This plant is popping up all over our yard. What is it?
Darryl Neall, Sacramento
According to the UC master gardeners, the common name for your mystery plant is Slender Aster (Aster subulatus), generally considered to be more of an annual weed than an ornamental.
Common throughout the Central Valley, this wildflower returns each year from seeds that are moved by wind, water and human activity. Its small flowers are pale blue with yellow centers.
I think this is the second or third time I've read that Sucker Stopper is "available at most large nurseries." I've tried multiple nurseries and get very puzzled looks.
Can you be more specific? I have some crabapple trees that I've been in a long running battle with.
Barbara Evoy, Sacramento
You're not alone. Although suckers are always plentiful, we've had a shortage of Sucker Stopper.
A quick call to Monterey Lawn and Garden Products in Fresno revealed that the ingredients used in compounding Sucker Stopper had been on back order, according to the UC master gardeners. The materials are now available and the product is now or will be shortly be back on nursery shelves.
You may also find it available online. For example, we found it at www. domyownpestcontrol.com.
According to Monterey Lawn and Garden, Sucker Stopper works on American elm, apple, carob, Chinese elm, coast redwood, crabapples, flowering plum, olive, pear, pyracantha, red maple, river birch, silver maple, sugar maple, sycamore, water oak, wax myrtle and willow plus several other common trees.
We've had a new fence installed and had to take down 30-year-old white jasmine vines. The vines are laying on the patio's concrete floor.
May we prune the vines now and put them back on the fence? Or should we just put the vines back up on fence and prune later?
Helene Wolfley, Sacramento
There are numerous varieties of jasmine, according to UC Master Gardener Carol Hunter. Star jasmine is one of the most fragrant and more commonly grown in our area.
It is not a true jasmine at all; however, all jasmine share several characteristics. They all thrive in regular garden soil and need frequent pinching and shaping to control growth.
You can cut back jasmine almost any time of year, but when you prune can affect flowering. One of the better times to prune is after the flowers have faded in late spring. Jasmines flower on the previous year's growth that includes the shoots that form after flowering. Pinch back their tips to encourage lateral growth and get more buds.
Whenever necessary, cut the vines before they grow too heavy for their supports by removing a third of the vine stems at the base.
Using sharp pruners, cut just above a growing bud and angle downward away from the top of the bud. As you can see, there are times and means of pruning depending upon your objective.
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 email@example.com. Please put "Garden Detective" in the subject field and include your postal address.