Bring tropical plants indoors


QUESTION: How should I winter my bougainvillea? The plants are against the house on the west side. J.S., Ennis

ANSWER: These tropical plants should be brought indoors or placed in a greenhouse during the winter. They cannot take freezing weather.

QUESTION: This year, I received a banana plant as a gift. It grew nicely during the summer. Now that the weather is getting cold, I would like to know how to winterize the plant. Several people suggested cutting it off at ground level or wrapping it. Others said to leave it alone. P.P., Monahans

ANSWER: After the first frost, banana, elephant's-ear, hoja santa and other large-leaf perennials should be cut off near the ground, leaving 2- to 3-inch stumps. Cover the stumps with shredded mulch. Unless the roots stay too wet during the winter because of frequent rain or poor drainage, the plants should regrow next spring. Some gardeners put a scrap of carpet over the stump and add mulch on top of that.

QUESTION: When and how often should I apply Medina Plus to my lawn? Should I apply fertilizer now? R.V., Cedar Hill

ANSWER: Apply dry fertilizer three times a year and use liquid supplements monthly or as often as you have time. Products that contain seaweed, such as Medina Plus, are beneficial if used once a year, but they can be used weekly. Consider it a budget issue.

QUESTION: You have written that the way to deter armadillos is to sprinkle dry pepper on the lawn. I cannot find dry pepper, so maybe I misread the information. I would love to keep the critter out of my yard without harming it. B.M., Flower Mound

ANSWER: Try using a Tabasco sauce spray mixed at a rate of 1 ounce of sauce per gallon of water. Farmers in Amsterdam report that this mix will repel rabbits.  Crushed red pepper is sold in supermarkets, Asian markets and many garden centers that sell organic supplies. Dry red pepper should be sold in feed stores, garden centers and supermarkets.

QUESTION: Is there a time of year that is better for spreading corn gluten meal and dry molasses? Also, my yard is full of grass burs. S.B., Dallas

ANSWER: Use molasses now and corn gluten meal in the spring. These applications also will help discourage the growth of new grass burs next year.


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