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Agriculture Today

Dodder, a parasite, not alien

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South Texas Gardener
August 1, 2012 | 4,020 views | Post a comment

Q. There is an orangish, frothy plant without leaves that seems to be floating over the perennials and weeds in the corner of our yard. It does not look like it has any roots. Is it an alien?

A. The plant you describe is probably dodder. Dodder is a parasite that lives off of the plants on which it grows. If I remember right, it reseeds itself and then quickly separates from the rudimentary root.

Q. My neighbor visited and chastised me for not irrigating my peach trees after we harvested the fruit. He says the buds are formed now for fruit production next spring. Is he correct?

A. Yes, you may not need to irrigate as much as you did when the trees were full of fruit but it is important that the trees receive irrigation at least every two weeks to maintain leaves and produce buds.

Q. Is it too late to plant tomato seeds now?

A. It is pretty late. We should be planting transplants now. If the weather cooperates and we don’t have an early freeze, the seeded tomatoes may make it.

Q. When should we fertilize the lawn for fall?

A. On or about Oct. 1 is the best time for the fall fertilization.

Q. Seed pods are forming on my crape myrtles. Should we let them develop or cut them off?

A. Cut them off to encourage more bloom. The “trick” also works for esperanza and poinciana.

Q. We are going to re-do our lawn this fall. How much soil do we need for good growth and drought tolerance?

A. Six inches is the minimum. If you have sandy soil or heavy soil, incorporate about two inches of compost into the soil before sodding.

Q. What kills spider mites? They are overrunning our marigolds.

A. Spider mites are very difficult to kill, especially after the population has reached levels where damage is obvious. Some gardeners use malathion. Others try to smother them with neem oil. I generally pull and discard the plants.

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