Wheaties might be the breakfast of champions, but it's hardly the secret formula behind our region's champion trees. Recent news reports have featured several of the region's largest trees, termed champions on official registries kept by forestry departments in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. How can we get the trees in our yards to grow like that: large and long-lived?
Q: I inherited a 10-year-old peace lily from my grandma when she passed away. I've transplanted it into a larger pot three times in the past seven years, but it's declining. Is there anything I can do? — Benay Knaany, Pittsburgh, Penn. A: The photo shows your peace lily leaves with brown tips and margins, which are almost always caused by peace lily's adverse reaction to salts that accumulate in the soil from water type or excess fertilizer. Fertilize peace lilies no more than monthly during the increased daylength months of March through September and skip the other months.
FARGO — It's the moment we've all been waiting for. No, it's not an announcement from Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. It's the arrival of seed catalogs in mid-winter. You might say it's the official kick-off of the 2018 gardening season. But proceed with caution: it's impossible to browse the colorful pages of mouth-watering vegetables and bright flowers without catching a serious case of gardening fever. Seed catalogs have been satisfying the gardening itch since the first one was published in 1784 by Philadelphia's Landseth Seed Company.
Q: I've included a photo of the gorgeous amaryllis bulb I purchased from Baker Garden and Gift, Fargo, last November. It's had three flower stalks with several blossoms on each. Now that the flowers have faded, what would you recommend to rebuild the bulb? - Dawn Doetkott, Fargo. A: Your experience proves the value of choosing large-sized, top-quality bulbs from good sources. Amaryllis bloom quickly after potting because the flowers are already formed inside the bulb. The huskier the bulb, the more prolific the flowers.
The average lifespan of houseplants is difficult to determine because their birth and death dates are seldom recorded in plant obituaries. Longevity in houseplants is held in high esteem; for example, in 2014 a lady in Pittsburgh left a sizeable inheritance to her philodendron, so the 42-year-old companion plant would be well cared for after she was gone. How long can houseplants live? The oldest currently living houseplant of record is located in the conservatory at London's Kew Gardens. The 242-year-old Eastern Cape cycad has been growing in a pot since 1775.
Q: Can you settle a tomato disagreement? My neighbor says adding Epsom salts to the soil prevents the black rot that frequently happens on the bottom of tomato fruits. I've heard that it doesn't work. Who's right? - Linda M., Hillsboro, N.D.
Q: I have a question about the potatoes that we grew in our family garden. This year some of our russets and Red Pontiacs have bad spots in the middle of the potatoes. Not all tubers have the problem, but we've had to throw some that were totally unusable. What causes this, and what can we do to prevent it in the future? — Paul Meyer, Fargo.
FARGO — This is the year. Rains will come at just the right times, evenly spaced. The weather will be neither too hot nor too cold. Weeds won't be an issue. Flowers and vegetables will grow large and lush this summer because blights and bugs froze out during the recent cold snap. Our gardens and flowerbeds will be our best ever.
Get ready to adjust your yard and garden habits. The Garden Media Group issued their annual Garden Trends Report, predicting the hot topics, major goals and concerns for the upcoming year in the world of gardening. Even if we don't completely upend our current way of doing things, it still makes for interesting discussion. And I'm happy my old hoe is in vogue again. Adjusting to climate change
Q: The attached photo shows a $3 hibiscus rescued from Walmart several years ago. I'm growing it indoors in front of our deck doors, which face west, giving afternoon sun. — Gail Sjolander Olson, Fargo. A: Thanks, Gail, for responding to my request to share your hibiscus tips, after I noticed your hibiscus photo on Facebook. Gail writes: "I'm growing my two hibiscuses indoors year-round now, because I had insect problems when I'd move them outdoors. I tried them on our west deck, but now grow them inside the deck doors, which gives them the same sunlight as outdoors.