Prune flame vines after flowering

Prune flame vines after flowering

a question. A very attractive orange flowering vine that climbs native trees, shrubs and fences. What is the name and does it need to be controlled?

Answer. It was clearly out of control, but extremely colorful vines of flame were thriving in many neighborhoods. Some are left to grow spreading, roaming over shrubs and tall trees 30 feet or more tall. The plants are beautiful at this time of year but must be kept under control by training on trellises, trellises and fences. Allowing vines to climb trees and cover shrubs is never a good idea. Let the vines flourish, then take the pruner to bring them back to their borders. It is possible that many plants are in the wrong place and will never be contained. Such plants need to be either removed, moved or given better support.

s. Weeds are out of control in our St. Augustine garden. Should I use liquid herbicide to control it at this time?

a. Winter grasses and some new warm-season species grow in local meadows. Sometimes, mowing the grass at its natural height can keep it under control until the grass begins to grow in the spring. Otherwise, there's no problem using a liquid herbicide labeled for your garden type. Note that some products restrict use of certain St. Augustine varieties. Apply weed control on warm days using the labeled rate and application technique. If the weather is too cold, the products may not be effective, and weeds may continue to grow.

s. Our hydrangeas have a gray, snow-like coating covering most of the leaves. I don't want to trim the tips because that will affect the flowering. What should I do?

a. Make sure the white to gray coating on the leaves is not snow but a fungus known as powdery mildew. It is common in hydrangeas and makes the leaves look bad and cause them to fall off. Once covered with fungus, there is no good control, and the leaves continue to deteriorate. The fungus does not appear to cause significant plant decline and is tolerated normally. In the future, a fungicide labeled for powdery mildew can help reduce fungal activity and should be used at the first sign of white coating and leaf spots. New leaves should fill your plants during the spring as older leaves fall from the stems. You are right not to prune the plants at this time, as flower buds will likely have formed and will be removed with trimming.

s. I've tried tiny houses with plastic covers with vents and heating mats. I haven't had much success with anyone at home or abroad. What could be my problem?

a. Small grow rooms usually do a good job of starting seeds. Make sure your seeds are fresh and capable of producing seedlings. Next, keep the seed mix or soil plugs moist but not too wet. Under closed conditions with excessive heat, seeds can easily rot if they are excessively wet. Also make sure it is not too hot inside the packages. A temperature of around 80°F is ideal. If all else fails, leave the covers on for only a day or two at a time until you see the seeds germinate and then remove them completely.

s. I have T plants that are four feet tall and they turn brown and die when they look at the bottom. Can I cut them back to within a foot of the ground and expect them to survive?

a. Plants that survive the winter certainly won't mind heavy pruning. Ti plants, a relative of the dracaena, do not like cold winter weather, and the leaves often turn brown even without freezing temperatures. Cutting them back to the desired height, even close to the ground, should give the plants a fresh start from the many buds waiting to sprout along the lower stems. New growth may be slow, but you should have a nice-looking plant for those hot, humid summer days, which plants certainly prefer.

s. Two gaura plants were installed near one of the paths last summer and they have grown a lot. When can they be transferred?

a. Perennial gaura plants have many names, but one of the most common is butterfly butterfly. These are dry-tolerant pants that are good from spring through fall. Locally, most plants die back during cold weather and may die back to the ground. The plants can be difficult to transplant because of their thick roots, which help them survive drought. If you dig a large, intact clump, you should be able to transplant the plantings now and until spring growth begins.

s. My attempts to grow vegetables in our 1 square foot garden have been unsuccessful because the plants are tall. We used a good mix of containers and added fertilizer and compost. The site gets less sun than it used to. Could this be the problem?

a. Reboot your vegetable gardening by first sticking to a good container mix and skipping the other additions. Most likely, potted soil encourages a lot of low-light growth. Often, container mixtures contain the fertilizer needed for at least the first month or so of growth. You can save fertilizer later if necessary. Next, determine which crops work best in low light. Leafy crops such as lettuce, cabbage, cabbage and spinach usually grow well but can be a bit skinny. Most herbs and onions also seem to grow well with low sunlight.

s. Last June, my neighbor's oak tree was struck by lightning and died. By September, the top foot of the nearby magnolia had turned brown. If I cut off the top, will the tree survive?

a. The most visible after a lightning strike is a severely damaged tree. Sometimes, only the bark is split, but other times, the tree quickly dies. What may not be noticed is damage to other trees that may be some distance away from what appears to be the main strike. Your tree could have been affected as well, but only the top part was damaged. This area may have gone unnoticed but it has become infected and is now on the decline as well. Other factors may cause tree tops to drop as well, but control is similar. Remove the affected section several inches to a foot below any wounds and into healthy wood to stop deterioration. Liquid copper fungicide can be used to prevent further infection by following label instructions. Next, give the tree normal care with spring feeding and keep the soil moist to encourage healing and new growth.

Tom McCubbin is an urban horticulturist emeritus with the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service. Write to him: Orlando Sentinel, PO Box 2833, Orlando, FL. 32802. Email: TomMac1996@aol.com.

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