Pruning Heavenly Bamboo & Squash And Egg Plant Rot

Question:

My Heavenly Bamboo plants are out of control. They’re small towers, standing about six feet tall, and are pretty top-heavy, causing the branches to sag away from the plant at extreme angles. Is there a problem with severely pruning them back to a much smaller size?

Answer:

  • The Sunset Western Garden Book describes Heavenly Bamboo, Nandina Domestica, as a slow to moderate growing shrub six to eight feet high, spreading three to four feet. It has a clumping habit and spreads by shoots or runners.
  • You can use several options to control the top-heaviness and the spread. First, you could stake the clump and tie the staggering stems to it with green plastic tape.
  • Second, you could cut off the top-heavy or all the canes at ground level, as new shoots will appear from the base.
  • Third, the recent growth can be sheared annually like a hedge to keep it at the right height. Fourth, you reduce the width by removing a section of the clump with a shovel.
  • The last option is to replace them with shorter growing varieties. Nandina Domestica Firepower, Harbor Dwarf, and Sienna Sunrise are three varieties that do not grow over four feet. Heavenly Bamboo doesn’t produce lateral shoots, so reducing the height gives you a shorter compact plant. Also, fertilizing with a general all-purpose plant food would help encourage the new growth.

Question:

My squash and eggplants are rotting just as they develop, but the plants are healthy and thriving. What’s the problem?

Answer:

  •  This problem is called Blossom End Rot. A non-parasitic disorder also attacks tomatoes, peppers, melons, and cucumbers. With tomatoes and peppers, tan color blotches form at the bottom of the developing fruits while all the other vegetables rot off soon after forming.
  • Blossom End Rot is caused by watering practices such as wet soil or irregular watering and the lack of Calcium. Soil preparation, drainage, and temperature are the key variables. In addition, you should avoid overfeeding plants with excess nitrogen.
  • Each spring, you should add Agricultural or Oyster Shell Lime into the soil and the traditional soil amendments to provide the necessary Calcium. Summer vegetables like to be kept moist but not overly wet.
  • So, it’s a balancing act as to how often you water, and it should vary weekly depending on the temperature. We’ve had average temperatures most of May and one heat spell. If the plants were mulched, you should have watered them weekly or every ten days.
    • With eighty degrees and above temperatures, I’d be watering once every five to seven days, but more often with hot temperatures and drying winds. This is a problem for gardeners who like to water the same week in and out.
    • The amount of water each plant receives remains constant, whatever is necessary to get the entire root system wet. Mastering the watering schedule is the key to solving the rot problem.