Ask the garden expert

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Answer Clinic Challenge posed by master gardener coordinator Erika Johnson:

A woman came into the answer clinic with a large (hopefully dead) spider. She requested identification. What would you, the master gardener, have told the client about this spider?

After close examination, it was determined that it is a funnel weaver spider, from the agelenidae family. They are found all over the world and are harmless.

The best way to deal with funnel weaver spiders if found indoors is to capture the spider and release it outdoors. An effective technique for capturing hunting spiders is to place a cup over the spider and then slide a piece of paper underneath to entrap it. Dust and vacuum thoroughly to remove spiders, webs and egg sacs, and dispose of the vacuum bag in a container outdoors.

Good sanitation is recommended to prevent further infestation. Remove trash, old boxes, old clothing, wood piles, rock piles, and other unwanted items. Eliminate clutter in closets, basements, attics, garages and outbuildings. Store items off the floor and away from walls in basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages and outbuildings. Eliminate household pests -- prey -- such as flies, ants and cockroaches that attract spiders. Do not stack wood against the house. Remove heavy vegetation and leaf litter around the foundation. Wash spider webs off the outside of the house using a high-pressure hose.

We miss the free garden tours that master gardeners sponsored several years ago. Is there anything going on in the next few weekends?

Those were the Master Gardeners On the Road open gardens summer parties we called Music in the Garden events. However, other master gardeners are still busy with other ambitious undertakings.

Master gardeners are up to our noses in Clark County Fair activities. Master gardeners are again the superintendents of the popular floral show.

I'm disappointed that my hydrangea has stopped blooming. It bloomed the first year, but hasn't since. It's been here for going on three years. It hasn't grown much but now I notice it's going downhill. I've started watering it every day, and it just does not improve. It gets a few hours of sunshine before noon, then light shade. Do you think it's too much sun, or water?

I've spoken to you on the phone, and asked many questions. After a while it came out that the roots were a tangled mess when you planted it, and you did not know this could be a problem for the plant. I suggested you dig up the plant and look at the roots. You told me they were knotted up and that they have not moved out from the original shape.

I suggested you untangle them as best you can, cut hard knotted ones, loosen them up, allow some space between them so they can reach out into surrounding soil, and the plant should around.

I'm happy to say that was last year, and the plant has come out of its slump and is going to have some blooms this summer. Tangled roots are a serious problem for plants. I suspect that when you see roadside plantings die, that it is more often than not tangled roots and compaction. The person planting did not pull the tangled roots out so they could get a good start.

I believe that last time I mentioned the master gardener office, I slipped up on both the email and phone number. The phone number is 360-397-6060, ext. 5711; email is mganswerclinic@clark.wa.gov.


Celeste Lindsay is a WSU-certified master gardener. Send questions to mslindsay8@gmail.com.