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Ask Dr. Hort: Leaving cold-weather covering on plants

To prune or not to prune bougainvillea

Q: Our bougainvillea was burned with the recent freeze we had, which is a shame as they were flowering beautifully.

Should I cut back the burned parts now or wait until spring? I am sure there will be more freezes and frost before we reach springtime and I don't want to further stress the plants.

I have heard pros and cons on this matter and would appreciate your input.

Carol Tennison, Oldsmar

A: If you prune now and we get some warm weather, then new shoots will emerge and you'll be ahead of the game. But if we get another freeze that growth will be lost.

If you don't prune, the burnt foliage will serve as a buffer for the next freeze, if it indeed comes, but it will look awful for the rest of winter.

Do you feel lucky? I would wait until spring.

Moles in the yard are difficult to control

Q: My yard is infested with moles. I have tunnels all over my yard. I have tried the poison peanuts, pills and spray and still have the problem. Any suggestions? George Walters

A: Moles are not easy to control for the novice. The best means of control is to hire a professional trapper. (To find one, enter "animal control" and your ZIP code in an online search.)

If you still want to try some methods yourself go to and search "moles." The article, written by Bill Kern, is a detailed report and list of options for mole control. Good luck!

Leaving cold-weather covering on plants

Q: When we have freeze warnings I cover my plants in the evening. Should I uncover them the next day so they can get sun or just leave them covered? Does it make any difference? Roger in Seminole

A: It is okay to leave the covers on for two to three days. If you use plastic, however, take that off in the morning, or you'll cook the plants. The important thing to remember is that the cover needs to go all of the way to the ground to capture as much ground heat as possible.

>>fast facts

Need help?

Dr. Hort (Greg Charles) answers questions about garden problems. E-mail him at or mail questions to HomeLink, Features Department, St. Petersburg 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.

Ask Dr. Hort: Leaving cold-weather covering on plants 01/28/11 [Last modified: Friday, January 28, 2011 3:30am]
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