Gardening Daily Tips July 26

Tuesday July 26, 2011

Blanket Flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora)

Today’s Featured Plant
Blanket Flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora)

Read the full profile of this plant at

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Q&A: How to Plant and Take Care of Zinnia

Question: How do I plant and take care of zinnia flowers in a flower box and watering?

Answer: Zinnias do best in a sunny location in a window box with ample depth and width for the roots. The soil should be kept evenly moist but not soaking wet; the container must have holes in the bottom so excess water may drain through. A water holding polymer may be helpful in keeping the soil moist, especially if it is in a hot location with sun all day long or in a smaller box. Water as needed, possibly daily in hot weather, and use a water soluble fertilizer for flowering plants as indicated on the label instructions.

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Q&A: Friend or Foe?

Question: I have found some strange insects on my plants. At first glance they looked like caterpillars, but upon closer examination I saw that they have legs. They have dark backs with orange-ish spots. They don’t appear to be eating leaves or harming anything. Can you tell me what they are? Are they good or bad?

Answer: I’m not absolutely positive, but based upon your description, I’ll bet they’re ladybug larvae. These “good guys” are shaped like little alligators and have ridges running sideways from their heads to their tails. Eventually they’ll draw themselves up into a roundish shape, develop hard wings, and look like full grown ladybugs. Don’t do anything to them, they’re definitely beneficial in the garden! These “youngsters” actually eat a lot more pests than the more recognizable adult ladybugs.

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Q&A: Asparagus Beetles Ruin Crop

Question: This past spring our asparagus crop was ruined by asparagus beetles. What can I do?

Answer: In the fall, remove old asparagus ferns and garden debris where adult beetles overwinter to lessen the infestation in the spring. The beetles emerge from hibernation about the time asparagus shoots begin to grow. They lay small, dark brown eggs on the spears. The eggs hatch in one week and the tiny, dark sluglike larvae feed for two weeks until they drop to the ground and pupate. For a small planting, you can also try the following cultural controls. Asparagus beetle larvae are very poor climbers. If you spray the emerging spears every five days with a water spray and knock the larvae off the spears, they won’t climb back up. Also, by picking the asparagus patch clean every three to five days and weeding out any volunteer plants, you can remove beetle eggs before they hatch, reducing the damage. If you still have a large adult population come summer, spray insecticidal soap weekly to reduce the number of overwintering adults.

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Tip: Monitor Water Needs of Cacti

Look for signs of wrinkling or shriveling, which indicates the cactus is stressed for water. Give established cacti a deep soaking (1 foot deep) once per month in summer. If summer rains are heavy, it may not be necessary because cacti are sensitive to root rot if soils are wet.

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Tip: Mow High During Hot Weather

Raise the cutting height on your lawn mower to help achieve a dense turf that crowds out weeds. Mowing high helps grass endure hot, dry weather by shading soil and helping conserve moisture.

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