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Tips on planting zinnias, horse auctions, spittlebugs

Consumer Qs

POSTED: June 15, 2017 1:27 p.m.
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Zinnias are easy to grow from seed. They are available in mixes or in individual colors. Sowing seeds is the most cost-efficient way to get lots of zinnias.

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Question: Can you purchase zinnia plants or do you have to sow seeds? Is it too late to sow or plant zinnias?

A: You can still plant zinnias or sow them for summer and fall blooms. Georgia garden centers may offer plants or have larger pots of zinnias to fill places in your landscape that need immediate color.

Don’t be afraid to try starting zinnias from seed. They are one of the easiest flowers to grow. Sowing is the most cost-effective way to get lots of zinnias. Visit a garden center for your best selections.

 

Q: When is the next auction of rehabilitated horses in Georgia?

A: The next auction will be June 24 at the Lee Arrendale Equine Center, 645 Gilstrap Road, Alto, Georgia 30510. The gates will open at 10 a.m. The sale will start at 11 a.m. For more information, contact the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Equine Health Office at 404-656-3713. (M-F 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)

 

Q: Near a wooded area I have seen what looks like white foaming bubbles sticking to the top of some of the tall grass and weeds. Is there a cause for this or should I be concerned about a rabid animal?

A: This sounds like the work of spittlebugs. The nymph of the insect protects itself within a froth that looks like spit. The froth keeps the insect from drying out and also probably protects it from predators. If you check inside the froth, you will probably see the pale young insect. When the insect matures, it flies off and the foam disappears.

Generally, spittlebugs and their handiwork are more unsightly than destructive. There is usually not a large population in one place. Other than producing the “spit,” these insects have minor detrimental effects on most plants in the overall landscape. You can wipe them off by hand or dislodge them with a blast of water from a hose if you find the appearance unbearable or if they are on a prized and delicate plant.

If you have a large population of spittlebugs on a lawn or crop, contact your county Cooperative Extension office for the best control measures for your area and what you are growing.

  

Q: Is it true that there are male and female cucumber flowers?

A: Yes. Cucumbers, as well as squashes, cantaloupes, watermelons and pumpkins, do not have male and female parts within the same flower. Instead they have separate male and female flowers. They are easy to tell apart. Female flowers have a small cucumber (squash, cantaloupe, watermelon or pumpkin) behind the ring of petals. Male flowers will only have a stem.

This is why bees are so important in the garden or in a farmer’s field. The bees carry the pollen from the male flower to the female flower in order for pollination to occur and the small fruits to grow. There are some exceptions such as parthenocarpic greenhouse cucumber varieties that produce fruit without pollination.

There are also some cucumber varieties that are gynonecious – they produce only or primarily female flowers. With these, seed companies will include some non-gynonecious seeds in the packet and farmers will plant some non-gynonecious cukes along with them in the field so there are enough male flowers for pollination.

 

If you have questions about agriculture, horticulture, food safety or services or products regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, write Arty Schronce (arty.schronce@agr.georgia.gov) or visit the Georgia Department of Agriculture's website (www.agr.georgia.gov).

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