Q: I have a variegated snake plant that has grown well, and I’d like to start more. When checking to see if they can be rooted from cuttings, several sources say the green types can, but the variegated types can’t. Is this true? — Donna H., Fargo.
A: Snake plant, whose botanical genus is Sansevieria, has several different forms, including the variegated type that has yellow bands along the edges of the dark green leaves. Cuttings taken from cross-sections of the long spear-shaped leaves of Sansevieria will produce roots. But when the variegated type sends up new growth, the sprouts revert to solid green, and the yellow margins are lost.
I tried this once, as I wanted to see for myself, and it’s true. The cuttings root, but the variegation is lost as new growth emerges. The best way to start new plants of variegated Sansevieria is to divide the original plant.
Q: In 2014, I planted a Luscious pear tree and was told I needed a pollinator to go with it, so I planted an Ure pear tree, and in 2018 I had 78 pears and was elated. As they matured, gray squirrels found them and devoured every one. What would you suggest to dissuade the squirrels and allow myself the pleasure of enjoying my crop? — Russ Seely, Casselton, N.D.
A: First, congratulations on the pear crop! We all feel your pain, though, as most gardeners have experienced loss to deer, raccoons, rabbits, slugs and other assorted pests.
Squirrels are among the most challenging because of their ability to leap long distances, climb wires and elude most of our attempts at control. I’ve not found or heard of a decent squirrel remedy, and shooting isn’t allowed in most cities, even with an air rifle or pellet gun. Commercial squirrel repellents are available and can be tried, but results are hit or miss.
Placing metal barriers extending outward from the tree trunk can work, if the tree is isolated and squirrels can’t jump from a surrounding perch. Trapping is an option, although catching and releasing elsewhere is illegal in some states. One method showing some promise is to provide squirrels with an alternate food source in the hopes they’ll leave our crops alone. Locating ear corn or other bird food close by has worked to sidetrack squirrels for some gardeners.
If anyone has found reliable squirrel control, please let me know, and I’ll pass it along in a future column. Thanks.
Q: In a recent article, you mentioned brown leaf tips on houseplants. I had just watered mine and noticed new brown tips on my peace lily and realized that it was overwatered. Thanks to your article, I turned the pot on its side to drain out excess and almost a cupful of very brown water came out. A few months earlier, I cut out all brown-tipped leaves, leaving a lovely green, shiny-leafed plant. Now I know. Thank you. — Helen C. Henderson, Park Rapids, Minn.
A: Thanks for writing, and emphasizing the importance of not letting our houseplants sit in the water that drains to the bottom. Decorative pots that lack drainage holes are most difficult, as water can accumulate unseen. Pots with drainage holes set in visible saucers are also easier to monitor than pots set in deep, decorative outer containers.
If you have a gardening or lawn care question, email Don Kinzler at ForumGrowingTogether@hotmail.com. All questions will be answered, and those with broad appeal may be published, so please include your name, city and state for appropriate advice.