Kill yellow jackets without insecticides

Q: Is there a way to kill yellow jackets besides using synthetic insecticides? Several readers

A: As a matter of fact, there is one way that has been tested and found useful by a University of Georgia entomologist. Paul Guillebeau read somewhere that putting a clear glass bowl over a yellow jacket nest entrance would kill the inhabitants. He tried it twice and it worked as promised. Why it worked for him and others is still up in the air. Perhaps the insects starved to death. Would it work if the entrance was simply covered by an equivalent piece of wood? Is there something about the clear bowl that prevents the critters from digging under the rim? Inquiring minds want to know! You can aid the research by emailing your experience with using a clear bowl to Guillebeau at bugman@uga.edu.

Q: I have been growing a plumeria in a pot for six years, repotting to a larger pot when needed. It is now over 5 feet tall. I bring it in every winter to the garage, where it loses its leaves and goes dormant. It is so top-heavy now that it falls over easily. My sister says it will die if I plant it outdoors. Barb Crews, Grayson

A: Trust your sister: Freezing winter temperatures will doom the plumeria outdoors. It might tolerate one or two exposures to 32 degrees, but nothing lower. If you can find the space to overwinter it one more time, you can lower the height drastically in early April. Find a joint where two limbs meet at 12 inches to 16 inches above the soil and make a 45-degree cut there. Put the plumeria outdoors in a semi-shaded spot when night temperatures are consistently above 50 degrees. It will make new sprouts from that point.

Q: I planted a bare root dormant sassafras tree in early May. When it arrived, I immediately put it in water and the next day planted it in excellent garden soil. I have watered appropriately. Some of the branches have died and some never leafed out. I have been told that these trees may remain dormant all summer and leaf out the next spring. John Thorogood, email

A: I have unsuccessfully transplanted four sassafras seedlings. All of them behaved like yours even though they had good root systems when planted. Native plant expert William Cullina says that failure in transplanting sassafras may come from attempting to transplant suckers with inadequate root systems. This was not the case for you or me. He reports excellent success with growing them from seed. It’s easy to find sassafras seed online, so I suggest you buy some and report what happens.

Email Walter at georgiagardener@yahoo.com. Listen to his occasional garden comments 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.