One Last Day of Paradise

July 15, 2010 | By | Comments (6)

Belize-Ambergris 044

Greetings, Grumpians. Today might be my final day in tropical paradise, but that doesn’t mean I can’t take time out from rum, sun, and a warm, sticky bun to answer some gardening questions and introduce you to one of my favorite summer perennials.

Question: My Knockout roses have been beautiful until now. The main plant looks normal, but all new growth is coming out distorted with smaller leaves and rose buds and flowers. What is wrong and how do I correct the problem. Thanks, Karel

Grumpy replies: I suspect your plants have aphids. These sucking insects can be green, brown, yellow, or red and usually gather on the new leaves and flower buds. You can kill them by mixing 4-5 drops of liquid detergent into a quart spray bottle filled with water and spraying both the upper and lower leaf surfaces.

Question: We have a great Natchez crepe myrtle that I let go to seed (didn’t cut off the old blooms) and I need to know if the seedlings will always be the white Natchez? My wife wants to plant them in the front yard, but they “have to be white,” so do you know? Thanks, Arthur

Grumpy replies: Seedlings can be any color. There is no way to tell what color they will be until they bloom. Having said that, Natchez seedlings are more likely to be white than some other color.

Question: I am wondering about planting oakleaf hydrangea and hostas in an area that gets partial shade, but is heavy in roots from a water oak and Bradford pear. I need something I can plant in a row. The trees take most of the water so I know whatever I put there I will need to water in this hot summer heat. The soil is dark loamy with a lot of oak leaf mix on top. Sallie

Grumpy replies: I think the oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) would do just fine there. If you’re planting in a row, make sure you get all the same kind. My favorite is ‘Snowflake.’ Hostas, however, do not like root competition and probably wouldn’t do there.Epimedium The best perennial I’ve found for dry shade is called bishop’s hat or Epimedium. It spreads slowly to form a patch, stays low, has pretty flowers (whose shape remind some people who know what bishops’ hats look like of bishop’s hats) and handsome foliage, and takes no care whatsoever. Here’s a photo of red bishop’s hat (Epimedium x rubrum). It features red flowers and reddish foliage in spring. You can order bishop’s hat from Digging Dog Nursery.

Question: I live in zone 9 in northeast FL. I have Endless Summer hydrangeas planted at the back of the house. They receive morning sun and afternoon shade and bloom prolifically. However, I am now finding the leaves are getting black spots which eventually cause the leaves to fall off or I have to cut them off. Any ideas? James

ESummer Grumpy replies: It sounds like your plants are being attacked by a fungus called anthracnose. Hot, wet weather favors its development. To control it, keep removing diseased foliage. Do not wet the foliage when you water. Spray all healthy foliage according to label directions with a fungicide called Daconil. You can get this at garden centers.


  1. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    Your lantana probably wilted from too much water or too little. It really doesn’t need that much. Here’s how to tell if it does. If the leaves are wilted in early morning, water. If they aren’t, don’t.
    As far as coleus, one solution would be to grow them in pots that you could move out of the wind.

    July 22, 2011 at 10:16 am
  2. Armine

    what should I do with my another growing coleus. I live in zone 8. We have a lots of wind I don’t know how to protect them.

    July 15, 2011 at 10:01 pm
  3. Armine

    I have a problem with my bandito lantana. It got wilted what should I so?

    July 15, 2011 at 10:00 pm
  4. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    Actually, tomatoes split when the plants are actively growing and heavy rains occur. The fruits absorb water so rapidly the skins can’t keep up. Some tomato varieties are more susceptible to this than others, especially the big-fruited kinds.

    July 18, 2010 at 10:42 am
  5. Henry H.

    I think it could either be lack of H2O or calcium deficiency. Tomatoes need lots of calcium

    July 16, 2010 at 11:40 am
  6. Aunty Matter

    What makes my tomatoes split their skins?

    July 16, 2010 at 11:16 am

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