The pollen season is upon us. Here are some suggestions from the American Lung Association to help keep your allergies to a minimum:
■ If you have olives, apply Florel. The hormone must reach every leaf crotch to abort the flowers. Or douse trees with water each day; moisture clots the pollen and keeps it from becoming airborne.
■ Mow your Bermuda grass often to prevent pollen production.
■ Keep Bermuda grass watered, because stressed grass produces more pollen. Or use hybrid Bermuda grass, since it doesn’t produce pollen.
■ Never allow weeds in vacant lots to go to seed.
■ Plant shrubs away from your home so the wind blows the pollen away.
■ Plant colorful plants. They don’t produce airborne pollen.
■ Replace cooling filters often, because pollen collects on them.
■ Eliminate dusty areas to control molds.
■ When known pollen-producing plants are blooming, stay indoors.
■ Work in the garden in the evening, but wash pollen off the plants.
■ Wash pollen out of your hair after coming inside, so it doesn’t get on your pillow to create sleeping problems.
Here are some questions that came across my desk this week:
Q: When do I start fertilizing my shrubs?
A: Now, as plants put on new growth, again around Memorial Day and then at Labor Day. If you have seedpod or bean-producing plants, they make their own nitrogen so you don’t have to fertilize them.
Q: Can I grow sago palms with rocks around them in full sun?
A: Yes, but be aware they must become adapted and until then, the leaves may show some scorching. Provide a little shade to protect them. The next set of leaves will be OK. Use a palm fertilizer, because it has micronutrients palms need to keep happy.
Q: My gardener wants to prune my palms. Didn’t you say to do it during the summer?
A: You are right, wait until after flowering stalks emerge. They fall and can hurt someone. Never let your gardener prune them in the winter. Those drooping fronds protect the heart of the palm. If we have a frost like in 1990, you’d lose them.
Only let him remove dead fronds; green fronds are still producing food for your palm. Many gardeners want to remove all but three fronds. If they do this continually, the top of the palm takes on the shape of a pencil with a duster (fronds) on top. This weakens palms.
Q: My hibiscus plants were really hit by the frost. However, the branches seem supple. What do I do to help them survive?
A: All we need is warmer temperatures and new leaf buds will appear along the supple branches. After you see new growth emerging, remove the dead branches.
Q: Why is my windmill palm under an ash tree struggling?
A: First, windmill palms grow slowly and the towering ash tree is adding to the dilemma. Thin out the ash to enable light to filter through, and feed it now and again Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Q: When can I prune my photinia and India Hawthorne?
A: Wait until after they bloom. The same is true for other spring blooming plants. To remove the complication of wondering when to prune, prune after bloom.
Q: How do you prune ornamental grasses?
A: Cut them back to within a few inches of the ground. This cleans out the dead stuff and new growth will soon emerge. It’s surprising how fast they come back after the clipping.
Q: What’s the sticky stuff on my car parked under a pine tree?
A: They are aphids feasting on the pine tree needles. You can wash them off or wait until the ladybugs move in to clean them up.
Q: I have a wall that gets two hours of summer afternoon sun because of a nearby pecan tree. Is there a colorful vine I can use to cover the wall?
A: With such limited sunlight, you are really restricting plants that will bloom. Consider thinning out the pecan to enable light to filter through. Think about planting honeysuckle, star jasmine, cross vine and banks rose.
LOCAL VEGETABLE VARIETIES AVAILABLE
Now is your chance to get vegetable and herb transplants that were tested at our university orchard and by master gardeners. They’re available from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Extension Orchard at 4700 Horse Drive in North Las Vegas.
Linn Mills writes a garden column each Sunday. You can reach him at linn.mills@ springspreserve.org or call him at 822-7754.