Continuous flowering benefits bees

Plant zinnia seed every two weeks to have bee-friendly flowers available all summer. PHOTO CREDIT: Walter Reeves
Plant zinnia seed every two weeks to have bee-friendly flowers available all summer. PHOTO CREDIT: Walter Reeves

Q: My brother is a beekeeper. Do you have a recommendation for flower seeds that could be planted to help his hives? <em>Jeff Gower, email</em>

A: There are dozens of common flowering plants that honeybees adore. The goal is to have something flowering during most of the year. Alyssum, zinnia, salvia, and coneflower have long and overlapping bloom times. I have lists of bee-friendly annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees at bit.ly/beepollinate.

Q: We have a strange dark green slime growing in my bermuda lawn. It grows "puffy" when wet and is very slick to walk on. When it dries it is almost flaky. It seems to be spreading slowly in my lawn. It tends to grow in the weak areas. <em>Jeff Beals, Milton</em>

A: The slimy balls are called nostoc. It's a member of the blue-green algae family, although nostoc's color is dark green. Like any algae, it loves spots that are moist or shaded. If that is your situation, consider covering the area with mulch or ground-cover plants; bermudagrass hates growing on moist soil. An alternative would be to correct the conditions that weaken your grass (shade, excess moisture, etc) so the grass can reclaim the spots where nostoc lives.

Q: I have some Indian hawthornes that I want to want to prune to keep off the house and sidewalk. Can I prune now? <em>Terry Funderburke, email</em>

A: You can do severe pruning any time between January and early March. But keep in mind that the longer you wait, the less time you'll be faced with the stark white stubs left after pruning. Consider too that anything more than "nipping and tipping" will remove flower buds. Honestly, I'd wait until the shrub's spring flowering ends to do the surgery.

Q: We bought several potted mums this past fall. Our intentions were to plant them in the ground but we didn't get around to it and they are brown. Can we still plant them? <em>John Stathes, email</em>

A: I have been surprised more than once by the ability of chrysanthemums to come back from the dead. My advice is to plant them in a sunny spot and check on them in mid- to late April. You might be surprised to see green growth at the base of the stems.

Q: Last year rabbits chopped the stems off my hostas at ground level. Is there anything to discourage them from feasting again this year? <em>Scott Blake, Roswell.</em>

A: Like deer, rabbits will eat just about anything that's young and tender in spring. A physical barrier is the only thing I can guarantee will work. Perhaps you could make some coverings from chicken wire to protect the hosta until they are relatively large. If you can't do that, try fertilizing with Milorganite. This dry, sterilized organic fertilizer comes from a sewage plant in Milwaukee. Perhaps the smell of bratwurst, beer, and shotguns will deter the bunnies.

Listen to Walter Reeves Saturday mornings on News 95.5 FM and AM750 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

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