Gardening columnist Dan Gill answers readers’ questions each week. To submit a question, email Gill at [email protected]
I have a vine with fern leaves and bright red flowers taking over my garden. I planted one a few years ago and it grows everywhere. How can I get rid of it? Jean Robinson
This is cypress vine (Ipomoea quamoclit), a relative of morning glory. It is a warm-season annual vine that is often planted in gardens because it produces deep, scarlet flowers and lacy, fern-like leaves. However, due to her ability to produce many seeds, she can become a nuisance.
There is no easy solution. First, it dies back over the winter each year and comes back from seed in spring and early summer. Keeping your beds well mulched will prevent the seeds from germinating and will help control the vine.
Since the vine sprout from seed in the spring and summer, be sure to regularly weed any seedlings you find. Any vines that are now growing and flowering in your garden should be uprooted and discarded.
If you weed regularly, thoroughly, and over a season or two, you should greatly reduce or even eliminate this plant in your yard. I have this vine in my garden and have generally been able to enjoy it without letting it take over by weeding it anywhere I don’t want it to grow.
My Vinca bed was beautiful and still looks pretty good. Is there anything I can do now to make it come back next year? Someone told me that Vinca can be more like a perennial at times. Thanks for every Vinca tip. Tomi Moony
Periwinkles (Catharanthus roseus, also known as Vinca) are one of the tender annuals that we grow.
Because they are perennials, they do not die off after flowering like true annuals and can live for several years. But we grow them as if they were annuals and expect them to only grow once.
This is because they are killed by severe frosts in winter and rarely survive winters here. However, if the winter is unusually mild and they are growing in a sheltered spot, it is possible that they will survive the winter and survive to grow and flower for another year.
To help them survive winter frosts, you might be willing to go out and cover them on nights when frosts are predicted. Cover and cover them as needed during the winter. If you do this you might be able to get them to survive the winter if it isn’t too cold.
During this time, however, the periwinkles will look terrible.
Color in our flower beds is just as important in fall, winter and early spring as it is in summer. We like to keep our flower beds attractive and colorful all year round.
Therefore, most of us grow periwinkles as temporary bedding plants, pulling them up in November and planting cool-season bedding plants that provide color from fall through spring.
Can you give me the basics of planting tulip bulbs? Many Thanks. Alice Peterson
Spring onions are now arriving at the region’s nurseries. You’re welcome to buy them as long as the selection is good, but we don’t plant most spring bulbs until the weather cools off in late October or November.
Tulip bulbs are planted later, in late December or early January, after the bulbs have been chilled in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator for at least six weeks.
Plant holes about 5 inches deep in beds that receive partial sun to sun (afternoon shade may help flowers last a little longer). Because of our climate, we expect only one of the bulbs to flower. They are torn out and disposed of after flowering.
Tips for the garden
Coming camellias: Camellia flower buds begin to swell but generally do not bloom until November or December. Water in October when the weather is dry to avoid later flowering problems.
CALADIUM CLOSE UP: When the plants start to look tired and less attractive, and about two-thirds of the leaves have fallen over, it’s time to dig up the tubers. Caladia can return the next year if left in the ground, but it’s more reliable to dig them up and store them indoors over the winter. Carefully dig up the tubers and let the foliage hang from them. Spread out in a well-ventilated place to dry. When the foliage is dry and brown, pull it off the bulbs and store in paper or mesh sacks indoors over the winter.
SHOP BULBS: Order spring onions by mail in good time so that they arrive in November. The best selection of flower bulbs can be found in mail order on the Internet. A good selection of flower bulbs are now also available from local nurseries. You can buy them while the selection is still good, but there’s no rush to plant them. November is the month when we plant the most spring onions here.