Fruit Tree Pollination


Posted by Horticulture Guy - Peter Punzi | Posted in Gardening Q & A, Midwest U.S. Gardeners, Northeast U.S. Gardeners, Northwest U.S. Gardeners, Outside U.S. Gardeners, Southeast U.S. Gardeners, Southwest U.S. Gardeners | Posted on 25-05-2013

Q. In one of your answers: Shinseiki Asian pear is “considered nearly completely self pollinated” Does it mean there is no need another pollinator? Lisa- from New York

A.  A little background – most fruit trees have a built in mechanism to prevent self fertilization – presumably because self fertilization similar to inbreeding reduces the vigor of future offspring and limits their gene pool.  This mechanism is not completely on or off but varies. So for example one tree may self pollinate 80% of the time and would be considered “nearly completely self pollinating”.  Another may only self pollinate 20% of the time and would be listed as requiring a suitable pollinator.  You may improve the “nearly completely” pollination with a suitable plant (usually shown on a pollination chart) and presumably get close to the additional 20% pollination.  The pollination chart takes into account the time of bloom (since bees don’t as a general rule pollinate with long term storage pollen) and how closely related the plants are.  Usually if trees share parents the self fertilization prevention mechanism can reduce pollination.  To answer your question – yes you do not require an additional tree for pollination – although pollination could be improved.  If you find that you need to thin fruit each year anyway I would say you do not need an additional pollinator tree.

Yellow Cucumbers


Posted by Horticulture Guy - Peter Punzi | Posted in Midwest U.S. Gardeners | Posted on 23-09-2012

Q. Why won’t my cucumbers turn green. I have huge yellow cucumbers. Are they edible? thank you, Kathy M. , Illinois

 A.  There are two possibilities here.   If they start out green and then turn yellow you waited too long to harvest and the cucumbers are over ripe. Pick them earlier.  The seeds will be smaller and the fruit will be less bitter. If they are never green and always yellow then you may have been slipped a yellow cucumber variety (or this variety was nearby in the field and crossed in at the source).  These varieties (like Lemon) produce yellow skins.  In addition there are is an outside chance they have a virus which prevents chlorophyll (green pigment) from forming in the skin of the fruit.  Overwatering has been said to cause this but usually you see some problems with the plant itself which you did not mention.  Since you did mention they were very large it is likely that you have the first scenario.  Edible yes…pallatable.. not so much.

Live Long & Garden,

Peter (AKA Horticulture Guy)

Coffee Grounds and Azalea


Posted by Horticulture Guy - Peter Punzi | Posted in Midwest U.S. Gardeners | Posted on 15-05-2012

Q. I tested the soil @ my Azalea: pH-7.0  Nitrogen- Low, no # given  Phos- High, no #  Pot- Medium, no # Coffee  Grounds suggested for pH and Nitro. correction. What who you suggest to correct ALL issues or where can I find out? Thanks for your Time and Assistance! I appreciate it! Monte Cardwell Wichita KS 67213

A.  Hello Monte – Coffee grounds probably won’t help lower the pH much unless you are dumping the coffee with the grounds.  But they will help some with Nitrogen and a good source of organic matter but t may not be sufficient if your readings are low.  If you are looking for fertilizer follow the lead of your soil test and go with a fertilizer that has a N-P-K ratio (those three numbers on the bags showing the percentage of each nutrient K being for potassium)of approximately 3-1-2. Or apply a nitrogen based fertilizer like urea or blood meal and a potash fertilizer like Muriate Of Potash. To adjust the pH I would use Sulfur soil amendment (azaleas would prefer a pH around 5.5)  – Alternately you could also try a chelated fertilizer like Miracid – which contrary to what you might think – does not lower the pH but protects the nutrients from being affected by a high pH (through chelation which comes from the Latin for claw).

Hope that helps – HG

Hydrangea Blooms Blasted


Posted by Horticulture Guy - Peter Punzi | Posted in Midwest U.S. Gardeners | Posted on 29-07-2008

Q. I have a Hydrangea that was bought as a gift from a floral shop. I transplanted it outside 3 years ago and I have never been able to get it to bloom. I can see the blooms and they start to open and then dry up and never open to a full blooming flower. I have tried several acidic fertilizers hoping I could get the thing to bloom, but with no luck. Maybe this type of Hyrdrangea is not for the zone I live in which is near Milwaukee WI. I am not sure what type of Hydrangea it is and I know there are many varieties. Thanks for your time. Sheila Stoffel
A. You are correct that there are some Florist Hydrangeas that are not as hardy as many of our garden varieties but since you are actually getting flower buds it sounds like you have a hardy hydrangea.  What it sounds like you are seeing is a condition called “bud blast” which is usually caused by a fungal disease called botrytis (do the buds show a greyish fuzz?).  It requires some moisture to do well so you may need to discontinue overhead watering of these plants or move them to a spot with more air movement.  Anything to keep the buds and blossoms dry.  Also cleaing and disposing of infected buds and dropped leaves is a good idea as it will reduce spores for next year.  – Peter AKA – HG

Seed regulations


Posted by Horticulture Guy - Peter Punzi | Posted in Midwest U.S. Gardeners | Posted on 15-05-2008

Question: I’d like to ask you a question. Recently I ordered garden seeds from a licensed nursery in another state. These seeds came shipped in clear cellophane with no directions or instructions of any kind such as sun, shade, when to plant ,etc, etc. I complained and they said tough – no refunds. What I’d like to know is what is required in packaging to ship seeds across state lines? Don’t packets have to contain certain specific information? How do I file a complaint against this dealer? I’d appreciate any help you could offer. Bob – new castle, indiana

Answer: I believe there are minimum standards like name of plant, year it was packaged. If you would like to pursue this further I wood contact the USDA’s (United State’s Department of Agriculture’s) Seed Regulatory and Testing Branch:
Write to: Seed Regulatory and Testing Branch
801 Summit Crossing Place, Suite C
Gastonia, North Carolina 28054-2193
or call: Phone: 704-810-8870
FAX: 704-852-4189 (Lab), 4109(Chief)