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Archive
Here's the vast Archive of Enquiry that the Doyenne has already answered. Good clean fun for the whole family.

This week's questions:

  • Jasmine Care
  • Branchless Maple
  • African Violet 911
  • Too Hot for Peppers
  • Thrip Invasion
  • Unscented Roses?

    Jasmine Care

    Dear Doyenne,
    I bought a jasmine plant last summer. It was flowering when I bought it and is still in the house where I keep it in a south window. I would like to know when to prune it to encourage it to be fuller than it is. Does it have a dormant period? How should it be fertilized?

    Thanks for your help,
    Jude

    Jude,
    Your jasmine plant is actually Murrya paniculata. Locate it in a sunny window and water it when it is dry. Add a 1/4 dilution of liquid fertilizer to the water each time, and it should bloom for you during the warmer months (May to September). You can prune it by cutting back lanky branches after it's bloomed, but if you're impatient and want it to be bushier, sooner, you can tip prune it back at any time (it blooms on new wood).

    Enjoy, KL

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    Branchless Maple

    Dear Doyenne,
    I've a Crimson Queen Japanese maple, planted this fall in an ideal location in Tulsa, Okla. The tree has no branches on about 14 inches of its trunk, about halfway up. I am curious as to whether this area will fill in with new branches over time.

    Thanks,
    Mark

    Mark,
    The short answer is that unless you top the tree back to that area, it's not likely to suddenly "sprout" branches in that bare spot. Having said that, don't top it! As other branches get larger, it'll become less noticeable over time. Topping is just short of original sin.

    Best, KL

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    African Violet 911

    Dear Doyenne,
    I have a little violet in a window with east/north light in a craftsman style house (i.e.: big eaves, so little light). It's been there for four years and done ok but now it looks very iffy. What could it be?

    Thanks,
    Andrea

    Andrea,
    I'll bet you are over-watering your violet. African violets adjust well to the warm temperatures and dry air of homes. While they require good light, direct sunlight is not necessary. Windows facing north or east provide favorable light conditions and are preferable to those exposed to midday and afternoon sunshine during summer. The best temperatures for African violets are about 60 F at night and up to 80 to 85 F during the day. The plants become stunted at cool temperatures and are slow to recover even when put into a warm place. In hot weather (over 85 F), plants are especially susceptible to rot.

    Not that you asked, but while we're on the subject, one of the major problems associated with African violet care is excessive watering, which can lead to root or crown rot. All ages of plants may be affected. The crown and roots of these infected plants turn dark and soft, and the leaves usually wilt. Badly diseased plants should be put out of their misery, and their containers shouled be cleaned and disinfected before reusing them. If it's a plant you totally adore and it's not completely decayed, you can sometimes remove the rotted portion of the crown well above the line of decay, and reroot the plant in sterile medium.

    Here's hoping things don't get that far! Best, KL

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    Too Hot for Peppers

    Dear Doyenne,
    I live in Tucson, Ariz. (zone 10, I think) and in the past I have tried to grow poblanos, jalapenos and NuMex Big Jims in containers on my patio. Last year, they all bit the dust. I use plastic pots (mostly old cat-litter buckets but also regular plastic pots) and I read an article which said I should use terra cota pots lined with garbage bags because of the intense heat and dryness. My patio faces northeast. I get full sun in the morning but not in the afternoon. I'm trying to decide if it's worth trying again. What's your opinion?

    Thanks for your help!
    Sarah

    Patricia,
    Peppers grow great in the southwest, but in containers the soil might get just a bit too hot. I would definitely try them again, but yes, use terra cota or wooden containers and make sure to keep them well watered. If you can keep direct sunlight off of the pots (group them together) but can also allow the plants to get sun, you should be more successful. Plant them out in April in rich potting soil.

    Best, KL

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    Thrip Invasion

    Dear Doyenne,
    My Dutch irises have a problem this year that I saw in my gladiolous last year. The leaves are folding over on sharp horizontal creases that when examined closely look like they were sewn across and then had the thread pulled too tight. Sometimes the plant tissue seems slightly gathered together in the fold. It looks terrible but, more importantly I worry it's a sign of a bad pest. Is this a hallmark of any pest you know -- thrips perhaps?

    Thanks,
    T

    T,
    Sounds like thrips. There are no real friendly ways to get rid of them, other than making sure your plants get even irrigation throughout the growing season.

    Best, KL

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    Unscented Roses?

    Dear Doyenne,
    I want to plant some roses but unfortunately I'm very allergic and sensitive to smells! What are some varieties that I can plant and cut and enjoy indoors that will be beautiful yet non-smelly?

    Thanks,

    Kelley

    Kelley,
    Now there's an unprecedented question. How about trying these cultivars: 'Canadian White Star', 'Flaming Peace' and 'Andrea Stelzer' (blackspot alert). All three are noted for having only a very slight fragrance. A good source for roses, where you might find more related info, is the nursery
    Heirloom Roses.

    Best of luck, KL

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