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Agriculture Today

How to divide Shasta daisies

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November 23, 2011 | 2,484 views | Post a comment

Q.How do we divide Shasta daisies?

A. What works for me is to pop the clump out of the soil and then pull the clump apart without shaking off the soil. It works well to make one 10-inch clump into four clumps. The root clump could also be cut into quarters with a sharp spade.

Replant the new clumps in soil enriched with 2 inches of compost and one cup of slow-release lawn fertilizer every 50 square feet of bed.

Q.You have not written about spider mites much this fall. What happened to them?

A. Many gardeners waited to plant tomatoes until the weather cooled. Spider mites are a hot-weather pest. Cool nights reduce spider-mite reproduction.

Q.I have a high-pressure hose. Will it reduce the aphid population if I spray water into the tree? The honeydew is covering everything under the trees.

A. Yes, the high-pressure water hose will reduce the aphid population. It may also knock pecans and pecan leaves down. It won’t end the honeydew, but will reduce it.

Q.Do pill bugs eat pansies? How can I control them?

A. Pill bugs may eat pansies and any other plant that grows on or close to the ground. They are usually more interested in dead organic material than live foliage, flowers, and fruit. Slugs and snails do more damage than pill bugs. Control all three pests with slug and snail bait.

Q.Our pear trees are blooming. Why is it happening? Is it a problem?

A. Pears quite often are “fooled” into blooming after a hot, dry spell. This summer qualifies. It is usually not a problem, unless all bloom buds open. In that case, there will be no fruit next spring. The usual pattern is to have a limited bloom in the fall and the major bloom in the spring.

Q.Can we transplant monkey grass from one planting bed to another planting bed?

A. Yes, monkey grass transplants easily. The usual strategy is to harvest 3- or 4-inch squares of plants in a checkerboard pattern. The source bed will fill in and the removed squares can be used to plant the new bed.

Q.We planted potatoes this fall. How will I know when they are ready to harvest?

A. When the plants begin to bloom, you can begin harvesting plants to use the new potatoes. When the tops die, it is time to dig up the remaining potatoes. If the soil is moist, it is especially important to harvest the potatoes before they rot.

Calvin Finch is a horticulturist and the San Antonio Water System’s project director of regional initiatives and special projects. Hear him on “Gardening South Texas” on KLUP 930 AM radio Saturdays noon to 2 p.m., and 1-3 p.m. Sundays. Or, e-mail him at

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