Q.  We love hummingbirds and plant flowers plus have a sugar water feeder to provide nectar. The problem is that the honeybees seem to be using all the sugar water and drive off the hummingbirds. How can we deal with the issue?

A. It is good to hear that the bees are prevalent enough to seem to be dominating the hummingbird feeder. It is desirable to encourage pollinators like honeybees. 

In most cases, if you have bee guards, the bees and hummingbirds manage to share the sugar water. Add another feeder to help meet the needs of both desirable species. 

The Best A1 Hummingbird Feeders manufactured in Poteet are effective in allowing hummingbirds access. They are available at H-E-B and many other retailers. 

Q. Our dwarf Burford holly leaves and stems are covered with a white, powdery covering under the leaves. Is it a fungus? How should we treat it?

A. If it is under the leaves, it sounds more like scale insects than fungus. Scale are aphid-like sucking insects that are covered with a calcium coating that makes them look like a fungus. 

Treat the scale with horticultural oil. It suffocates the scale insects. Horticultural oil is considered an organic treatment. 

To make the treatment more potent, add some acephate. Acephate is a systemic insecticide. Follow label instructions. 

Q. When can we plant okra seed in the vegetable garden? Is there a recommended variety? 

A. Now is a good time. Plant it in full sun. I like Oscar okra but almost all varieties work. Clemson Spineless is readily available but it is tall. On the seed rack at your favorite nursery look for one that is not overwhelmingly tall. 

Q. We grew blue curl, larkspur, and poppies as naturalized flowers in our vacant lot this spring both for the attractive blooms and to provide nectar for the butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees. Can we collect some of the seed to expand the planting?

A. Yes, collect the larkspur pods and round poppy pods when they turn brown. The pods will eventually break open so store them in a paper sack. Harvest the tops of the blue curl after the flowers fade and the seeds appear. Put the whole top in a paper sack. Spread the seed in the new areas in the fall. 

Q. We planted our tomato transplants, but we never got the cages in place. What happens if we do not have tomato cages?

A. The plants will spread out more and some of the fruit will lay on the ground where it will be more accessible to insects and rots. It is not a major problem; commercial growers do not use tomato cages. 

Calvin Finch is a retired horticulture agent in Bexar County. He writes for and works with a number of area media outlets.

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