Plant daffodils in October; ignore mushrooms in lawns; and deal with termites in bushes: Dan Gill’s recommendation | Dwelling/Backyard


Gardening columnist Dan Gill answers readers’ questions each week. To submit a question, email Gill at

I bought a sack of 50 daffodil bulbs. How should they be stored until planting time? When do I plant them? — Linda

Keep them indoors at room temperature until you plant them in October or November. Spring bloomers usually appear in nurseries in September. This is based on when bulbs are typically planted in the North, not our Deep South planting schedule. You can buy spring onions in September as long as the selection is good, but there is no rush to plant them. November is actually our most important planting month for spring flowering bulbs.

This morning I noticed what appears to be termite damage at the base of a live oak tree on our property. Is it harmful to have the tree treated by an exterminator? – Chris Coppola

You may want to have the tree treated by a licensed arborist with an arborist service as they specialize in treating trees. While most termite control companies can treat trees, their primary training is in structural termite control. But it’s your choice. And if you already work with a termite control company for your home, you may choose to use them. This isn’t something you can do yourself.

Fungi are not harmful to the lawn. However, some can be toxic, so keep them away from children and pets.

A lot of mushrooms have been growing on my lawn in St. Augustine for the past two weeks. Is there anything I should be worried about? – Robert Sanae

Mushrooms are most common in rainy seasons. They and the fungi they produce are not harmful to your lawn or other plants in your garden and there is nothing to worry about.

Since some of the mushrooms can be poisonous, in cases where pets or small children could consume them, they should be removed immediately. For everyone else, ignore them or mow them down.

There are no practical treatments to kill the fungi that produce the mushrooms. If you encounter fungi, remember that they are generally harmless.

I had a beautiful 3 year old rose bush that suddenly died. It seemed like it had dried out because it was crunchy, but it wasn’t without water. I would like to know what causes a rose bush to die so suddenly. —Steve Reine

Root rot is the most common reason shrubs like roses suddenly wilt and die. Various water mold organisms living in the soil are responsible. Root rot is generally fatal and is most common during wet periods or when beds are overwatered during the hot mid to late summer period. There is no effective treatment for this disease.

I have found a few seedling pecan trees (one is already about 3 feet tall) growing in my garden beds. How can I really kill them so they never come back? – Franz Winterfield

You could just dig them up. They are not yet large enough that this would be impractical. However, if they grow near desirable plants, digging up the pecan seedling can damage the roots of these plants. In this situation there is another alternative.

Cut the pecan seedlings a few inches off the ground, then apply the herbicide triclopyr to the freshly cut surface. Triclopyr is sold under different brand names such as Cut Vine and Stump Killer. The herbicide is absorbed by the cut surface and penetrates the roots, killing them without harming nearby plants.

The pecan seedlings will not sprout again. You can use this technique to control unwanted seedling trees growing in beds or anywhere they are not desired. This technique also works for unwanted vines growing in a bed between shrubs and causing problems.

Sooty mold of whiteflies Gardenia.JPG (copy)

Sooty mold is a symptom of whitefly infestation.

Tips for the garden

INJECT NOW: Spider mites and whiteflies are now plentiful, and many gardeners experience severe outbreaks. Make multiple applications of Year Round Oil or All Seasons Oil before it gets out of control. Spray the underside of the leaves for best control and spray early in the morning when it’s cooler.

WEB PAGES: Fine, silvery tissues on tree bark are caused by tiny insects called psocids, or bark lice. These scavengers clean the bark and are completely harmless to the trees. No control is required. If the webbing bothers you, you can remove it with a broom or a strong jet of water.

THERE’S MORE: In general, if your spring-planted eggplant and pepper plants are still in good shape, you can count on them to produce a fall harvest. Control pests and keep plants well watered and fertilized as needed. They will start to set more fruit as the temperatures get cooler.

PEAR HARVEST: Harvest pears by the end of August. The best fresh-eating quality occurs when the fruit has ripened from the tree. Choose firm pears that have started to turn yellow or red. Wrap them individually in newspaper and place them in paper bags or boxes. They will soften in about 10 days. This isn’t necessary if you want or can cook and freeze the pears.

ROOT CONTROL: Plants in pots placed on a brick surface, gravel, or soil may have roots growing out of the drainage holes into the soil. Prevent this by occasionally lifting the pots, or use pot feet to raise the pot off the ground.

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