Hortiscope: Salt toxicity can occur in poorly drained plants
Q: Do weigela bushes need sun all day or can they be planted in a shady area?
A: They will do best in full sun, OK in dappled shade and poorly in full shade.
Q: Please help us figure out what is wrong with our fiddle leaf fig. I love our tree, but it has started getting more brown spots on it and, the past few days, it has dropped a leaf a day. I noticed your responses on the Web, so I checked for scales, mites and other bugs, but do not seem to find any signs of infestation. The light conditions in our home are similar to that of the store. When we first got it, it dropped a few leaves, but we figured that was due to the stress of moving and it seemed to recover. Now we have the heat on and the air is drier than it was. However, I'm afraid to overwater it because I know these plants are sensitive. We have hard water and use a water softener, but we bring water in from outside for the plant. Since it is winter, the plant is getting less light than usual. The plant gets indirect light that is not too bright, but only for an hour or two a day (we have a lot of trees in our yard). The fig is in a room with north- and east-facing windows. Please help me save our tree. Am I not watering enough? Is it not getting enough light or does it need fertilizer?
A: This looks like salt toxicity getting started. Is the container the plant is in free draining? If not, get it out of there as soon as possible and get it into a container that allows water to drain through so you can dump the excess. Other problems that could cause the same symptoms are dry air, low light or root decay. Go to www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/plantsci/landscap/pp744.pdf for our revised houseplant problem-solving publication. It will help you determine what the problem may be and how to solve it.
Q: I planted tulip, crocus and wildflower bulbs in two large pots. I've never done it before and now I'm confused about the next step. I planted these bulbs in October. It was a little late in the season, but our weather has been uncommonly warm.
I placed the pots in an unheated garage, but it is insulated. Last week, I took a few bulbs out and they had nice roots on them. Victory! Do I now put them outside in the freezing temperatures or can I leave them in the garage where they will freeze as the temperatures continue to get colder?
A: Put them outside because these are hardy bulbs that will not be hurt. They also can respond better to the changes in weather and daylight. You accomplished what you wanted, which was to get the roots established. As the snow falls, you might want to mulch the entire planter so the temperature stays stabilized.
Q: I have a question about a cut rose I got last November that rooted in June. I planted it in a container and it has grown more than 12 inches tall. It has plenty of foliage and two buds. I have taken it outside in the mornings and brought it in for the night. Should I let it stay outside to let Mother Nature take its course the same as my other rose bushes or baby it this winter because it is a new plant? I appreciate any insight you might have.
A: My best guess is that this cut rose came from a florist who purchased it from a rose grower. The plant probably was grown in a greenhouse. Greenhouse roses are not adapted to anything other than greenhouse environments, so your new rose would make a poor candidate for surviving in the great outdoors. That said, if you got this rose from a neighbor, then there is every chance for this plant to survive and I would encourage you to get it planted outside as soon as possible to get it acclimated to the weather.
To contact Ron Smith for answers to your questions, write to Ron Smith, NDSU Department of Plant Sciences, Dept. 7670, Box 6050, Fargo, ND 58108-6050 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.