Marianne Binetti

Worms weaseling into your roses? Here’s how to get rid of them

When dealing with rose worms, cut infected stems from the plant about an inch below where the wilting begins.
When dealing with rose worms, cut infected stems from the plant about an inch below where the wilting begins. TNS file

The fourth week of June is when roots have spread, nights have warmed and suddenly potted plants need much more water. Hanging baskets of petunias, geraniums, fuchsias and other annual flowers will likely need watering every day and weekly clean up to remove faded blooms.

Don’t forget that summer pots need to be fertilized all summer long.

Here are a few readers questions.

Q. My rose plants have some wilted branches. I can see a tiny hole in the stem where the wilting begins. When I cut into the damaged stem there is a worm eating out the inner stem! Please help. P.P. Olympia

A. Sounds like the exciting life of a boring rose worm. This small, dull worm bores into a rose stem then proceeds to eat out the pith or center of the stem, protected from enemies. There is no spray that can reach the borer once it gets inside the rose stem. The most effective control is to hand pick the worms off of your rose plants now before they can bore into to stems.

Cut the infected stems from the plant about an inch below where the wilting begins and the entry hole is seen. Do not compost the cut stems as the worm is most likely hiding inside. Place the boring worm and the cut stems into a plastic bag and send them for an exciting trip to the garbage can.

Q. What happens if I use flower fertilizer on my vegetables? It is an old package of dry plant food made for flowers. How long is fertilizer good? W.T. Renton

A. Your vegetables should thrive with an application of “flower” food as plants cannot read the labels and they just want the nutrients delivered to their roots. The vegetables that make flowers before they can be harvested, such as squash and tomatoes, will especially appreciate this fertilizer.

The expiration date for plant foods depends on how it is stored. A package of dry or liquid fertilizer will be good for years if it is protected from extreme heat, cold and moisture.

Q. What makes a better new lawn — seed or sod? N.H. Auburn

A. Sod wins for instant gratification and a weed-free start. Using seed saves lots of money but you must keep the new seeds constantly moist. If you have a partly sunny site, choosing seed may have an advantage over sod as you can chose to use a seed mix of varieties that do well in the shade.

The most important part of a new lawn is the groundwork. A level surface raked to a fine tilth in full sun with topsoil or tilled soil to a depth of 12 inches makes for the best lawn whether you decide on seed or sod. Take no shortcuts with soil prep for the healthiest lawn. In most cases you will need to add topsoil or sandy loam mixed with existing soil to encourage deep roots.

Marianne Binetti has a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and is the author of several books. Reach her through her website at or write to her at P.O. Box 872, Enumclaw WA 98022.