Question and Answer
Q. My mother ordered ever-blooming lilacs, and I would like to have some for my landscape. Can you share with me the site to order these from?
A. To the best of my knowledge, there aren't any lilacs that bloom continuously all summer, but there are a few that may re-bloom in late summer and/or fall. Different species and even cultivars within a species vary in their requirements for developing flowers buds. So an individual plant may repeat some years, but skip others.
There are hundreds of lilac cultivars, but only a few selections that are more likely to repeat bloom. Those plants that do re-bloom will generally bear considerably fewer than the normal spring clusters. Removing faded blooms should help encourage repeat blooming.
Some of the following will be available at local garden centers, or perhaps your local supplier can order for you. And all are available from online nurseries.
'Josee' is a dwarf re-blooming lilac reaching 4-6 feet tall with a similar spread. Its pink blooms vary in reliability for repeat performance.
Littleleaf Lilac 'Superba' has smaller leaves and a spreading habit, reaching up to 6 feet tall and 12 feet wide. The rose-pink flowers may repeat in late summer or early fall.
'Bloomerang®,' is a new dwarf selection, reaching 4-5 feet tall and wide, with purple-pink blooms. It is too soon to know how it will perform, but it boasts of excellent fragrance and re-bloom potential. 'Bloomerang' is part of the Proven Winners® marketing line and, being quite new, it may be hard to find, as well as a bit pricey, this spring.
Q. I purchased two tomatoes at the grocery. Upon cutting them both open, they are growing "green tomato sprouts" on the inside. I have never seen this before. Does this happen very often? Can I keep growing them?
A. This does happen occasionally to both store bought and homegrown tomatoes. The "normal" balance of plant-growth regulators (PGR) inside the fruit normally inhibits germination until the seeds have been harvested from the pulp. In tomatoes, cool temperatures coupled with low light conditions (such as in refrigeration) is thought to inhibit that particular PGR, thus allowing the seeds to germinate inside the moist, warm environment of the fruit, when brought back to room temperature. We have a photo of such a tomato online at www.ppdl.purdue.edu/PPDL/weeklypics/3-3-03.html.
It is best to discard the fruit as well as the sprouted seeds. The sprouts of tomato seeds are toxic, so you should not eat the fruit. And since tomatoes purchased at the grocery are likely to be hybrid in origin, the plants grown from their seeds would be of unpredictable quality.
Q. Would you please explain the difference between a botanical name and a scientific name? My landscaper supplied the botanical names of plants she plans to use. I have dogs and cats, and I am trying to research the toxicity of these plants. My primary source of information has been the ASPCA, which lists the scientific name. Thanks for any help you can provide.
A. Most people use the terms botanical name and scientific name interchangeably, also called the Latin name or Latin binomial. All are referring to the systematic naming of plants, following the rules of the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature. The scientific name is of two parts: the genus and specific epithet (species) name. The scientific name is the same around the world, regardless of the local language.
Many databases will list both the scientific name and the common names of plants.
The common name of a particular plant can change from region to region or with local dialects. And several plants can share the same common name. So, when investigating toxicity, it is best to look at the scientific name.
The ASPCA database is good -- there are also several university web sites with excellent information on toxicity of plants relative to pets and livestock.
University of Illinois