Solutions offered for gardening problems

Here are some problems on gardeners’ minds.

OLEANDER LEAVES ON VEGETABLES: Oleanders may be toxic to humans but not to other plants, including vegetables. California studies found oleander toxins break down in the composting process so it won’t affect the edibles. Also, people trying to grow plants under oleanders find they won’t grow. They assume it’s because of the toxins but oleanders develop such a tenacious root system, nothing can compete.

LANTANAS ARE POISONOUS: Lantanas are highly regarded colorful bushes in our landscapes. They cover themselves in white, yellow, orange, red or a mix of colors. The hard-shelled, berrylike fruit turn bluish-black when ripe. According to the University of Arizona information center, all parts of the plant, especially the green berries, are poisonous.

CONTROL PUNCTURE VINE: This flat growing vine develops hard seeds with sharp spines on them. They can injure your foot if you step on one or damage tires. If you step on one of these thorny seeds, you’ll come up with other names for them. Watch for germinating seedlings in the early spring. Hoe them out or apply a heavy layer of mulch under the plants for control.

For larger infestations, in the early spring apply a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent them from germinating. If you have a problem with them in the summer, apply an herbicide, but do not apply it once temperatures climb above 85 degrees.

XYLOSMA, AN UNDERUSED SHRUB: Xylosma always looks nice and isn’t trashy. It has shiny bronze spring leaves that turn a shiny light-green through the summer. Use it as a bush or espalier it along walls or train into a single- or multitrunked tree. It’s an excellent choice near patios and around swimming pools.

RABBITS DIGGING UP LAWNS: In my experience from raising hogs, the animals are searching for essential elements for their diet. Wildlife experts said to exclude them by building a barrier (chicken wire) around the area. You need to bury wire in the ground so they can’t dig under it.

HOLES ON BOTTOM OF CANTALOUPES: It’s an infestation of pill, sow or roly-poly bugs: They’re all the same bug. Next year, place cantaloupes on boards or heavily mulch under the plants. This gives the bugs something to eat and turn it into compost. Then other microorganisms move it in the soil and you end up with an improved soil for next year’s garden.

DON’T REFRIGERATE DAFFODILS: Because of our warm winters, you need to refrigerate tulips and hyacinths for them to develop their blooms. But you don’t need to refrigerate daffodils or other bulbs.

ALEPPO PINE BLIGHT: Poor watering habits brings on this blight and limbs die. Give your pines deep irrigation especially the southwest side of the tree.

CONTROL CABBAGE LOOPERS: Loopers are those pretty white butterflies fluttering over your cabbage laying eggs to eat your cabbage. Destroy those clusters of eggs or spray plants with Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). The larva eat the treated foliage causing great irritation in their digestive tract so they can’t eat and die. All nurseries sell it.

VEGETABLE SEEDLINGS DISAPPEARING: Birds are having a field day eating your seedlings. Cover the garden with bird netting propped up so birds can’t reach through to get the seedlings.

COLOR PAMPASGRASS PLUMES: Turn your pampas grass plumes into a beautiful flower arrangement for your home. Harvest several plumes, saving about 12 inches of their stems to hold up the plumes. Fill a bucket with water and add in your favorite food coloring. Swish the plumes back and forth in the solution and out of the solution and let them dry. Several years ago, I dyed many plumes with different pastel colors to make a flower display still on display in our home.

WHEN TO HARVEST PISTACHIOS: When the shell coverings loosen, remove the shells. Boil the nuts in a salt solution for a few minutes and then allow them to dry.

TRANSPLANTED SAGUARO SUNBURNED: Protect newly transplanted saguaros for about a month, especially on their southwest side with something like cheesecloth to avoid sun burning until the plant toughens up.

FALL FLOWER SHOW: The Nevada Garden Clubs are having their annual fall flower show from noon to 4 p.m. today. It’s at the Garden Center at 3333 W. Washington Ave. in the northwest part of Lorenzi Park. The show is free. Call 702-259-6459 for more information.

Linn Mills writes a garden column each Sunday. You can reach him at or call him at 702-526-1495.

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