Q: How do I eradicate horsetail rush? It appeared in my garden about a year ago. Roundup seems to have no effect on them. Merwin Chambers, email
A: You’ve got a tiger by the tail and you won’t realize how tough it is until you let go. Horsetail rush, Equisetum spp., has existed for hundreds of millions of years. The 30 original species have declined to the two that exist today, but the ancestors of horsetail plants today were definitely squashed to make coal deposits. As you would expect, a plant this hardy is extremely hard to control. Its underground root can grow 4 feet deep, under most anything in its path. If you dig the roots, any tiny pieces you leave behind sprout into new plants. The stems of a horsetail are so tough that they can be wadded up and used to clean pots and pans, leading to another common name: scouring rush. The “skin” is almost impervious to water, making it almost impervious to herbicides. Research has shown, however, that glyphosate combined with triclopyr can slowly bring horsetail under control. One product with this mixture is Roundup Poison Ivy Plus Tough Brush Killer. Spraying this on horsetail would be problematic in your current garden since you don’t want to hurt your desirable plants. I suggest you clear your garden of good plants and work on Equisetum control for a year. If you don’t, this tiger will come back to bite you.
Q: My staghorn fern is heavier than I can handle and loaded with pups. I’m removing pups and mounting them separately. Will the parent plant still produce if I remove all the pups? Meg Evans, email
A: It will not stop producing. As long as the fern is happy, there will be plenty of pups to play with. A well-known online tropical plant greenhouse has staghorn ferns close to 40 years old! Since yours is large and hard to handle, give it to someone stronger who will be conscientious about watering the root zone and prepared to be a good parent to the pups.
Q: My tree had a run-in with a Bobcat (the mechanical kind) and it tore off a big patch of bark. Is some surgery needed? Diane Powell, email
A: Your tree won’t need major surgery. Use a wood chisel and sturdy knife to remove all of the loose bark. Then try to smooth the shape of the gouged area; avoid leaving sharp angles in the outline of the wound. DO NOT apply any tar, paint or tree wound dressing. These products retard healing. DO apply patience as the healthy bark gradually grows to cover the inner sap wood.
Email Walter at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.