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Hibiscus is a snap to share

Question: I have a hibiscus which is admired by some of my neighbors. What is the best way to propagate it? _ R. G. Archer, Pinellas Park

Answer: The easiest way to propagate hibiscus is from cuttings made during spring or summer. Cut off a 4-inch piece of stem from the tip of a branch and place it in a well-drained soil mix of equal parts peat and coarse builder's sand. If you first dip the cutting into rooting hormone, you'll have more success. Maintain a high humidity around cuttings by covering them with a clear plastic bag. They'll usually root in about six weeks and the plants will begin to flower in about nine months.

Another method of propagating hibiscus is air layering. Girdle a branch that's at least {-inch wide by removing a {-inch wide band of bark. Place moist sphagnum moss around the wound, seal it with a plastic wrapper and secure with a twist tie, rubber band or string. Hibiscus can also be propagated by grafting or budding, but that method requires more expertise and practice.

Mushrooms in mulch

Question: Mushrooms are sprouting from my cypress mulch. First they form a bulb, then a long, smelly mushroom grows out of it. I have sprayed with copper fungicide and used lime, but to no avail. _ Thomas Gawronski, Spring Hill

Answer: Florida's tropical climate and high rainfall support mushrooms of all sizes, shapes and colors. The primary niche for these fungi is in the decomposition of dead organic matter, not living plant tissue. The stinkhorn mushroom, also called Dead Man's Tongue, causes no damage to plants but does have a foul odor during the period of emergence each year. There is little you can do to prevent them from appearing. As you have found, liming the soil and/or spraying with a fungicide doesn't work. Digging up and bagging stinkhorns while they are in the odorless "bulb" stage will curb the spread of spores. They appear only at certain times of the year and don't hang around for long.

Sydney Park Brown is an urban horticulturist with the Hillsborough County Cooperative Extension Service. Send questions to her at 5339 S County Road 579, Seffner, FL 33584-3334.