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Question: 782-2812
When is a good time to split up my irises? They are finished blooming. Carol, North Windham, CT

Mort's Answer:
Irises should be split every three to four years. You could do it now. It is best to wait until early fall. You can cut them back by half now to allow strengthening of the roots. Add a little lime after you have cut them up and replanted this fall.

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Question: 784-2812
I have two junipers that are growing above the eaves. One is wider than the other. How can I shape them and can I do it now? Bill, Tulsa, OK

Mort's Answer:
You can select the larges branches at the top and cut them off at the next branch. This will prune it back quite well now. In two months you can also take out the larger branches at the top with lopers. You can shape them to a point at the top now. You can also cut the sides by four to six inches. You will need to trim every few weeks with shears to get them to the same size. Usually the back side is quite sparse due to a lack of sunlight. You can trim lightly in the back.

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Question: 809-3412
Why is Lyme named after Lyme, CT? Steve, Scranton, PA

Mort's Answer:
The disease was named in 1976 after a dramatic increase in reported cases. Some folks thought it was related to the nuclear facility nearby. It was concluded that the deer tick was the carrier of the germ that also affects humans. Lyme disease is now known to have been in humans for at least 5,000 years. The Ice Man that was uncovered in the Austrian ALps was biopsied again in 2010. He was found to have Lyme in his DNA. The disease in now throughout the northern Hemisphere and in Australia. It is carrier by smaller mammals like rodents as well. Gardeners should always wear protective clothing near brush and spray with permethrin.

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Question: 811-3512
Can I cut my single flowered rambler rose now and when can I transplant? Ruth, Lisbon, CT

Mort's Answer:
You could cut now or wait until you transplant. Deciduous plants need to start defoliating before digging them up. You might try some cuttings at that time for new plants as well. Cut your roses back to a foot from the ground. This will make it easier to transplant. No fertilizer near the root. Some 5-10-10 on the surface will help.

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Question: 978-
My tomatoes are huge this year. Should I cut or trim them? Should I pick the flowers off on my cilantro? Frank, Greendale, WI

Mort's Answer:
Tomatoes should be staked to accommodate the possible eight foot growth. Heat and rain have produced gigantic flowers and vegetables this year in many parts of the country. You can remove the center shoots in a W and make it a Y. If you have tomato fruit in the center stem, I would leave it. Cilantro flowers should be removed like basil to provide more leave energy. If you collect seeds and dry the plants, you should let the flowers grow to seed. Coriander often refers to the seed used in cooking but often refers to the whole plant.

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Question: 1347-1416
My daughter has a lot of moss that is growing into her lawn. What can she use to get rid of it? Beverly, Windham, CT

Mort's Answer:
She can apply sour milk for immediate results. Her soil is too acidic for growing grass in that area. For a longer term solution she has to put down hydrated lime in the spring and limestone in the fall at a rate of 200 lbs per 10,000 sq.ft. Rather then risk more remorse, you could remove some of the trees that are providing too much shade. I would suggest using that area to plant a garden of plants that do well in the shade. She can leave the trees and the moss and plant broadleaf evergreens like azalea, rhododendron and laurel. Hosta also loves shade. They all prefer acidic soil. She could learn to love the remorse.

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Question: 1026-4113
What is the best way to get rid of Japanese Bamboo? Ann, Skoharry, NY

Mort's Answer:
Japanese Bamboo or Mexican Bamboo is not really bamboo. This reed like plant is the most invasive and persistent weed on the east coast. Many target sprays only knock them down. I have found that I need to be as persistent as the weed itself. Cultivating the area every week will discourage them but not kill them. You have to dig out all the roots. If you cut off one little hair root, the plant will come back to haunt you like Dracula from the grave. Before the leaves unfurl, they look like little red asparagus spears. When the spears pop up, is the best time to attack them and dig out all the root. This means loosening all the soil around them and gently pulling out the root. If it does not come easily, then you have probably broken the root and will have to dig deeper into the bowels of the earth to get all the root. Polygonum cuspidatum can be very handsome with its greenish white flowers if you are easily seduced by beauty.

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Question: 7-5201
We have an Abutilon that we have just planted. Can I keep that outdoors through the winter? Marie, Brunswich, GA

Mort's Answer:
Flowering Maple is hardy from zone 8 south. Since it gets rather breezy on the isles, I would recommend covering the plant with burlap in the winter. There are several good Abutilon with pinkish purple, yellow or white trumpet flowers. A. hybridum varieties include Boule DeNeige and Golden Fleece. A..pictum has a yellow or orange flower with red veins. A. theophrasti is basically an annual weed.

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Question: 1070-5213
My Acerola Cherry had fruit two years ago. This year it completely defoliated after two floods except for a few yellow leaves. It is about six feet tall and five years since I planted it. Does the mulch help or hinder it? Tom, Bradenton, FL

Mort's Answer:
There are three or more different possible fungi that could have infected your tree. Black knot, brown-rot and yellow leaf are the most common. You probably have yellow leaf aka shot hole. All three are treatable with Benlate fungicide. Follow directions on the label. You should remove the mulch because it breeds the fungus in the soil from the fallen cherries and leaves. Because you are subject to torrential rains, I would also recommend that you make a circle of 12 holes about five feet from the trunk. These holes can be made with a crowbar or tire iron and be two to three feet deep. Fill the holes with coarse sand.

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Question: 1387-4316
Can I use acorns in my compost pile? Jim, Salem, CT

Mort's Answer:
You will need to use a compost shredder or drive over them in the driveway to grind them to a pulp in order to use them in a timely fashion. Adding grass clippings and ground leaves will also help in your pile. Any vegetive matter from table scraps can also help produce a good heap of compost. Compost can be used when planting next spring and as a soil amendment or as an organic mulch on hybrid roses and in the vegetable garden.

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Question: 1232-615
I have African Blood Lily as a houseplant. Can It planted outdoors? Emily, Willimantic, CT

Mort's Answer:
Scadoxus multiflorus is in the Amaryllis family and can treated similarly. Its red flower does does not last long especially indoors but has a berry .The one umbel flower head consists of 200 tiny flowers and is very showy. It will bloom in late summer in the garden. I would rest the plant after it has finished blooming in a couple of weeks. Like its cousin the amaryllis, the bulbous root can be stored in a cool dry place. If you plant the root in the garden in mid May, you could get a longer and larger bloom. You could cover the root with mulch for the winter in zone 6 but I would not take a chance and recycle the root by storing it again indoors in a cool spot.

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