houseplants in Amherst NY

Get rid of bugs before you bring plants indoors for winter

  by Connie Oswald Stofko Here’s a question I got from a reader: Hi Connie, I was wondering if you had any suggestions about debugging houseplants that were outside for the summer, before bringing them back inside the house. I have a few plants to bring indoors and noticed little red spiders crawling around. I’m reluctant to have them back in my house. So, are there any “natural” sprays?  Should I just “ditch” them?  Any suggestions would be appreciated. Btw,…

large fungus in lawn in Amherst

Why are there mushrooms in my lawn & what should I do about them?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Here’s an email I got recently from a reader: Hi Connie, Would you be so kind as to post this question for me?  I thought we were lacking rain so why do I have these HUGE mushrooms growing in my front lawn that gets lots of sun?   This is only my 2nd summer in WNY and I am confused!   Thanks a bunch o’ coreopsis, Pam Anderson Lewiston Sometimes I ask readers to share tips…

bird in hanging basket

What can you do to prevent birds from nesting in hanging baskets?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Here’s a question from a reader: Have you heard of any way to deter pesky little birds from nesting in my hanging planters? Carol Thibault of Elma We love birds visiting our gardens, but I can see where it would be a nuisance if birds nest in hanging baskets. When you try to water your plants, you disturb the birds, and if you don’t water, your plants will die. Plus, the nest may mess up the…

philodendron with hand

Help a reader: Is this philodendron unusual?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Sometimes readers send me questions that they’d like to get some opinions on, so I share their questions with my readers. Here’s one. Hi Connie, I was given a philodendron in a basket with other plants as a gift over 10 years ago. I give it 20/20/20 every watering which is weekly. For over a year, there is a stalk about 1 inch in diameter supporting extra-large leaves. They are bigger than my hand, so approximately…

red lily leaf beetle

How are gardeners dealing with red lily leaf beetle?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Here’s a question from a reader: “My Asiatic lilies were attacked by the lily beetles last year. “This year they (the red lily leaf beetles) are back in my garden. I literally pulled about 6-8 of my lilies and just tossed them out because they were so bad and distressing me– I even tossed out the soil around them. I still have some beetles and twice daily, I go out and look for them and catch…

bee and milkweed flower in Buffalo

No, there’s no labeling on use of neonicotinoids in plants or seeds

by Connie Oswald Stofko I got this question from a reader: Hi Connie, How can we be sure that we aren’t buying plants that have been treated with neonics, or grown from seeds containing neonics? Is there a standard label to look for? Or certain brands that don’t deal in them? Thanks. Kristen Buffalo Since I’m not a gardening expert, I contacted someone who knows more about  neonicotinoids, which are used in pest control. I talked to John Farfaglia, the…

aster yellows on coneflower

Coneflowers with aster yellows disease: Keep healthy plants, but pull diseased ones

by Connie Oswald Stofko Here’s a question from a reader: Hi Connie, Last summer we were warned about aster yellows destroying coneflowers. My coneflowers were all infected but I didn’t remove the plants from my garden. Now I’m watching them sprout and I’m wondering if I should be worried. Should I take them out now? Thanks, Eileen Welborn Buffalo Yes, if you saw symptoms of aster yellows disease last year on your coneflowers and you didn’t pull out and carefully…

Liatris spicata. Photo courtesy Ball Horticultural

Is it too early to plant liatris bulbs in Western New York?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Here’s a question I received from a reader early last week when the weather became warm and sunny: Hello. Can I plant liatris bulbs now? Or should I wait until the soil warms?  Thank you. Linda in Tonawanda In case you’re not familiar with this plant, here’s a little bit of information about liatris. It blooms in summer with large flower spikes that attract butterflies. The plant is drought-resistant, so it doesn’t need much care. It…

butter and eggs or linaria vulgaris

Help a reader: What’s a good source for identifying native plants, weeds?

by Connie Oswald Stofko Here’s a question from a reader: Hi, I am looking for a book about native plants and weeds in Buffalo or Western New York. My friend likes to walk along the railroad tracks in Buffalo to look at the wildlife but he can’t identify some of the wild flowers and weeds growing along the tracks. Can you suggest a book I could purchase that would show different kinds of native wildflowers and weeds in this region?…

tulips in Cleve-Hill Cheektowaga NY

Help a reader: What perennials do you plant around tulips to cover the dying leaves?

Here’s a question from a reader: Does anyone have suggestions for perennials to plant with spring bulbs this fall that will emerge and cover the leaves of the tulips and daffodils after they bloom and then slowly turn yellow?  It’s a south-facing spot with much sun and good drainage, along my garage wall.   Thank you!   Val Betts  Lake View (Hamburg)   I talked to Claudia Kolbe-Hawthorne of the Cleve-Hill section of Cheektowaga last year about how she gets…