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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

 

April 14, 2018

Question

What is this plant? I have overwintered it inside and it is beginning to bloom.

 

Picture of turks cap



Answer

The plant is commonly called Turks cap or Turks Turban – Malvaviscus arborea.  The plant is a hardy perennial through most of Arkansas but it can be damaged in NW Arkansas in cold winters. It does best in full sun to partial shade.  Once established it is quite drought tolerant.  It is related to hibiscus, but this one typically doesn’t bloom until late summer/early fall.  It is a favorite host of hummingbirds and butterflies.


Question

I purchased a small Japanese maple tree which was about 4 feet tall. When I bought it the leaves were green.  I was told that the leaves would turn red but they never did and the leaves looked burned around the edges as the summer wore on. 

  
AnswerJapanese maples are understory trees which would do best with some protection from the hottest afternoon sun.  Full sun can lead to tip burn on the foliage.  If you bought the tree with green leaves, they rarely turn red later during the growing season until they produce fall color.  Many varieties have red color as they emerge with leaves in the spring and then turn green during the growing season and then almost all have outstanding fall color, but it can vary from yellow, to orange, red or purple depending on the variety. 


Question

I have a huge kiwi plant (it's a female, with a male within 5 feet ), which blooms prolifically every spring, has beautiful white blooms with tiny fruit, and then loses all the blooms and never bears fruit.  It's about 7 years old.  Same with my pawpaw trees, which are about 9 years old.  They will be covered with blooms and tiny fruit, and then most of the fruit falls off and I get only a dozen or so fruits from 4 large trees.  I can see the ants pollinating them, I water them when it’s dry.  What can I do to prevent fruit loss?  


 

 Answer

The two most common reasons for premature fruit drop can be poor irrigation or poor pollination.  My guess is poor pollination.  While ants can aid in pollination, bees are better. You are getting some pollination or you wouldn’t have small fruits set, but try to encourage more pollinators. 

 


Question

We have three very large Sago Palms.   The largest is 5 feet tall and 6 feet wide, the second is 5 feet wide and the small one is 4 feet wide.  We have been taking them in and out every year, but they are getting so hard for us to handle, my husband is 83 years old.   Can these stay outside in Hot Springs Village?

Answer

I feel your pain, and am sure you get some if you are moving sago palms that large—they can be quite prickly.  In a mild winter, they would overwinter outside in the ground, but even in the southernmost areas this year sago palms took a hit with the colder winter.  If you want to guarantee their survival, you would need to continue to move them into some protection each winter.  In containers, they are less hardy than in the ground.


  

Question

We planted some Japanese maples last year. We watered them all summer. One of the three appeared to be dead at the end of summer. The other two put out new leaves this year, but the one only has a few leaves at the bottom and the top still looks dead. Should I trim the dead off or cut the top of the tree off? Any advice will be appreciated.

Answer

Give them another few weeks to start growing. It has been a later spring, and this recent cold has slowed things down, but if you don’t see any new growth by early May, I would start pruning.  Newly planted trees and shrubs need more water than well-established plants.  I would also check the soil drainage, since they should not have died the first year in the ground—too much water is also not good.  I hope you continued to water last fall and early winter, since it was bone dry.    As new growth begins, you will have to reshape it into a tree again, which will take time.


 

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