Gardening questions encountered

Here are some questions I have encountered recently.

Q: What is the best fertilizer to use on palms?

A: Nurseries sell a special formulated fertilizer with many essential micronutrients. Feed them now, around Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Q: I went to a lot of work, not to mention expense, to have a hybrid Bermuda grass lawn to conserve water. Now I hear it will contribute to my allergies . What type of grass should I plant?

A: You were misinformed. Allergy sufferers become alarmed when they see hybrid Bermuda sending up flowing stalks. It sends up flowers, but it can’t produce pollen or viable seeds. If it’s still a concern, mow the grass so flower stalks can’t emerge.

Q: A year ago, I put “weed and feed” fertilizer on my lawn to control dandelions. When will I be able to put the grass in the compost pile?

A: You don’t need to worry about killing the organisms in the compost pile. It only kills broadlea ved leaves such as dandelions and doesn’t affect the grass.

Q: Will removing 4 inches from my Japanese boxwood injure it?

A: No, if you do two things as suggested by the late Eric Johnson to control its natural shape and open it up to stimulate growth .

Step 1: Cut the shrub back those 4 inches, making sure leaves remain on stems.

Step 2: Reaching down in the plant, remove every other branch where it attaches to another branch to open up the bush. Randomly vary the lengths to keep its natural shape. Every year , repeat step 2 to keep your bush full and natural.

Q: How do you grow potatoes in Las Vegas?

A: Plant them soon if you can find seed stock at your nursery. Before planting, organically amend the soil because potatoes need loose soil to enlarge. Plant your seed potatoes just below the soil surface. Hill up the soil around the plant as it grows. During the early stages feed them nitrogen, and when they start blooming, water becomes a crucial factor enlarging the potatoes.

Q: My lawn maintenance company says my trees have borers and another company says not. Is there an independent arborist I can turn to for help?

A: Here are three highly qualified arborists to seek an independent opinion: Dennis Swartzell (400-3622) and John Smith (493-4260) from Horticulture Consultants and Russ Thompson (525-6948) from Sunkissed Horticulture Consultants.

Q: When do I overseed my hybrid Bermuda lawn’s bare spots?

A: You can’t overseed because hybrid Bermuda doesn’t produce viable seeds. Take plugs from your existing lawn and plant in the bare spots. The spot fills quickly as temperatures warm.

Q: Why didn’t I get beets, turnips and radishes from my fall garden? They were all tops.

A: You didn’t thin them so roots could develop. Also, too much nitrogen may have caused all tops.

Q: We are planting cactuses this summer and want to know how to establish them?

A: Cactuses need protection from the blistering sun until established. Your plants were protected in the nursery so provide filtered shade the first summer.

Q: Is there a n evergreen tree for a small area in my yard?

A: Consider sweet acacia, bay laurel, strawberry tree, Texas mountain laurel and xylosma. They also make useful shrubs.

Q: Why am I getting so few pear blossoms? Other year s it’s covered with blooms .

A: Fruit trees have a built-in biological called the plant’s “chilling requirements.” Each variety needs so many chilling hours before it blooms. When purchasing a tree, select those with the lowest number of chilling hours. Trees such as cherries with high chilling requirements may not flower and slowly leaf out.


Angela O’Callaghan shows you how to turn kitchen or yard waste into a benefit for plants at 8 a.m. Saturday at Clark County Cooperative Extension, 8050 S. Paradise Road. For more information and to preregister, call 257-5573.


Marcia Brown, an accredited flower show judge, shows you how to design floral arrangements at noon Tuesday at the Sunset Garden Club at Paseo Verde Library, 280 S. Green Valley Parkway in Henderson. For more information about this free event, go to

Linn Mills’ garden column appears on Sundays. You can reached him at or call him at 526-1495.

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