In the garden
Dahlia found in Maine could be having trouble in Arkansas
Q: We found these beautiful flowers in Maine this summer; can you identify them for us? [The reader sent a photo.]
A: The plant in question is a dahlia. They will grow in Arkansas but not as easily as they will grow in places with cooler summers. I think the whole world has been to Maine in the last couple of months. Can’t tell you how many people I know who have been there this summer / fall or are going. Who knew! I saw the same variety in a botanical garden when I was there a few weeks ago.
County extension office can identify plant diseases
Q: Do you have any idea why some of my azaleas are dying? Our garden was landscaped last fall. I put fertilizer in the spring. In the photo you can see a sprinkler head, so they are getting enough water. Ideas?
A: I assume, based on the health of neighboring plants, that the water from this sprinkler head is adequately watering the area. We have to test our sprinkler systems every now and then to make sure everything is working properly, but as close to the head as this plant is, I don’t think water was the problem. I don’t think this plant is salvageable either. To correctly identify what happened, take good samples – stems, roots and leaves – at your local extension office. Your photo would be a good accompaniment. They can send it to the disease diagnostic laboratory for analysis. When you pull the plant out, look at the root system. Was he full and healthy, or stunted or rotten? Look at the crown of the plant where it enters the soil and the main branches to see if there is a crack in the bark or unusual growth. The Disease Diagnostics Lab can give you a definitive answer so you can hopefully avoid future problems.
Elephant ears will likely last all winter in large containers
Q: Will these elephant ear plants survive the winter in these containers? [The reader sent a photo.]
A: The containers you have are quite large and it looks like you have the common variety of elephant ears, which is the toughest. If you live in central Arkansas or South Arkansas, I think you’ll be fine. It also depends on how cold it is this winter. Add a layer of mulch to the pots after they die and hopefully they’ll do fine. Raised beds and containers allow the soil to become cooler than the soil in the soil, and if the soil freezes, it could damage the bulbs. In most winters this won’t happen in Arkansas, but never say never.
El Dorado Master Gardener seeks advice on floral tourism
Q: I am a master gardener in El Dorado and a huge fan of you. In mid-October my husband and I will fly to Amsterdam and stay there for two nights before boarding a Holland America ship for a transatlantic cruise. I read that it is possible to observe the flower / bulb auction which is located near the airport. I wonder if travelers can buy bulbs (or other plants) during their stay. Do you have any tips / advice for travelers like me?
A: I was lucky enough to take a group of gardeners to Amsterdam several years ago. We booked a group tour to see the Royal FloraHolland Flower Auction – an amazing sight, of course. We had to leave early – 6 am to arrive at 7 am for the opening. You want to arrive early to see the most action. If you are leaving a day early for your cruise, you can book a tour. Here is a shortcut link to the website: arkansasonline.com/102bulbs. During the tour they take you behind the scenes where you can see into the room where customers are buying flowers in huge quantities. Then you see all these forklifts moving crates of flowers. It looks like an anthill of people and flowers. Quite impressive. You don’t personally approach the flowers, you can’t buy them, but it’s quite interesting. I think we all enjoyed it.
Retired after 38 years with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, Janet Carson ranks among Arkansas’ best-known horticultural experts. Her blog is at arkansasonline.com/planitjanet. Write to him at PO Box 2221, Little Rock, AR 72203 or by email [emailÂ protected]
A local county extension office could send samples of these diseased azaleas to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Disease Diagnostics Lab to investigate what is wrong. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)
Crates of tulips await buyers at the 2018 Royal Flora Holland Flower and Bulb Auction in Amsterdam. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette / Janet B. Carson)
Behind the scenes at a large 2018 tulip auction in Amsterdam, forklifts move crates of flowers as they are purchased. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette / Janet B. Carson)
Often, but not always, elephant ears can overwinter outdoors in large containers. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)