From snow to sunstroke: What’s a grower to do?

  • Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013 12:55 a.m.
Roses can suffer from rosette disease, never producing any blooms. Infected plants must be removed.
Roses can suffer from rosette disease, never producing any blooms. Infected plants must be removed.

SALISBURY — It was snow and sleet last week and this week it has felt like a heat wave. Whatever the weather may bring, many people are forging ahead with their outdoor projects. Below are questions from earlier this week.

Question: I have a hydrangea that doesn’t bloom. It bloomed the first few years after I planted it, but it hasn’t bloomed at all the last few years. What could be the problem and how may I correct it?

Answer: Your hydrangea is planted in deep shade (learned from conversation). The shrub needs sun in the morning hours and filtered light or shade in the afternoon. Adding phosphorus fertilizer will also increase the blooms as this element supports bloom production. Move the plant to a different location.

Question: Last year some of my rose bushes had thorny growths on the tips and never produced flowers. What can I do to make my roses bloom again?

Answer: Your rose may be infected with an untreatable virus called rosette. It is a disease vectored by mites. Roses will often display reddened terminal growth that is thicker with many thorns. The virus may also resemble 2,4-D damage. Remove the diseased rose and space your plants so they don’t touch each other.

Question: My daughter wants to plant some tomato plants but she wants to top them so they will get busy and not get tall. Can you top tomato plants?

Answer: I have seen greenhouse tomatoes topped, but generally you do not top tomato plants. There are two different tomato types: determinant tomatoes which reach a certain height (bushy type) and then stop growing or indeterminate tomatoes which seemingly grow as a vine all summer. New bush type cultivars are available for containers and raised beds for gardeners.

Question: My redbud tree is declining and looks like it may be dying. Do these trees have a disease problem?

Answer: Native redbuds are not what I would consider a long-lived tree like an oak or maple. However, they generally are easy to grow, being a legume, and have few pest problems.

Question: I pruned my muscadine grapes back this past week and they are bleeding badly. Will the grape vines die from excessive bleeding?

Answer: Grape vines bleed furiously the first few days after pruning. They generally heal over with no detrimental effect to the vine.

Darrell Blackwelder is the county extension director with horticulture responsibilities with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Learn more about Cooperative Extension events and activities by calling 704-216-8970, Facebook or online at

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