September 28, 2008

Gardening Questions from Readers

How do you winter elephant ears (colocasia) in zone 7?

I wait until frost to cut back my colocasia. Last year, I put a mountain of mulch on top of mine and they came back just fine this spring. Some gardeners lift the tubers and store them in a garage or basement over the winter and replant in spring.

Do rabbits eat buddleia leaves?

I haven't had a problem with rabbits (or deer) eating any parts of buddleia. I've not had any problem with diseases on buddleia either.

Can I plant Knock Out® Roses in the fall?

All of my roses were planted in September. I'm in zone 7.

Is tall verbena deer resistant?

So far, the deer have never even tried the verbena bonariensis. I have a mass planting of tall verbena and it reseeds, too. It is a favorite plant. The color works in all other combinations. It is narrow, so it fits in everywhere in a sunny location. It attracts bees and butterflies, and I've even seen hummingbirds go to it for nectar.

Are Dutch iris deer resistant?

I've never had one bloom missing on my Dutch irises. I am confident enough to plant more. I have 100 more bulbs on order to plant in late October. That said, you never know what deer will try if hungry enough.

Do deer eat Spanish bluebells?

I've never had deer eat the Spanish bluebells in my garden. Spanish bluebells are planted in fall and multiply rapidly. The blooms last a long time. After bloom, the foliage is fairly easy to conceal with other perennials.

Do deer eat Lady Banksia rose?

Yes. For some reason, they didn't bother mine this year. I think this is because they found other food. In previous years, they ate every leaf and bloom that they could reach, but did not eat the canes.

What is the best time to see flowers in France?

I've been to the French Riviera in May and Provence in mid-June and saw plenty of flowers. I've also been to Paris in late June where we took a day trip to Versailles and saw flowers in bloom. Hopefully, I'll make it to Giverny one day!

Do deer or rabbits eat agastache?

Never had either critter try the agastache that I grow. No insect problems either. Agastache is one of my favorite plants. It has a long bloom season, too.

How do you divide agastache?

In spring, I take a sharp shovel and cut apart the roots into smaller plants. I suppose you could divide it in fall, but I don't cut mine back until spring.

What month to plant coneflowers?

I have planted coneflowers in April, May, early June, September and October. They need water to get established. No need to fertilize coneflowers (in my experience). Echinacea 'Ruby Star' is my favorite. I recently planted 'Prairie Splendor' because I got a great deal on them at a local store.

Can I cut back coneflowers after blooming?

I deadhead after the 1st bloom to get a 2nd bloom. After the 2nd bloom, I leave the cones as birdseed for the Goldfinch. If I shake the cones and no seeds fall out, then I cut it back.

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Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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Paris, France; September 2013

The Musician. My late husband

The Musician. My late husband
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