Ask the Gardener: Eucalyptus plants, reblooming iris, mulberry and more

Posted on: October 25, 2019 | Written By: Doug Oster | Comments

Everybody Gardens 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.

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(The questions may be lightly edited for grammar/clarity/etc.)


Question 1: Eucalyptus plants

Dee: I have eucalyptus three plants, and the leaves are all turning brown. Any suggestions as to what I’m doing wrong with my eucalyptus?

Doug: It doesn’t look too bad. The lighting looks perfect, and eucalyptus like to stay on the moist side but don’t overwater. I would just keep an eye on it and in the spring start feeding it with a good organic, liquid fertilizer like Grow.

Question 2: Reblooming iris

Thomas: I have reblooming white iris flowers. They recently finished blooming and now have a large seed pod on top. Do I wait for that pod to drop/dry to cut back? Can I transplant to another location at that time? When is the latest I can transplant? The first time they flowered, they were dull yellow, but they were beautiful this year. They’ve only flowered once this year and last year.

Doug: Reblooming iris don’t always do what they are supposed to do. One way to to help them rebloom is being sure you deadhead the first flowers when the blooms are spent. They need plenty of water during the summer, too. That should not have been a problem this season. You also might want to fertilize with Flowertone from Espoma after the first blooms. Cut off the seed heads so the plant puts its energy into the roots. You could probably get away with moving them now, but I’d be more inclined to move them right after the second blooms.


Question 3: Mulberry transplant

Chris: I’m going to attempt to transplant a mulberry tree that began growing this spring near my back patio. It’s small — the trunk is only about 2 inches wide and the tree is about 6 feet tall. I’ve never done this before, so can you give me tips about how to do this successfully? Do I simply make sure the root ball is big enough, and that the hole I’m digging for it large and deep enough? Should I fertilize it? Do I need compost?

Doug: Get as much of the root ball as possible. Don’t worry about compost. Mulberries are weeds and will grow just about anywhere. Be sure to give it room to grow. It’s going to be at least 20 feet tall and probably bigger.

Question 4: Protecting bulbs

Sue: Can you give me the name of the repellent that you use and how you soak them and also the tool you use for digging the holes?

Doug: I use Bobbex (available here) to soak crocus and tulip bulbs as a way to deter critters. The tool I love is a bulb auger, which makes it a breeze to add a bunch of bulbs. Here’s a video that shows how I use both Bobbex and the bulb auger.

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