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Agriculture Today

Acorns giving bur oaks the slip

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South Texas Gardener
June 6, 2012 | 4,005 views | Post a comment

Q. My bur oak is about 15 years old. We have been looking forward to the large golf ball-size acorns but so far none have been produced. Should we fertilize it?

A. Bur oaks and all shade trees benefit by fertilization once per year in the spring or fall. Apply one cup of slow- release lawn fertilizer per inch of diameter over the drip line. That being said, bur oaks are notoriously unpredictable acorn producers. Even if fertilized, your tree may never or infrequently produce acorns. There is not anything else you can do.

Q. What is the rose that has the flowers that change color as they mature?

A. The rose is the butterfly rose or also called mutabilis. The flowers are relatively flat, 2- to 3-inch blooms that begin as peachy-yellow and change to pink, and ending up crimson. Mutabilis makes a large plant, 8 feet tall and 12 feet around. It has small thorns. Most years it blooms for eight to nine months.

Q. What is wrong with my tomatoes? The center of the tomato is mealy and white -- very unpleasant. The problem plants are Celebrities. Is it a disease? The Tycoons do not seem to have the problem.

A. The symptoms you describe are unusual in tomatoes, but not unheard of. Celebrities and tomatoes with the same lineage are more likely to show the symptoms according to work done by Kansas State. There is no clear cause identified. Grow the varieties that do not have the problem in your garden.

Q. I know we had to wait until May to get reliable germination from Bermuda grass seed. Will it germinate as late as July? We may not be ready until then.

A. Yes, Bermuda germinates when the air and soil temperatures are high. The only problem with July is that it is often difficult to have access to enough water. The seed will germinate in three to five days if you can water two times per day. In three weeks you could have enough growth to mow the lawn.

Q. Which is the caterpillar that strips the passion vine?

A. Gulf fritillary is the usual culprit in our area but several varieties like passion vine as a food source for their caterpillar. The good news is that the feeding usually does not cause any permanent damage.

Calvin Finch is a horticulturist and the San Antonio Water System’s director of water resources. 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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