Propagating Knock Out Rose is illegal

A: Strictly speaking, propagating a Knock Out rose is illegal. This plant, as well as many other roses and perennials, is patented. Companies patent their plants in order to protect their research investment. Understandable, since it takes years (and lots of money) to breed and market a superior plant. I'd prefer you buy a Knock Out at a nursery. In the future, examine the labels on plants you buy to see if they are patented. You'll typically see words to that effect or PPAF (Plant Patent Applied For) on the label. Many older roses are not patented and can be propagated with the instructions at xrl.us/ROOTROSE.

Q: I have a 12-foot tall windmill palm and I want to keep it that height. What are your suggestions? -- Cathy Burgess, email

A: Unfortunately, you can't limit the height of a palm. These trees extend from a growth point at the top, so removing that part of the plant will kill it. If your palm is too large for its spot, consider transplanting it. Unlike broad-leafed trees, palms transplant readily if you follow simple guidelines. Details at xrl.us/PLANTPALM.

Q: I’m starting bermuda from seed. Is it true that you shouldn’t water in the evening when you’re starting your seed? When I water in the mornings, the ground dries by noon. -- Mary Huff, Atlanta

A: Watering in the evening may keep the seeds moist longer but it also gives fungi more time to attack. You’ll get brown patch or pythium disease on the little seedlings and they will be gone in a flash. It’s best to water new seedlings in the morning and again in mid-afternoon. Time it so the tiny grass blades have time to dry off before nightfall. As they mature over the next four weeks, wean them from daily watering until you only need to irrigate once per week with one inch of water.

Q: I have four petunia hanging baskets. The foliage has turned light green the last few days. I water daily but how do I keep the deep green foliage? -- Brad Murphey, email

A: If you’re using water-soluble houseplant fertilizer on the petunias, apply it more often; constant watering quickly washes out plant food. Consider using instead a slow-release, pelleted fertilizer (Osmocote, Dynamite, etc) or cottonseed meal.

Q: I have a large but bare backyard. I've fallen in love with roses and want to start planting them but how do I design or decide where to put them? -- Nadara Wade, email

A: You need the services of a consulting rosarian. These local rose experts offer their free service to novice rose growers. They are trained and certified by the American Rose Society. There are dozens scattered across the state. The best way to find one in your area is to contact a local rose society. Find a list at xrl.us/ROSESOCIETY.

Listen to Walter Reeves Saturday mornings on NewsTalk 750 WSB-AM from 6 to 10. Go to www.yoursoutherngarden.com for details on his TV show or visit his website, www.walterreeves.com.

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