Consumer Q's

What is a Calibrachos?

Consumer Q’s is prepared by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, Gary W. Black, Commissioner.

Question: What is this flower known as calibrachoa? It looks like a petunia.

Answer: Calibrachoa (pronounced cal-ih-bruh-CO-uh) is related to petunias. It is sometimes called “million bells.” It produces copious bell-like flowers that look like mini petunias. Calibrachoa prefers full sun and is good for pots and hanging baskets as well as borders. It may survive mild winters but is usually treated as an annual.

Calibrachoa is relatively new and not as widely known as some other flowers. With its durability and long period of blooming, however, it is making a name for itself and gaining more admirers every year. Look for it this spring and summer at Georgia nurseries and garden centers.

* * *

Q: Who approves additives that can go in foods? Why are these things added to processed food?

A: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for approving ingredients used in food products in order to ensure safety for the consumer. Additives may enhance flavor or color or increase shelf life.

* * *

Q: Have you ever heard of a plant nicknamed “burglar bush?” It has long, slender, erect, dark green leaves sort of like a mother-in-law’s tongue with a needle-like tip that is razor sharp. If you touch that tip you’d swear you’ve been stung by a bee. When I lived in Augusta my neighbor had a few, so they do thrive in Georgia. I’ve always wanted to locate some to plant under windows.

A: It sounds like the plant you are describing is Spanish bayonet (Yucca aloifolia). This tough-as-nails yucca is native from North Carolina south to Mexico and the West Indies. In Georgia it was originally found in only six counties along the coast and in the southern part of the state but is now widely planted due to its beauty and usefulness.

It can get to be a small tree in the warmer parts of its range, but is usually grown as a medium to large shrub. You may see it growing naturally behind sand dunes or planted at beach properties. It can take the heat, salt spray and dry conditions. The form of the plants is palm-like, and they produce beautiful, large clusters of waxy white flowers.

The sharp leaves that give the plant its names (it is also called Spanish dagger) can be an asset or a liability. It is sometimes planted next to dangerous equipment to keep people from getting near. If planted at a window it could certainly deter thieves, burglars, peeping Toms and other ne’er-do-wells. It will require some careful negotiating when it comes time to paint, however. You would not want to plant one along a sidewalk or where a child could run into one. They could put out an eye. You can disarm the plants by trimming the points.

You may also consider some of the hardy agaves in your crime-prevention landscape. Their pointed leaves could also send someone screaming in the night. 

* * *

Q: I bought some tall (seven inches) tomato plants. The man at the nursery instructed me to plant them deep and only leave a few inches above ground. Won’t this smother the roots?

A: Dig a deep hole and do as he said. The tomatoes will sprout roots along the stem which will help them take up water and nutrients, and the deeper, more expansive root system will help the plants better cope with dry conditions that may come in summer.

If you have questions about services or products regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, visit  www.agr.georgia.gov, write to the department at 19 MLK Jr. Drive, Room 128, Atlanta, GA 30334 or e-mail Consumer Q’s coordinator Arty Schronce at arty.schronce@agr.georgia.gov.




More Close Up

Movie Review

'Second Best’ comes in second

Anything that is “second best” is usually not as good as the one that came in first. That is sadly the case with the aptly na ... Read More


Weekender: See & Do

Photography Competition: • The Newnan-Coweta Historical Society is announcing the call for entries for “Simple Pleasures: The Nat ... Read More


Recipe of the Week

Old-Fashioned Sweet Potato Pie

Ingredients: • 2 cups peeled, cooked sweet potatoes • 1 1/4 cups sugar • 1/2 stick melted butter • 2 eggs • 1 teas ... Read More


Beer Review

Jailhouse Brewing Conjugal Visit

Jailhouse Brewing Company is a small brewery located in Hampton, Georgia. Started in 2008, by a man with a dream and an old empty jail build ... Read More


Red Cross Month

Piedmont Newnan to hold blood drive

March is Red Cross Month, and the organization is encouraging the community to give blood. To that end, Piedmont Newnan Hospital is holding ... Read More

Stop bullying seminar to be held March 9

The local, youth-driven organization Family Patterns Matter was created to prevent violence and substance abuse among the community’s ... Read More