Walter Reeves’ gardening advice

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Q: I have fifteen crinum plants with beautiful foliage but few blooms because they get little sunshine. I really don’t have much sun at all. When and how do I dig them to donate to a Habitat house?
Jo McIver

A: I love the idea of donating the flowers to a Habitat for Humanity household. The residents will have a beautiful landscape as well as a nice house. You can leave the bulbs in the ground until winter cold kills the leaves. Then dig them up and store them in a box filled with crumpled newspaper in a cool dark place until spring. If I were in your situation, I’d put a couple of the bulbs in a pot that could be moved to find patches of sunshine in summer. I think a 14-inch plastic pot would be big enough for the big bulb and roots and light enough for you to handle.

Q: Does a large amount of rain dilute the soil barrier created by a weed preventer on my lawn?
Kelsey Black, Oakwood

A: If you spread a weed preventing pre-emergent product before a rain, the active chemical is dissolved by rainwater and then adheres to underlying soil particles. Clay and silt hold the chemical tightly in place, ready to thwart seed germination. So unless there is substantial soil erosion from your lawn, the pre-emergent will stay where you put it.

Q: I have a 22-year-old Japanese maple with a bulge on the lower trunk. The tree is lovely but it continuously puts out suckers in this bulging area. Is there any way to stop the suckers?
Glynn Banks, Gwinnett County

A: You’ve made a good observation. The bulge is the original graft union on your maple. A twig with attractive leaves was grafted onto a vigorously growing maple seedling, eventually making your beautiful tree. For some unknown reason the understock has started sprouting at the graft. These new limbs will never be very attractive. Try applying Bonide Sucker Punch to the bulge after cutting off all of the sprouts.

Q: As fall begins, do you recommend leaving the height of my bermuda grass a little higher than how I have cut it all summer?
Paul Kearns, email

A: Your instincts are good. Giving the grass increased height now will help protect it from cold weather. The most practical advice is to raise your mower’s height by one notch, around half an inch. The taller grass also protects the plant crown from damage when people walk across your lawn in winter.

Q: We have two old flowering cherry trees at our church. They have several dead limbs and didn’t bloom very well. Is there anything I should do now to strengthen them before pruning this winter?
Jason Threadgill, Rome

A: I think no harm would result from pruning dead and weak limbs just about anytime. One of the things I have learned is that cherries (and peaches) prefer a higher soil pH than most trees. Consider applying a few pints of powdered garden lime to the tree root zone and beyond the drip line now. Fertilize next spring with a product like Holly-tone or Milorganite.

Listen to Walter Reeves Saturday mornings on News 95.5 FM and AM750 WSB. Visit his website,, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook Fan Page at for more garden tips.

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