I have planted some cleome seeds in small cell packs. A good many have sprouted, but most of the cell packs have more than one seed growing. Some are very close together. Should I thin so that there is only one plant in each cell pack? — Susan Sanders
Yes, you need to remove all but one. Use scissors to snip off the extras and leave the strongest seedling to grow. What you did was appropriate. It is usually a good idea to plant several seeds in each cell (or small pot if you are using pots) and thin if they all come up.
It might occur to some readers that you could remove the clump of seedlings, gently tease them apart and plant them separately — and you could. But this would defeat the reason you planted in cell packs. Planting in cell pacts means that when the seedlings are large enough to plant in the garden they can be removed from the cells and planted with little or no trauma.
Separating the seedlings would damage their roots and set them back — causing the trauma you were trying to avoid. So, it is best to snip off the extras.
My lemon tree survived the freeze and has leaves on the lower part of the tree. The upper part of the tree does not have any leaves. Should I still wait to cut the leafless part until summer? My satsuma tree has branches growing with killer thorns on them. Are those the branches that I should be cutting off because the fruit will not be good? — Kathy
You can wait until as late as June to do your initial pruning after freeze damage occurs, but it will not hurt to do it in the spring. Sometimes sections of the new flush of growth produced in the spring wilts and dies during the heat of summer. This is the continuing effects of the freeze damage. If that happens, prune off that growth as well.
As to the satsuma, vigorous growth of citrus trees may have large thorns. This does not mean the growth is bad — just vigorous. The only time thorniness becomes an issue is if thorny sprouts occur from the bottom of the trunk below the graft union. As long as the thorny growth is from above the graft union, you do not have to prune it off. So check and see where the vigorous, thorny growth is growing from to determine if you should prune it off.
I received my soil test results from the LSU AgCenter Soil Testing and Plant Analysis Lab. Our new side yard shows a high pH — 7.03 to 7.72. The area was filled with 10 loads of pump sand. What is a recommended way to lower the pH to properly grow St. Augustinegrass? I’ve considered using sulfur to lower the pH, but I didn’t see many options at the nursery, and directions for use seemed geared for gardens rather than lawns. — Buddy
No need to be concerned. St. Augustinegrass is well adapted to and thrives in slightly alkaline soils. The soil test results should not have told you that you needed to change the pH with sulfur for St. Augustine. The fill soils we use these days and the soils that were used in the past to fill in the swamps are slightly alkaline. River sand, pump sand, batture sand and spillway sand are all fertile, alluvial soils with a slightly alkaline pH. So, almost everywhere you go in the Greater New Orleans south shore area you will encounter soils with pH levels ranging from 7 to 7.8. As you can see when you drive around, plants thrive in these pH levels — even acid loving plants like azaleas and camellias adapt and do well in New Orleans. So, relax. There is no need to change the pH.
What should I do with the seed pods forming on my Louisiana irises? — Jerry Cortez
Cut off seed pods forming on Louisiana irises. Cut where the flower stalk emerges from the leaves. This will keep the plants from flopping over and wasting energy on unwanted seeds.
LURE IN BUTTERFLIES: Pentas, lantana, verbena, zinnia, salvia (many different species and cultivars), butterfly weed (Asclepias) and buddleia …
TOMATO PESTS: Caterpillars will feed on the foliage and flowers of ornamentals and the foliage and fruit of vegetables. Also, the tomato fruit…
Will you please tell me how to grow and care for aloe vera plants? I have had trouble with mine rotting and dying. — Janice James, New Orleans
Dan Gill is a retired consumer horticulture specialist with the LSU AgCenter. He hosts the “Garden Show” on WWL-AM Saturdays at 9 a.m. Email gardening questions to email@example.com.