Allium needs no chilling before planting

Q: Do allium bulbs need prechilling before planting? This is my first foray into alliums and I’m a little confused on when to plant them.Dennis Radcliffe, Cobb County

A: Unlike tulips, allium bulbs do not need to be kept in the cold before they will flower. You can plant them any time you find healthy bulbs on sale.

Q: I've noticed that liriope has taken over almost half of my nice carpet of mondo grass. Any tips for getting rid of the liriope without harming the mondo grass?Mike Belcher, email

A: These two plants happily coexist with each other in the shade. There's no product that's selective enough to take the monkey grass out of the mondo grass. The easiest thing to do is mix up a bit of glyphosate in a small bucket and dab it on each liriope plant with a foam paintbrush. It will take time but that's the only thing I know to do.

Q: What is the real difference between TifTuf and 419 bermuda?Larry Maddox, Augusta

A: After World War II, my mother bought a 1948 Allis Chalmers Model G tractor, which she allowed my father to borrow on occasion. Despite having no hydraulic lift, power brakes, or power take off, that little orange tractor was able to meet our gardening needs until my Mom sold it 2010. But when I was a teenager, how I longed to have a big green "do it all" John Deere tractor like my rural neighbors used on their farms. When I expressed my fervent desire, my mother replied simply "Ours is doing just fine for now!" Tif419 bermudagrass (released 1960) can look very nice when maintained properly. It will easily meet your needs for a green lawn. TifTuf bermuda (patented 2016) is a much more modern bermudagrass that is more drought tolerant, shade tolerant, cold tolerant, and wear tolerant than older lawn grasses. That's the difference.

Q: We have a red oak tree that seems to have oak wilt. In September, the top began to turn brown long before any other oaks nearby. We plan to have the tree removed soon. Should I have the wood taken from the property?Mary Lynn Huie, email

A: This is a situation where my experience makes a lot of difference. Oak wilt has been found in Georgia but it is not common. I think it is much more likely your oak is suffering from drought. I would not take it down now. You have plenty of time to wait until April or May to see if leaves come back on it after winter.

Q: There are piles of sunflower seed husks under our bird feeder. Is there any nutritional value to mixing them in soil as a conditioner?Joe Surowiec, email

A: The seed husks contain minimal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium but would be fine to mix into planting beds as an organic soil amendment.

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