Posted: March 3, 2018 at 1:50 a.m.

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette asparagus Illustration

Q I have an asparagus bed in my yard that has been there about 45 years. I harvest asparagus from it every year, getting enough for a few "messes" each season. Grass grows up in it, and I can usually keep that under control, cleaning it out in late winter before the new asparagus shoots come up; but this time the grass in the bed is huge. And there is so much of it. My question is, would it be safe to just burn the old grass before the new crop of asparagus starts coming up? Also, does the new growth come from the roots of the previous year's growth? Or does it come up from seeds dropped from the previous year's growth? Just wondering mainly if I can safely burn the grass in the bed -- safe for the asparagus, that is. (Will be most vigilant and careful when/if I do burn, of course.)

A Controlled burning is used to control many grasses and weeds in appropriate places, and in a place where burning is allowed (generally not in city limits). However, I think you are a bit late in the season to consider it. These mild days will bring the asparagus popping out of the ground any day. Even with careful attention, the heat that is generated could damage the spears close to the surface. Asparagus is a perennial plant that comes back from the crowns and roots each year. If seeds are left to form, there can be some seedlings emerging but the true harvest comes from the crowns.

Q I have a Carolina jasmine (yellow blossoms) that I love, but it has gotten overgrown. It is now mid-February and I would like to cut it virtually to the ground. If I can do this, can I do it every year, every other year, or just how often?

A Let it bloom first. Carolina jasmine can be a prolific vine and often grows more than wanted. Try to prune it hard every year after bloom. I don't think I would be so severe as to cut the ground each year, but prune it to a manageable size. All spring-blooming plants set their flower buds in late summer to early fall. While you might have a more manageable plant pruning it down now, you will lose the reason you planted it in the first place -- the blooms.

Q I am trying to register for the Azalea Day workshop at the state extension office April 5 but I could not get the link to work that you put in the paper. Is there still space and if so, please give me a way to register.

A Several people had problems. There is still space for the one-day workshop on the basics of care and growing azaleas sponsored by the National Azalea Society and held at the state extension office, 2301 S. University Ave. in Little Rock. Here is the link to registration: If you have never registered for a conference via the Little Rock Visitors Bureau, you do have to set up an account. If you still have problems, contact Penny Nagel, Monday through Friday during business hours at (501) 370-3237. The workshop has a pre-registration fee of $45, which includes all course materials and lunch.

Q My large loropetalum bush has begun to weep from one of the branches. There are rings of holes around this branch. Is this some type of borer and what should I do? Will it hurt my plant?

A I think your plant has been attacked by a bird, a sapsucker. These birds find a few favorite trees or large bushes and come back year after year. While on a large tree they are more a nuisance than truly harmful, on a bush or small tree they can feed so much that they actually girdle or kill a limb or two. The sap is coming out of the wounds that they made. Trying to deter them via scare devices is your only option.

Janet B. Carson is a horticulture specialist for the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. Write to her at 2301 S. University Ave., Little Rock, Ark. 72204 or email her at

Two yellow-bellied sapsuckers circle a branch at Lake Fayetteville.

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