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Welcome to the "Ask Janet Carson" portion of our website. Here you will find Janet Carson's current "In the Garden" Questions and Answers found weekly in "The Arkansas Democrat/Gazette" Saturday edition. Have fun reading these pages and check back with us weekly. This page is constantly updated and new questions are added on Monday following their appearance in the paper. So stay tuned...

All of the Questions & Answers that Janet writes for all publications are archived.

In the Garden with Janet B. Carson


October 22, 2016

QuestionWe have cultivated a space (4X6) this year and have been rewarded by a beautiful stand of “Evolvulus glomeratus Blue Daze”. We have tried for 2 years to move them inside the (garage) to over-winter with no success. This year we would like to leave then outside and apply mulch (straw) for protection from the elements. Your advice and comments will be greatly appreciated.



Evolvulus is a summer annual. In an extremely mild winter it may overwinter in south Arkansas, but I would not imagine that could happen in Rogers ever.  I would try two separate things to attempt to get a start for next year. Right now, dig up one plant and cut it back and pot it up. Put it in the sunniest, but coolest room in your house and don’t overwater, just get it to survive.  The other option is to take some cuttings now.  Cuttings should be three inches with no flowers on them.  Get a pot and fill it with moist potting soil.  Put the cuttings in a container and cover it in plastic.  Put it in a bright spot inside and let them root.  Once rooted, they can be uncovered and grown until you move them outside next spring. These summer annuals don’t like our indoor conditions during the winter months, with overheated houses, with no humidity and low light.  Do your best, but when all else fails, just buy new plants every year.  


Is it too late to cut back an Oakleaf hydrangea? It grew significantly this summer, but didn't bloom because my yard guy cut it back at the wrong time last year, so I let it  



It is too late to prune oakleaf hydrangeas.  Even though they bloom in the summer, they set their flower buds in the fall.  When your plants go dormant in a month, their blooms are set for next season.  The time to prune will be as the white blooms start to fade to pink next summer.  They are similar to the big-leaf hydrangea and you have a short window of opportunity to prune without interfering with blooms.


I had an unusual vine come up in my yard as a volunteer.  I can’t tell if it is a melon or a pumpkin.  Any ideas?

Image of a curcubit volunteer

 AnswerIt looks like a gourd to me.  Seeds of cucurbits can produce interesting results since they do cross -pollinate.  The fruits after pollination are not affected, but the resulting seeds often produce some interesting fruits.  

 QuestionI planted a nectarine tree about nine years ago. I have never been able to prune it because it starts to bloom every October and again in February. We had a tree load of nectarines four years after it was planted.  Then nothing until this last summer.  The tree was loaded again.  But the fruits do not get as large as the ones in the stores but juicy and sweeter.  I don't know if it is because we never could prune it because it never went dormant.  I think maybe the main tree has died and these are just sprouts off of the tree. What can we do to get it to bear every year and when is a good time to prune it?  I pruned a nectarine tree once when it had a broken limb but the tree died.

AnswerAll fruit trees need to be pruned every year, nectarines no exception.  The fall blooms are just a few errant flowers that are confused. The main pruning should be done before it begins to bloom in the spring which is from where the fruits will set.  Normally late February is the time to prune.  Nectarines are pruned very similarly to peaches.  Thin out some of the excess branches and keep it a manageable height to manage harvest.  Proper pruning may reduce the number of fruits that set, but will actually increase the size and quality of the fruits    

 QuestionWhen would be the best time for me to transplant my gardenia bush?  I have it in a barrel on my porch now but it has grown double since I put it in there.  I would like to put it in the ground


 AnswerIn a perfect world it would have been better to plant in the spring to get the root system established before winter.  That being said, it will be more winter hardy in the ground than in the container, so plant it ASAP.  Make sure the site is well drained with morning sun and afternoon shade. Water well when planting and monitor watering needs when we don’t get rain.  Pay particular attention prior to freezing temperatures. If a plant is dry going into a cold spell it is more sensitive to cold damage.    

My daughter-in-law is from southern China.  While visiting here a few years ago, my son asked her how they keep the kudzu at bay in China.  "We eat it" she said.  They cook it as a green.      

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