Ask the gardening expert



This morning I saw a slug in a planter on my deck. I would have thought the cold weather would kill them, like it does all the bugs.

Well, slugs are tough little critters. They work their way into the soil, or hide in a nice protected spot such as under a large rock, or planter, all ready to come out and find anything that dares to put out green growth this time of year. This is the time to go on the attack. By making a diligent plan to get rid of as many slugs as you can now, perhaps you’ll have less slug damage when the hostas and other choice plants are coming up.

By the way, cold weather does kill some insects, but many have survival strategies that give them the ability to winter over. They’ll be back.

It’s embarrassing to be corrected by a “garden person” when I pronounce a plant name incorrectly. What’s an easy way to learn plant names?

I’m not sure there is really an easy way to learn but don’t feel too bad about being corrected. They had to learn, too.

If you want to learn you might buy a dictionary. There are some pretty good ones I’ve run into. Timber Press has one titled “Dictionary of Plant Names” by Allen J. Coombes. Another is a small paperbound book that is easy to carry with you. “Pronouncing Plant Names” is produced by American Nurserymen’s Publishing. They are both inexpensive and easy to use. I found them both on, but I’m sure any bookstore would carry them as well. I own them both and use them constantly, and I’ve been in this business for many years. One of my college professors told me early on, “No one knows it all.”

Celeste Lindsay is a WSU-master gardener. Send questions to