Ask the gardening expert



I have a nice little maple tree that is in a lovely container that I’ve purchased especially for it. Is there a way to keep it from outgrowing the pot too quickly?

Well, I think it will eventually be too large for the pot, but you might be able to prolong the inevitable with root pruning and trimming back the longest limbs.

Remove the plant, run some water over the roots in order to see them properly, take note of any long circling roots or any that look black or damaged. Those are the obvious ones to remove. For the rest, judge how much more, if any, to take off. Then prune back the longest, plus any awkward limbs from the top. Strive for an equal amount from the top and bottom. Replant the tree in new, clean soil. Watch it closely for the next few weeks, guard it from extreme sun and wind. Water carefully but don’t fertilize until you see new growth. Make sure it has adequate water and good air circulation. I believe it will do just fine. You may be able to do this operation several more times at two-year intervals, before you are faced with getting a larger pot, or planting it in the garden.

My Shasta Daisy bloom and are finished so much earlier than my neighbor’s. I’m sure she must have a different variety? She says they are the same as mine; in fact, she got hers from the people that owned my house/garden before me. Why are they so different?

You might ask her if she does a pinch back in earlier spring? She certainly may; it’s a method that helps keep many perennials in bloom longer and aids in the plant standing, instead of flopping under it’s own weight. It’s sort of an old-time secret gardeners pass down, or maybe forget to tell newer gardeners.

In early spring, pinch each flower stalk back to only several inches tall. This will stimulate the plant to produce blooms on sturdy, somewhat shorter stock, and some will even bloom longer.

Summer rain, hail or wind can knock the tall blooms down on any or all varieties. After they fall it is next to impossible to stake them so they look decent. The answer is to pinch back developing flower buds in early spring so they will flower slightly later. This works well on many other tall perennial plants.

I still have tomato seed. Is it too late to get a crop if I start seed now?

Yes, it is too late for seeds.

We are finally experiencing a few nights of 55 degrees, so warm crops should be in the ground.

You’ll want to start with plants, since it’s is a little late for seeds here in late June. There are so many tomato starts in every garden shop. You’ll have plenty of choices. Might I suggest you look to sturdy-looking plants and avoid ones that have fruit on the vines, since those plants have to really struggle to establish themselves and handle the burden of supporting fruit. It’s always best to remove any developing fruit as you plant.

The thing you are looking for in growing all vegetables is to keep them growing — even at night. They stop growing below 50 degrees. A key factor this time of year is warmth. We’ve used a method that seems to work fairly well. We pick tall plants, remove the lowest limbs and plant the bare stock lying down in a shallow, long trench-like hole, leaving out only the top of the plant. It will now grow roots all along the buried stock. This keeps the whole plant in the warm top soil.

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