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Now is a great time to break up your bleeding heart

This and more plant-based advice from Gardening Tips columnist Susan Richards

Each week, Susan Richards of New North Greenhouses answers your gardening questions. Have questions about your gardening needs? Please email her at

Sherri: I was out in my garden today and noticed a white substance on the branches of my Toba Hawthorne.  I can rub it off the stems with my finger.

Should I be worried? What can I do to treat this problem?

That sounds like the common fungus Powdery Mildew. It is affecting many plants right now. No real harm will be done to your tree at this point. You could mix up a batch of lime sulphur in your sprayer and apply it to stems and leaves.

If you don't do this now, be sure to have lime sulphur on hand for the spring. You can spray the first time on a mild spring day before the new growth begins. This application should eliminate the fungus spores that have over-wintered on the bark.

Then keep close watch on the tree to see if the fungus comes back later in the season, and spray at the very first sign of a problem. 

Dre: I want to create a privacy hedge along my driveway however it seems that the deer feed on anything I’ve tried in the past, like cedars. It only needs to be a maximum of about 4-5 feet.  A maximum of about 2-3 foot wide plant would work.  It’s to hide the septic bed from the driveway, as well as to run along the driveway for about 20 feet. Any suggestions?  Also, is this a good time of year to plant a hedge or shrubs?

There isn't an evergreen left for hedges that we can guarantee the deer won't eat. If you are open to using a deciduous shrub instead of an evergreen, look at Alpine Currant. I've never heard of an issue with is one and deer munching. It's size suits your purpose and it's very hardy. You would need about 10 plants for 20', planting 2' an centre.

As to planting a hedge right now, the weather is perfect. However, I'm not sure you will find 10 Alpine Currant in stock anywhere this late in the season.

You can remove the damaged cedar now, prepare the planting area and be ready to plant in the spring.

Pat: I have two perennials that have overgrown their space and need dividing: an Autumn Sedum and a Bleeding Heart. Can I divide them now.

This is perfect weather for dividing perennials but your Autumn Sedum is in bloom so that one should be divided in the spring. The Bleeding Heart is a spring blooming perennial so can certainly be cut back and divided now.