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Dear Garden Problem Lady

I want my 3 Butterfly Weed plants to spread. Each has big seedpods full of seeds. Should I plant the seeds individually, or just plant whole pods?

You could try either way. Asclepias Tuberosa does depend on nature to provide the right conditions – which you can simulate as follows: Butterfly Weed seeds are dormant and cannot germinate unless their dormancy is ended by a period of cold stratification – meaning being in slightly moist and cold conditions for several weeks. Instead of using nature, you can use a refrigerator. Then plant them in a thin, moist layer of vermiculite or peat moss. When they sprout (under lights) you transplant them. The process is outlined online at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin Texas: https://www.wildflower.org. You might prefer to buy new seedlings from a nursery next May.

My Virginia Bluebells are prolific and thrive in profound shade. Because they are a so-called “spring ephemerals” they disappear completely by the end of May – but I know the bulbs are there. I wonder if I dig the bulbs up now – carefully – and replant them in a new place, will they make it?

Yes, as long as you dig with great care. You will easily find the small white bulbs only a few inches below the surface of the soil. All you have to do is plant them the same way they are currently planted, in a shady spot, in somewhat rich soil.

I’ve been known to exaggerate, but this year I swear the oak trees on our street have dropped ten thousand acorns on our front so-called garden alone. Why? I thought oak trees compensated after a previous very cold winter – but last winter was not very cold.

Just expand your theory to include the severe lack of rain in DC this year. Severe lack of rain – or flooding – or heavy freezing – or any sudden or prolonged, unusual weather change – will impact how seeds will be produced each year, for every microclimate.

My garden is overrun with bindweed. A friend calls it “Morning Glory”. Is there a difference? If so, how can I prove it to him?

Not easily. The arrow-shaped leaves of each are so similar, few can tell the difference. Morning Glory flowers are almost always blue, pink or mauve – whereas bindweed flowers are white. Both spread by seeds, and also underground root systems that even chemicals can’t easily kill. Bindweed can strangle a whole garden. Morning Glory is also invasive, but less virulently so.

The next meeting of the Capitol Hill Garden Club occurs on October 8th at 6:45 pm at the NE Public Library, corner of Maryland Ave. & 7th St. NE. Meetings start with refreshments, and are free and open to all. Membership and Program Topic details are at capitolhillgardenclub.org.

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