QUESTION: "My hydrangea plant is healthy but has only put out one
flower in last four years. Do I need a second plant to make it
flower?" - Darlene
ANSWER: I guess you are thinking that you might need another plant
for cross pollination in order to get your hydrangea to flower. In
this case, I don't think you need a second plant. My suggestion is to
wait until after it has bloomed (or should have bloomed) and then trim
back the bush somewhat. Then, in the fall after leaf drop, mix one
tablespoon of Epsom salts to one gallon of water and pour on the soil
around the base of the plant and let it soak into the ground.
The following spring, you should repeat the process just as the leaves
are starting to emerge. Regular readers know that Cheryl and I use
this "plant spa treatment" to help stubborn plants bring forth more
blooms. Keep in touch and let me know if it works for you.
In last week's column, I discussed some plants that will thrive in
shaded areas where nothing else seems to grow. If you missed that
column, you can find it at my Web site, www.landsteward.org Look for
the column titled "Shade-loving groundcovers perfect for sun deprived
gardens." Here's a question that my wife Cheryl answered regarding
herb gardening in the shade.
QUESTION: Which herbs can I plant in fully shaded areas? I've read
other sites that recommend parsley or chives for fully shaded areas.
Do you agree? If not, which herb would you recommend planting in
shaded areas, if any?" - Maria
ANSWER: I like to plant and play around with herbs, too. From
experience, most herbs do like full sun, though some will also grow in
a filtered shady area. My chives have always grown and done well in
full sun. You need to be sure to not let the heads go to seed and
drop or you will have chives popping up all over the place! Even
though thyme generally requires sun, I have golden thyme under a
wisteria covered arbor and sage has grown well there also.
Try the same herbs in sun and shade to see which ones will grow for
your area. Herbs that are hard to control, such as mints, should be
planted in containers or they will be growing everywhere.
Playing with plants is part of the fun and at the same time becomes a
All of the questions in this column were originally addressed in a
recent edition of my weekly e-newsletter. If you'd like a free
subscription, simply send me an e-mail with your request.
QUESTION: "I have several Blue Spruces that are at least 20 to 30
feet tall. Every year they get a parasite that looks like soft brown
cones that hang down from their small branches. If you know what these
things are, could you advise me on how to rid the trees from these
parasites? Thank you." - Jose
ANSWER: What you have there are known as bag worms. As soon as you see
them appearing you will have to pull all of them off carefully, put
them in a paper sack and take them away from the area to burn.
At least twice each season you will have to spray the trees and the
ground under and around them with an insecticide such as malathion in
order to keep your spruces free of bag worms. A word of caution: be
sure to wash your hands thoroughly after spraying and leave any boots
or clothing outdoors that might have been sprayed. Malathion has a
low human toxicity but if it enters an indoor environment, it can
break down into malaoxon which can be quite poisonous to animals and
You will eventually reduce the bag worm population, but I'm afraid
they are here to stay.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees,
shrubs and landscaping to email@example.com and for resources and
additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed
newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org