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Frost-bitten cactus should survive but will be leathery

Spring cactuses have a star-like flower. They do well outdoors in summer but must be brought back inside before a hard freeze. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Q: I have a question about my spring cactus. Right now, it is blooming beautifully! I live in Texas and this past winter we had several hard freezes. Not knowing any better, my poor cactus was left outside. Now it has very brown and leathery base growth. I am not sure if I need to remove that part of the cactus or just let it grow out. The new growth is healthy and doing fine. I am baffled, so any help would be greatly appreciated.

A: That is probably superficial damage and the plant should callus it over as it continues to grow. In Minnesota you would have to bring it indoors come fall. Monitor it to make sure a fungal rot doesn't get started. Glad to hear it is blooming so beautifully. Enjoy!

Q: A generous friend gave me a rose bush. The picture on the package shows a big fancy lavender floribunda rose called angel face. It is rated for zone 5. Does it have a better chance of surviving near the house foundation where it gets really hot and dry in the summer or near the clothesline where the rest of my rose bushes are planted? Personally, I don't think it will survive the winter in either location.

A: Don't be such a pessimist. Give it a chance with your other roses near the clothesline. Plant it deeply enough and give it copious protection going into the winter.

Q: I was wondering if I could transplant my yellow raspberries into a garden that has been growing vegetables, onions, peppers and tomatoes in the past. Is it possible to change the soil to an appropriate mixture in order to make this transition?

A: Raspberries will grow where you want them. I have raspberries growing adjacent to my vegetable garden and constantly am digging up volunteers. So my "yes" answer should please you. However, I'm assuming you did not have any disease problems at the vegetable site and that it is in full sun.

Q: Our two honeycrisp apple trees have not produced any fruit. This will be the fifth year since planting them. Our neighbors have a haralson and a crab apple tree about 100 feet from our trees. We have not fertilized our trees in three years and do minimal pruning. Do you have any suggestions as to what we should be doing?

A: The trees are enjoying a vegetative life, so they need to be shocked out of their bliss. Take a straightedge spade and drive it into the soil in six or seven spots around the drip line of the tree. This will reduce some of the root volume and cause the tree to go into a reproductive cycle next year. After that, they should be a regular producer of very delicious apples.

Q: I have an established asparagus patch. I would like to put down some sort of ground cover, such as bark chips, to keep the weeds down during the summer. Are bark chips safe to use on an asparagus patch or is there something else that would be better?

A: Bark chips should not be a problem. However, I never have recommended it or known of anyone using it for that purpose.