Q: My established, climbing Jasmine seems to have died over the winter. It filled three trellis areas on my deck. Did the frost kill them or is there a chance they might regenerate? -Kristin Green, Raleigh
A: Kristin, I’ve seen that quite a bit this year. Although we didn’t have a terribly cold winter, it sure was an odd one. The period of very unseasonably warm temperatures caused quite a few plants to start putting on new growth. The dip back below freezing caused quite a bit of burning. I would imagine your plants will recover just fine, the new growth will be delayed but they will be fine by late spring. I doubt the tops were completely killed, but if so they will re-sprout from the base. To check, simply scrape the bark off a few branches. If it is green underneath, your plant will be fine. If it is brown and dead, cut the stems back to where they are still green.
Q: I have been seeing hops grown for ornamental purposes in magazines. Any tips for growing here in the Raleigh area? -Jann Martindale, Raleigh
A: Jann, hops (Humulus lupulus) are indeed beautiful plants. Even many of the most dedicated beer connoisseurs don’t realize that the hops in the favorite beverage comes from a vine that is native to North America (including North Carolina), Europe and southwestern Asia. The form used commercially is typically the European strains, though. At any rate, hops is a vigorous vine in the same family as Cannabis. It is quite drought tolerant and the fragrant flowers attract butterflies before becoming attractive papery clusters. It will quickly re-sprout in spring. There are many selections of hops for the brewing industry but for gardeners, the showiest include a variety named ‘Nugget’ which has yellow fruits and ‘Bianca’ with gold spring foliage.
Q: I planted some cabbage plants (from seed) in the fall. They were very small going into winter, but then took off in February. My lower leaves are yellow – I cut them off and now about a month later my lower leaves are yellow again. Several weeks ago I added some organic fertilizer thinking maybe it needed more nourishment. I have these in a raised bed which I cover with an old blanket when we have cold nights.Also my spinach plants look fine, but they just don’t seem to be growing much compared to last year. They got fertilizer at the same time the cabbage did. - Christina Young
A: This crazy winter has got me wary of making any solid diagnoses. Many nurserymen tell me this is the strangest one they’ve seen in 30 or more years in North Carolina. The yellowing leaves could be a natural result of the warm and cold cycles we’ve had. However, it sounds a bit more to me like it could be fusarium wilt or cabbage yellows. Yellows usually starts with the lower leaves turning yellow and eventually browning and drying on the plant. Often the leaves will curl to one side. Sometimes only one side of the plant is affected. If this is the problem, remove infected plants, rotate your crops, look for resistant varieties next year and keep an eye out for leaf-hoppers which spread the fungus. Another possibility, especially if you are using a soilless mix like pine bark, is a nitrogen deficiency. Your fertilizer should correct that problem.
Common name: Gold-leaf hops
Botanical name: Humulus lupulus ‘Bianca’
Family: Cannabis (Cannabaceae)
Primary uses: To grow on trellises and pergolas, butterfly gardens, for hops production
Dimensions: 20 feet tall
Culture: Sun to light shade. Hops are vigorous vines which will quickly grow to cover even a large structure. Once established, they are quite drought tolerant and can be grown even in exceptionally cold areas. After frost, plants will die back to the ground and should be cut back and cleaned up over the winter.
General attributes: Hops vines are attractive plants with grape-like leaves. The male and female flowers are born separately on the same plant. Female flowers have a refreshing, pine-like scent and attract butterflies. The fruits are held in papery clusters which are harvested and the seeds dried for flavoring beer. ‘Bianca’ is an ornamental form with leaves that emerge in spring bright gold before becoming pale green by mid-summer. It hold its color much better in cooler climates.