Roadside wildflower of the week Pink Evening Primrose

Roadside flowers provide beauty and a sense of calm when traveling along our roadways. The pink evening primrose is a familiar roadside wildflower at this time. Most of the dense patches of pink that travelers see along rights-of-way are pink evening primroses.

COURTESY PHOTO/William M. Johnson

Q: Is it really possible to grow a pineapple from the top portion of a fresh pineapple purchased from the grocery store?

A: Pineapples are easy and fun to grow at home. All you need is a warm environment, a sunny window and a fresh pineapple.

The first thing you do is enjoy the pleasure of eating the “fruit” end of the pineapple. Then begin the process of growing your own pineapple plant by rooting the green vegetative top by placing it in a container of potting soil that provides good drainage.

Set the potted plant in a location that receives at least six hours of bright light each day. A pineapple is a tropical plant and frost or freezing temperatures will kill it.

By next spring the plant should be well-rooted and actively growing. Active growth can be encouraged with frequent light applications of a liquid houseplant fertilizer.

Pineapple plants are interesting foliage specimens, well worth growing for the leaves alone. But if you’d like to go a step further, you can easily grow your own miniature pineapples.

Once the plant has covered itself with a complete set of robust new leaves, which generally takes six to nine months, it will be ready to “think” about flowering.

Oddly enough, a small slice of apple placed down in the central growing point of the new leaves has the ability to initiate flowering. As the apple decomposes, it produces ethylene gas which brings about this physiological changeover.

Since gasses are involved, you’ll obviously need to cover the plant, preferable with an airtight bag of clear polyethylene film, such as a dry cleaner’s bag.

Tie the bag securely around the pot and be careful to not punch holes through the thin film. Place the covered plant a well-lighted area that does not receive direct sunlight.

Replace the old apple slice with a freshly cut apple slice every seven to 10 days. After a month or six weeks you can remove the plastic. Mother Nature will usually surprise you with a flower and small fruit.

Q: What would you suggest in dealing with suckers or seedlings that emerge under oak trees? My neighbor recommended using a herbicide. Could this be harmful to the tree?

A: You will have to tolerate the suckers since the more you cut them, the more they multiply.

Some homeowners keep them trimmed at a certain height and interplant Asiatic jasmine as a ground cover to help conceal oak sprouts since the foliage is similar.

Do not apply a herbicide to sprouts since the sprouts are likely connected directly to the mother tree and could cause damage.

A herbicide will do little more than defoliate the sprouts and could harm the tree to which they are attached.

Dr. William Johnson is a horticulturist with the Galveston County Office of Texas AgriLife Extension Service, The Texas A&M System. Visit his website at http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston.

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