Saving caladium corms is rarely worth your time

Q: Do I have to dig up caladiums to store for winter if I’m in zone 8a? Madelyn F., email

A: It is good exercise but it’s rarely worth the trouble. It’s hard to get them to grow big enough in summer to make it worth your while to keep them over winter. Dig up a few and check the size of the corms. If they aren’t at least the size they were when you planted them, they won’t produce the leaf size you remember. Moreover, in spring, it will take several weeks for them to overcome dormancy after you plant them. By June, you’ll be envious of the pretty leaves on the caladiums at your local garden center when your caladium leaves are still puny. All this is true because caladiums are tropical bulbs. In the continuously warm soil of south Florida caladium farms, they don’t go dormant. The beautiful foliage and attached corms can be harvested and potted anytime for shipment to Atlanta.

Q: We’ve lived here 18 years but never had a squirrel decide to use the fiber from our palm tree for nest building. The squirrel climbs down and takes pieces of the fiber from around the bottom, peeling it down as you would a banana. Is there anything I can do to prevent this? Ginger Burton, Brookhaven

A: As long as the squirrel is collecting only dead tree fiber, he isn’t really hurting the tree. I would try painting capsaicin oil on places where the squirrel is active. The oil is sold to be mixed with birdseed and drive squirrels away from bird feeders, but it would keep squirrels away from palm trees too. Wear gloves when working with capsaicin!

Q: When you talk about liming your fescue, when you say 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet, are you referring to pelletized lime or powdered lime? Dave O’Donnell, email

A: They are the same thing. Powdered lime is simply pelletized to make it easier to apply. I hate using powdered lime because it gets all over my hands and pants. Pelletized lime is lots easier to pour into a spreader. Powdered garden lime produces so much dust it looks like you have a house fire. You may run into another lime product as you shop: fast-acting lime. This is simply powdered garden lime that has been especially finely ground, which makes it dissolve faster. It can sometimes be pelletized as well.

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.