Ask the Gardeners
Q Someone recently wrote to you about moles and voles ruining their lawns. I have been told that Milky Spore powder controls grubs and cutworms, which are the food that attracts these animals. J. H. S. Carbondale, Ill. Thank you for reminding us of Milky Spore powder. Although it will usually take two years to do the job, it does eliminate Japanese beetle grubs, rose chafer larvae, some June beetle grubs, and Oriental beetle grubs. We checked with Reuter Laboratories (8450 Natural Way, Manassas Park, Va. 22111), one of the largest producers of natural pest controls, and spokesmen tell us Milky Spore does not control cutworms; however, Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) will. This pesticide will kill larvae of other mot hs and butterflies, including cabbage butterfly and gypsy moth.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
These products now have national distribution and the reason for their success is that people are interested in pesticides that do not kill natural predators and are much safer to use. Read the labels to make sure the product contains one of the above biological controls (BT or Milky Spore), if you have the insects mentioned. Also, adhere to the precautions on the label. Milky Spore should not be used near lakes, ponds, or streams. Q I have always wanted a perennial bed and have started with some of the old favorites: peonies, iris, bleeding heart, and columbine. Perhaps there are some that would have a longer bloom period -- possibly from early summer, after spring ones are out of bloom, until late fall. E. R. G. Columbia, Mo.
We will mention some of our favorites that can be grown in almost all areas of the United States and in southern Canada: coreopsis (yellow); gaillardia (yellow with red or maroon); rudbeckia (brown-eyed Susan, yellow); Lythrum (Morden Pink); dianthus (hardy pinks coming in pink, red, white); coral-bell (Heuchera sanguinera, red, pink, attracts hummingbirds); coneflower (Echinacea purpurea, lavender); balloon flower (Platycodon, blue, white, or pink); dragon's blood (Sedum spurium, reddish p ink, also called stonecrop). Daylilies have become an outstanding perennial, with new varieties being developed that will furnish blooms from late spring until late fall, if the right choices are made. Q A friend has given me a large, variegated flowering maple. Could you give me some simple directions for its care? Are these houseplants true maples? B. F. Moses Lake, Wash.
Although these plants were called parlor maple, and later named flowering maple, they are not related to maple trees of the northeastern US and Canada. They are indigenous to South America, where they grow as shrubs, and their true name is abutilon. Varieties have improved since the days of parlors (or parlours), now coming in variegated foliage and brighter, more varied color blooms. They do well at 50 degrees F. night temperature and 70 to 75 degrees F. during the day. They need a well-drained soil mi x, but the plant should not go dry. A good mix is 1 part sand, 1 part garden loam, 1 part sphagnum peat moss, or you can use 1 part sand and 1 part loam added to 1 part peat-lite mix from the garden store.