Gardening Q & A

Have a question about gardening?  Email your questions to and a response will appear below in alphabetical order by subject matter.

We will place a NEW label on recently posted responses to help make them easier to locate.

Deadheading Flowers

Why do I have to continually deadhead my flowers?

If you want to have flowers from spring until frost and improve the look of your garden, then you need to learn the simple technique of "deadheading." Technically, the only reason a plant produces flowers is to produce seeds. If you deadhead, you stop the seed production and which promotes new flower growth and the improves the plant's appearance.


Favorite Flowers

While at the Botanical Gardens of the Ozarks, one of our members asked Mary Doyle what her favorite flowers were and why?

Mary Doyle responds: I had to think about this, but below are listed two of my favorite flowers and why. Think about it, what are your favorites and why? Send it to the question and answer portion of this newsletter.

Four o'clocks are a wonderful plant. In Northwest Arkansas they are not a hardy perennial, but come back from seed. They freely reseed themselves and come in a variety of colors, such as pink, white, red, yellow and different colors on the same plant are not unusual. The flowers name comes from the fact that the flowers open in late afternoon, remain open all night and close. Four O'clocks are an old fashion favorite in many Southern gardens and easy to care for. If anyone would like to have some seeds for flowers this summer, email Mary Doyle.

Spider Flower The fantastic white to pink blooms of the spider flower are a real conversation starter. They bloom in early summer when the plant becomes around 2 ft tall and will bloom all summer. This plant freely reseeds itself and I have many seeds if anyone wants them. The Spider flower is pretty carefree. Most pests don't bother it, but butterflies and hummingbirds love it. Sow seeds in spring after danger of frost is past. The seeds need light to germinate, so cover lightly. PS. If you take the "Garden Gate" magazine, the Spider Flower is listed as one of the top reseeding annuals in the June 2009 issue.


Fertilizer for Annuals

At the meeting on April 22, 2009, We were advised that annuals had to be fertilized regularly if one expected plenty of blossoms.  What was the advice?

Nominations for the best fertilizer for annuals included Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer or Old Milwaukee Beer!  I believe one can of warm beer was mixed with 2 gallons of water and used to water annuals every 3 weeks!?!  I kid you not!!!  See what you are missing by not attending Garden Club meetings?!?

Fungus Among Us

WHAT is growing in the mulch in my flower bed?

Cathy Wayson responds: You have Dog Stinkhorn Fungus.  The fungus, while found in the forest, is best known for its embarrassing appearance in one's mulch beds. It is awkward explaining that you have a fungus instead of an excited male dog (buried on its back) in your flower bed. But, once again the fungus is only doing the work of recycling dead trees (in this case, dead trees chopped into mulch). The fruiting body really stinks, and has a sticky slime on it that is full of spores. Insects are attracted to the stench, land, get coated with spores, and fly off to disperse the spores. Scientific name is: Mutinus caninus.


How to go about growing garlic in the fall?

Mary Doyle responds: To start garlic, dig compost into an unused part of the garden.  A sunny spot with nitrogen-rich, well-drained soil is an ideal location.  Break apart a garlic bulb into individual cloves and push cloves, point up, into the soil about 3 inches deep.  The area can be lightly mulched after planting.  Your garlic will sprout almost immediately, the tops standing tall through the winter.  In the spring, top dress with blood meal and mulch again to keep down weeds.  Garlic should be harvested in June when the first tops start falling over.  Allow bulbs to sit in a well ventilated area out of direct sun before storing in a cool, dry location.


Gardening Soils

Could someone explain the differences between all the different gardening soils?

Mary Doyle responds:  According to an article in an April issue of the Arkansas Gardener, here are the differences in soil for specific uses.

Note: The Mulch & Soil Council tests products and many companies have their products tested and if approved, a certification will be on the bag, which helps in knowing the product has met tests for truth in labeling requirements.


