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Ask Dr. Hort: Ridding peace lilies of green blooms

Prune green blooms

Q: I have large peace lilies in my front yard. On the same plant, some bloom white, some green. What can I do to make them all bloom a pretty white color? Pam Purol, Tampa

A: The green spathe, or flower, is a result of pollination. The spadix, resembling a small hot dog at the base of the flower, will house seed eventually as the spathe falls off. Just prune off green spathes down to ground level to eliminate seed formation — or harvest seed and start new plants.

Palm frond 'frizzle top'

Q: We had two queen palms (about 15 feet tall) planted earlier this year and though they seem to be doing okay, the fronds are sort of shriveled looking compared with other queens nearby. Will this change as the trees get established or should I be doing something to aid in their establishment? What kind and how much fertilizer should I use and when? Chris Mallory, Palm Harbor

A: If the shriveling is occurring on the newer fronds, it is a manganese deficiency. The problem is commonly called "frizzle top." Purchase some SA Essential Minor L at your garden center and apply as directed on the label. Each subsequent frond should look a little better until the deficiency is corrected.

Beggarweed problem

Q: I have a problem with a broadleaf weed in my St. Augustine lawn. Bonus S doesn't seem to touch it. It has extremely long, tough runners that mat in with the roots of the grass, so they are difficult to pull. Any suggestions? Rick Roscoe, Palm Harbor

A: Your broadleaf weed is creeping beggarweed. It is a tough, perennial weed that has pink flowers and little six-parted seeds that stick to your socks like Velcro if not mowed. To control, try Atrazine or Image. If they don't work, use Speedzone, a mixture of herbicides. Follow label directions for success. If all else fails, contact a professional pest control company.

Growing healthy papaya

Q: I have tried several times to grow papaya but the trees die. They look good for about six months then start to decline; the leaves get smaller and there's no new growth. Eventually the plant falls over and I can see the middle is hollow and full of pill bugs. Any idea what is causing this? Other people in my neighborhood have papaya growing in their yards. Cindy Wagner

A: Make sure you plant them 2 to 3 inches above the existing soil level from container to planting hole. Following planting, make a 2-foot-diameter soil saucer 6 inches tall. Fill the saucer with water every day for the first 30 days, then every other day for the next 30. Papayas are heavy feeders, so a quality fertilizer with the analysis 8-2-12 or 5-2-10, with 50 percent slow release, and micronutrients such as zinc, iron and manganese, should be applied inside the saucer after the first 30 days following planting. Be diligent and you'll have the neighbors jealous!

Shade for mondo grass

Q: Any pointers on mondo grass? I put some in last September that I got from a friend in Georgia. It really hasn't done much and some of it has turned brown. Thanks. Roger Gingras, Seminole

A: Mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus) comes in several heights and a variegated form. Unlike its cousin Liriope muscari, border grass, it needs shade, is very slow-growing and really doesn't do much. It's great to use as a border plant in the shade.

Need help?

Greg "Dr. Hort" Charles answers questions about landscape and garden pests. E-mail your questions to drhort@tampabay.rr.com or to features@sptimes.com (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. Important: Include your name, city and contact information. If possible, include a photo.

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 landscape and garden pests. E-mail your questions to drhort@tampabay.rr.com or to features@sptimes.com (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, city and contact information. If possible, include a photo. We will print his advice on Saturdays in HomeLink.

Ask Dr. Hort: Ridding peace lilies of green blooms 09/17/10 [Last modified: Friday, September 17, 2010 5:30am]

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