Before you sprinkle, read the directions

GARDEN Q&A

August 09, 2008|By Ellen Nibali and Jon Traunfeld | Ellen Nibali and Jon Traunfeld,Special to the Sun

I've been sprinkling a [fungus and insect control product] on my roses every three weeks at half-strength for 10 years. They still look bad!

Much money, labor and time are lost when directions on the label are not followed.

Your product should be diluted in water, then applied as a soil drench by pouring it on the roots every six weeks. Always apply at recommended strength, too. Cutting the strength (or increasing it) can injure plants or render the product ineffectual.

I saw a shiny, lizard-type animal sunning itself on our deck. It had long stripes running down its side. Then, a few days later, I saw another lizard with no stripes. Did someone lose their pets? What are they?

Maryland is home to six species of lizards. Four species are skinks - sleek lizards with short necks and legs. They include the five-lined skink, the little brown skink and the broad-headed skink.

Skinks are carnivorous and eat mainly insects, but they also eat slugs - a boon to the home gardener. Skinks like moist habitats where can they dig burrows and lay eggs. They also like to bask in the sun, like your slinky visitors.

Checklist

*Spray azaleas whitened by azalea lace bug with horticultural oil or soap - or move them to a shadier location.

*Avoid Japanese beetle traps. They ultimately result in a greater number of Japanese beetles in your landscape.

Ellen Nibali, a horticulture consultant, works at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, and Jon Traunfeld is the director of the Home and Garden Information Center. The center offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's help line at 800-342-2507 or e-mail plant and pest questions through the Send a Question feature at hgic.umd.edu.

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