By B. Rosie Lerner
Battling the mighty mite
Q: We have lived in our home in the country since 2004. I always hang several Boston Ferns off our deck which became beautiful and huge. I never had a problem until last year; something attacked them — maybe a very small black mite — and just destroyed them all. I was afraid to spray pesticide on them for fear of damaging them even more. We have an exterminator spray in the spring and fall and have never had a problem. — Vanetta Stalker, Orleans, Indiana
A: It’s hard to say without seeing them, but it could be spider mites. There are limited options for pest control on ferns since their foliage can be easily damaged by insecticides, even insecticidal soaps. If you continue having problems this year, try using a strong water spray from a garden hose to knock off most insects but not so strong as to break the fronds.
Differences in the daylilies
Q: The above photo shows a normal daylily and an abnormal one. My daughter-in-law tells me that the yellow one was trapped under landscaping cloth all winter. When she cut the cloth open, this is what she found. She suspects it’s from a lack of light that caused the color change. What do you think? — Maryann Schwegman, Guilford, Indiana
A: You are correct: It is the cloth blocking sunlight from the plant that caused the foliage to be yellow. Plants get their green color from a pigment called chlorophyll, which the plant can only make with exposure to sunlight. The plants should green up once they are uncovered, though some of the yellow leaves may dieback. The plant will send up new leaves.
Solving the mole problem
Q: We had a mole problem in our yard last summer. At the end of summer, the moles got into our garden and did a lot to our vegetable garden. — Audrey Bruno, Gary, Indiana
A: Moles can sure be a challenge! Generally, trapping is going to be your best option in a vegetable garden. Purdue Extension has some helpful articles. extension.entm.purdue.edu/publications/ADM-10.pdf and ag.purdue.edu/stories/podcast/moles-myths-and-misconceptions/
Tipmont REMC consumer B. ROSIE LERNER is a longtime Indiana Connection contributer who recently retired as Purdue Extension’s consumer horticulturist. Questions about gardening issues may be sent to “Ask Rosie,” Indiana Connection, 8888 Keystone Crossing, Suite 1600, Indianapolis, IN 46240-4606, or use the form at IndianaConnection.org.