No concern about sparse dogwood flowers

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Q: This year there were not very many white blossoms on any of my dogwoods. They are leafing out as normal. Should I worry about this lack of blossoms? Pat Eubank, Dunwoody

A: You are not the first (or second or third) gardener to notice this. I've looked at the dogwood flowers present and they seem normal, with no evidence of disease. Further, there was no severe drought last year or winter cold to blame it on. As with many garden occurrences, I think we have to ascribe this one to an effect of Nature, but not one we understand. Fertilizing a dogwood in spring with any landscape fertilizer will result in more leaves, which may help insure more blooms next year.

Q: I inherited a Cumberland false rosemary planted in a large outdoor pot. Can this plant survive planted in the ground here? Phil Jennings, Cumming

A: Native plant expert Shannon Pable says Cumberland false rosemary, Conradina verticillata, naturally grows in sandy soil on stream banks. I'd suggest planting it where it can get morning sun and afternoon dappled shade. Add coarse sand to the soil before planting.

Q: We have had tomatoes in a pot for three weeks. The plant has some leaves that are washed-out looking, almost as though some of the green was removed. What could cause this? Linda Fenner, Talking Rock

A: My bet is cold damage. You've had several nights of below-freezing temperatures in the last three weeks. If there are green leaves on the plant, simply remove the damaged leaves. If all of the leaves are light-colored, discard this tomato and plant another. If you haven't grown tomatoes in a pot before, remember that they do best in large containers: 24 inches wide is a good size. I have a list of freeze damage symptoms on many vegetables.

Q: I planted a Japanese maple last year on Mothers Day. The tree gets full sun two-thirds of the day. It seems pretty healthy but a few limbs have died. Should I remove them? Andy Caviness, Powder Springs

A: Cut the dead limbs off. The tree has no use for them and it will likely try to grow new foliage to fill their place. Japanese maples vary in their tolerance of sunshine. Those with thinly dissected leaves seem to tolerate less sunshine but some of the broadleaf types grow fine in full sun. I've seen 'Bloodgood', 'Emperor 1' and 'Sango Kaku' do very well in baking sunshine, but they all were mulched out to the ends of the branches and were watered regularly in July and August.

Q: We had TifGrand bermuda sod installed last year. We've noticed it has started to thin in areas, even though they receive full afternoon sun. The landscaper mows it three to four inches in height. Should TifGrand be treated differently from regular bermuda? Judy Midgette, Grayson

A: TifGrand was released to the public in 2010 by University of Georgia researchers, who developed the grass to have better tolerance to shade than other hybrid bermudagrasses. The recommended mowing height is ½ to 1 ½ inches, removing no more than 1/3 total height at one time. In the spring, do not apply lawn fertilizer until the soil temperature at four inches is 65 degrees or higher. Apply fertilizer 3-4 times before Sept. 15.