NEWS for North Dakotans
Agriculture Communication, North Dakota State University
7 Morrill Hall, Fargo, ND 58105-5665
December 17, 1998
Ron Smith, Extension Horticulturist
North Dakota State University
Q: Could you please tell me how to care for a petite lily and a gloxinia? (Ryder, N.D.)
A: I am not familiar with the petite lily that you mention, but I notice in my reference that there is one that grows to only 1 foot in heightlilium pumilum. That may be the one you are making reference to. They basically need cool temperatures, bright lightbut not direct sunlighthigh soil moisture and humidity. As the leaves turn yellow, reduce watering. Keep the soil barely moist. Summer outdoors. I simply leave my lilies outdoors year around and get plenty of blooms on the north side of my house.
With the florist gloxinia (Sinningia) the soil needs to be kept moist, but not soggy. Fertilize with a flowering houseplant material every two weeks, and keep in bright, but indirect light, in a warm location (70 F+) free of drafts.
After flowering, the plant will go into a dormancyso back off on the watering and allow the plant to dry down. Store at about 50 F and repot in fresh humus/compost potting soil next spring.
Q: Can you tell me what kind of plant I have enclosed? The leaves on the bottom keep falling off every other week and it is getting kind of bare. How do I care for it? (Gackle, N.D.)
A: Your plant is a croton, which looks tough with its leathery, colorful leaves but has fussy care requirements.
It needs to be kept away from cool drafts. A dip below 60 F can set it off to dropping leaves. Your sample had brown leaf edges, an indication it may have been chilled, or is in a drafty location.
Mist the leaves in the winter with distilled water to keep humidity up and keep it in a continuously warm location. Water sparingly between now and April, then begin normal liberal waterings. Good luck! These plants are a challenge to grow!
Q: I have had a hoya plant for 20 years that just finally bloomed this past year. Now the leaves are turning yellow and dropping off. I have looked for scale or mites, but I can't seem to find any. What is wrong with my plant, and how can I save it? (White Lake, S. D.)
A: It is amazing that you've had the same hoya plant for 20 years! I don't know what kind of care you've given it, but I'd say it is now time to cut it back and repot it. The plant may only be going through a post-blooming rest period, where you need to reduce the watering somewhat.
Q: Can you tell my why Colorado blue spruce trees only have cones on the topmost branches? Also, what does a person do about little white worms in the black walnut husks? (Canova, S.D.)
A: Your observation of spruce cones only forming on the topmost branches has got to be a local or isolated phenomenon. Most that I have seen will form the cones all over the tree. Balsam fir form their cones only on the top part of the treea genetic characterization.
Spray the black walnut with Sevin or malathion when the tree is in full flower. Do so when the bees are not active.
Q: I really enjoy reading you column every week in the paper, so I am hoping you can help me with my onion problem. Can you tell me why my onions have developed black spots that lead to the onion rotting? I am enclosing some of my onion skins to help you determine what my problem is. (Fertile, Minn.)
A: Thanks for the nice words about the column and the good samples. Your onions appear to have a fungal disease known as Smudgean anthracnose. The black, concentric rings are the clue. You can peel off the outer layers that are affected, and still eat the onion.
The disease thrives in high-humidity situations and is transmitted by contaminated onion bulbs kept for planting. I would suggest not using any of your present stock for planting next spring, and be sure to practice crop rotation. Don't plant onions in the same location for three years.
Q: The enclosed plant came from Arizona and I am wondering if I can grow it in this area? (Parkston, S.D.)
A: I'm not sure I'd want something like you sent to grow anywhere near me! The spines are brutal! Sorry, I don't know exactly what it is, but it looks like some kind of thistle or burdock. These are weeds that can proliferate once they get started.
Q: My Christmas cactus gets buds, but most of them go limp and fall off before they have a chance to bloom. I pretty much follow my cactus guide to care for it, so I am wondering what I am doing wrong. (Vale, S.D.)
A: With Christmas cacti, they are to be kept cool and dryish until flower buds form and then the water and temperature increased while flowering. Christmas cacti can be either difficult or easy to grow and bloom. Being forest-type cacti, they require a soil high in humus, ample watering following the resting period, summering outdoors in the shade, and not moving the plant once flower buds form. I suspect yours may need repotting, something that should be done after flowering.
Q: I am enclosing a sample of my peace lily plant. I received the huge plant about 4 years ago, and slowly, leaf by leaf, it is turning black and drying up. I give it Miracle-Gro, keep it moist, but not too wet. Can you help me? (Minot, N.D.)
A: The leaf samples you sent me are the smallest I have ever seen from a Spathiphyllum! Basically, these plants need to kept out of sunlight, kept warm and moist, and have an annual repotting in a high-humus soil. The blackening of the leaves indicates a possible diseaselike anthracnose, leaf spots or blight fungi. These result from being kept too wet or from a poorly drained container. If there is anything left of the plant, repot in a well-drained container with plenty of humus.
Q: I am writing this in response to the person who asked you how to care for a goldfish plant. I have one that I keep in a screened house all summer, and it blooms the whole summer long. It gets a lot of fresh air and I try to keep it watered, but not too much. It seems to do better outdoors than inside. I hope this helps them. (Heola, S.D.)
A: Thank you for your gardening insight on goldfish care. It appears as if you have found the magic button to get this plant blooming.
Do you have a gardening or houseplant question? Write to Hortiscope, Box 5051, NDSU Extension Service, Fargo, ND 58105 or e-mail to Ron Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Ron Smith (701) 231-8161 email@example.com
Editor: Dean Hulse (701) 231-6136