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Q:What's the difference between butterfly weed and butterfly bush?

A: Butterfly weed is a member of the milkweed family. It is also known as orange milkweed and is the only milkweed that comes in this bright color. Butterfly bush is an unrelated plant that features narrow plumes of flower clusters in shades of blue, purple, white and fuchsia. Butterfly weed is native to Wisconsin. Butterfly bush is non-native and is considered invasive in many states.

Q:When should I prune my ninebark?

A: The best time for pruning is while the shrub is dormant in late winter or early spring. However, Ninebark tolerates pruning, even drastic pruning, at just about any time of year. Since most people buy Ninebark for the foliage, rather than the flowers, pruning normally can be done whenever convenient. Late winter is best.

Q:Should I cut the flowers off my hostas?

A: Personally, I do not. This is because I've seen many hummingbirds feast upon the blossoms, especially during migration from mid August into October. The blossoms are also an excellent source of pollen for native bees.

Q:My cucumbers are getting lots of flowers but no fruits. Am I doing something wrong?

A: Probably not. If the plants are looking healthy and producing plenty of blossoms, things should be fine. Many plants in this family produce large numbers of male flowers only when they begin to blossom. These are quickly followed by female flowers within a week or two.

Ask the experts

BY ROB ZIMMER


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