Q: I have a question about my New Guinea impatiens that I plant in window boxes on my deck and have for years. In the past few weeks I have had little to no flowers. I had problems in the beginning. I used a potting soil, which I am not a big fan of, and I had fungus gnats and used a systemic granular. I fertilize with bloom booster. I am wondering if it could be the extreme fall heat here in Danvers. Do you have any ideas?
A: Standard impatiens were hit by a fungus this year, which will continue for the next few years. There does not seem to be a cure, so try planting something else in that area for a few years. Begonias might be a good substitute or even a nice green ground cover over the winter.
Your New Guineas may have been hit by the heat, especially if they are grown in window boxes.
Good luck until next year when you will have fresh plants. I suggest cleaning the boxes and using fresh soil, too.
Whenever you buy “fresh” soil, be sure the bags are not damaged. A hole in the bag might be the cause of fungus gnats.
Q: I have a smoke tree that is about 8 feet tall. My friend would like a cutting for her own yard. How does one divide the tree? Also, is there any yearly maintenance that will benefit the tree?
A: Smoke trees are so beautiful. They need little care; the deer will not eat them; and they grow fast, tall and full. I can see why your neighbor wants one, too! If you want to take a cutting of the stem, cut it, then dip it in a rooting hormone, such as Hormonex, and pot it in a mix of sterile potting soil and a handful of Perlite, and keep the seedlings inside in a cool, but sunny window for the winter. Next spring, pot it outside in its permanent place and enjoy the joy of giving the plant to your friend.
Are you too anxious for starting a new cutting? Trees will be available next spring at nurseries (I know, because I have called several local nurseries). Prices should be about $25 to $50 each.
This week’s dirt: Drying flowers –– do not wait too long to harvest them! Flowers and grasses should be harvested while they are in their prime. They do not get better than when they are picked!
North Shore Gardener by Barbara Barger is a periodic feature of Friday’s Living section. Reach Barbara at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a self-stamped, self-addressed envelope to her c/o Gloucester Daily Times, 36 Whittemore St., Gloucester, MA 01930. Previous North Shore Gardener columns can be found at www.nsgardener.com.