Several plants attract pollinators to squash

Q: I’ve heard you talk about how important it is to plant flowers alongside squash and cucumbers to bring in pollinators. What do you recommend? -- Lola Callaway, Decatur

A: My favorites include alyssum, Mexican heather, blue anise sage (Salvia guaranitica), catmint and agastache. The first two are small enough that they can be placed close to the center of the cucurbit plants to bring pollinating insects closest to the blooms. The others can be planted at row ends.

Q: The azaleas in the front of my house didn't bloom this year. I’ve heard that they should be pruned right after they have finished blooming. However, since they didn't bloom this year, should they be pruned? -- Judy Bennett, Marietta

A: I don’t know why they didn’t bloom but now is still the right time to prune if needed. I’ve found that an annual pruning after bloom makes for lots of new sprouts, which make an even more impressive display the following year.

Q: Should I put any starter fertilizer on Bermuda sod after it has been laid for a week? -- Karen Barrett, email

A: The best time to apply starter fertilizer is before the sod is laid. In this way the roots are close to the enriched soil and they can get nutrients immediately. However, putting it down after a week is certainly better than nothing. Irrigation will wash it down to the eager roots.

Q: I have 10 blueberries that I have kept in containers for three years. They were small plants when purchased and I was told to keep them in containers to allow their root structure to strengthen. Should I plant now? -- Starla Abernathy, email

A: Your plants will be happier planted in the ground. Plant now and pay attention to watering in summer. They must be grown in an acidic, highly organic soil, with a pH of 4.5 to 5.6. This may mean modifying the soil if it has been limed regularly over the years. If you need to do this, dig for each blueberry a planting hole 1 foot deep and 3 feet wide. Mix the soil with an equal amount of Canadian peat moss, then use this mixture to backfill the planting hole. Fertilize with an organic fertilizer such as Espoma Holly-Tone, E.B. Stone Azalea-Camellia fertilizer or Milorganite.

Q: Should I take a chance on planting variegated pittosporum? I understand our zone here is 7B, although with the last few winters I would venture to say my microclimate is generally hotter than that. -- Michele Weeks, Emerson

A: Almost daily I pass a variegated pittosporum growing in a landscape near my house. Fifteen years ago I remember thinking "Wow, that won't live long ... winter will surely kill it!" Now it is 6 feet high and 8 feet wide and has suffered minimal winter damage in the intervening years. Unless your planting spot is completely unprotected from the winter winds of Bartow County, I'd say "Go for it!"

Listen to Walter Reeves Saturday mornings on AM 750 and 95.5 FM News-Talk WSB. Visit his website,, or join his Facebook Fan Page at for more garden tips.