Q Is there anything I can spray on my flower bed that will kill the wild violets but not hurt my Stella d'Oro lilies?
A Wild violets are difficult to kill on their own, but there is nothing that would kill them and not damage your daylilies. I battle them every year, but seem to be wearing them down. Keep them hoed down as soon as you see them, then mulch over them. I use cardboard around my desirable plants and put the mulch on top of that. It does help.
Q When my wife and I built our house in west Little Rock 28 years ago, we decided to preserve the many farkleberries that were growing on our property and in the green space. The wood and shrub shape was unusual as well as the interesting history of the name as it was used in political circles in Arkansas many years ago. Today, some of the specimens have grown to 15 feet or more. Do you know of any redeeming qualities of this odd plant or its unique trunk shape and bark?
A Farkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum) is a native shrub related to blueberries. It has lovely small, white, blueberry-like blossoms in the spring followed by small black fruit. Fruiting is variable each year, and the quality and flavor of the fruit can vary as well, being more desirable to animals than humans. The fall color of the foliage is attractive, as is the bark in the winter. It definitely has many redeeming qualities and is a tough plant as well.
Q Is it too late to trim the Knockout roses?
A It is not too late to trim your Knockout roses, but you need to do it soon or you will be cutting off flower buds. All roses need to be pruned every year, and for most bush roses, that is best done before active growth begins. If schedules or weather prevented that from getting done, you can prune after active growth has begun. The only problem with late pruning is delaying the first blooms. If you don't prune, the already large bush will simply get larger, and you will have fewer flowers. Roses bloom on new growth. If the plant is large to begin with, it will grow, but not as much as it would if it were cut back. So prune, but do so soon.
Q I have two peony plants that I planted two years ago. I guess I planted them too deep because they have never flowered. Only the leaves appear for the season. They get mostly full sun. Should I dig them up now and reset them?
A Peonies are growing rapidly right now, but not yet blooming. Sometimes peonies can be slow to bloom after planting. I would give them one more chance and see if they bloom this spring. If they don't, dig them up and replant more shallowly. Moving them right before hot weather will mean that you need to be quite diligent in keeping them watered until they re-establish themselves, but if you wait until fall to replant, they won't bloom again next year either.
Q This plant grows from fall to spring and dies back in summer [the reader sent a photo]. A stem will grow with a white flower similar to a lily. Nobody seems to know what it is. Can you help?
A The plant in question is an Italian arum (Arum italicum). It is a great shade perennial that begins growing in late winter, and blooms with a white spathe bloom. It can set a stem of berries that start out green and eventually turn orange or red. The foliage dies back with hot weather, but the berry spike persists without any leaves.
Retired after 38 years with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, Janet Carson ranks among Arkansas' best known horticulture experts. Her blog is at arkansasonline.com/planitjanet. Write to her at P.O. Box 2221, Little Rock, AR 72203 or email
HomeStyle on 03/30/2019