We have a new hibiscus that has a five inch flower. Can we leave it outdoors and should we cut it back?
Dottie, Griswold, CT
Tropical hibiscus have two inch flowers and have to be brought indoors for the winter in zone 6. Tropicals bloom every day and drop their flowers continually. Newer H. moscheutos grandifloiflorus hybrids, which were once called Mallows, have to be cut back each fall. Many of these varieties have eight and ten inch flowers in the second year. Cut them back to eight inches from the ground.
I just cut back my dark pink one last weekend.
We have about 10% dried patches from this summer's drought. Can I seed now to fill in the spots?
Jim, Taylorville, IL
You can scratch and rake out the dead grass. You might aerate the entire lawn or just the dead spots.
Cut the grass to an inch or less, if you intend to top dress with loam fertilizer and seed. Plugs that are dug up from aerating can be raked off the lawn and shredded before using them as a top dress medium. Turfgrass Growers Association recommends applying half the seed before raking in the shredded medium with the balance of the seed. You can also just leave the plugs and just add seed and fertilizer. An 8-6-4 or equivalent fertilizer would work well. I would also apply limestone this fall before any top dressing. Top dressing with seed can be done anytime during the year. It just requires more water in the summer.
I have Citronella on my deck. Can I leave it out for the winter?
Kay, Norwich, CT
You could but it would not survive, especially in a pot. Cymbopogon nardus is a scented tropical grass with hairy spikelets. It will grow to six feet in southern areas of the US. You will need to cut it back and rest it in the garage or basement. I would put it a cardboard box and cover it with straw like the catalogue companies do. If there is a sunny window it the area, let it shine on the box. Lemon scented geranium is often called Citronella. This too is a tender perennial n zone six. Pelargoniu rispum can be attended as a house plant for the winter. Put it in a south facing window and water sparingly with very little fertilizer.
I have about eight Rose Of Sharon in pots. They were planted from seed from my dad's plants in Chicago. They are a foot tall. The under leaves are loaded with flying bugs that are laying eggs. What can I spray?
Wally, Barlett, TN
Malathion is still the most effective insecticide for white fly and aphids. You can clean the eggs with a Q tip and alcohol, if you are organically challenged.
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