Ask the gardening expert



I moved my pampas grass to a sunny location after it became too big for the space it was in before. It’s going into its second summer. It didn’t flower last fall and I would like to know if there is something I should do now to guarantee flowers this fall?

It is possible that the transplanting set the plant back and thus it did not bloom last year. As with lawn grass, the ornamentals grow best in full sun with good garden soil and adequate moisture. You might want to water it as needed to keep the soil moist but not soggy wet, and provide it with a light application of complete fertilizer such as 10-10-10 and/or some compost. Look for blooms late in the season.

Burning bushes in a row: All get full sun; one turns its fall color, the other two don’t. They were all planted at the same time three years ago. The first one has not grown much and has no fall color. The middle one has grown the most of the three but has no color. The third one in the row has grown some and has nice fall color. They are not planted under an overhang so I don’t think it’s too much water from a clogged eave. The perennials planted around them seem to do fine. Any suggestions? Thank you.

This is a bit mystifying. The most common reason for lack of fall coloring is that the plant is growing in too much shade, but these are in full sun. There can be some genetic variation between plants that would account for the difference if they were seedling grown. The difference is size is most likely due to how well the plants have managed to establish their roots. The small one most likely is not rooting as well as the other two. Again, however, there can also be some genetic variation in growth rates.

I’m sorry I can’t give you a more specific answer.

My fiancé and I love lilacs and would like to plant some bushes. I know they can be planted spring or fall and I was wondering if it is too late to plant now? We’ve had a few nice warm days but again last night was in the 40s here. We live on the outskirts of Salt Lake City, Utah. Thank you so much for your help!!!

You can plant landscape trees and shrubs whenever — as long as the ground is not frozen. We recommend spring and fall because the weather is cooler and rainfall usually abundant, conditions which help roots become established. You can plant this month as long as you water deeply once or twice each week to encourage root establishment. I love lilacs so I know how anxious you are to plant some in your yard. Go ahead with your plan. And enjoy your new lilacs!

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