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Ask the Master Gardener: Can a trailing succulent used in an outside container now be kept as a houseplant?

Other questions include the best time and how to remove tree root suckers and thistles, when to spray lawns for weeds and fertilize, and is it too late to plant shrubs.

Thick green leaves with little hints of flowers
Mezoo Trailing Red (Dorotheanthus Mezoo) is a very easy plant to propagate.
Contributed / Jennifer Knutson
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Dear Master Gardener:
I bought a plant called Mezoo Trailing Red in a 4-inch pot at the beginning of the summer. I used it as the trailing plant in a container design. Three months later the plant has trailed over the large container and is creeping across the deck. It’s a beautiful plant, so I would like to propagate it so I have more next year and I am wondering if I can keep it as a houseplant.

Mezoo Trailing Red (Dorotheanthus Mezoo) is a very easy plant to propagate. Take 5-inch cuttings (it sounds like you will get many); pull off the leaves on the lower end of the stem; and place the cuttings in damp, fresh, sterile potting soil. I bought one this year too and have fallen in love with it. Dorotheanthus Mezoo is a succulent that grows best in full to partial sun, although it will also do well in shade. You may not get the little, daisy-like red flowers in the shade though. It makes a good houseplant if you give it a home in a bright window. Like most succulents, it is somewhat drought tolerant, but will grow better with regular watering. When the top half of the soil feels dry to the touch or your plant starts to wrinkle a bit, it’s time to water.

Dear Master Gardener:

Some of my apple trees have suckers. Should these be removed?

Yes, apple tree suckers should be removed. Early spring is the best time to remove suckers and sprouts. Root suckers emerge from the root system and grow around the base of the tree. They cause problems for the main tree by competing for water and nutrients. They are also a prime feeding site for woolly apple aphids and a potential entry point for fire blight. Remove as much of the sucker growth as possible with a pruner. You may have to move some soil to find the base of the sucker.

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A base of an apple tree with root suckers growing.
Early spring is the best time to remove suckers and sprouts.
Contributed / Jennifer Knutson

Dear Master Gardener:

I’m tired of battling spider mites and aphids on my houseplants! Are there houseplants that are less likely to have insect pests?

After reviewing several sources on pest resistant plants and based on my own experience, I’ve come up with this list: Sansevieria (mother-in-law’s tongue or snake plant), Aglaonema (Chinese evergreen), Bromeliad, Dracaena, Crassula (jade plant), and Aspidistra elatior (cast iron palm). You can always get a carnivorous plant to eat bugs, such as the Venus fly trap!

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Female ginkgo trees drop their foul-smelling, fleshy fruit following the first frost. The embryos within the fruit continue to mature on the ground for up to two months.
Terrariums, sealable glass containers containing soil and plants, are easy to put together and maintain.

Dear Master Gardener:

The thistles in my yard are getting out of control. How can I effectively eliminate them?

Thistles can be troublesome weeds in Minnesota yards. First, you need to identify what type of thistle you have for proper thistle control. Biennial thistles form a low growing rosette of leaves the first year and a taller flower and seed-bearing stem the next year. It is best to eliminate them the first year, so they don’t have a chance to bloom and produce seeds. Biennial thistles can be controlled by digging them out. Perennial thistles come back each year from roots that survive the winter. They bloom and set seed yearly and spread by creeping underground stems (rhizomes). The most effective way to remove perennial thistles is through the use of herbicides. Broadleaf herbicides containing 2,4-D and MCPP can control thistles in lawns. In gardens, it may be best to spot treat thistles with a non-selective herbicide containing glyphosate, such as Round-up. Herbicides must be applied when weeds are actively growing and air temperatures are about 60°- 85° F. The best times to control weeds are in the fall (September through mid-October) or spring (late April through mid-June). Always read and follow all pesticide label directions carefully.

Dear Master Gardener:

Should I spray my lawn for weeds and fertilize now?

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September through late October is a good time for broadleaf weed control. Do not spray when temperatures are warm because it increases the likelihood of damaging the good grass. Crabgrass doesn’t develop until late spring or early summer, so don’t apply an herbicide to prevent crabgrass in the fall. Spot spraying weeds is the environmentally friendly way to go.

September through mid-October is an excellent time to fertilize. If used correctly, fertilizers can help improve and maintain your lawn. Healthy lawns have many benefits, such as limiting erosion, cooling the environment, and controlling allergens. If used incorrectly, all types of fertilizer can contribute to pollution. Put down two-thirds of your total annual nitrogen application in the fall. If you haven’t done a soil test, a fertilizer grade of 24-0-12 is good for many lawns and 24-0-18 will add a little more potassium to help roots get through the winter. Check the bag for application rate.

Dear Master Gardener:

Is fall too late to plant shrubs?

Many garden centers and nurseries are selling their shrubs and trees at discounted prices to reduce their inventory before winter, so now is a good time to save money on them. You can safely plant shrubs and trees in the fall as long as you water them well until the ground freezes and mulch them. Add 3-4 inches of shredded bark or wood chip mulch in a circle over the root area, but leave several inches between the trunk or main stems and the mulch. Placing mulch in a “volcano,” with mulch piled up against the trunk, may encourage disease – it should look like a donut.

You may get your garden questions answered by calling the new Master Gardener Help Line at 218-824-1068 and leaving a message. A Master Gardener will return your call. Or, emailing me at umnmastergardener@gmail.com and I will answer you in the column if space allows.

University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardeners are trained and certified volunteers for the University of Minnesota Extension. Information given in this column is based on university research.

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