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Help! What’s Wrong With My Droopy Schefflera

Ask The Plant Expert:

I have had my Schefflera for nearly 4 years.  I live in OH and this plant lives indoors next to our south-facing window from late-October through mid-May.  During the other months, the plant is kept on the outdoor porch which is just on the other side of the south-facing window in indirect light.

This plant has been transplanted once last Spring and seemed to be doing well.  However, after I brought the plant in from my outside porch last month, I noticed that there are branches curving downward and the plant is losing its attractive shape.

It doesn’t help that my cat likes to pounce on the curved branches she can reach. How do I fix this? – Heather

Droopy Schefflera

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply:


You have a very nice schefflera. There are a couple things that you can do to help shape the plant. Prune out those branches that droop down, and with no regards to the basic shape of the plant. Then start a rotation schedule for the plant. Every week turn the plant 90 degrees; this will keep the foliage from unevenly bending towards the light. You can also prune flimsy and weak stems.

In fact, it looks like your plant has produced a lot of new growth in a short period of time. If this is true, and a result of you fertilizing the plant, cut back on the fertilizer by half. When plants rapidly produce new growth, that growth can be a little weak and flimsy. This new growth over time can strengthen, but if it is causing the plant to look mis-shapened it is better to trim it.

Hope this information was helpful. Please let me know if I can help with anything else.

Why Are My Oxalis Plant Leggy

OxalisAsk The Plant Expert:

I have an purple oxalis plant that is growing very well, but leggy. Is that natural or do I have to trim?

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply: You can prune the plant to encourage shorter new growth. I recommend selectively pruning, instead of a straight across the board pruning. This will leave some leaves in place while the plant produces new ones.

Hope this information helps.

How And When To Cut Blooms On A Gardenia

Ask The Plant Expert: I just bought a small gardenia plant, and it came with two buds on it already. One of them bloomed beautifully, but now, after about 6 days, looks like it is ready to go. My question is, do you cut it off? If so, how, and will it bloom again? I really hope that it does because it smells so beautiful. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply: Sheri, Yes, you can cut the old bloom off. If the conditions are right, gardenias bloom from late spring until fall. Gardenias bloom on new growth, so pruning is a essential.

Blooming depends on a lot of factors. In fact, gardenias are a little temperamental.

  • First, they like a humid environment. However, you should only mist the air surrounding the gardenia, and not the leaves of the plant. Misting the leaves can cause a fungal problem. You can use a humidifier to create the environment they like.
  • Soil moisture is the second contributing factor to blooming. Under-watering or over-watering can cause gardenia bud drop. Keep the soil of the plant uniformly moist, but not soggy.
  • The plant will need a full sun exposure in the house, and a slightly shady exposure outside. Really hot temperatures can inhibit blooming. Gardenias like temperatures around 65° to 70°.  They do not like sudden temperature changes. Keep them away from door or air vent drafts.
  • Fertilize your gardenia April through November. You can use a water soluble or granular balanced fertilizer.

I hope this information is helpful.

How To Prune A Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

Ask the Expert:
How to Prune?

I have a large peace lily. Where the white flowers have bloomed, they have died and turned brown, but are still attached to a new, fresh, green, stem. I assume this is for the new flowers to bloom.

Can the brown, dead blooms be cut off to the green stem? Or should they stay on until they fall off?

It really takes away from the beauty of the plant itself to leave these on.

Please advise. Thank you. Janie

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply:
Each bloom has it’s own stem, therefore the green stem will not produce a new bloom. So you will need to remove both the bloom and the green stem which will eventually turn brown. To remove the spent bloom, you will follow the bloom stem down to the base of the plant and cut the stem off as close to the base of the plant as possible. This will help make the plant more attractive and stimulate the plant to produce more blooms.

While we are talking about pruning peace lilies, we need to discuss pruning unsightly leaves off. You will follow the same procedure as de-head the blooms. Follow the leave stem to the base of the plant and cut it off. You can also prune the leaves themselves should they get brown tips. To do this make an angled cut below the brown tip. This angled cut should keep the new tip from turning brown.

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Winterizing, Pruning and Fertilizing Your Azaleas

Ask the Expert: what should i be doing to my azaleas now (NOvember)
Potted AzaleaMy azaleas have not been doing as well as I like. When do we fertilize them and what pointers will help me to care for them? My Azaleas are planted outside. They are about 2 1/2 feet high and look healthy but I have not been getting flowers in March as in the past. I live in South Carolina. When is the time when they should be fertilized and when does one do it? Also, when do you trim the bushes? Thank you so much. Frances

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply:
Don’t be alarmed at the lack of blooming this past year. Occasionally azaleas will be thrown off by inconsistency in the season – too cold, too wet, too dry too hot. However, if the problem persists for more than one year an issue may exist that needs to be corrected.

To determine what the problem is, we must first evaluate all the factors that contribute to blooming.

First is light exposure. Has the amount of light the azaleas are exposed to throughout the year changed. When azaleas do not get enough light during the growing season blooming can become inhibited. A solution for this is to give the azaleas more light by pruning the trees or shrubs that are shading them. At the same time, too much light at mid-day can cause scorching. However, this won’t keep blooms from forming.

Second factor is fertilization. Azaleas can be heavy feeders needing fertilizer monthly during the growing season. I usually recommend fertilizing your azaleas April through August. I like to use a granular slow release fertilizer that contains a systemic insecticide. Your local garden center and nursery should have the fertilizer you need. You might ask them what they recommend in your area as a fertilizer and the time period in which to fertilize them. You do not want to fertilize your azaleas during the dormancy period.

