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Ed Hume Answers Your Gardening Questions

Ed Hume cannot answer all of the garden questions he receives, but questions of general interest will be answered here every month.  Email your questions to HumeSeeds@aol.com.  Please note: we do not accept attachments.

Before submitting a question, be sure to check the index of previous questions and answers or search our site using key words.  Many questions have already been answered here on the site.


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Damaged Apple Tree

We have a tree that was grafted at the bottom. There are no branches on it..It was damaged by a weedeater and the top part died. It is now growing from the bottom..Should the dead part be cut off above the growing part? It is a Stark tree that is not supposed to branch, and is about 5' tall.

Yes, cut off the dead part. However, if the new sucker growth is coming from below the original graft, all you will get is whatever the root stock is, not the Stark variety.

If this is the case, you can graft another variety onto the root stock that remains. I would recommend you refer to a pruning book for directions and illustrations on how to do this.

On the other hand, if the growth is coming from above the graft, then you will get the Stark variety and it is worth saving.


Spider Mites

I have a problem with spider mites infesting my spider plants. I have tried spraying them with Malathion once and repeating five days later and they are still there. Could you give me some advice on what else I can try?

Spider mites are tough because they come back so quickly, sometimes the cycles are just a few days apart, depending upon temperatures. An oil spray like 'Ultra Fine' is one of the most environmentally friendly products. Be sure to take the plant outside to spray it, so you do not get the oil spray on furniture, floors, etc. Read and follow label instructions.


Privacy Hedge

I would like some suggestions for a tall privacy hedge 6-10 ft range, that would be in full sun, grow moderately fast, and be low maintenance. I was excited to find the rhamnus frangula tallhedge....until I found a web site that said the berries stain everything and they get leggy. The size, low upkeep and shape were appealing. I've also considered the thuja and the arborvitae. What suggestions do you have?

That's a very tough question to answer because there are very few screening plants that grow to a certain height and stop without some maintenance. Pyramidalis and "Emerald Green" are two popular screen plants. When they reach the height you want, simply top them and thereafter seasonal light shearing will usually keep them under control.

Photinia, English Laurel and Privet are other popular hedging plants, but all take yearly trimming.


Unwanted Bog

I live in Woodinville and have 2 areas of my yard that will not grow grass, so instead of fighting it every year we've decided to try to make it into a garden. But I don't know what kind of plants to get. The areas are wet and shady and visible from inside my house. The smaller area (12x12) gets pretty much no sun ever.

The larger area (10x60) gets part sun in the summer, it also borders my deck, family and dining rooms. I will use paver stones on the larger side. During the summer they dry up a bit, but never completely. Please help me, I can't stand the bog anymore.

You may want to raise the soil in those beds to get up above the water and provide better drainage for any plants you set out. Shade is ideal for Rhododendrons, Camellias, Azaleas, Skimmia, Sarcoccoca, Hosta, Primroses and many other plants. Unfortunately, they do not want to sit in water all winter and part of the growing season.

The other method would be to drain the entire area with French drains...Tile and drainage ditching may be the only practical solution for the larger area.

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