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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.


Other November Links

Pruning Lilacs

I hace 5 very old, very fragrant and beautiful lilacs. However, they are very leggy. The branches are all stalk for the first 5 to 6 feet. I would like to cut these down so they are not so tall. What is the best way?

You have several choices. One way is to simply go in and cut them back to the desired height. If you do, you will lose the flowers for at least one year. Another way is to go in and cut back 1/3 of the plant this year, another 1/3 next year and the final 1/3 the following year. That way you have flowers every year, yet you have reduced the size of the plants over the three year period.

The pruning can be done during the winter dormant season (Nov through Feb in the northern hemisphere). A certain amount of light pruning can be done immediately after the lilacs have finished flowering.

If you have plenty of space, you may want to take suckers from the old parent plants and plant them in front of the existing plants. Then you can keep them at a lower height, and not even bother to prune back the established plants. Use them instead as taller background plantings!

Discouraging Moles Electronically

I catch your show on KVI whenever I can and really enjoy it.  Last week I tuned in to the end of a series of questions about moles. One guy said he used a vibrator but it just drove the moles to a different part of his yard.

I have a major problem with moles, but only a small yard. I need something simple that is low maintenance (i.e., repeatedly burying and digging up traps, not to mention killing and disposing of the mole, does not appeal to me). Something that would drive them out of my yard would be fine. Do vibrators work, in your opinion, and if so, what brand do you recommend?   I've seen one advertised by Damart for $35.

There are several different types of devices that create some type of vibrations in the ground and are supposed to scare away burrowing rodents, such as moles. I must admit, I have never tried them. However, the comments from some readers and listeners have been quite good. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago, one listener sent in a copy of the Carol Wright Gift Catalog. It listed a product called the "Mole Pole", a battery operated, high pitched vibration device. They were specially priced at two for $28.50. The listener had used them and had such good results, she was ordering more for friends with mole problems. In case you want to try this product, here is the address for Carol Wright Gifts

340 AppleCreek Rd

PO Box 8503

Lincoln, NE 68544-8503


Boxwoods Changing Color

I have about 30 new (4months) boxwoods that line my driveway.  When I bought them I thought they were evergreen. It looks like about 1/4 of them are showing signs of  leaves changing color. Should this be happening or do I have a fungus or bug problem?

This plant is subject to blight, however your problem could also be a soil deficiency. I would suggest you take a sample of the affected leaves and a few of the good ones to your local garden outlet and have the Certified Nurseryperson on staff make an 'on the spot' diagnosis. They can also tell you if the condition is as simple as some type of stress.

Moving Grapes

A few years ago I had planted a pair of grape vine and unfortunately in the wrong spot, and I want to move them.   The best I found would be to take starts off them, I had tried to restart new settings and done what other gardeners had told me, but fail to produce any new plants. Maybe I did it at the wrong time of the year. I supposely have the grape that the winery above Sumner grows, the green seedless type. They are a sweet grape. I had forgotten what they are called and I cannot find replacements for them.. Could you inform me the method and time of year to take cuttings to reroot so I can redo these grapes.  It would be very well appreciated.

If you want to try to move the established vines, cut them back severely (to about 3 to 5 feet) dig and transplant. This can be done right now or during the dormant months of December, January or February. They can be transplanted bare-root.

You can start cuttings in the autumn. One of the easiest methods I know, is to take a cutting of stem and 'eyes' (a point where leaves originated during the growing season). The cutting should be about 3 to 4 inches long. Fill a pot (6" size) with potting soil and lay the cutting horizontal in the top 1/2" of soil. Keep in a room where temperatures are about 60 degrees. A cold frame, outdoors, is an ideal place to start the cuttings.

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