Pruning basics are important to learn

Copious blooms appear if a butterfly bush is pruned correctly. Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Walter Reeves

Credit: Walter Reeves

Q: I need basic information on pruning shrubbery, including my butterfly bush. Felicia Fallon, email

A: It is good you have a butterfly bush to experiment on because the results of pruning this shrub are so dramatic. You can simply remove everything down to 12-18 inches above ground in January. This results in lots of new growth on which your flowers will be produced in summer. I have lots of pruning tips plus an excellent UGA guide at bit.ly/GAprunecal.

Q: I planted two Hot Lips sage plants into large cement pots beside my sunny front steps. I watered them every day because of the high sun exposure, but the leaves are beginning to get sparse around the base. Jackie Cooper, Conyers

A: Sage plants like the soil to be on the dry side, so you don’t need to water every day. Drag a finger firmly across the soil surface to get an idea of when the soil is dry. To keep them bushy, remove the tip of new growth every time it grows to 6 inches long. However, I think it’s too late in the season to worry about pruning now.

Q: I fight dollar spot disease in my yard every year. I’ve sprayed three times this summer and it hasn’t helped at all. Paul Arrington, email

A: It is not easy to diagnose lawn diseases, even for professionals. It is true you could have dollar spot, but there are a couple of other diseases that are similar and without a microscope they are hard to tell apart. Although fungicide labels don’t admit it, each chemical product controls different fungi differently. One chemical might control one disease better, but another chemical might control other fungi better. That’s why it’s important to know which fungus you have on your lawn: You have to match the fungicide with the disease. The best way to avoid lawn disease is to first be sure your maintenance is perfect: watering, fertilizing, mowing height, etc. If you want to know exactly what disease you have, your local Extension office can give details on how to collect a sample.

Q: The purple loropetalums in front of our home are outrageously huge and out of control. We trim often but they have just gotten way too large. Can we saw them all the way down and trim into shape as needed? Shelley Medders, Calhoun

A: Honestly, I think you should pull them out and replace them with something more manageable. There are small-sized loropetalums that would work fine. ‘Crimson Fire’, ‘Purple Diamond’ and ‘Daruma’ are good ones to consider.

Listen to Walter Reeves’ segments at 6:35 a.m. on “Green and Growing with Ashley Frasca” Saturday mornings on 95.5 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook Fan Page at bit.ly/georgiagardener for more garden tips.