Confederate rose and Cherokee rose are distinct but different plants

Confederate rose flowers are beautiful as they change color during the day. They are said to have been presented to returning Civil War soldiers. (Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
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Confederate rose flowers are beautiful as they change color during the day. They are said to have been presented to returning Civil War soldiers. (Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Walter Reeves

Credit: Walter Reeves

Q: Are cotton rose and Confederate rose two different plants? In my mind, Confederate rose is a thorny vine while cotton rose is an upright plant. Carla Griffin, email

A: Cotton rose and Confederate rose are the same plant, Hibiscus mutabilis. The flowers are white when they open but change to pink and then red as they age. I think your thorny vine would be Cherokee rose, Rosa laevigata, the state flower of Georgia. Legend has it that this rose sprang up along the Trail of Tears when our first native Georgians were cruelly driven from their homes to reservations in Oklahoma.

Q: I need your advice on winter care of my schefflera. After a few weeks indoors last year, I observed tiny black insects on the leaves. I wiped them off with soapy water, sprayed with rubbing alcohol, and applied insecticidal super soap. They kept coming back. When I took it outside in spring, I sprayed it down with the garden hose and they were gone all summer. Where did they go? Terri M. Stephens, email

A: The same thing happened with my Meyer lemon tree. Each year, I would carefully treat it for insects before bringing it in. Gradually, indoors, a population of spider mites would build up on the plant. Most of the leaves fell off by April. I used insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, and houseplant insecticide labeled for mite control. None of them worked. But when I took it outside in spring, the spider mites would disappear within a couple of weeks. I am pretty sure this happened because predator insects would find and eat the spider mites outdoors. It is likely the same thing befell your insects. It’s almost impossible to have beneficial predators indoors due to the heat and dry air. You could try Bonide Systemic Granules on the schefflera. The active ingredient kills insects but not mites.

Q: I have seen a rabbit inside my fenced garden. There is a hole 4 inches wide under the fence. What can I do to keep him out? Barbara Harris, email

A: Rabbits don’t have paws adapted to dig holes in the ground, but they can push and tug soft earth and weed stems to make a garden entrance under a fence. One way to prevent the bottom edge of the fence from being pushed up is to secure it to the ground with V-shaped pins made from clothes hangers. Rabbits don’t usually jump high, so as long as the fence is at least 24 inches tall, they can’t get inside but you can easily step over it.

Email Walter at georgiagardener@yahoo.com. Listen to his comments at 6:35 a.m. on “Green and Growing with Ashley Frasca” Saturday mornings on 95.5 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, or join his Facebook Page at bit.ly/georgiagardener, for his latest tips.