Creeping fig needs foothold to climb wall

QUESTION: ‘We planted creeping fig all along our back wall which is cement (in the shape of bricks), not smooth, kind of bumpy’but the fig is not doing well in grabbing onto the walls and climbing. The only places they are climbing up are along the wooden posts that are about 10-12 feet apart on the wall. We want the fig to climb all over the wall. Any ideas as to what we can do to encourage this’ -‘Debbie P. * * * ANSWER: From time to time, I have seen a type of wire frame pictured in some garden magazines. However, I have always thought one could craft the same thing using wire and attaching some of the points to the concrete wall with bolts that go into the concrete to secure the structure. You might want to check with your hardware store to see if they have a ready-made product you can use. If not, consider creating your own DIY version of a faux lattice on the concrete wall for the fig to attach itself to. Once the fig has begun to climb, the wire rack should be virtually invisible. Send me a photo of the finished project at steve@landsteward.org. We’re always looking for creative ideas to pass on to visitors to the Web site. * * * QUESTION: ‘Last spring we planted four evergreen wisteria to grow up on our daughter’s arbor. It did beautifully all summer and in the fall it had blooms. However, now it looks dead. Will this come back this spring’ If so, should the wisteria be cut back this spring, or will the new growth appear on what is already there’ -‘Pam and John Barrett * * * ANSWER: From what you tell me, I’d say it is just dormant. We have wisteria growing on a pergola in our garden and it has to go through this rest period. As for cutting it back, it would depend on how unruly it is at this point. The best time to cut it back and still get blooms in the spring is in January or early February, so the optimum time has passed. You may want to also try something that I do: dissolve one tablespoon of Epsom salts in one gallon of water and apply a gallon to the base of each of the plants. Then do this once again in the spring just before the leaves begin to appear. This will cause it to bloom more this next year. Remember that when you apply fertilizer, you increase foliage and top growth. The Epsom salts retard the growth initially and cause it to bloom and the blooms eventually turn into seed pods in the fall. Not long ago in this column, there was a question from a reader whose home was being invaded by ladybugs that were not exactly ladybugs. An alert reader, A. Wilson in North Carolina, thought I might like to share the information on that subject found at this Web site: www.pestproducts.net/ladybugs.htm As the site points out, there is a big difference between the ‘garden variety’ ladybug and the Asian Lady Beetle. We are all familiar with the ladybug, considered to be a ‘good guy’ since it feeds on garden pests such as aphids. The Asian Lady Beetle poses problems that were unforeseen when they were first introduced in the United States as a biological pest management tool. This particular lady beetle differs in that it turns to our homes for shelter, invading living areas in very large numbers. When first noticed, mechanical removal can often suffice as beetle pest control. Small numbers can be captured and released outdoors where they can continue to protect our plants from aphids. When the number of lady beetles in a home becomes high, vacuuming will be your best bet, according to the Web site. Asian lady beetles are beneficial landscape inhabitants and are only a nuisance when they move in to your home in large numbers. They are not poisonous or harmful to humans. The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs and landscaping to steve@landsteward.org and for resources and additional information, or to subscribe to Steve’s free e-mailed newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org

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