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Ed Hume Answers Your Gardening Questions

Ed Hume cannot answer all of the garden questions he receives, but questions of general interest will be answered here every month.  Email your questions to HumeSeeds@aol.com.  Please note: we do not accept attachments.

Before submitting a question, be sure to check the index of previous questions and answers or search our site using key words.  Many questions have already been answered here on the site.

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I have a problem with crabgrass in my iris bed. The crabgrass got so thick last year I thought it had choked out my irises. Fortunately, they came back this year and are now about ten inches high. I have tried to pull the grass from the irises without success. I was wondering if I could apply about two inches of straw over the entire bed to choke out the crabgrass without damage to the irises? Or could I apply a product like roundup to the crabgrass without hurting the irises?

I think you have the right idea. If you can apply a product like 'Round-up' to the blades of the 'quackgrass' without getting any of the product onto your Irises, you should be able to start getting it under control. Wear gloves and maybe you need to apply the product with a paintbrush…so you don't get it onto the lris leaves.

Azaleas Dying

My azaleas have been dying for the past couple of seasons. The first time I thought it was a rough winter, but the bushes (3) all lost more green. One bush is half gone, another seems the same, but the oldest and largest is dead here and there. Any helpful hints for me to try? Insects do not appear to be the culprits. Fungus?

Suggest you take in a small sample of dead, dying and good growth to your local garden center and have the 'Certified Nurseryperson' take a look at them and make an on the spot diagnosis. Or, take a look here on our web-site and see when I'll be in your area, and bring a sample along. The usual cause is too much mulch (bark or compost) around them, or extremes of dryness. However, sun reflection, mildew, or over-wet soils can also cause a collapse of Azalea plants.

Acid Fertilizer for Alkaline Soils

Can you recommend a good acid fertilizer as New Mexico has a alkaline soil?

Fish fertilizer is an excellent source of acid fertilizer. So is 'Miracid' or Liquinox.

Transplanting Bulbs

I wanted to transplant some Daffodil and some Hyacinth bulbs. What is the best way to do that and what time of year should I do it?

Wait until June or July, once the leaves have died back on the bulbs. Then simply lift the bulbs and replant them into enriched soil, placing some bulb fertilizer into the planting hole.

See Also: Spring Flowering Bulbs

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