Ask John!

John loves hearing from customers and do they love to ask him questions! That’s why we started the Ask John! column.   Each conversation features an actual question submitted from someone like you!   Here are some questions from our our walk in customers and newsletter readers:

Have a garden related question? Email us:


The Garden Show Sunday Mornings
With John and Mike
AM 660 KAPS • 10:30 am

FM 102.1 KAPS • 10:30 a.m.

John at KAPS


Q: Hi John, Recently I had a red puffy rash on my face after pulling weeds. My doctor said a man was hospitalized for handling the same plant I did. It looks like a rhododendron leaf, bright green, shiny, has a long tap root and is difficult to pull out. Do you know the name of this noxious plant? -Marci

A: Dear Marci, I honestly can’t think of any shrubs causing dermal toxicity. By your description, it sounds like Daphne Laureola: similar leaves and taproot. In absence of seeing the flower or bringing in a leaf it is hard to guess what it is.

I would consider bringing a sample to WSU Research Extension near the airport. Maybe they can identify it for you.

Let us know what you find out.


Thank you, John! I googled  and it looks like the plant I have. -Marci


Q: John,  Snails..  they just seem to love my Hosta’s, well not just the Hosta’s.   Please tell me how to keep snails at bay or even get rid of them.  Currently I have a band of copper around them and have been using Sluggo.  The issue I have with the Sluggo is that a crow keeps eating it.

I’d sure appreciate your solutions.

Thank you in advance, Trish



A: Hello Trish, What you are doing is effective.  It is pretty hard to beat that combination.  Aside from putting on gloves and hand picking (probably) hundreds of mollusks would be to try Cory’s (molluscicide) with Sodium Ferric EDTA.  If that still doesn’t work, the final (off the shelf) step would be to use Deadline (mini pellets) containing Metaldehyde.  Happy trails,  John.


Today’s “Ask John” question from a call-in customer:

Q: Hi John, I planted this tree last summer. It was leafed out and appeared healthy last year. It grew buds earlier this spring but now the buds look like they are getting hard and dying?  Just noticed recently that the trunk color turned brown about one foot from the ground?

Any thoughts on what is going on?

Thanks, Steve


A: Dear Steve, It is a Striped Maple tree. The young bark will always be striped and then it fades as it matures. The discolor on the trunk may be due to transition from young to mature bark.  I am questioning if the tree has a canker (fungal disease caused by stress). If you see spores on it that is a clue.  I suggest that you prune back the branch that looks affected to control potential disease.  There are no sprays or chemicals to control the fungi that cause the disease.

Best, John


Q:Hi John,  I have a shady spot leading up to my front door and need advice on what to plant there.  The soil is wet and soggy.  What do you suggest?  Love your nursery!   -Nora, La Conner, WA
A:  A couple of shade and wet plants that would do well in your spot are hostas and sarcococca.  Hostas are most attractive from spring to fall, but no winter interest.  Sarcococca can take wet but not puddling.  They are a broad leaf evergreen with great winter-blooming fragrant flowers.  -John



Q: Hi John,  Ack!  What’s going on with my shrub? It was healthy last year and slowly over the winter this flagging to occur.  Should we tear it out or can you suggest a method to revive it? -Tiffany, Bow, WA


A: Your Boulevard Cypress could be flagging which occurs mostly to older needles and usually affects just the interior. Wait for new growth, then cut back the brown needles until it reaches new, green growth. If the brown needles go to the tip, you may have to remove the whole branch!
Regards, John






Our customers have the best ideas (thanks Terra)!! Send us your question along with an image of your plant to get a super accurate answer from John. Take a look:

Q: Hi John, I bought this rose Owl Eye a climbing rose several years ago before I knew that you shouldn’t bury the graft junction. The majority of these canes look very straight like suckers and I wonder if you can tell by the photo if the canes are rootstock canes?
Thank you~Jeanne


A: Hello Jeanne.  The canes look like they are the original Owl Eye. The absence of the thorniness of typical rootstock is a clue.  Be careful to not over prune your climber, the flowers only emerge from the previous years wood. Now is a good time to fertilize to ensure more blossoms.  Sincerely,  John Christianson



Q:  I’m looking for an evergreen plant, bush or vine that can be used to create privacy on a back porch.  It needs to be in a pot and reach at least 5 feet tall.  Any ideas? -Jennifer, Anacortes, WA

A:   Here are some ideas for your pots:  Espaliered Euonymus, Camellia, Laurus nobilis (Bay), Evergreen clematis: Armandii or Avalanche.  These will stay a nice size for potting and create the privacy you want.  All of these are available at the Nursery.



Q:  Do you offer a beginner gardening class this summer? -Customer in Garden Store

A: Yes!  We have a Saturday class on June 3 at 1:00 p.m. with Cyndi Stuart from The Roost at Roddy Creek.  Cyndi’s high energy will rub off on you as she teaches how to start veggies from seed or plant starts and how to get your ground ready for a successful first season of growing your own harvest.  See our class calendar at: