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Ask Dr. Hort: How to relocate crape myrtle, and other gardening advice

Relocate crape myrtle while it's dormant

Q: I want to relocate a crape myrtle tree, relocate and divide several variegated flax lilies and relocate some canna lilies. When is the best time to do the relocation?

John Best, Belleair

A: The best time to move the crape myrtle is now, while the tree is dormant. Depending on the size of the tree, you will need an adequate root ball. And then remember, 1 cubic foot of soil weighs 100 pounds, so make sure you have proper equipment to move the tree for a successful new location.

As for the variegated flax and cannas, wait until the spring and all danger of cold weather has passed, around late March, to move them. Make sure to get adequate clumps of your flax, including rhizomes, corms and tubers (the little bulbous-looking stuff below ground). The cannas are easiest to work with if you cut them down to the ground first and then replant just the rhizomes with each containing several eyes that will later produce stems. This makes it easier for placement. Have fun moving and multiplying!

Bahia is good, but seeding is difficult

Q: I just read that the city of Orlando plans to replace all St. Augustine turfgrass with Bahia sod. The reasoning is that Bahia is more drought-tolerant and will save the city millions of gallons of water a year. Do you think that would be a good idea for Pinellas homeowners? Is salt tolerance an issue with Bahia? We live about 5 miles from the gulf.

Judy VanNess, Clearwater

A: Bahia grass is the most drought-tolerant grass for our region and is not as susceptible to bugs and nematodes as our other warm season grasses. However, it does have poor shade and salt tolerance. Being 5 miles from the water, you should have no problems using the grass. It used to be the most dominant grass in the Florida landscape, but people got tired of the tall seed heads and open nature of the grass. When mole crickets started invading Florida, Bahia grass was a favorite target. Hence St. Augustine took over as our major lawn grass but with much higher water requirements. If it is drought tolerant you want, then Bahia is the choice. You can find Bahia seed, but it is next to impossible to seed a lawn in Florida.

Repot cactus to soil that isn't saturated

Q: A portion of my Thanksgiving cactus looks like it's dying. I've had my cactus for at least 10 years now and have never had a problem. Several weeks ago, the plant became rain-soaked for several days. Is there anything I can do to save the section that is dying?

Meg Baker, Palm Harbor

A: Your saturated soil is indeed what set your plant up for the fungus, probably pithium or rhizoctonia, that damps off the plant. Your best bet is to remove the good portion and replant it in a clay pot with good drainage holes and treat it with a fungicide called "Subdue" as directed on the label. Also, maintain current high light levels. The section that is wilting should be discarded. Hope this will help your remaining section to bloom this year!.

Need help?

Enter Greg "Dr. Hort" Charles, who for more than 30 years educated gardeners through the Pinellas Technical Education Centers. He answers questions about your landscape and garden pests. E-mail your questions to or to (put Dr. Hort in the subject line). Mail questions to HomeLink, Features Department, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Describe your problem in full, and include your name and contact information. If possible, include a photo. We will print his advice on Saturdays in HomeLink.

Ask Dr. Hort: How to relocate crape myrtle, and other gardening advice 01/15/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 15, 2010 3:30am]
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