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Garden Reference Desk

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

 

March 18, 2017

Question

This vine keeps growing under our privacy fence from the neighbors' fence & will root in our yard. Is it a clematis or what? How do I control it?

 

Variegated Vinca Major 

Answer

The plant in question is variegated Vinca major.  Although it is still sold in many garden centers as a groundcover for the shade, you and I both know it is a noxious, and invasive weed—my neighbor’s back yard is solid in this and it comes to visit me every year.  Since we can’t control what is in our neighbors yards, all we can do it cut back and spray with Round-up on our side of the fence.  I lay down sheets of cardboard and mulch at the fence line after I cut it back and that helps for about a season, and then it starts coming back.  Many folks do love the purple blooms and ease of growth, but it is too vigorous for my tastes. 


 Question

My husband has pruned my white wisteria so that there will be very few blooms! Please help me to help him to know why, when and how to prune it correctly so I will have my beautiful white wisteria bush back.  

 

Answer

Wisteria is a spring blooming vine that has its flower buds set when it goes dormant in the fall.  Pruning AFTER bloom is when it should be pruned. Pruning before it leafs out cuts off all the flower buds that are set.  Wisteria is a prolific vine which needs to be pruned hard annually.  Many gardeners prune it a little and then when it grows too much, they keep pruning throughout the summer season, which can also impact blooming. Prune as soon after blooming as possible, but no later than June 15. 


Question

This was your response this fall:  Night blooming jasmine is not a true jasmine but Cestrum nocturnum.  While it is hardy in south Arkansas, I have lost mine in central Arkansas by leaving it outdoors. That being said, the yellow and orange flowering cestrum’s are overwintering in the ground in Fayetteville at the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks!  I would try two things.  Take some cuttings to root indoors to insure you have a plant next growing season. For the one that is planted, as soon as we have a freeze, add extra mulch. It will also depend on the type of winter we have.  Even if the top gets nipped back, it may resprout from the root system so see what happens. Mine is in a container, so I plan to put it behind my shrubs between the shrubs and the house this winter to see if that will protect it. It smells heavenly right now!  Now, to give you an update: the night jasmine I asked about at end of last summer about over wintering did not make it. But am very glad I took your advice. I have four good starters to plant in planters.    Any advice on how to get these to have flowers this summer.   Thank you. 

 

Answer

I didn’t get mine moved as I said I would and it is a dead soldier now too!  Glad you have new starts.  Night blooming jasmine is a fast grower.  I would get a large pot and in a few weeks I would plant them in one large container in full sun.  Water and fertilize and you should have a blooming plant by mid to late summer.  


Question

For the third year in a row (we've lived here for 30 years) as soon as it warms up a little we have a screened in porch full (100's) of bugs. I thought they were lady bugs and so I would vacuum them up and put them outside. A friend said they were beetles and not lady bugs. They look like lady bugs to me, what are they? They get in the house too.

 

 Answer

It sounds to me like the Asian ladybug which is a beetle as are all ladybugs.  The Asian ladybug adult is slightly larger than our native ladybug and can occur in several color patterns varying from solid orange, orange with black spots to red with black spots.  It is a beneficial insect and feeds on pests such as aphids, mites, thrips, and scale.  Unfortunately in the fall, they gather in large numbers on the outside of light-colored houses and can find their way inside through cracks or holes.  They have also been known to get inside mailboxes, barns and garages looking for a place to spend the winter.  They hibernate through the winter and become active again in spring.  Vacuuming them up and putting them outside is a good idea. Do be aware that they emit a foul smelling yellow staining substance when disturbed which can stain whatever they are on indoors.  Try to seal any cracks or openings to block them coming in next fall

 


 

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