Q: I know when and how to prune old-fashioned azaleas but I don’t know how to prune the kind that also bloom in the fall. Any tips?Becky Gorman, email
A: Reblooming azaleas (Encore, Bloom-a-Thon, etc.) are hybrid plants. They incorporate several different species of azalea. Each species contributes a tendency to bloom at a different time of year. Unlike old-fashioned azaleas, reblooming azaleas continue to set flower buds on new growth after spring blossoms fade. These buds produce summer flowers. Subsequent new growth produces a bloom display in fall. The best time to prune reblooming azaleas is after the spring flowers drop off. This leaves plenty of time for new growth to occur and gives continuous flowering until frost.
Q: How effective are mothballs and sulfur for keeping snakes from your property? How can I keep snakes from invading my area when construction starts behind my house?Phillip Williams, Austell
A: Jason Clark, snake expert at Southeastern Reptile Rescue (SnakesAreUs.com) says the best thing to do is to eliminate hiding places. Low plants like English ivy, juniper, monkey grass and others don’t necessarily attract snakes but when they do wander through your landscape, low-growing vegetation makes for easy concealment. Keep plants on your property line cut low in summer and mow the lawn nearby. Use pine chip mulch instead of straw around shrubs. Remove piles of stones, firewood or lumber. Snakes will likely keep on going when they enter such an uninviting environment.
Q: I have an old indoor corn plant that won’t die but doesn’t look healthy. I’ve tried various things but I’m not sure how to save it.Clint Still, email
A: My first instinct would be to toss it, but I know houseplants can have emotional connections far beyond their intrinsic worth. I surmise that is your situation. In most cases the best way to rejuvenate a corn plant is to cut it down to a foot high and put it outside in semi-shade when warm weather arrives in spring. The increased light outdoors will stimulate new growth on the stem. I am sure it would also appreciate being repotted into fresh soil.
Q: We have successfully grown Meyer lemons and satsuma oranges on the south side of our home. We want to plant a Haas avocado tree. What are your thoughts?Diana Pate, Fitzgerald
A: ‘Hass’ avocado has a bit more cold tolerance than some avocado varieties but temperatures below freezing can be quite damaging. I’m sure Ben Hill county occasionally has freezing temperatures. It will take several years for a young tree to begin producing fruit. If you are really careful to protect your avocado with a tarp when cold weather approaches, it is worth a try, but I would not wager money on your success.
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.