Fielding Questions: Easter lily rebloom, lawn mushrooms and an off-color Thanksgiving cactus
Q: My Easter lily bloomed today! It was a grocery store plant that I set in the ground after Easter this spring. What a beautiful second blooming. — Joyce Duenow, Fargo.
A: Thanks for sharing your success story. Your plant is living proof that Easter lilies can be repurposed instead of discarded, and it makes a fun project.
Lilium longiflorum is an outdoor perennial lily that just happened to be so attractive it was adopted by the florist trade as an Easter plant that could be potted and greenhouse-grown in much-demanded quantities. Like other lilies, it can be grown outdoors as well.
It’s important to note that Easter lilies are one or two winter-hardiness zones tenderer than the other lilies commonly grown in regional perennial beds, being about zone 5. Easter lilies can survive in our zones 3 and 4 if planted in a sheltered microclimate receiving generous snowcover and covered in early November with about 24 inches of leaves or straw as a protective mulch. The first summer in which you plant the potted lily outdoors, the usual bloom time is September. In following years, they’ll flower during July in the outdoor perennial flower garden.
Q: Is there anything I can do about the mushroom problem in my yard? From what I’ve read online, there isn’t much that can be done. We had a very large, messy maple tree that was removed a few years ago. Since then, the mushrooms have appeared and this summer have been really bad, I’m sure due to all the rain. We pull them by hand before mowing to prevent them from spreading any more. Is there any spray or trick to kill them?
A: With generous rain in many areas, it’s been a tremendous year for mushrooms in lawns. I’ve seen some the size of a dinner plate.
Mushrooms are fungi, and as such there are no plant-type herbicides that are effective. Being fungi, wouldn’t a fungicide kill them? Fungicides are mainly preventative, and have little or no effect on mushroom fungi that are already established. On the upside, mushrooms don’t usually harm the lawn. They’re existing on decaying organic material like old roots or lawn thatch and they serve a useful purpose by decomposing materials that improve the soil and release nutrients.
Removing and disposing of the visible mushroom caps, which are the spore-producing structures of the mushroom, can help reduce release of the spores into the surroundings. If mushrooms continue to be a problem, core aerating the lawn in fall or spring can increase airflow into the lawn’s profile and help diminish mushroom growth.
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Q: Any idea why my Thanksgiving cactus is turning purple on the ends? It’s 3 years old and always in the north window. — Jan Barker, Fargo.
A: The stem pads of Thanksgiving and Christmas cactuses turn purple or purple-green for several reasons. They often turn reddish-green if the sunlight level is too intense, which obviously isn’t the case in your north window.
Purpling in these holiday cactuses has been linked to a deficiency in magnesium, which can be caused by potting soil that is low in magnesium, or by the plant’s inability to utilize the magnesium that might be present. Slight, subtle changes in the plant’s surroundings can interfere with magnesium uptake, such as temperature fluctuations or cool temperatures.
Look for a water-soluble fertilizer that includes magnesium in the content list, and apply following label directions. Or you can add 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) to a gallon of water and apply enough to soak the soil once a month, discarding excess drainage. I’d value a progress report in a few months. Thanks.
If you have a gardening or lawn care question, email Don Kinzler, NDSU Extension-Cass County, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 701-241-5707. Questions with broad appeal may be published, so please include your name, city and state for appropriate advice.