Q Could you help us identify the shrub in the attached photo? The person who gave it to me some years ago said it is rusty blackhaw. However, when we recently looked up some images of rusty blackhaw, the leaves did not look like this. It bloomed recently with small white flowers. We are trying to sort out what has become a thicket of these plants, some honeysuckle, and what is supposed to be gray twig dogwood. I appreciate your help.
A I think it is a viburnum, which is what rusty blackhaw is (Viburnum rufidulum), but a different variety. My thought is Arrowwood viburnum -- Viburnum dentatum. When looking for the gray dogwood, remember that all dogwoods have arcuate venation on the foliage: The veins curve up the leaves.
Q Can you tell me what has caused this growth on my echinacea flowers?
A Your plant has a virus-like disease called aster yellows. The disease is transmitted by leafhopper insects. It causes the flowers to be distorted. The disease is worse in a cool, wet season -- which we went through in May. It is best to destroy the affected plant. Some gardeners remove the damaged flowers and hope to see no more of it. If the entire plant is infected, leaving the plant could allow more leafhoppers to feed on the diseased plant and spread the disease.
Q Can you please tell me what this plant is? We have several in our garden that have come up on their own. They almost look like squash blooms, but the fruit isn't getting any bigger than a quarter.
A You have a hybrid cucurbit of some sort. If you grow squash, gourds, pumpkins, etc., close to each other, they cross-pollinate. It doesn't alter what you are growing that season, but if any seeds are saved (or added to the compost pile or left on the ground outside) then the resulting plants will be a cross of the two parents. You may like it, you may not. The cucurbit family includes all squashes, cantaloupe, pumpkins, cucumbers, gourds and watermelons.
Q This is the first time I have planted dwarf hummingbird mint. It is glorious! The most fragrant leaves I have ever had, and the blooms attract hummingbirds and butterflies. My question is whether I should deadhead the spent bloom clusters ... will that help produce more flowers?
A Hummingbird mint is a common name for Agastache. This is a long-blooming perennial. There are a whole range of mature plant sizes and flower colors. To prevent seed set and encourage rapid reblooming, deadhead the spent flowers. Toward the end of the growing season, you can let the seed heads mature to self-sow.
Q Can you tell me when huckleberries typically ripen in Northwest Arkansas? I haven't picked them since I was a teenager in the '80s, and I found a good patch 11/2 hours from my home in February while hiking. I don't want to have to continually make the drive to check on their progress.
A There are several species of wild huckleberries. They should begin to ripen now and continue through July and sometimes even into early August, depending on the location and the variety.
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