Grass ... Bermuda

I have a small flower bed that has been taken over by Bermuda grass. I have some hostas, daylilies and a peony bush. Do I need to dig up the plants in order to get rid of the grass?

Bermuda is a tenacious weed. There are some grass-specific herbicides you can use and now is an ideal time to use them. The key is to let the grass green up and start to spread, then treat. Brand names include Grass-b-gone, Over the Top, Ornamec and Vantage. This will kill the grass without damaging your daylilies, hostas or peony. Once the grass is killed, pull out the dead grass and mulch well.


Herbs and Vegetables

When should one plant herbs and vegetables?

Mary Doyle responds:  Late February/Early March is the time to plant the cool season crops such as spinach, kale, collards and other greens, as well as beets, radishes and onions. The average last frost in Northern Arkansas is around April 20th. Warm weather crops, such as tomatoes and peppers do best if not planted until after the late frosts have passed.

Dry vs Fresh Herbs

How does one adjust the use of dry vs fresh herbs in recipes?

Mary Doyle responds:  Many times we will have a recipe calling for fresh herbs. Well, (1) we don't have any (2) they are very expensive when out of season. Dried herbs lack the moisture of fresh herbs, their flavor is much more concentrated. The general rule is to use one-third the amount of dried herbs as you would fresh. Therefore, if a recipe called for 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme, use 1 teaspoon dried instead ( 3t = 1T). When cooking with fresh herbs, it's best to add them at the end of the recipe, so the heat doesn't destroy their bright color and flavor. If using dried herbs, add them at the beginning. This way, their flavor has time to better infuse the dish.



Leaves on a couple of my hostas are beginning to brown around the edges as though the plants aren't receiving enough water. This should not be the problem though.  Other thoughts?

Probably just the end of the road for this particular type of hosta.


Knock-Out Roses

Should one attempt to shape them?  How about cutting off spent blooms?

Cathy Wayson responds: Knock-Out Roses can be shaped as necessary. I don't remove spent blooms because there are so many. They seem to disintegrate by themselves and the rose keeps on blooming. Be sure not to spray with the usual stuff that one uses on tea roses...Knock-Out Roses don't need it and won't like it. 

Some leaves on my neighbor's Knock-Outs are brown and eaten to the point of being quite lacy.  Others are fine. Suggestions?

Cathy Wayson responds: Look for some iridescent green beetles.  They are called Japanese Lace Beetles because they make lace out of leaves.  There are traps for them but I've heard they just attract more beetles.  There is a product called Milky Spore that can be put in the soil but it takes several years to work by killing the grub stage of the beetles.  If there isn't much damage look for the beetles and remove them by hand (crush them).  Cut off ugly areas of the plant.  There are insecticides that will kill them but they are only a problem from about mid June to the end of July so unless they are completely stripping the plant I wouldn't bother.  The Knock-Out rose will probably recover after they are gone. 



I have 2 small varieties of lantana in containers.  They look pitiful and I thought it was easy to grow them.  Any ideas?

Cathy Wayseon responds: Lantana should be easy. In a pot, the nutrients might get washed out of the soil. Try watering with about 1/4 tsp of Miracle Grow (or something similar) to 1 qt of water. Or put in some time release fertilizer like Ozmocote.



What are some local nurseries?


The Creeks Nursury 8542 West McNelly Road, Bentonville, AR

(479) 876-9891

Garden City  2105 S Walton Blvd Bentonville AR 72712

(479) 273-5928


Matkins Flowers & Greenhouse 205 SW 3rd Street,

Bentonville, AR (479) 273-2692


Westwood Gardens 3112 W New Hope Road,

Rogers, AR (479) 633-0200

Bradford's Nursery 1605 Prairie Creek Dr Rogers, AR 72756 

(479) 636-8393 ... Planting and Care Instructions

When your mother asks, 'Do you want a piece of advice?' it is a mere formality.  It doesn't matter if you answer yes or no.  You're going to get it anyway.

Erma Bombeck