| Beverly Shaw
Question and Answer
Q. I have a problem weed. It is rubbery with teardrop-shaped leaves.
I've noticed it will reroot itself when thrown on the ground. It is very
hard to kill. In fact, I think it thrives on Round-Up. Can you help? --
Teresa Allman, United REMC
A. The green, rubbery leaves of purslane are one-half to 1.5 inches
long on thick, reddish-green stems. It sometimes bears yellow flowers,
and the seeds are borne in a small pod with a top that comes off like
a lid on a cookie jar.
Chemically, treat with glyphosate (sold as Round-Up or Kleen-up) but
the waxy quality of the leaves and stems, plus the rounded surface area,
makes it difficult for chemicals to stay on the plant, so repeat applications
are necessary. Make sure you don't allow much time to elapse between applications
or the plant will regain strength. I would spray it weekly for several
weeks. Use care when applying glyphosate. It kills any green plant material
contacted by the spray, so spraying with this non-selective herbicide
is not recommended anywhere near desired plants, like vegetables or flowers.
Alternatively, you can pull them out by hand. Since purslane roots wherever
it touches the ground, any plants that are pulled or hoed must be completely
removed from the garden, or they'll root again! Instead of reducing the
population, hoeing can increase it. A layer of mulch at least 3 inches
thick will help reduce weed populations from garden beds. Purslane is
a warm-season annual, so weed removal, mulch and a pre-emergent herbicide
can prevent the same problem from reoccurring next year. If you're directly
seeding new vegetables or flowers in the garden, do NOT use a pre-emergent
herbicide, as it will keep those plants from germinating.
Q. My husband wanted some silver maple trees. My daughter-in-law dug
some up, and we planted them. Boy, do we ever have a problem now. We had
them pulled out this spring after being in our yard for about 5 years.
Since they have been pulled out, our yard is just full of little clumps
of trees coming up. We have sprayed them with Roots and All, but that
doesn't seem to help at all. They just sprout up somewhere else. I am
wondering what to do with this problem? We tried pulling the roots out,
but I think they go forever and never stop. Any answer that you may give
us in the near future will be greatly appreciated. Thank you. -- Patricia
Henigsmith, Walkerton, Ind.
Roots and All is a form of glyphosate, commonly known as Round-Up. The
root system has a certain amount of energy that is being reduced by every
surge it expends on the new shoots and is further set back by the herbicide
applications. You'll win this battle if you just keep it up! Removing
the roots will cause extensive damage to the lawn and garden beds, and
there's no way to know if you've removed them all. Continue with glyphosate,
making sure you spray the leaves soon after their emergence so they don't
have time to manufacture food, thereby sending more energy to the root
system. Leave the shoots in place after you spray them so the chemical
is translocated to the roots.
You might also try a product called Sucker Stopper made by Monteray
Lawn and Garden. It contains a plant growth regulator.
Q. We had REMC "install" one of their old poles in our yard
for the sole purpose of having our trumpet vine grow up it instead of
being a "floppy" bush. As it is, the flowers end up being mostly
on the ground, and, while I suppose the hummers find them, we just thought
it would be nicer, and prettier, if we could get it to grow up the pole.
The pole is half the height of poles along the road, so I don't believe
it would be safe for us to do this from a ladder. We have been able to
encourage a couple vines up by tucking them around some clothesline hooks
that we put in about 7 foot from the ground. I'm guessing that we need
to do this as soon as they start growing in the spring -- by now they
are growing in every direction. We would appreciate any suggestions that
you might have. I think I know now why they look so pretty on fences along
farm roads. -- Millie Edwards
A. Trumpet vine is a vigorous grower but not a great climber. It needs
some guidance to get it to go where you want it. Trumpet vine stems grow
away from the light, not toward it. The stem grows fastest on the side
receiving sunlight, causing it to bend in the opposite direction. Eventually,
the stems will form a skeleton that new growth can climb through and over.
In the meantime, the hooks you've installed on the lower portion of the
pole will allow the vines to find a way to get hooked. If the pole had
a rougher surface, the plant could attach to it, but I suspect it's not
gaining a foothold. You might lash the vine on during the growing season
with a length of twine all the way around the pole at various heights.
The new growth will quickly cover the twine.
Q. Can trees be grown from the seeds of peaches? Plums? Nectarines?
Apples? If they can, how is it done? -- Jim Roll, Palmyra, Ind.
A. Many trees can be grown from seed collected in your yard, but you
should know what you're getting into. Plants may not grow true from seed,
so the offspring may be different than you expected.
Most of our modern fruit trees must be propagated by means other than
seeds to ensure that specific characteristics will endure. These plants
are usually propagated by cuttings, grafting or other vegetative methods
that provide clones, or exact duplicates, of the mother plants. Reproduction
by seed can be variable, and while the offspring may be similar to one
or both parents, some desirable characteristics may be lost.
Sprouting seeds from fruits purchased at the grocery can be particularly
disappointing, since many of these fruits have come from growing areas
that are very different than the Midwest. These plants may not be able
to withstand our growing conditions. It usually takes many years for seedling
plants to become mature enough to flower and then fruit, so it will be
some time before you know if the experiment was worthwhile. Additionally,
some crops, like plums and apples, are particular about their cross-pollination
requirements. Pollination charts tell you which cultivars pollinate others,
but with unknown seedlings, it will be impossible to know how to provide
compatible pollinizers for seedling plants.
If you still want to try, realize that most woody plants grown in the
Midwest bear seeds that are dormant and must go through some physiological
maturation before than can germinate. The most-common type of dormancy
is overcome by moist chilling or stratification. Gardeners can stratify
seeds by placing the seeds in a moist medium, such as peat moss, vermiculite
or sand. The refrigerator provides just about the right temperature to
provide the chilling. Although the length of the chilling period varies
with the plant species, most seeds are adequately stratified for 3-4 months
at 35-40 F.
Then, they can be sown in pots or flats with a loose, well-drained medium,
such as a mixture of peat moss and vermiculite. Maintaining high moisture
and relative humidity is crucial to germinating the seeds. Germination
can be as quick as a few days or as slow as several months. Once they
germinate, move them to a brighter area and feed with a fertilizer for
houseplants, according to label directions. As the seedlings gain strength,
transplant them into larger pots and eventually into the garden.
Your home-grown seedlings may not produce store-quality fruit but can
be a fun experiment for the adventurous gardener.