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story.lead_photo.caption Tradescantia, spiderwort, is a native perennial that comes in several colors, with purple the most common. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)

Q Could you please identify the flower in the accompanying photos? My wife and I moved from Central Arkansas to the Bentonville area last summer. We spent fall and winter remodeling the interior of our new home, and now we're getting started on the yard and gardens. This plant is coming up in just a couple of spots in our flower beds next to well established peonies. If the deer don't show a taste for it, I'd like to plant more of them, but I don't know what they are. Some kind of iris? Love your column. Saturday is my favorite day for that particular section of the paper with you and the focus on the home and yard. I like Car Talk too. I'm 58 and grew up reading both newspapers in Little Rock and I appreciate the product y'all have developed since the merger. It's especially obvious when I travel out of state and read other papers that we are blessed here. I probably griped as much as anyone about the switch to digital but I have to admit I really like reading the news that way now. I just haven't figured out yet how to replace the physical newsprint for all the things we use it for around the house. Luckily, we're still getting a printed version here in Northwest Arkansas for a little bit longer. Sorry to be so long-winded. Thanks again.

A The plant is tradescantia, commonly called spiderwort. It is an easy-care native perennial. There are different flower colors available, but purple is the most common. Over time, it can become a bit happy and spread a bit, so pay attention. It will grow in sun or shade and does have a long bloom period. If it gets leggy, cut it in half and it will bounce back. Thanks for the kind words about the column and the paper. Glad you are enjoying the digital version. I think once people try it, they are pleasantly surprised.

Q These came up a few years ago. This year they have put on all these white flowers. We kind of like them. They smell nice as well. What are they?

A The plants in question are privet, one of the most invasive plants in Arkansas. Some people like the smell, while others detest it. Once the flowers end, the plants will be covered in small berries that eventually will turn black. The birds love them, and pretty soon you will have even more privet shrubs in your yard. I would recommend removing them before you have no yard left. They are blanketing Arkansas in white blooms now, and wreaking havoc for allergies as well.

Q Now that the irises have finished blooming, how about giving me a step by step what to do from now through to winter? Laymen terms please. This has been a great year for them.

A Iris plants are fairly easy to take care of. Fertilize them lightly a month after bloom, and try to keep the weeds and grass away from the rhizomes. If they are getting crowded, you can divide them six to eight weeks after blooming has finished. If they aren't crowded, let them grow. Some iris growers cut the foliage to increase air circulation and reduce disease concerns, but that is only necessary if you have a lot of iris plants. If you have just a few, I think the full leaves are more attractive than cut foliage. Water if they get dry, but they are fairly drought tolerant.

Q Is it possible to successfully divide rhubarb plants (as we easily do with hostas) to start new plants?

A Rhubarb usually doesn't live and thrive in the Arkansas heat, so rarely do people have the need to divide their rhubarb. That being said, it sounds like yours is healthy and happy. Rhubarb can be divided just like a hosta; however, I wouldn't do it as we are about to head into hot weather. It would be better to divide it either when the plants are going dormant in the fall or when they are emerging in the spring.

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 Write to her at P.O. Box 2221, Little Rock, AR 72203 or email

Though covered with sweet smelling flowers, privet multiplies far and wide and too quickly to keep under control. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)
Very little effort is required to keep Tradescantia happy. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)
Rhubarb struggles in Arkansas summers. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Janet B. Carson)

HomeStyle on 05/16/2020

Print Headline: In the Garden


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