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Articles by Dr. Francis Gouin

Bug 1: Wax Scale

One of the problems of moving houseplants outdoors during the summer months is that they often become infested with insects. You’ll want to control those bugs before bringing your plants back indoors.
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Add witches broom to your ­Halloween hunt

A Bay Weekly reader asked if I had seen an odd-looking pine tree growing on the west side of Rt. 4 about a quarter-mile south of the Patuxent River Bridge.
    It’s a witches broom, and I have been admiring it for at least 10 years. The tree is some 20 feet tall and grows on the edge of the woods about 100 feet from the side of the road.
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Just mulching won’t give them what they need to overwinter

The editor of Bay Weekly recently asked if she could simply add potting soil to raise the level of rooting medium in her houseplants or if she had to repot. I advised her to repot.
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Compost needs air and water

I heard a garden advisor on radio tell his listeners to compost their leaves in plastic bags rather than placing them on the curb for pick-up by the municipality. Put the leaves in the plastic bag and dump in a pitcher of warm water with two to three packages of bakers yeast dissolved in the liquid, he advised.
    I hope no one listened.
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Here’s how to plant them

Pansies give the garden fall, winter and early spring color. Breeders have provided us with a great array of colorful varieties to choose from. These hearty flowers are one of the few plant species with light- and dark-blue flowers. In addition to solid colors — yellow, brown, purple and reddish-brown — my favorite cultivar, the Pacific Giant, includes blooms with brown monkey faces in their center.
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Follow my advice, and you’ll get years of big flowers

In New Hampshire where I grew up, tulips were a perennial crop. A single planting would last many years, producing large, beautiful flowers year after year. Here in Southern Maryland, tulips are generally grown as an ­annual crop.
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Big flowers spring from well-developed roots

Don’t wait for the ground to cool before planting spring-flowering bulbs. The sooner you plant in the fall, the longer they will survive and the better they will bloom. Gardeners who wait to purchase their bulbs at end-of-the-year sales are likely to see smaller flowers and smaller plants next spring. If buying from open bins, you are also likely to be purchasing smaller bulbs because the larger ones have already been taken....

Plants of the Chesapeake Bay
 

In Plants of the Chesapeake Bay, John Hopkins University Press has just published what I consider the most comprehensive and well-illustrated field guide. Lytton John Musselman and David A. Knepper’s 217-page book has outstanding color pictures and descriptions of wildflowers, grasses, aquatic vegetation, trees, shrubs and other flora. It also organizes the plants in communities within the Bay region.
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Gita is my recommendation

A Bay Weekly reader complained to me that she has not been able to harvest string beans all summer long.
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Here’s how to help your plants avoid self-strangulation

When I visit friends’ homes, being asked to diagnose plant problems is not uncommon. I entered one friend’s front door only to be escorted outside to diagnose the cause of a groundcover juniper’s death. My friend had planted three junipers in 2009; one had died in June.
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