Beautiful umbrella pine doesn’t grow here

May 02, 2018
  • By Walter Reeves
  • For the AJC
Statuesque umbrella pines are common in Italy. WALTER REEVES

Q: We vacationed in Italy, and the umbrella pines were wonderful. Will they grow here? Benny McDonald, Cartersville

A: I just got back from Italy myself! Italian umbrella pine, Pinus pinea, is the source of pine nuts (pignoli) used to make delicious pesto. Unfortunately, the tree would be susceptible to both winter cold and summer heat here.

Q: Is it okay to spray weed killer on an area where I’m putting a garden or will the grass killer leach into the ground and affect the plants? Tricia Larsen, email

A: There are several types of weed killer, so you’ll have to read the label to be sure. The label on Roundup says that you can plant within seven days. I have used it to kill plants in an area where I was putting vegetables and flowers, and I’ve seen no problems.

Q: My husband’s family farm was just sold. Can we save the daffodils growing there even though the leaves are still green? Laura Barron, email

A: Go ahead with moving and planting them now. It would be better to put them in bright shade rather than full sun. You can move them into a sunny spot when the leaves turn yellow.

Q: What can I do about moss growing on my asphalt driveway? Grass killer didn’t work. Jim Watson email

A: On one hand, I am glad the herbicide didn’t work. It confirms my observation that weed killer hurts weeds much more than moss. You’ll get better success with ferric sulfate (Lilly Miller Moss Out).

Q: Is soil sold for gardening routinely tested for lead or arsenic? Should I be concerned? Jenny Ladd, Atlanta

A: My bet is that all of the commercial or bagged soils are tested for lead. I doubt that bulk soil, delivered by the truckload, is tested. It is easy to submit a sample of soil to the University of Georgia soil laboratory for testing. It only costs $12.00. Your local UGA Extension office can provide instructions.

Q: Last year I planted tomatoes but they grew to 15 feet long. Can I cut them back to control height without hurting the tomatoes? Garry G., email

A: It would be better to plant tomatoes that limit their height naturally. Look on the label this spring for “determinate ” tomatoes. Since determinate tomatoes typically go to a certain height, produce fruit, and then fade away, it might be best to have two or three plantings spaced about three weeks apart.

Q: Is there a good source for professional referrals for landscape service? I need a high quality comprehensive turf and tree/shrub maintenance company but I don’t trust online referral lists. Mark Wolfe, Cobb County

A: The Georgia Urban Ag Council has a searchable list of their professional members. I would trust any company you find there. Details at urbanagcouncil.com/members.