Walter Reeves: Japanese climbing fern is invasive

Q: I found an odd vine growing in the neglected landscape of a small office building in Buckhead. Is this Japanese climbing fern?

-- Katie Price, e-mail

A: You're exactly right! This invasive vine can smother nearby perennials. I suspect it is brought into our area in baled pine straw. Because it burns so fast when dry, it is an extreme fire hazard in the pine plantations of Florida. Gardeners here should pull it out whenever seen and keep an eye on the spot for escapees afterward.

Q: I intend to plant a maple tree in my front yard in late September. I want a tree that has fall leaf color of yellow/gold/red. What varieties of maple can you suggest?

-- Steve Binion, DeKalb County

A: Donna Dixon at Four Seasons Nursery in Buford says it's tough to name a single tree that will give you the all colors you want. 'Legacy' sugar maple goes from yellow to orange-red in fall. 'Autumn Blaze' maple turns a gorgeous red. Check online for images of these two, and choose the one that suits you best.

Q: Why do plants at the end of crop rows become gradually shorter? I’ve wondered this for most of my 64 years.

-- Ron Medlock, e-mail

A: I've observed the same thing, but I've never stopped to figure out why. My guess is that it has something to do with the cultivation at the ends. That's where the farmer lifts his plows to turn around, so the soil is more compacted and less tilled. In addition, she/he might stop fertilizing a few feet before the row ends to avoid wasting fertilizer during the turn around. Do my newspaper readers have any other explanations for this phenomenon?

Q: Every year, I plant Silver Queen corn. My plants look great, but the ears of corn only have kernels on two-thirds of the cob nearest the stalk.

-- Buddy Greenoe, e-mail

A: It's a pollination problem. Corn pollen is transferred by breezes among the stalks. In my experience, you'll have this poor kernel count issue if you plant corn in a single row. Next time, plant in a square block of plants so pollen doesn't have to travel far. A second option is to observe your corn tops and ears, watching for the day when pollen begins appearing on the tassels and when silks have emerged from the ears. Walk through the stalks each morning and pat each one sharply with your fingers to shake lots of pollen loose. Do this for the week that pollen is shed, and you should have plenty of full ears.

Q: I'm trying to spruce up my college apartment with some herbs and plants, but it doesn't get much light. Do you have any recommendations for low-light plants?

-- David Zweig, Athens

A:The best low-light indoor plants are golden pothos, aspidistra, aglaonema and spathiphyllum. They will do OK if put where just a little direct light from a window gets to them each day. Over a year's time, the stems will stretch out and the plants will look ugly, but by then, you'll be off for summer and can toss them out. Culinary herbs require something close to full sunshine, so the best way to grow them is in a big container (24 inches wide) on a sunny patio. Basil, thyme and rosemary work well for this.

Listen to Walter Reeves 6-10 a.m. Saturdays on AM 750 and 95.5 FM News-Talk WSB. Visit his website,, or join his Facebook Fan Page at for more garden tips.