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Almost two years ago I cut off the top of a pineapple and planted it. It has grown into a beautiful plant with long leaves but I see no sign of a flower from which to get a fruit. Why?
It takes 20 to 24 months to get a fruit on a rooted top.
To trigger flowering and then fruit formation, it takes sunlight plus an added stimulus. This stimulus can be in the form of an apple placed inside a plastic bag, which is slipped over the top and loosely closed at the bottom to keep ethylene gas, given off by the apple, confined in the bag with the top, for four days.
Move the plant out of sun for this period as the sun's rays will cause too much heat to build up around the top. After four days, remove the bag and you should soon see a flower form - and eventually fruit.
Would you give some tips on how to dry strawflowers for winter bouquets?
Strawflowers (Helichrysum) should be picked when the blooms are not full out. Only two to four rows of petals should be fully open. The center should be fairly ''tight,'' with no portion of the ''cushion'' showing.
You can pick individual blooms with short stems so as to leave blooms that are still not mature enough. Florists push wire up into the bloom to form a stem shortly after they are picked. Wire can usually be bought at a craft shop.
Be sure the wire is strong enough to hold the bloom but thin enough (about 24 -gauge) to push carefully up into the center. You can make arrangements immediately and strawflowers will dry right in the vase.
A few years ago we bought a vine-like shrub (or is it a shrub-like vine?) to cover an ugly wall just off our patio. It has grown beautifully, keeps its glossy green foliage all winter, and has red berries in the fall. I am sure it is called Euonymus, but when I went to a nearby garden store and nursery outlet the clerk showed me an entirely different shrub which he said would turn bright red in the fall. It also had strange-looking bark. Am I identifying my ''vine'' incorrectly?
You are correct. You have Euonymus Fortunei ''Vegetus,'' a handsome shrubby vine that is extremely hardy in all but the northernmost areas of the United States and those in the highest elevations.
The shrub the clerk showed you is also Euonymus. It is E. alatus, also called Cork Bark Euonymus, Winged Euonymus (because of ''wings'' on the bark), and Flaming or Burning Bush, referring to the flame-red foliage in fall. It is hardy in all but the semitropical areas of the US.
There are also variegated forms of Euonymus Fortunei that can be found in most areas of the country where E. Fortunei ''Vegetus'' grows.
Have you ever heard of squash blossom fritters? A neighbor says her mother used to make them but now she can't remember how it was done.
Yes, indeed. One recipe is in our ''Green Thumb Book of Fruit and Vegetable Gardening.''
Pick male blossoms (the ones that don't have a nub - young squash - at the base of the bloom); soak in salt water to bring any insects out. Drain, then dip in batter: 1 egg, beaten; 2 tablespoons flour; and some finely chopped parsley (salt and pepper if you like).
We sometimes opt for prepared pancake mix for batter. Fry as you would French fries.
Nature gives the vines about 20 male blooms to one female bloom, so there are usually plenty for fritters, with still enough to pollinate the female blooms.