Gardening editor Doug Oster gets asked a lot of questions. A lot. And he doesn’t mind offering gardening advice. But rather than just limiting those answers to the person who asked, we thought it might be a good idea to share that wealth of knowledge with everybody.
There are three ways to send in your questions:
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Submit your question on our “Your Garden” section of our site
- Send us a message on Facebook.
(The questions may be lightly edited for grammar/clarity/etc.)
Question 1: Christmas cactus
Lynn: I need more info on a Christmas cactus. They have gotten brown on the edges, and it looks kind of like they dried out or are dying. What should I do? And can they be transplanted? (My windowsills are kind of cold though.)
Doug: It’s pretty easy to grow, but should be treated more like a houseplant than a cactus. I keep mine in the windowsill on the dry side, but not completely dried out. They bloom when they are ready, sometimes becoming Easter or Thanksgiving cacti.
The good news is, they like it a little cold. The first step is to pick up the pot. Is it super light, or heavy? If it’s light, it needs a little water; if heavy, let it dry out. They transplant easily if you want to start over. Get a good planting mix from your local nursery. Get it moist, but not dripping and then make the move to a pot that’s one size bigger than the container it’s in.
Dead is dead, anything that doesn’t look to be alive should be removed from the Christmas cactus.
Question 2: Gnats on plants
Becky: I am still getting gnats in my house, I’m thinking from my potted plants from outside even though I repotted them. I have tried the usual vinegar, sugar, Dawn soap in white dishes around the house, and I used paper cones with this mixture, too. I also am going to try a hydrogen peroxide and water mixture on my plants. I’m at my wit’s end. Can you suggest anything else?
Doug: You need to let the soil dry out. If it’s too wet, the gnats will persist. The fungus gnats will disappear once it dries out.
Question 3: Using shredded leaves
Ruth: Is it beneficial to put shredded leaves in flower beds or could it create a mildew problem?
Doug: Shredded leaves are a great addition to a bed. Just check the pH every few seasons to be sure everything is good.
Question 4: Planting garlic
Robert: Is it still OK to plant garlic and other bulbs?
Doug: As long as the ground isn’t frozen, it’s still fine to plant both.
Leaf size, no-light plants and grubs
Canna lilies, elephant ears, daffodils/garlic and more
Hibiscus care, tomato seeds, daffodils and succulents
Early garlic, pencil holly, hydrangeas and tree locations
Bellflowers, sweet potato vine, deer/garlic and more
Lemon tree, Knockout roses, soil repair and more
Butterfly weed, tomato seeds, rose bushes and more
Roses, Japanese beetles, planting garlic and more
Artillery fungus, heliotropes, crown gall and more
Skunks, pawpaws and a memorial tree
Mushrooms, harlequin bugs, fall planting and more
Beautyberry, nematodes, tomatoes and more
Pokeweed, bug identification and voles/moles
Caterpillars, mystery flower, onions and more
Seeds, leaf gall, bulb sale and more
Praying mantis, tomato issues, crabgrass and shrubs
Dogwood relocation, tomato issues and garlic soup recipe
Canada thistle, compost, bolting parsley and more
Blossom end rot, bees, butterfly weeds and more
Mystery bugs, lavender plants and watermelons
Strawberry plants, cool-weather crops, pumpkins and more
Tomato issues, zucchini struggles, lilacs and more
Hosta seeds, garlic, Alternaria leaf blight and more
Moving a hydrangea, hibiscus and succulents
Lilies, Brussels sprouts and septoria leaf spot
Garlic harvest, cucumber beetles, spindly tomatoes and more
Bladdernut, fungus gnats, rose black spot and more
Poison ivy, black-eyed Susans and container mix
Cucumber beetles, hot pepper plants and planting potatoes
Zebra grass, pale vegetables and yellow nutsedge
More from Everybody Gardens
See also, Christmas Cactus Preserves Memory Of A Loved One
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