Master Gardener – Answers

Master Gardener

Virtual Help Desk

Get help straight from two Master Gardeners

Newly Answered Questions

Have a question? Submit your question above, search our database of gardening know-how or browse our list of newly answered questions.

First | 1 2 3 4 ... | Last

Invasive Plant Removal

    Date Posted: Thu, Jul 18 - 2:00 am


  • Are there any volunteer groups or does Richmond City help get rid of Japanese Knotwood, Chinese privet and tree of Heaven. There is a lot of all three on the property adjoining mine.
  • Answer

  • This is a great question! Removing invasive plants around the city is increasingly becoming a priority for many and its great to see! So many Richmond neighbors are helping to decrease invasives and bring more natives back to our area. The primary group that I am aware of that is currently tackling this work is the Invasive Plant Task Force that is connected with the James River Parks Systems. Their website is: If the property you are concerned about is near the river they may be able to help. And they may also have other connections and contacts that they could provide to you. Thanks for reaching out - good luck! This is hard but good work!

Home consult

    Date Posted: Sat, Jul 13 - 11:59 am


  • Can I master gardener come out to my home to see if I'm gardening the right way? This is my first year and I'm not sure if everything I'm doing is correct.
  • Answer

  • I will send you an email to follow up on this with you. Once I have more information, I will see if we have a master gardener available.

Heat stressed Hydrangea

    Date Posted: Thu, Jun 27 - 2:13 pm


  • We have a large hydrangea that has always been healthy and we pruned in late winter. We returned from vacation recently and it now looks like the attached picture (brown from bottom and inside). Any ideas on how to prevent this from spreading or it worsening? Thanks!
  • Answer

  • This is most likely heat stress. We have had some very hot days and basically no rain. Hydrangeas are typically the first plant in the garden to show heat stress. The recommendation is to keep it watered, and just ride it out to the end of the season. It won't look so good, but it also should not die. If you have some shady areas of the garden, this plant can also be easily propagated using cuttings and rooting hormone. It roots easily and then you can plant the new ones in an area with a little more shade.

Removing Pokeweed

    Date Posted: Sun, Jun 23 - 10:17 pm


  • Hello, We have identified poke weed in our backyard. We have tried to slowly cut small areas down to see if it will end up dying. Are there any tricks to successfully remove poke weed naturally? I would prefer not to use chemicals if I can avoid it. Thank you for the help!
  • Answer

  • Pokeweed has a taproot. This can make it difficult to dig up, but without using chemicals, manual removal is your only option. Be sure to wear gloves and goggles when working to remove pokeweed as it can be irritating to skin and eyes. You will want to loosen the soil and dig down as deep as you can to remove as much of the taproot as possible. If it has already flowered, you will want to make sure you are containing everything as you remove it so you don’t spread seeds around. Cutting everything back is another option to manage the pokeweed, but since you are not getting the root it will keep coming back. Good luck! This can be quite a task but rewarding once you have accomplished it!

Problem with rose

    Date Posted: Mon, Jun 17 - 1:10 am


  • Any suggestions other than takeout. I’ve tried need oil
  • Answer

  • The picture you sent looks like a variety of wild rose. Many are starting to move away from planting roses as they are very needy and nearly as toxic as lawns to grow successfully. Based on the little bit of information that we have, we would recommend pulling the plant and replacing it with something else. Our recommendation is clematis virginiana if you are looking for a vining plant that is native. If you are hoping to find a way to keep the rose, this article has great information about different problems with roses and how to address them: Best of luck to you!

Removing Bamboo

    Date Posted: Sat, Jun 15 - 1:11 pm


  • Can someone please give me advice on how to get rid of bamboo?
  • Answer

  • Bamboo is so tough! It can be quite the battle to get rid of it. The University of Maryland extension office has a very thorough article about controlling and removing bamboo. I recommend reading through the information they provide to decide how you want to tackle it: With a lot of dedication and patience, you should eventually be able to kill it off if you don’t ever allow any leaves to photosynthesize. Mow them constantly, break the shoot off and cut any leaf that you see emerging, immediately. Eventually the roots should starve and die. There are also companies around Richmond that provide bamboo removal services, but these would of course be a bigger financial commitment. Good luck! Getting rid of bamboo is not easy!

Volunteer Trees

    Date Posted: Fri, May 31 - 5:41 pm


  • I have several volunteer trees that look like dogwoods but they have never had blooms. is there a tree that looks like dogwood?
  • Answer

  • Thanks for reaching out via the help desk! We are working to get a option to upload photos added to the page, but in the mean time I will send you a follow up e-mail so that we can get some pictures of your volunteer trees and see if we can help you identify them. It's possible that they are dogwoods and just haven't bloomed yet. They can take 5-7 years to get established before they start blooming. And it's also possible its something else with similar leaves. Hopefully we can help you better identify once we see some pictures!

Planting sapling redbuds

    Date Posted: Thu, May 30 - 5:26 pm


  • I have two sapling eastern redbuds. I have grown them from seed. Looking to plant them in my yard, what is the proper exposure and best time of year for them to thrive in the ground? Also how far apart should they be planted?
  • Answer

  • How exciting! Redbuds are so beautiful, and what an accomplishment to grow them from seed. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when planting sapling redbuds- First, it is best to plant them on the smaller side as they don't enjoy being transplanted due to their long taproot. Second, the best time of year to plant many natives, including eastern redbuds, is the early fall after the heat of summer has passed. This allows the plant time to get established before winter and sets it up to really thrive the following year! An exception to this, is if you are planting in a space that closely mimics the redbud's natural environment. They are happiest with partial shade and in moist, well-drained soil. Whether you decide to plant now or early fall, keep them well mulched and watered as they for at least the first year as they get established. They should be planted at least 12 feet apart from each other to allow space for both to grow. Good luck and happy gardening!

Mushroom in my spinach starts?

    Date Posted: Thu, May 23 - 11:50 am


  • About 2 weeks ago, I planted spinach seeds in containers. The green leaves started to come up, but today, I noticed something brown and mushroom-shaped growing in both pots. They look like mushrooms, but I'm not sure. What could these be? Should I pull them out? I'd include a pic but it seems that only text is allowed here. I can email a pic once I get your emailed response. Thanks
  • Answer

  • There are always surprises when you are gardening! I can't think of anything else that might be aside from a mushroom. I would go ahead an pull it out. You don't want anything competing for nutrients and space with your spinach plants.

Speaker for Benefits of Gardening

    Date Posted: Thu, May 23 - 11:35 am


  • We are a local Richmond company looking to bring in a gardener/gardening expert to speak on how they got into gardening and their personal experience as a gardener, as well as the benefits they see with gardening - not only physically but to help increase overall wellness (emotional, spiritual, reduce stress and anxiety, etc). to our staff as part of our 2024 company wellness initiative.
  • Answer

  • Thank you for thinking of us and reaching out! We would love to share our thoughts on the benefits of gardening! I will reach out to you directly to coordinate.