Trim plumeria gradually

Q: I was wondering when and how I can trim my plumeria trees this fall without killing them so I can move them back in the garage. Kell Munroe, Fayette County

A: I think it’s better to trim plumeria lightly from time to time, perhaps every two months, during the summer until the fall. Don’t wait until just before you take it in to do all of the pruning. If you save some eight-inch “sticks” from the trees when you prune, you can insert them into individual pots and give rooted plants to friends for Christmas.

Q: On your radio show, you talked about ladybugs and said something about not confusing them with bugs that would eat wood. What bugs did you mean? P. G. Randall, email

A: I spoke about the Asian ladybugs that were brought in to control pecan aphids in the 1960s. Though they are useful, they have the disconcerting habit of hiding behind wood siding in great masses in winter. If they find a way indoors, the beetles exude a noxious odor and leave a trail of yellowish staining fluid. They don’t do any damage to a home but they’re a nuisance when they come in the house. The best way to deal with them is to make a concerted effort to seal cracks near windows and doors where they might enter. Warning: do not try to vacuum them up! The machine will be so stinky you’ll consider throwing it away.

Q: You mentioned a tree peony a few weeks ago. Does it really grow into a tree? Max Williams, email

A: They are called “tree peony” but they are more like “shrub peony.” My 15-year-old tree peony, Paeonia suffruticosa, is 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide. The blooms appear in early spring. The common garden peony, Paeonia lactiflora, dies back to the ground in winter but a tree peony drops its leaves but keep its woody branches. An intersectional peony (also know as Itoh peonies) is a hybrid of a tree peony and a herbaceous peony.

Q: I’m building a house that will be done in September. The contractor normally uses bermuda grass but I prefer a green lawn year round. What grass would you recommend for our full-sun yard with irrigation system? P.J. Hamm, Atlanta

A: You have two choices when it comes to having a year-round green lawn. The first choice is to use fescue grass, which is green 12 months of the year, but it can decline a bit during summer heat. The key to keeping fescue green in summer is to thoroughly till the planting area before you plant seed or sod. Add lime so the soil pH is 6.5. The good news is that the best time to plant fescue is in September.

Your other choice is to use bermudagrass sod and overseed it with ryegrass each winter. If you lay bermudagrass sod in September, it will not be established well enough to plant ryegrass the first year. But if the sod establishes well and you keep it healthy you could plant ryegrass in the sod next year in the fall. Check my website notes for recommended planting procedures in either case.

Listen to Walter Reeves Saturday mornings on News 95.5 FM and AM750 WSB. Visit his website,, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook Fan Page at for more garden tips.

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