By

I have been making plant boxes for my seedlings out of scrap wood. Last year I wanted to make them last longer so I painted them with creosote, which I know preserves wood. However, my seedlings took on a burned look and many died before I got them into the ground. Creosote is toxic to plants and should not be used on plant containers, greenhouse beds, or raised beds. A better material is copper naphenate (Cuprinol).

You mentioned Arabian violets a while back. I grow African violets but have never heard of Arabian varieties. Please tell me more about them. Arabian violets are not related to African violets. Their botanical name is Exacum affinem and they originate on the island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean.

They have small blue or white fragrant flowers. We prefer blue.

Recommended: Philip Roth: 10 quotes on his birthday

For pot plants, seeds are usually sown in early spring to bloom in late summer. Then the plants bloom almost continuously for about a year after which they tend to become scraggly. They prefer bright, indirect light, and warm temperatures.

Arabian violets flop if the temperature goes much below 60 degrees F.

New plants are easily started from cuttings. A good soil mix is 1 part ordinary garden soil, 1 part sand, 1 part perlite, and 2 parts sphagnum peatmoss. Don't overwater, but also do not let the soil dry out completely.

A liquid feeding about once every three or four weeks seems to keep the plants healthy looking.

My landlord has two beautiful white clematis vines, but in the middle of the summer they stop blooming. In the fall they have only a few blooms. Also, the leaves turn brown toward the bottom of the plant. Some blooms have holes in them. What is wrong? It is normal for many clematis varieties to bloom for a couple of months in early summer, slack off in midsummer during the hot weather, and then have a scant bloom in late summer or early fall.

The holes in the flowers may be from snails or slugs or from cutter bees (which make round holes). If slugs are a serious problem (cutter bees are usually not), go out after dark with a flashlight and handpick as they are feeding.

Brown leaves on the bottom of the vines are usually due to dry weather.

Clematis are shallow rooted so must be kept well watered. They like an alkaline soUl so do not use peatmoss around them. They also like some shade for part of the day.

We received a beautiful little Christmas pepper for a gift, which is still blooming and producing tiny cone-shaped fruit in all stage - chartreuse, green, and red. Some of the red ones are shriveling and appear to be ripe. Could we take the seeds and sow them for some gift plants next December? If so, when should we sow the seeds? When the red pods shrivel, that's a sign they're ready to be picked and emptied of their seeds.

For potted gift plants, allow about 20 weeks from the time you sow seeds. Some seed catalogs now list several ornamental peppers. They may be cone-shaped, thin and finger-shaped, or round. Some we've raised successfully are Fiery Festival, Fiesta, Holiday Cheer, Holiday Time, Red Missile, and Fireworks.

The fruits are edible but mighty hot. Wash your hands after opening the pods. You could feel the ''heat'' should you rub your eyes.

Larvae of the sphinx moth (greenish with a single horn on the end) defoliate my two catalpa trees each July. Is there some way to destroy the cocoon stage? Spraying after the worms appear is a rather large task. Catalpa sphinx moth larvae pupate undergound. To ''search and destroy'' would be a much larger task than spraying the leaves of the tree.

We suggest you spray the leaves with Bacillus thuringiensis when larvae appear. This pesticide is harmless to humans, animals, and everything but the larvae of moths and butterflies.

Since you will be aiming it only at the surfaces eaten by the sphinx moth larvae, it will not do damage to other moths or butterflies.

Share this story:

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...