ASK THE GARDENERS. Questions and Answers
Q My hanging hoya plant is several years old. It is healthy and has several long runners. It has never bloomed, however. I hung it outside this summer, but still no blossoms. F.N.E. Emporia, Kan. Our experience has been that hoyas (wax plants) are stubborn bloomers unless they are somewhat potbound. They like a moist soil all during spring, summer, and fall (up to late October or early November), then do best if watered sparingly during winter.
They also need good light. All of ours get three or four hours of sun per day. One which was in a northern exposure refused to bloom until we took it to our greenhouse. Many do bloom with bright, indirect light. Yours appears to be old enough and large enough to produce the long runners (three to four feet) needed to grow the leafless spurs that produce flowers. These should never be removed!
It helps to give a feeding of a balanced liquid plant food in spring and again in summer. If you can give it a cool 55 to 60 degrees F. at night and 65 degrees F. during the day in winter, that also helps force it into bloom later on. Q Would you please tell me how to store seeds from my garden, both vegetables and flowers, so they will be bug-free? R.B. Amity, Ore.
Seeds from tomatoes, peppers, etc., must be from thoroughly ripe fruits. For example, cucumbers should be yellowish, peppers red and almost soft. Other seeds, from pods, should be dry and easily separated from pods or flower heads. Store them in a tightly closed jar to which you have added a tablespoon or two of dried milk, wrapped in a paper handkerchief or piece of paper towel. We put the dried milk in the center of the paper, then fold it all ways so it won't leak out, and secure it with a couple of rubber bands.
For best results, store in a dry place where temperature is between 45 to 55 degrees F. If you save seeds from hybrid plants, keep in mind you probably won't get fruit or flowers identical with the parents. Hybrid seeds are produced by carefully crossing the same two parents each time. This is why hybrid seeds are more expensive then open pollinated ones. Q Last summer, Colorado potato beetles almost devastated the tomato and potato plants in our garden. We did eradicate many of them by knocking them into cans of kerosene. We are leery of chemical sprays and wonder if there is some biological means of controlling them that is similar to the bacillus you have mentioned for cabbage worms. We used the ones called Di-Pel and Thuricide for the pests. J..A. Fort Wayne, Ind.
Di-Pel and Thuricide (also called BT) are made from bacillus thuringiensis and destroy the larvae of moths and butterflies, but do not work on potato beetles.
The USDA's Agricultural Research Service has found a tiny parasitic wasp that lays its eggs in those of the potato beetle. In preliminary trials, the wasps laid eggs in 60 to 80 percent of the eggs of the Colorado potato beetles. The tiny wasp, with the impressive name of Edovum puttleri, is from South America.
There is hope that a supply will be available in the near future and that it will significantly reduce these beetle populations. Chemical pesticides have become so expensive (and toxic), and pests have become so resistant to them that researchers are being compelled to seek other means of control.
If you have a question about your garden, inside or out, send it, along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope, to the Garden Page, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, Mass. 02115. Doc and Katy Abraham are nationally known horticulturists.