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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas Democrat-Gazette snail illustration

DEAR READERS: The slug/snail question from Feb. 3 generated quite a bit of response. Many readers wrote that they had tried a variety of methods. One I failed to mention that does work is shallow trays of beer.

From a reader: Get three or more mayonnaise jar lids (others said cat food cans) and dig a hole to put the lid in so that the open end is level with the ground. (It can also just be sitting on the ground.) Fill the lids with beer (snails are not picky so it does not matter what brand of beer). The next morning, go look and you will be amazed at all the dead snails/slugs. Repeat three or four days until you no longer find dead slugs or snails. But continue to check: In a week or two you might have to repeat your traps.

As a bonus, you get about three-quarters of a can of beer to drink each night.

Another slightly more unusual approach comes from a reader who said, "You should have told the person with the snail and slug problem to buy a duck. I knew some people once who had a duck, and they would walk around and lift up the low limbs on shrubs and the duck would gobble up the snails."

Q I have had my butterfly bush for going on four years. The second year, two blooms appeared. It hasn't bloomed since. What can I do to get the butterfly bush to bloom? We trim it every year the end of February.

A Buddleia or butterfly bush blooms on the new growth. Pruning it hard in late February is the correct practice. The only reason I would think you would have no blooms is that it doesn't get enough sun. They need six to eight hours per day to bloom well. If it is in too much shade, you can move it now to a sunnier location.

Q I recently came upon a large batch of picked tulips at the children's library greenhouse. They were mostly purple and yellow and had wilted to extinction. The caretaker at the greenhouse cut the bulbs off and offered them up, so I just took home a bag of 30 of them. I'm not a flower person and have no idea if these bulbs are still viable, whether they have to dry out for a year or even when to plant them. Many still have the remnants of what appears to be new growth on them. Can you shed some light?

A I would add them to the compost pile. Tulip bulbs that were forced (bloomed out of their normal season) are hard to get to re-bloom even with good care. Bulbs need six to eight weeks of green growth in bright sunlight after flowering to set a flower bud for the next year. Tulips are tough to re-bloom when planted in the ground and given full sun. Since yours were wilted to the point of extinction immediately after bloom, there would be no flowers from these next year. Sorry.

Q I've had this amaryllis for about 30 years. It has been divided several times with a lot given away. I take good care of it, and it appears to be healthy. It started out as red, but the last several years has been this color [the reader sent a photo]. How do I get it back to red?

A Your amaryllis is beautiful. I think your amaryllis has the same pigments in it that it always had, but the depth of color may be affected by how much sunlight it gets during the blooming period. See if increasing the light might intensify the color. Light during blooming is not necessary to have a flower, since the flowers are set during the growing season. When you buy a new bulb, the flowers are already set inside. It is the care they are given after bloom that determines if it blooms again. I think you have healthy plants that get the light they need to set blooms. Let me know if more light helps while it's blooming.

Janet B. Carson is a horticulture specialist for the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. Write to her at 2301 S. University Ave., Little Rock, Ark. 72204 or email her at

jcarson@arkansasonline.com

Photo by Special to the Democrat-Gazette/JANET B. CARS
Amaryllis bulbs don’t need light exposure to produce a flower, but low light during bloom could result in a pale flower.

HomeStyle on 02/17/2018

Print Headline: IN THE GARDEN

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