I planted bougainvillea in a sheltered location in my entry way, facing south. The first year, I got many blooms; last year, almost none. It grew vigorously, needing pruning to keep from overgrowing the sidewalk, but almost no blossoms. Why?
Peter Hays, Sacramento
According to UC Master Gardener Carol Rogala, bougainvillea are tropical and thrive in full sun. They need at least five hours of sun a day and more is better. Less than five hours and the plant may not bloom but may have vegetative growth.
They grow best where the day and night lengths are almost the same. In those tropical areas, the plant blooms all year long.
However, in North America, best blooming occurs in spring and fall when the night and day lengths are almost equal.
Bougainvillea are heavy feeders that require regular monthly fertilization. Nitrogen and phosphate are critical to flowering, but do not overfertilize with these two elements because it will add growth and inhibit blooming.
Bougainvillea, which are frost tender, may be pruned at any time of the year. Bloom initiation does not depend upon pruning. A bougainvillea has a bloom cycle followed by a rest period whether pruned or not.
A hard prune is recommended when you need to contain growth or when you are preparing to move your bougainvillea indoors for the winter. A good website for information on this plant is hosted by the Bougainvilleas Growers International, www.bgi-usa.com.
I've been trapping slugs with beer, as I read they are attracted to the yeast. The largest slug I've found was about the size of an adult woman's index finger. Slugs have that distinguishing yellow slime, nearly impossible to remove without vigorous scrubbing.
When I saw a creature crawling across my patio, I assumed it was a slug.
When I got into the light, I saw what appeared to be a long night crawler. It was segmented and very squirmy. I used a napkin to grab it, but it squirmed out of my hand almost immediately. I flushed it down the toilet.
I had taken pictures so others would believe me, but now I fear I have killed the mother of all night crawlers. It is not a land planarian, although (a mention of land planarians) in this column is what inspired me to write you. I know earthworms come out after heavy rains; that was the situation in this case. Comments?
Emily Blake-Kessel, Elk Grove
You are correct, according to UC Master Gardener Bill Pierce. It most likely was a large night crawler worm. Some kinds of night crawlers such as the California Super Red can reach 4 to 8 inches long.
Land planarians (Tricladida) do not have segmented bodies, and they have a head that is shaped like a shovel.
However, like worms, they appear after rains and in wet places. They feed on earthworms.
Small piles of dirt will appear on your lawn each morning, after the night crawlers have come to the surface during the night.
Earthworms play a major role in improving soil; they break down organic matter and increase air and water movement. Having worms is a good sign of healthy soil.
Questions are answered by master gardeners at the UC Cooperative Extension services in Sacramento and Placer counties.
Send questions to Garden Detective, P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put "Garden Detective" in the subject field and include your postal address. To contact your UC Extension directly, call:
Sacramento: (916) 875-6913; 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. weekdays
Amador: (209) 223-6838; 10 a.m.-noon Monday through Thursday; email ceamador.ucdavis.edu
Butte: (530) 538-7201; 8 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m. weekdays
El Dorado: (530) 621-5512; 9 a.m.-noon weekdays
Placer: (530) 889-7388; 9 a.m.-noon on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays or leave a message and calls will be returned
Nevada: (530) 273-0919; 9 a.m.-noon Tuesdays through Thursday or leave a message
Shasta, Tehama, Trinity: (530) 225-4605
Solano: (707) 784-1322; leave a message and calls will be returned
Sutter, Yuba: (530) 822-7515; 9 a.m.-noon Mondays and Tuesdays and 1-4 p.m. Thursdays
Yolo: (530) 666-8737; 9-11 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, or leave a message and calls will be returned