Asian jasmine plants need moist soil
Q: My lawn care guy planted about 30 of the Asian jasmine plants in a bed along my walk to give us nice ground cover. Instead of it flourishing it just kept dying back. We had a problem with the soil washing out in those heavy storms so he put in a plastic edging to control the erosion and replaced a few of the worst plants. He also put mulch around them but I'm afraid that that only prevents them from crawling on the ground and dropping more roots. Do I get rid of the mulch or will they grow through it? Dick Cooper
A: You are correct. The Asian jasmine, Trachelospermum asiaticum, needs to contact the soil as the runners grow. Consistent moisture is the key to getting the runners to root. If planted on 1-foot centers, with consistent moisture and weed control, you can expect about a two-year grow-in period. It takes a while and floods don't help, but the finished product makes it a good choice.
Keep reminding pet owners that plants can be poisonous
Q: I have quite a few coontie plants in my front and backyard. I know that I researched these plants and must have read that they are toxic in many ways. But I didn't appreciate that until my new dog began to eat the pretty orange seeds. I've had a few dogs around these plants but none have eaten the seeds until this little pug mix. She nearly died from eating these seeds and the medical care was not cheap.
I hope that you will continue to remind your readers about toxic plants and hopefully we will all pay attention to these warnings. Glenda Pittman
A: It is also fascinating that the underground stem of coontie was eaten as a starch by native American Indians, AFTER it is boiled to remove toxins, raw it is toxic. I wonder how many Indians either got sick or died before someone decided to cook it?
Ask arborist about date palm fruit
Q: As a Florida native, I enjoy the fruit of the date palm at this time of year. As I am newly transplanted to the Tampa Bay area, I am unable to find a neighbor with a fruit bearing tree where I can take a ladder and saw and retrieve this awesome end of summer treat. Do you know of any commercial vendors that sell the fruit in this area? Pam Jennings, Clearwater
A: I find it interesting that you like the dates from the true date palms, Phoenix dactylifera, palatable. Because of their summer fruiting time and our wet, humid weather they don't plump up like dates grown out west in an arid climate. However, that being said, if it is dates that you want you could check with your city arborist for the date palms are commonly planted in medians and she/he may just give you a stalk next time they are pruned.