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story.lead_photo.caption Even Encore azaleas say "no more" after being nipped by Jack Frost. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/JANET B. CARSON)

Q Help! I planted 20 new azaleas two weeks before it got cold and now they look awful. Have they already died? Do you think I should dig them up and replant now or wait until spring to replant? I hate to be out so much money. I thought fall was supposed to be a great time to plant trees and shrubs, so I thought I was doing right, but something went wrong somewhere. Sad!

A Fall is an excellent time to plant many shrubs and trees, but I do not recommend planting all trees and shrubs in the fall. Marginal plants such as azaleas, gardenias, hydrangeas and crape myrtles can suffer damage in really cold winters. I advise waiting until spring to plant them. That being said, if you had planted azaleas the past two falls, they would have flown through with sailing colors; our winters were mild. You just never can predict. I would be quite surprised if your azaleas are dead. They may have some burned leaves, but I think the root system should be fine. That opinion is based on this past weather event. We still have several months of winter ahead of us with no idea of what is coming. I would make sure your plants are mulched and pay attention to water. Right now, we are in good shape with moisture, but as the winter progresses, if we don't have natural rainfall for a couple of weeks, and a hard frost is predicted, water them before the cold snap. This will ensure moisture in the soil, and thus in the plants. Other than that, do nothing. Don't prune off damaged leaves or dig up the plants. If you prune off burned foliage, you expose more of the plant to damage. Get them through the winter, wait for new growth to begin and then assess the health of the plants. Good luck!

Aphids colonizing an iris. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)

Q Please help me figure out what these bugs are on our iris plants. Thanks.

A Your iris plants have (or I suspect had, thanks to frost) aphids. Aphids can be brown, black, green, yellow or white. They multiply quickly. They suck sap out of the foliage and can cause some mottling. They are warm-season pests, and I do not think could have survived the recent cold snap. Clean up the debris around the base of your irises for good sanitation and watch for problems next growing season. No sprays are needed now.

Brown edges on the foliage of this African violet worry its owner. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)

Q Several of my African violets have brown edges around the leaves. Is it a disease, watering, feeding or sunlight?

A I assume the white edges of the leaves are a variegated pattern particular to this variety, but the problem is the brown burned edges on some. It appears that the damage is all on one particular aged section of leaves on this plant. If you look closely, you can see the new foliage is OK, as are the older leaves. Did you move the plants or fertilize at some point? Sometimes newer leaves are more sensitive to damage. It is possible that the burned leaves were new when the damage occurred and the plant is now growing out of the damage. Overwatering can cause problems, as can too much or too little fertilizer, and exposure to low temperatures. However, with the pattern I am seeing, I think the problem may have corrected itself. Watch the plant to see if any new leaves begin to show symptoms. If so, then we need to investigate more. If you love African violets, the African Violet Society of America is hosting its national convention in Little Rock, May 24-31. Visit the website to get more information.

Confederate rose, a hardy hibiscus, typically flowers in late October or early November. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/JANET B. CARSON)

Q I planted what I was told was a Confederate rose this spring, and it grew and grew and grew, but I never had any flowers and now it is frozen and looks awful. I planted it in full sun, so it was not low light that was a problem. Does it take more than one year to bloom? Do I cut it back now or leave it? All the leaves are dead and twisted on the plant, and it looks pretty ugly.

A Confederate rose is Hibiscus mutabilis, and it is one of the hardy hibiscuses. Depending on where you live in Arkansas will determine whether it is an annual or perennial. It is usually reliably winter-hardy in Central Arkansas and south, and only marginally hardy farther north. It is a late-season bloomer. Normally, it doesn't flower until mid- to late-October into early November. This year's weather was unusually wet and cold early, which may have given it a slow start, and then the weather was really hot and dry in September. Then we got cold way too soon. I would not judge it for lacking blooms this year. Hopefully, it will come back next spring, and you will have better success next fall. Cut the plant back and add an extra layer of mulch around the base for more protection. It will be slow to start growing next spring.

Retired after 38 years with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, Janet Carson ranks among Arkansas' best known horticulture experts. Her blog is at Write to her at P.O. Box 2221, Little Rock, AR 72203 or email

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HomeStyle on 11/23/2019

Print Headline: IN THE GARDEN

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