Ask the Gardener: Hibiscus, daffodil bulbs, geraniums and more

Posted on: November 22, 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.

There are three ways to send in your questions:

  • Email
  • Submit your question on our “Your Garden” section of our site
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(The questions may be lightly edited for grammar/clarity/etc.)

Question 1: Hibiscus

Nicole: I brought my hibiscus tree inside earlier this week and now it has something black all over it. From what I’m guessing it’s aphids. Do you think so? If so should I cut off bad parts and use insecticidal soap?

Doug: Sure looks like aphids to me and hibiscus is prone to them, but don’t worry. There are two organic solutions, and either will work. Spray the plant with either insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Be sure to get the undersides of the leaves. What you are trying to do is cover any insects. Three applications in as many weeks will solve your hibiscus problem.

Question 2: Daffodil bulbs

Sue: I purchased a bag of 50 daffodil bulbs last fall. I only had a chance to plant about 30 of them. The other 20 remained in my garage until now. I am wondering if it is possible to plant them now or not. Thanks for any advice you can give me.

Doug: As long as the bulbs are still solid, put them in the ground. If you squeeze them and they are soft, don’t bother.


Question 3: Geranium

Anne: What should I do with this geranium?

Doug: Wow! Do you have a cool, bright place for it? If you had a big picture window, it would survive the winter. The other way is to put the plant into dormancy and store it in the basement. I’ve had better luck as a houseplant.

Question 4: Serviceberry

Dan: I just got a serviceberry. Do I need to wrap it with the corrugated piping like you showed online or do I need to put a fence around it to keep the deer away?

Doug: I would consider protecting the trunk from rubbing bucks for at least the next few weeks until the rut is over. I found the corrugated plastic drainage pipe to be an easy, reusable tool to keep the tree safe. You could use other materials to prevent deer damage.

Question 5: Arborvitae

Ron: I procrastinated and just finished planting 14, 2 foot tall (1 to 1.5 gallon) ‘Emerald Green’ Arborvitae. I added two inches of mulch and left a 2-3 inch space at the root. To protect from deer and freeze and snow, should I wrap them in a lightweight row cover? Should I put stakes on them in the spring?

Doug: Sounds like you did everything right to me. I was out planting hollies recently, so you’re not the only procrastinator. I would not wrap them in floating row cover; your only concern is the deer. I would get some tomato stakes and surround them with deer netting. That will be a cheap and easy way to keep them safe. Here’s a video showing how I did the job for mountain laurels. Don’t worry about staking them in the spring.

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