Q: What is the name of this vine? I saw it growing at a local store, and it smells good. I would love to plant some in my house. Is it difficult to grow up?
A: The plant is Confederate Jasmine or Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides). This evergreen vine is not a true jasmine but has fragrant white flowers. It will grow in full sun to deep shade, but it will not flower well in heavy shade. I have it on the west side of my house, and it froze in the winter of 2021 but bounced back to bloom well this year. I would say Little Rock is probably its reliable northern range, and it can suffer in a cold winter.
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Q: I hope you can identify the flowering plants in the attached photos. These prolific plants grow along the shoreline and in the water of Lake Rayburn in Bella Vista.
A: The large yellow flowers are called “yellow flag” or “yellow water iris” (Iris pseudacorus). They are found in wetlands, along riverbanks and in water gardens. I had some in my water garden years ago, but they were too aggressive for me, so I removed them. Violets are also an iris but I can’t say for sure what type. Japanese irises and Louisiana irises also do well in swampy and humid areas.
Q: We really had a problem in the evening when we sat outside with buffalo gnats. They bite us around the ears and neck and make big welts that itch for several days. We have [a mosquito killing service] and it helps with the mosquitoes but it does nothing for the buffalo gnats. No suggestions?
A: You’re not alone. We have had many reports of bison midges this year. The only good news is that they tend to go away with warm weather, so they shouldn’t be a bother any longer. Some things to try: Wear light colored clothes as they are more attracted to dark clothes. They also have trouble flying in the wind, so consider putting a fan outside with you and see if that helps. Products containing DEET help repel them, but these biters tend to favor the head and neck where you might not want DEET. I’ve heard that vanilla extract repels them; it’s not a scientific theory, but it’s worth a try – and it’s better than smelling like DEET. At least you’ll smell good.
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Q: What is this “growth” on one of my 27 year old apple trees? [The reader sent a photo.] It grows from a node where a limb was removed many years ago. There is also some cedar rust, but otherwise it has been a good spring bloomer. I watched gout grow this year and thought it was time to identify it.
A: I think what you have is an internally decaying fungal fruiting body called heart rot. The fungus comes out where a wound or crack is on the tree. They can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and even vary in color. If the tree continues to flower and try to live, and it poses no danger to nearby structures, let it go until it succumbs. There is nothing you can do to reverse the rot.
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Q: My yard has a chain link fence, and along most of it there is an additional chain link fence parallel to it in the neighbor’s yard with an easement area for utilities. This area is filled with privet, ivy, honeysuckle, ivy and other undesirables. A few years ago passionflower joined in and covered most of the privet. Can you help me identify a new large-leaved plant in the attached image that is now part of the mix?
A: The large-leaved plant is a mulberry tree. Notice the three differently shaped leaves. Some are heart-shaped; some have a mitten shape and others have three lobes. It can be a messy tree when it bears fruit and can reseed itself.
Retired after 38 years with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, Janet Carson ranks among Arkansas’ best-known horticulture experts. His blog is at arkansasonline.com/planitjanet. Write to him at PO Box 2221, Little Rock, AR 72203 or email email@example.com