Underpollination could be blessing for fruit tree

Warming weather brings more questions. I hope these answers will help you.

Q: Why are the winds blowing all the blossoms and small fruit off my peach tree?

A: I’m assuming you had bees present. It’s a sign that these blossoms and fruits were only partially pollinated or not at all. It may be a blessing in disguise. You’ll find more fruit set on than you realized so you won’t have to thin out as much. Bees catch only about 10 percent of the blooms and that’s still too much for trees to carry.

Q: Why are my oleanders’ inner leaves turning yellow?

A: This is a natural phenomenon with flowering evergreens. As flowers emerge, they sap energy from the plant. So the older leaves, if you will, sacrifice themselves to give nutrients to emerging flowers and new greenery.

Q: Why do I have so much trouble growing my sego palm?

A: If you just transplanted it, your palm likely doesn’t have enough roots to get moisture. If it came from Florida or Southern California, as most do, it hasn’t got its Las Vegas leaves yet and they easily blister. Shade the plant until it becomes acclimated and new growth begins emerging. Then gradually remove the shade cloth.

Q: Where does the tomato hornworm come from?

A: The large, gray-brown moth with a wingspan up to 5 inches lays eggs on the tomato leaves. These eggs eventually hatch to become the familiar large larvae with horns, hence the name tomato hornworm. They feed unnoticed on the upper leaves. In the fall, the larvae burrow back into the ground and pupate through the winter. In the spring, the pupae emerge to restart the process. I often see the moths during our monsoon season hanging on my patio screen door at night. This feared bug also feeds on peppers, eggplants and potatoes.

Q: Why is my purple plum tree now growing green leaves?

A: Look closely at the tree’s base and you’ll find branches coming from below the bud union (a swollen knob). These limbs are coming from another type of green-leafed plum. Remove those shoots from below the bud union now. These shoots are aggressive and will destroy your ornamental tree.

Q: Will citrus peels prevent our compost from working?

A: The peels are just as good as your kitchen scraps and break down as fast. Yes, there are some spicy acidic juices in them to help lower the compost’s pH.

Q: Do I need to remove the upper fronds on my palm nipped by the frost?

A: Wait until the palms begin pushing new growth. If the center fronds remain brown showing no signs of greenery, you’ve lost the plant. But I feel strongly that your palm’s OK.

Q: Are there any special tips for planting a Joshua tree?

A: First, realize Joshua trees have no roots when transplanting them. After digging the hole, check it for drainage. Mix some organic matter in with the on-site soil. Plant the Joshua at the same depth found at the location where it grew in the desert. Pack soil around the trunk so there are no airholes. Run drip tubes at the top of the plant to water it and help it through the summer. Also, water it thoroughly three times a week during the heat of the summer for a couple of years. Do not fertilize it for two years, as this is a quick way to kill the plant.

Q: Is it too late to plant California poppies?

A: Yes. Plant them in the fall and they’ll bloom profusely next spring for you.


Let Patrick Helfrich, owner of Moon-Sun Cactus & Koi Gardens and president of the Cactus & Succulent Society of Southern Nevada, show you how to grow cactus indoors and outdoors at noon Tuesday at the Paseo Verde Library, 280 S. Green Valley Parkway in Henderson. The Sunset Garden Club sponsors these free monthly seminars. Visit for more information.


Let Cooperative Extension’s Angela O’Callaghan help you in a seminar, “What Went Wrong Last Year and Getting Ready for Summer,” at 8 a.m. Saturday at 8050 Paradise Road (Las Vegas Beltway and Windmill Lane). The class will help you look at your garden and recognize what’s happening, what’s healthy and what’s not, so if something does go wrong, you’ll know how to correct it. Class space is limited; preregistration recommended by calling 257-5573.

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

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