Answers to Your Top Garden Questions

The Garden Editors at Better Homes and Gardens answer all your toughest gardening questions.

Denny Schrock

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Blue mophead hydrangea
Non-blooming Hydrangea

    Question: My hydrangea won't bloom. It's had only one flower in six years. Why won't it bloom? Am I pruning it at the wrong time?

    Answer: Pruning at the wrong time of year is just one of the reasons your hydrangea may not be blooming. (Late spring, after the flowers fade, is the best time to prune most hydrangeas.)

Creeping Charlie Is Out of Control

    Question: My lawn is covered with creeping Charlie and moss. How do I get rid of them and grow grass instead?

    Answer: Creeping Charlie and moss both love shady conditions. Check out the Garden Doctor's suggestions for reducing the amount of shade in your yard, plus a recipe for controlling creeping Charlie.

Black Tomato Ends

    Question: For the last two years my tomatoes developed a black spot on the bottom of the fruits. I plant them in the same place every year. Would it help to plant them in a different location?

    Answer: A black spot on the bottom of a tomato is a symptom of a condition called blossom-end rot. The good news is that it's not caused by a disease or an insect.

Growing Veggies in Shade

    Question: I have a bed along the north side of my house that stays shady most of the time. What vegetables could I grow there?

    Answer: Most vegetables grow best in full sun, but a few may actually grow better in the cooler conditions of partial shade.

Controlling Deer

    Question: The deer devour everything in my yard. Is there anything they won't eat? What can I do to stop them?

    Answer: Although deer will eat almost anything if they're hungry enough, there are many plants that they avoid, including plants with fuzzy foliage. Various repellents and protective devices also can keep them at bay.

Pruning Roses

    Question: My Knock Out roses are tall and not at all bushy. I cut them back but they returned just as tall and leggy. Is there anything I can do?

    Answer: An early spring pruning at the right place on your Knock Out rose will force it to branch out from the base.

Stopping Grubs

    Question: In order to save money on lawn care, we're fertilizing the lawn ourselves rather than using a lawn-care service. We bought a 4-step fertilizer program. Do we need to apply a grub control separately?

    Answer: Most fertilizer programs do not contain a grub control insecticide. However, you may not need to apply a grub control.

What to Grow Under a Pine Tree

    Question: My neighbor has a huge pine tree that shades a corner of my yard. Is there anything that will grow under this tree?

    Answer: The tree roots may be sucking up most of the moisture, but that which remains will be ideal for a number of shade-tolerant flowering perennials and shrubs.

Wisteria Won't Bloom

    Question: I have a 10-year-old wisteria vine that has never bloomed. It gets full sun, and I've fertilized it with a plant food high in phosphorus. It still won't bloom. What can I do?

    Answer: Wisterias started from seed can take a long time to come into bloom. Proper fertilization and pruning also affect how quickly the vine will bloom.

Deterring Snakes

    Question: I have a lot of snakes in my garden. Although I know that they are supposed to be good guys, I am deathly afraid of them. What can I do to keep them away?

    Answer: Snakes will help keep the population of mice and voles down in your yard, but if fear of snakes prevents you from enjoying the yard, it may be worth keeping them away.

Preventing Dog Damage in the Yard

    Question: I have two beautiful dogs that are part of the family, but they've destroyed all my potted plants in the yard. How do I maintain a pretty yard despite our active dogs?

    Answer: Repellents and tough plants may work in some instances, but there's one sure-fire way to peacefully co-exist with dogs in the yard.

Growing Blueberries in Containers

    Question: Can I grow blueberries in containers? If so, which kinds do best?

    Answer: Growing blueberries in containers, you easily can control the soil conditions that blueberries need.

Container Veggies for the Southwest

    Question: I live in the Desert Southwest. Which vegetables can I grow here? And can I grow them in containers?

    Answer: Virtually any kinds of vegetables will thrive in containers in the Desert Southwest if you provide them the right growing conditions and plant them at the right time.

Lily Leaf Beetle

    Question: Last year some red bugs ate my lily leaves. How do I get rid of these pests?

    Answer: The red beetles that you see on your lilies are the adult of the lily leaf beetle. The time to control them is when they are in the larval stage.

Hedge for Privacy

    Question: What I can plant for privacy from my neighbors? I would like something that has flowers or colorful foliage.

    Answer: For year-round privacy an evergreen is the best choice. There are also many deciduous flowering shrubs that make good screens.

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