MARCH
2012

 

 

 

By
B. Rosie Lerner
 
Purdue
Extension
Consumer Horticulturist

 

 

 

 

 

03-02-12

Question and Answer


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Q. It may be just a coincidence, but this year we have not had any mice. We live in the country and are always infested with house mice and a few deer mice every year. This year I have not caught a one. I wonder if it is because we had a bumper crop of chipmunks last summer. Are chipmunks predators of mice, or do they out compete mice for food?

A. Chipmunks are not predators, but an established chipmunk territory could provide enough competition to discourage mice. According to the Indiana Wildlife Conflicts website, http://www.wildlifehotline.info, chipmunk diet is primarily nuts, berries and seeds, but they also eat mushrooms, insects and dead animals. Another possibility is that the mouse population is down in your area due to predator activity (owls, hawks, snakes, cats, skunks and raccoons, etc.). And perhaps the relatively mild winter hasn't driven mice to seek shelter inside your home as much as in previous years. Whatever the reason, enjoy their absence while you can!

Q. Is there such a thing as a male cactus that does not bloom ever? Three years ago I bought Christmas cactuses for my sister and myself. Mine has bloomed several times, but my sister's hasn't bloomed at all. Someone told us that she must have received a male plant; we would like to know if this is possible.

A. Lack of flowering is not a gender issue. Christmas (and other holiday) cactus plants have both male and female parts within the same flower. But even in plants that have separate male and female parts, both types would flower. It is the fruit that is born only by the female flowers. The male plants still flower but do not bear fruit.

So if your sister's plant never blooms, it is not because of gender; it's likely not getting the right environmental signals. See articles at http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/cactusFAQs.html and http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/christmas_cactus.html for further information.

 

Writer: B. Rosie Lerner
Editor: Olivia Maddox,