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Orchid needs correct light to bloom

Q: My orchid has had new growth but no blooms for two years. What can I do to promote blooms? K. W. Branton, email

A: Most often it is a question of light. Orchids grow naturally on jungle trees, so they like intermittent sunlight with a little shade for most of the day. That is hard to accomplish in most homes. Try moving your orchid to a brighter window. Keep an eye on the leaves for a couple of weeks. If they begin to have brown edges, the light is too much for the plant and you’ll need to move it away from the window a few feet. If it hasn’t been fertilized in a while, consider an application of orchid food now.

Q: How do you control weeds that are growing in liriope? Quinn Akers, Roscoe

A: For a small area, hand weeding is your best option. There will be a few holes where you remove weeds but the liriope will quickly fill in. If the weeds grow from seeds, almost all pre-emergent products are labeled for use on liriope. For perennial weeds, a couple of products are available, including imazaquin (Image for Nutgrass) and sethoxydim (Vantage). Be sure to read and follow the label exactly.

Q: We put too much compost in a raised bed for tomato plants. Now we have tall, healthy plants but no flowers a month later. What to do? Rebecca Vandiver, email

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A: Not much can be done except to wait until the plants have used any excess nutrients in the soil. Eventually they will flower and you’ll have lots of branches with lots of tomatoes on them.

Q: When and how far can you trim kiwi plants back? Andy Johnson, email

A: They can be pruned much like muscadine grapes are pruned, typically in January or February. But the people I know who have kiwi vines usually let them grow unpruned and huge, if they have the room. This helps ensure some of the vine will survive a very cold winter.

Q: What do you think about using buffalo grass in a front lawn? Nita Paris, Acworth

A: You can try buffalo grass in a small area but I think you’ll be disappointed. This native grass doesn’t compete very well with weeds, and the seed takes a while to become established. It turns brown whenever the weather is dry, and it’s slow to green up in spring. Habiturf(tm) is a commercial buffalo grass seed mixture you can buy online but it costs $25 per pound.

Q: If goats eat poison ivy is the milk safe to drink? Mary Boncek, Dacula

A: Goats enjoy poison ivy foliage very much. As happens with dogs and cats, if the goats brush against a vine you can get a rash after petting them. However, a study in California concluded that contact with their milk is safe. As with any life decision, I recommend you drink just a little of the milk first to see if you have a reaction.

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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