Doug’s mailbag: Hibiscus care, tomato seeds, daffodils and succulents

Posted on: November 5, 2018 | Written By: Doug Oster | Comments

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 askdoug@535mediallc.com
  • 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.)

hibiscus

Question 1: Hibiscus

Kathy: My mother bought a plant for me this year that I’m trying to save for her over the winter. It’s currently outside, and it is very small, only like 10 inches tall and 5 inches in diameter. It is like a hibiscus plant. It has those flowers that are like trumpets and about 2 to 3 inches in diameter. Can I dig that up and bring it inside into my garage that does not freeze? I’m pretty sure if I leave it outside it will be dead in the spring.

Doug: The first thing we have to do is determine is whether it’s a perennial hibiscus or tropical. Tropicals have shiny, deep green leaves and very showing flowers. The perennial has light green foliage, and the flowers aren’t quite a showy. Yours is a perennial variety that will be happy living outdoors year round. They are very tough and should come back season after season.

Question 2: 3945 tomato seeds

Therese: I wanted to thank you again for the 3945 tomato seeds. I was able to start a few plants and give one away (to someone who lives at my old address at 3945). A lot of love and worry went into getting them to grow. I even took the sprouted seedings on vacation with us so I could care for them myself! Can’t wait for the next generation in the spring!

Doug: I love that you gave them to someone who lives at 3945 and the fact that you actually took the seedlings on vacation. I bet you had some interesting reactions from friends and family. How did the tomatoes grow for you?

Therese: My family thinks I’m crazy, but the tomatoes actually had a lot of sentimental value for me. I guess my mission was to grow them to honor the memory of all the past gardeners (grandmother, father) at that address. It was a learning experience for sure! I put them in big pots because of the wildlife scavengers, but the pots had inadequate drainage. So I harvested about four tomatoes and three had areas of bottom blossom rot. The fruit was tasty though. My goal this season was to get seeds, and I got a lot of them. So hopefully next season I’ll actually have a lot of fruit too!

Editor’s note: To read more about the special history of the 3945 tomato, check out this article.

Question 3: Daffodil ID

Carol: My cousin sent me daffodils called “under the apple tree.” I’m trying to find pictures of them online, but I keep coming up with pictures of daffodils planted under trees. Lol. Anyway, my favorite daffodil is “Tahiti,” with the orange in it. Are “under the apple tree” daffodils unique in any way?

Doug: I knew that Joe Hamm would be growing this variety. I don’t know anything about it, but check out this listing. It looks like a wonderful variety.

Question 4: Hens and chicks

Holly: What is the best way to over-winter hens and chicks? My garage is not heated, and it does not have good lighting at all … it is dark in there. What about putting them against the house covered in burlap and leaves? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Doug: Hens and chicks are pretty hardy. Close to the house with some shredded leaves should do the trick. I don’t do anything special with mine, and they come back year after year.

Previous mailbags

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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

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See also, Garden Road Trip: Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Va.

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Doug Oster is manager and editor of Everybody Gardens with a passion for gardening and a love of sharing is experiences with other gardeners. You will also find Doug’s gardening contributions in the Tribune-Review each week. He’s an Emmy Award winning producer, television host and writer. Oster is co-host of The Organic Gardeners Radio show every Sunday morning at 7 a.m. on KDKA radio in Pittsburgh. Oster’s Outstanding Documentary Emmy was awarded for Gardens of Pennsylvania, a one hour special he conceived and produced for the PBS affiliate WQED. Doug appears every Thursday morning on KDKA-TV’s Pittsburgh Today live at 9 a.m. “Gardening is fun, he says, enjoy every day spent outside tending vegetables, flowers, shrubs and trees.”