Q. Just about anything grows in my garden, except bougainvillea. Do you have any suggestions to overcome this problem?
Bougainvillea is a beautiful, but thorny, flowering plant that is known for its bright red, rose, or pink bracts (the flowers are either white or very pale yellow). It is not hardy and will die back when exposed to freezing temperatures. If it hasn’t gotten too cold, it will come back in the spring. In areas that get some frost, they can survive if planted near a wall, at the top of a slope, or some other frost-protected area. Alternatively, it can live in a pot and be brought to a protected area during the coldest winter months. If you have a vine that looks dead after freezing, wait until spring because it may come back from the roots.
Bougainvillea needs well-drained soil and full sun to thrive. It will languish in shade and will not survive in soggy soil. Although it can grow on hillsides and banks, it is happiest when allowed to grow on a fence or trellis. Keep in mind that this is an extremely thorny plant, so keep it away from high-traffic areas. This is a plant that should be given plenty of room because you do not want to prune it very often.
So, if your garden is too wet, gets too cold in the winter, or doesn’t get enough sunlight, bougainvillea will probably not do well there.
Q. What happened to the persimmon crop this year? While in a store, another customer told me they had very few persimmons on their tree this season. One store had a few organic persimmons for sale, but they were hard and not ripe. Any suggestions on how to get these persimmons to ripen?
There are several different types of persimmons: American, Hachiya, and Fuyu. All of them can be ripened off the tree, but they should only be harvested when they reach their full ripe color. Don’t pick a green fruit – you will regret it!
Fuyu persimmons are firm when ripe. These are 3-4 inches across and kind of squat-looking. They can be eaten when crunchy, or sliced and dried into an absolutely addictive snack.
Hachiya persimmons are generally larger than Fuyu and are lantern-shaped with a pointy end. These must be very soft before they can be eaten. If you see them in the store, they are likely to be unripe because they become easily damaged when ripe. These usually have to be ripened off the tree.
I recommend setting them on a flat surface, pointy end up, until they soften completely. This protects them from bruising (as opposed to laying them on their sides). Sometimes this process can take several weeks, but I like it better than trying to keep them in a bag with a banana or apple because I can keep an eye on them. Once ripe, they can be eaten or pulped and frozen for later use.
Los Angeles County
email@example.com; 626-586-1988; http://celosangeles.ucanr.edu/UC_Master_Gardener_Program/
San Bernardino County
firstname.lastname@example.org; 909-387-2182; http://mgsb.ucanr.edu