Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Home and Garden

Ask Dr. Hort: No need to fret about stray seeds when using melaleuca mulch

You don't have to worry about stray seeds when using melaleuca mulch

Q: Is it really safe to use melaleuca mulch? Is there any chance of a stray seed or something that will cause a tree to grow? Maybe I'm just too cautious. Margaret Cushing

A: There is absolutely no chance of a stray seed. The company down in Fort Myers has been producing the product for more than 30 years and has the process down to a science. Only the wood is chipped for mulch, no branches, twigs or bark goes into the product.

Melaleuca seed is like dust and is easily killed. If you notice in and around neighborhoods where the trees were used to divide subdivisions in the Tampa Bay area, you don't see little saplings coming up all over the place like Brazilian pepper because the seed needs a wetland to germinate and proliferate as it did in the Everglades.

So, not to worry, it is a great product, rather colorful, breaks down in six to eight months building soil organic matter and eliminates acres of a noxious weed in southern Florida.

Unfortunately it was brought into South Florida from Australia in the 1930s and was broadcast from airplanes to dry up the Everglades. What were they thinking?

Use neem oil to get rid of sago pest

Q: We would like to remove our sago palm that is over 20 years old. For the past few years, it has had white snowing specks all over it. We put in new sod and have been advised to remove it.

No matter what chemical I have put on it to remove it did not work. Any advice for us? Candy Mancuso, Largo

A: The snowing problem on your sago, (Cycas spp.) is Asian cycad scale and you are right, it is hard to get a handle on managing this pest. Is it a king or queen sago? The queen is much larger. To get the upper hand on the scale problem, cut all of the fronds off, then begin spraying 100 percent neem oil (available online at on a weekly basis for three weeks (70 percent neem oil found at garden centers is second best). You will need to cover every millimeter of the trunk. As the new whorl of leaves come out, monitor very closely for any sign of the tiny varmints and spray again if noticed. Check monthly. I don't understand why you would need to remove it with the new sod.

Many factors can keep plants from blooming

Q: Do Japanese rose plants have a blooming season? I have a plant that is growing like crazy and is very healthy, but has no blooms on it. I had one before that, which had gorgeous flowers on it, then suddenly the blooms dried up and it didn't bloom again. Sally Mindell, Clearwater

A: Roses in Florida usually bloom throughout the warm months, which is most of the year. The common causes for plants not to flower when they are supposed to are usually cultural in nature: too much or too little water, fertilizer or sunshine. If roses are kept too wet, you get no flowers, just like with bougainvillea. If the fertilizers are to high in nitrogen, you'll get a good-looking plant, but no flowers. Then there is light. Roses like eight-plus hours of sunshine each day. All too often, as tree canopies enlarge, sunshine gradually decreases to the point that flowering does also.

Take this information and play CSI to find out just what cultural factors are involved in the lack of flowering of your rose.