Can of Worms

Members submit your questions to the “Can of Worms”. One question will be drawn per meeting for discussion and answer.


Q:When is the best time to move Japanese Yews?

A:Plant the yew between spring and early autumn. Try to dig up as much of its root system as possible and save as much of the soil around it as well. Prepare a sizeable hole to accommodate the root ball. Plant it so the top of its root ball is even with the lip of the hole. Firmly pack the reserved soil around the roots, and water well.


Q:I have a dogwood that is healthy but it has never bloomed. Why?

A:There are about 30 – 60 species of dogwoods. Dogwoods produce bracts which look like flower petals. The actual flowers are at the centre of these bracts. Some only produce small heads of inconspicuous flowers. The “flowering dogwoods” produce clusters of petal-bearing flowers. Ascertain which type you have.

Sometimes late frosts damage the bracts, preventing blooming. Stressed or unhealthy dogwoods, or those growing in full shade will not bloom. Dogwoods prefer partial shade or full sun. Pruning at the correct time will also ensure blooming.


Q:I grow lettuce indoors in winter. Is regular potting soil OK? How would I know if it is contaminated?

A:Regular potting soil is recommended. Sterilized planting soil might also be available. Also recommended is using a mixture of equal parts of potting soil, vermiculite, peat, and perlite. Remember to keep the soil evenly moist.


Q:How to prune clematis?

A:Rachelle offered the answer that there are 3 kinds:

1. early flowering – prune early summer, after flowering- cut back old flower-bearing stems to a strong pair of buds.

2.midseason flowering – In late winter or early spring, remove dead and weak stems. Cut back to a pair of strong, healthy buds.

3. late-flowering – In early spring cut back old flower-bearing stems to a pair of healthy buds 6 – 8 inches above ground.

If in doubt, wait until you see buds to determine what is still living and prune down to it.(Info from “The Pruner’s Bible” by Steve Bradley)


Q:What kinds of soil do tomatoes like

A:Standard potting soil that should be rich with organic matter. Choose one that has slightly acidic pH measurement, between 6.0 and 6.5. The soil must also drain well. Plant deeper than suggested, up to the first leaves. Resource: “Mark Cullen’s Ontario Gardening“

Q:How to deal with a rabbit chewing the branches of a burning bush, serviceberry shrub, Japanese Maple and even a weigela? Will any shrubs survive?

A:Preventative measures: Trees: Wrap the trunk about 1 metre with crumpled aluminum foil or purchase spiral plastic trunk protectors or hardware cloth which is a wire mesh.

Shrubs: Using chicken wire, cut into parts suitable sizes for each plant, making a circular cage so rabbits can’t reach the plant.

Members advised using animal deterrents such as Scoot, or a new product from Lee Valley, Plantskydd Herbivore Repellent which are sprayed right on the shrub in the fall and can last for a few months.

Plants that the rabbit has only chewed a strip down the stalk, can survive. Those of which they have chewed a complete girdle around, will not.

Rabbits prefer plants from the euonymus family but have also eaten roses and hydrangeas. They do not like barberry, spruce, yew, or boxwood plants.