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Ask Dr. Hort: Hardy dollar weed puts up a fight

Dollar weed cashes in on its hardiness

Q: We have a terrible problem. Dollar weed has invaded our back lawn. It will kill out all our beautiful grass if we don't get some advice soon. We tried a spray from Lowe's that said it was for this weed, but we cannot see any change.

John and Gigi Hallwas

A: Dollar weed gets its stronghold and spreads like wildfire due to over watering. During our cooler months — usually between November and February when the night temperatures are in the 60s — turf needs very little irrigation because it goes dormant, but dollar weed grows like crazy. If your turf is St. Augustine, apply Image (imazaquin) according to label directions. It will take more than a month, more than one application and a change in your watering practices to eliminate the problem. It will begin yellowing and eventually die out because Image works systemically killing all parts of the weed without damage to the turf.

Hard to pin down what type of tomato plant you have

Q: Could you please tell me what kind of tomato plant the one in the picture is? I would like to get another one.

Chad Doher

A: Unfortunately, there are thousands of varieties of tomatoes and many that look alike. From a picture, it is hard to call. Yours is patio-type or cherry tomato, but even within this group there are hundreds of varieties. If it is a more traditional type and not heavily hybridized it may come true from seed. Squash one of your ripe tomatoes and dry the seeds on a paper towel for a week. Purchase some soil-less media such as MiracleGro Potting Mix (not potting soil), place in a container and plant the seeds one by one 3/4 inch deep. Repot seedlings into bigger pots when they're 4 inches tall with the same mix and grow as before.

Want avocado tree to prosper? Follow these tips

Q: A couple of months ago, I started an avocado plant from seed. It is now more than a foot tall and I am wondering how best to ensure its future care. Is it best to keep it in a pot for a while? If so, when could it be planted outside? And how much room and light would be optimum for it to reach maturity? Any other pests or care info would be great too.

Caroline Paredes

A: Your avocado tree, Persea americana, needs to be planted in full sun and given plenty of room because it will grow to more than 30 feet tall.

Most avocados also need a pollinator. By themselves they are hard-pressed to produce fruit, so a little tree sex education is in order. Depending on which type of tree you have (an "A" type or "B" type) the flowers will start as a female and end as a male, but at different times of the day.

The "A's" open as females on the morning of Day 1, closing around lunchtime, and open as males in the afternoon of Day 2. The "B's" open as females in the afternoon of Day 1, close in the late afternoon, and open as males in the morning of Day 2.

Some "A" varieties are "Hass," "Lamb Hass," "Gwen," "Pinkerton" and "Reed." Some "B" varieties are "Fuerte," "Sharwil" "Zutano," "Bacon," "Ettinger" and "Walter Hole."

The moral of the story? You need a cross pollinator somewhere in the neighborhood. Without a pollinator, if you keep the tree pruned to a manageable height, once flowering begins, you can take a very soft artist's brush and brush the flowers in the morning and evening to move pollen around to enhance fruiting.

Avocados also have a long juvenile period, meaning that they won't flower for the first seven to 10 years. So ends the saga of "I planted an avocado seed," and maybe getting avocados at the fruit stand might be a more viable option.

Need help? Dr. Hort (Greg Charles) answers questions about garden problems. Email him at drhort@tampabay.rr.com or mail questions to HomeLink, Features Department, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Describe problem in full, and include your name, city of residence and contact information. If possible, include a good-quality photo. Fuzzy ones won't do. Photos cannot be returned. Please do not send plant samples.

Ask Dr. Hort: Hardy dollar weed puts up a fight 03/30/13 [Last modified: Thursday, March 28, 2013 4:16pm]

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