Loropetalum can be drought-tolerant foundation shrub


Q: As my old azaleas slowly lose branches or die altogether, I am wondering about replacing them with drought-tolerant plants to put in close to my house. — Neal Wellons, Hampton

A: Although the flowers aren’t quite as large, loropetalum (Chinese fringe flower) often is used as a foundation plant around homes, and it is very drought-tolerant. Although older varieties often grow too big to use next to a house, new introductions like ‘Dark Fire’, ‘Ruby Snow’, ‘Emerald Snow’, and ‘Jazz Hands Variegated’ offer reliable size predictions and are worth your consideration.

Q: What critter would roll up the edges of my redbud tree leaves? — Jackie Fulmer, Rome

A: It’s the work of a redbud leaf roller. A small moth lays eggs on the edge of a leaf. When they hatch, the grubs roll the edge of the leaf over themselves for protection. They feed on the leaf and it dries out. When many leaves are affected, redbud trees are very unattractive. Since the damage is usually sporadic on trees, you could choose to let natural predators do most of the work for you. If your tree is in a prominent position, spray it with Bacillus thuringiensis (Caterpillar Attack, Caterpillar Killer, etc.) in late April and again in late May.

Q: Can you give suggestions for starting zoysia from seed in flats on a windowsill? I would like to grow my own plugs and then move them outside when the weather gets warm in the summer. What variety of zoysia would you recommend for a fenced backyard with a lot of dogs? — Bob Peck, email

A: I have bad news on two counts. First, zoysia grass will not grow well on the windowsill. All grasses demand high sunshine levels and even the sunniest windowsill will not provide enough light for zoysia to thrive. Secondly, zoysia can tolerate traffic from a couple of small dogs, but is simply not going to be able to recover from the damage several dogs will do to it. I have details on landscaping for dogs at bit.ly/GAdogs.

Q: I want to practice landrace gardening, in which the seeds to be planted the coming year come from the survival of the fittest in a particular garden in previous years. Where can I collect all the open-pollinated cultivars of edible crops I can grow on my land? ??Daniel Kennison, Dublin

A: It?셲 an intriguing idea. Try Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (southernexposure.com) and Seed Savers Exchange (seedsavers.org). The South Carolina Crop Improvement Association sells heirloom seeds that have been passed along for generations. Details at bit.ly/SCheirloom.

Listen to Walter Reeves Saturday mornings on News 95.5 FM and AM750 WSB. Visit walterreeves.com, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook fan page at bit.ly/georgiagardener for more garden tips.


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