Third factor is pruning. The rule of thumb is to prune your azaleas immediately after they finish blooming or at least within that month. If you prune your azaleas at the wrong time, you might cut the future blooms off. Azaleas set their blooms many months in advance of when they actually bloom. You can prune your azalea severely or lightly depending on how much height and shape you need.

Another factor is proper care during the winter. In the fall, you need to mulch around your azaleas. You can use a multitude of different materials to do this – pine straw, hardwood mulch, pine mulch, cypress mulch, etc. You can discuss the options with your local garden center and nursery. Depending on the winter, your blooms can be damage if the weather becomes extremely cold. When we have had extreme temperatures in our area, I have actually iced my azaleas. Icing involves wetting the azaleas so that ice forms and the plant stays at 32° F. Before you attempt this talk to your local garden center. they will be able to determine if this is the right course of action for your area.

Hopefully these suggestion will help remedy your azalea issues.

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Did I Prune My Azaleas Correctly?

Ask the Expert: Help !!! azalea problem
After my azaleas blooming..I pruned them…some just a little be but I’ve a couple of them to big so I decided to prune a lot but I concerned that wasn’t a good idea, please see the pictures. the wood looks dark. Thanks for your help Elsa

Plant Expert Reply:

I am assuming that your Azaleas are deciduous and not evergreen. Either way you did the right thing by pruning them after they finished blooming.  All azaleas whether deciduous or evergreen will have dormant buds that will leaf out after a plant has been pruned. So the important thing is to give your plant shape as you prune it.

To keep your azalea full and attractive, you need to make sure light gets to the plant from top to bottom. To do this make sure your plant is like a pear shaped woman – narrow towards the top and fuller towards the bottom.  After a severe pruning it will take shrubs a couple of weeks to leaf back out. In fact, I just butchered the shrubs at my house. By my Memorial day party, they will be flushed back out.

I did notice that a few of your branches have winter damage. If these branch do not leaf out in the next couple of weeks, prune them back to the point where the leaves have flushed.

Now would also be a good time to fertilize them. A good rule of thumb for feeding azaleas is AA – April through August once a month.  In some areas you can start fertilizing sooner and extend the feeding a month longer.

I recommend a slow release fertilizer blended for azaleas. I use an azalea fertilizer than contains a systemic insecticide as well. This will keep the azaleas happy and healthy. Your local garden center and nursery should carry the azalea fertilizer they need. You can ask for Fertilome Azalea/Evergreen Food Plus with systemic or something similar.

Need Help Pruning A Cock-eyed Hibiscus



Ask the Expert: cock-eyed hibiscus
I asked a question last year and you answered it so well that I thought I’d bring you another!

My Grandma gave me what looked like two twigs stuck in a pot a year ago. Now that I’ve learned it’s a hibiscus (this is a hibiscus, right!?), I’ve also learned what an indoor hibiscus should look like. Here are some attached pictures – it seems as though the whole hibiscus was pruned back to a few inches above the soil a couple of years ago. You can see that two large branches have shot off maybe 30 inches at angles, and more branches are coming out of the other stumps rather suddenly with the spring weather. I’ve been reading up on proper hibiscus pruning and I understand the concept, but my Hibiscus is such an odd duck that I don’t know where to start. How do I get this thing to straighten up when it doesn’t seem to have a real “trunk” anymore?

thanks for your time!



Happy To help as always.

I am having trouble loading the pictures you sent.  But, I think I can answer your question without them.  The main plant is a hibiscus.  It looks as if a few of the other leaves close to outer edge of the pot are something else.

As for the hibiscus, I would try to bring it a more bushy shape.  To do this you will need to cut off a large portion of each stalk.  Make your cut right above the set of leaves closest to the bottom of the plant.  By doing this you will encourage the plant to produce lateral growth instead of  height.  Do this only on the two long woody stalks.  On the small green stalk coming from the based of the plant, pinch the very top leaves from the stalk.  Again this will encourage growth in thickness before height.   The more you pinch or trim the hibiscus the fuller the plant will be.  We do this with hibiscus at our nursery all the time.  You can manipulate the plant to look any way you want depending on how you prune it.

Keep me posted and let me know if you have any other questions.

When Is The Right Time To Trim Azaleas?

Ask the Expert: Azales
When it the latest to trim Azales. I have 2 hedges and trim them all summer. but don’t know when they start to get ready for the next years blooming. if you trim them too late they won’t bloom in the spring.


The short answer is a little over a month after they finishing blooming.

The long answer is hard or severe pruning should occur in the weeks immediately following the blooming cycle. So if your Azalea blooms in April and is done blooming by June 1st, I would trim it beginning in June and no later than mid July. A severe pruning after this time frmae will inhibit blooming for next year.

However, light pruning to keep the shrub symmetrical can be done any time during the growing season. This type of pruning involves deadheading the spent flowers or removing branches that grow in disproportion to other parts of the plant. This should not inhibit blooming because you are specifically targeting parts of the plant.

Another general rule of thumb for Azlaeas is to Prune and remove damaged or dead growth in mid-spring.

I hope this will help you determine when you need to prune your azaleas. Good Luck and please keep me posted through the comment section.

Peace Lily Blooms – Cut Me Loose

Ask the Expert: When the white blooms on a peace lily turns brown, do you cut it off or let it fall off?  Sharon