Ask The Gardener: Weed or flower, day lilies, saving basil and more

Posted on: July 12, 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
  • Send us a message on Facebook.

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


Question 1: Is this a weed?

Carolyn: We planted some perennials two or three years ago, and they are very beautiful. Last fall we separated some Black Eyed Susan’s and some Hosta Daisies and probably some others kinds as well. In the spring this year, I found a piece of something and planted it in a pot. I’m not sure what it is and actually I wondering if it’s a weed. Can you tell?

Doug: That looks like a weed to me, but I’m not sure which one. I would be tempted to see if it blooms. Some weeds are beautiful.

Question 2: Day lilies

Mary Ann: My cousin planted yellow day lilies at his parents’ grave 14 years ago. They’ve been blooming and getting larger each year. I rip out the dead leaves at the end of the fall, and this year it didn’t bloom. Do you know why this is?

Doug: They probably need to be divided. You should do that every four to five years. I would get in there and cut them into quarters, replant with some compost and then they will be ready to bloom again.

Question 3: Saving basil

Janet: Do you have a favorite way of drying basil? I freeze mine in ice cube trays because I can’t dry it right. Any ideas?

Doug: I prefer to freeze it like you’re doing. It loses texture and color but retains that wonderful flavor. For drying, you could just tie the plants together and hang them upside down, or put them in a paper bag. Personally I don’t consider dried basil an option, but to each their own.

Question 4: Watering tips

Ken: You mentioned before to water in the morning, but you also mentioned that potted plants need 1 inch of water per week. How often do I water potted/hanging plants? I often feel the weight of the basket to gauge the need for water. I also notice that the leaves turn a little yellow at times, which I’ve been told means “too much water.” My wife thinks all plants need water every day.

Doug: You’re doing just the right thing for your containers. That weight is a good indication of the moisture level of the pot. Containers usually need to be watered more often than the garden. This is also a good time to fertilize them. I use Grow (available here), which is an organic liquid fertilizer.

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