Q: Are some persimmon trees male and some female? If so, how do you tell them apart? We left 10 in our field three years ago for the deer, and this year only two produced. — William Earnest, email
A: It is correct that persimmons have some trees that produce male flowers and other trees that produce female flowers. You won’t be able to tell which is which until you see the flowers, which start appearing when trees are three to five years old. Female flowers appear singly on new green twigs. It would be unusual to only have two female trees among the 10. My guess is that more of your trees will have fruit in the future.
Q: I planted Bermuda sod at the end of May. I started mowing it low and, ever since, the green part of the grass disappears. — Dorothy Wright, email
A: You haven’t been mowing often enough. Lower your mowing height by one notch now, so only half of the green part of the grass is removed by the blade. Bermuda grass is slowing down its growth in fall, so you may not be able to lower the mowing height to the recommended 1.5 inches to 2 inches this season. Next year, schedule your mowing every five days, not every week.
Q: Do you dig up the bulbs of hybrid tulips each year or just leave them planted? — Charlie Sutton, email
A: Personally, I leave them planted, because it’s questionable whether they will have many blooms after the first year. Georgia summers are so hot that the soil stays very warm and tulip bulbs reproduce rapidly underneath the soil. This means there are lots of small bulbs when spring rolls around, but not many that are big enough to send up blooms. This can be alleviated somewhat by digging bulbs after the leaves turn yellow in May and storing them in a cool basement. If you leave your hybrid tulips in the ground, don’t be surprised if you get a lot of leaves, but few flowers, in spring.
Q: I have a bank of “mini” gardenias that have made a 4-foot high hedge under my front windows. They have bloomed three times so far. When is the best time to cut them back about a foot, top and sides? — Theresa Ford, Cobb County
A: Because yours bloom so readily, I think just about any time is good, although the best time would be after the first bloom in spring. Leaves sprout faster then, when temperatures are warm. Right now, the gardenia is slowing down its growth and may not make many new leaves if you prune them off at this time.
Q: Early this year, I found a 4-inch Japanese maple sprout growing under my large maple. Now it’s 18 inches tall. It’s only a straight stem, with many leaves all along the stem. Do I need to prune it back to get side branches to grow? — Bill Dischinger, Cobb County
A: There’s no need to prune it. The tree will develop its own form over the next several years.
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.