Consumer Q's

Should flowers be cut from garden garlic?

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

<\Bz16>Question: The garlic I planted in my garden is now in bloom – a lavender ball of flowers. Someone has told me I need to cut these off to help the plant produce bigger bulbs. Is this true? I hope not, as they are pretty and the bees like them.

Answer: Some garlic growers cut off the emerging flower stalks, also called scapes, because they feel the flowers divert strength away from the developing bulbs. However, not all growers believe this, at least with some garlic varieties. You may want to experiment to find out what is best for the garlic you are growing.

Remember, the home garden is not always about maximizing production at every turn but is also about finding enjoyment and beauty. If you and the bees are enjoying the flowers, you can leave them be. You can also cut the flowers and put them in a flower arrangement. Some home gardeners even let the flower stalks dry and use them in dried flower arrangements.

Although yours are past this stage, some people like to cut off the scapes when they are young and tender and use them in the kitchen. They can be chopped into salads. They can also be sautéed or stir-fried with olive oil or tossed with oil, salt and seasonings and grilled. They can be chopped and sautéed with butter and mixed into mashed potatoes, summer squash or other vegetables.

If you do cut off the flower stalks, be sure to cut only the stalk and not the leaves. Like daffodils and other bulbs, the leaves are manufacturing food to nourish the bulb.

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Q: I love gallberry honey but don’t think I have ever seen a gallberry. What is it?

A: Gallberry (Ilex glabra) is a black-berried holly that is native to coastal areas from Nova Scotia to Florida and Texas. It is also known as inkberry. There is another native holly that usually goes by the common names “sweet gallberry” or “large gallberry.” Its botanical name is Ilex coriacea, and it is native to coastal areas from Virginia to Florida and Texas. Honeybees working the copious flowers of either or both of these two species of holly are the source of the gallberry honey that you and so many others enjoy.

Another native holly that is the source of a delicious honey is the familiar American holly (Ilex opaca). Georgia honeybees and their keepers produce numerous varieties of honey. Try them all!

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Q: What fertilizer is best for crepe myrtles?

A: There is no “best” fertilizer for crepe myrtles. Crepe myrtles generally don’t have any special nutrient needs, and in most landscapes they thrive without any fertilizer.

If you need to fertilize your crepe myrtles, select one formulated for trees and shrubs and follow the instructions on the bag or box. There are different brands available. Avoid over-fertilization because it causes excess growth and reduced flowering. Excessive growth is also prone to powdery mildew. Use a light hand. Too little fertilizer is better than too much.

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

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