellow spotted leaf). Wish I knew the names. I pruned them way back. I'm worried that I may have pruned too much.

In general, avoid pruning woody plants from late summer until plants go dormant. Pruning stimulates growth. New growth may not harden before winter and be killed, wasting the plant's energies. Since different shrubs require different pruning regimens, get your plants identified before pruning. To do so, send us a digital photo through "Ask a Question" on our Web site or mail us a sample. See our pruning publications, too.

How can I have fruit flies when all fruit is long gone? Now they like my kitchen sink and have moved into the bathroom.

You may be seeing drain flies. These small fuzzy flies breed in the gunk that builds up in drains. Use a commercial drain cleaner, preferably an enzyme-based one. For a positive identification of your pest, see photos in our Web site Plant Diagnostic. Follow the prompts in the Pest Control category. Fruit flies may also lay eggs in drains, as well as other locations.

Checklist

Save seed from annual and biennial flowering plants such as cleome, zinnias, cosmos, celosia and butterfly weed.

Cut down and remove all water plant parts that succumb to frost and freezing weather. If they decompose in water, it uses up oxygen, which the fish need.

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

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