Poor pollination could prevent apple fruit

Lots of apple blooms and vigorous honeybees make for a good harvest. (Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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Lots of apple blooms and vigorous honeybees make for a good harvest. (Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Q: We have two apple trees, Fuji and Gala, which we planted five years ago. Until this year, we did not have any blooms. This year, both trees had some blooms, but no fruit developed. What can we do to get apples? Richard Bailey, email

A: I suspect a pollination problem. To get good pollination, both trees must bloom around the same time. Both of yours are midseason bloomers, so you’re OK there. If there were only a few blooms and they opened at the same time, a hard rain or chilly temperatures could deter honeybees from visiting. One way to fix this would be to plant a small crabapple nearby. They bloom for a long time and bees love them. Honeybees would surely visit your apples while headed for the crabapple. ‘Donald Wyman’, ‘Dolgo’ or ‘Profusion’ are good crabapple choices.

Q: I have two gardenia bushes that are covered with spiky white things. They have had no blooms. I have watched them closely for flowers but just see dozens of these empty things. I am befuddled. Kim Lee, email

A: You are seeing the empty calyces where immature flower buds fell off. A little botany: A calyx (plural = calyces) is the green leaflike part of a bloom that protects the flower petals. A calyx opens up to let the flower emerge. Calyces are usually leaflike but there are variations. On this particular plant, the calyces are composed of long, narrow sepals. Evidently, the small flower bud fell off when the calyces opened. That’s why you didn’t see any flowers. Gardenia buds can drop off prematurely for several reasons: Too dry, too wet, high temperatures, and strong winds can cause it. The calyces, with their long, narrow sepals, continued to open, and that’s what you are seeing. The gardenia might try to bloom again this season. Keep a sharp eye out and let me know if you see flowers. For now, prune your gardenia calyces off if you don’t like them or keep for a conversation piece.

Q: I have several hummingbird feeders that are visited a lot but I have to be out of town for seven days. What can I put in the feeders that will prevent them from getting moldy? Renee Williams, Bartow County

A: Nothing would prevent mold except absolutely sterile containers and liquid. I think those would be impossible for a homeowner to achieve. Put some filled feeders in your refrigerator and ask a friend to come by and put them out after three days. They won’t get moldy if kept cold.

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.