Bellababy asks: Other than spraying and having a yellow sticky strip in my greenhouse, what helps in ridding these pests? I am growing lettuce in my home, and have had to battle with them in the planter, as well. While I gently water the lettuce, they start moving and I start grabbing and killing. Do they do much damage to plants? I know they tunnel and lay eggs in the soil, so they aren't that easy to get rid of, but do you have advice?
Melody answers: Fungus gnats frustrate gardeners and are sometimes tricky to banish once established. Watering is the key. Fungus gnats love damp soil and as long as your potting medium remains damp, they'll happily reproduce. One of the best ways to stop the cycle is to let the top layer of your soil dry between waterings. Females need damp soil to deposit their eggs and since their life span is only about a week, it is possible to stop the cycle. Sometimes a layer of sand on top of the potting medium helps. The sand dries out quickly and isn't attractive to the gnats. The larvae feed on roots, so removing them is important too. Try laying a few pieces of cut, raw potato around in the soil. The larvae are drawn to it and you can easily toss them. If you have to, repot some of your most infested containers with new medium. It is a drastic measure that will cut down the population considerably. Above all, control the moisture. Water from the bottom if possible, and until your gnats are gone only water enough to keep the plants from wilting.
ElizaMuse asks: I am looking for a source of flower seeds where you can buy them by color rather than a mix of colors in one packet.
Specifically coral/ peach/ apricot colored flower seeds, and pale yellow seeds. Any ideas? Most of the seed companies I know only sell seeds in mixed colors.
Melody answers: Yes, many flower seeds are sold by color. Our Garden Watchdog directory is searchable by specialty and I've pulled up some of our vendors of Annual flower seeds and listed a few of their offerings in the coral, salmon and apricot shades. Summerhill Seeds offers the Easy Wave Petunia in the Coral Reef color. Diane's Flower Seeds offers the Salmon Sunset four o'clock. Harris Seeds offers many color separated seeds too. Profusion Deep Apricot is just one of the zinnia selections. Many vendors understand the need for single-color selections and are happy to offer them. By using the Garden Watchdog directory, you can easily shop for specific plants and garden items you wish to purchase. I was able to find these selections in less than five minutes and there were many more offerings to choose from.
laurawege asks: I am afraid after many many years ( I think 10-15) I didn't get my clivia in to the basement before a hard freeze . the foliage was of course all wilted and frozen but I cut it back to viable tissue and I am hoping for the best , any encouragement ?
Sallyg answers: By the time you read this, you may have your answer. I hope it's good news! For everyone else, and for myself, I have just been looking for a definitive answer. I have not found it. I am betting that you have new growth on your Clivia by now. Clivia is in the same family as Amaryllis (Hippeastrum) those popular bulbs with the huge red flower on a stalk. And we know Amaryllis can lose its leaves and then put out new growth from the bulb. I expect that Clivia, especially a ten to fifteen year old mature plant, can regrow after suffering a freeze. Please keep in mind this advice from several Clivia society pages. Clivia should have a cool rest period in winter and during this time the roots should be very dry. Potting mix for Clivia must be well draining. Be conservative and carfeul with giving the recovering Clivia any water during the next few months. In early spring, if it is growing, increase the watering and add a gentle organic fertilizer.
Remember, if you have a gardening question that you would like to suggest for this feature, post it here. Our writers and admins will handpick a few of your questions and answer them in an upcoming Ask-a-Gardener, one of our Saturday morning features. Other questions may be moved to one of our other forums so your fellow members can help you.
The fungus gnat is public domain from Wikipedia and the clivia image is courtesy of palmbob.