I am happy to report that more readers are emailing me with questions. I love it. When I don't know the answers I research until I find the best information to share with you.

Several readers have asked about watering their orchids by simply placing ice cubes on the growing medium once a week. This is not a simple question. Wild orchids certainly don't get their water this way. The orchids that you purchase are hybrids of course and not found in the wild. Where did this ice idea come from? The "Add Ice Method" was developed in a growing facility in Oberlin Ohio and was created for consumers who want to water easily on a schedule. If you purchase an orchid with directions saying to use ice this means it was grown at this facility. Ice may work for you. Most orchids purchased by non-specialists are Phalaenopsis (moth orchids) which are tropical. They sure don't get ice on their roots in the tropics! But the temperature still varies a bit over the seasons which it doesn't in our homes. If you have an orchid that is healthy but refuses to rebloom after a year you can try ice because orchids frequently need a drop in temperature to rebloom. Part of the pleasure in growing orchids is experimentation!

I love this question: Carol Ann, is it possible to plant a garden for a person that has severe nasal allergies? The answer is "No and yes!" The pollens that cause most allergies (such as grass and tree pollen) are carried by the wind and can drift over large distances (hundreds of miles in some cases!) so you can't escape. However on your own property you can try growing certain trees that are female. This requires some explaining.... Some tree species are dioecious meaning they are either male or female. Examples include gingko, ash, box elder, cedar, cottonwood,juniper,mulberry, poplar, and willows. If you have ever experienced the cottony fruit of the cottonwoods that float through the air and get stuck on your screens you understand why the female trees are unpopular with many people. If you have ever smelled "nature's stink bomb",the fruit of the gingko tree you may also understand why many people grow male trees. But it is the male trees that produce the pollen!

Pollen shedding is a seasonal phenomenon. Tree pollen is generally shed in early spring, grasses in June, and ragweed in autumn. Knowing this can help an allergic person plan ahead. It is best to go outside right after it rains because the air has been "washed." Change and wash your clothes after going outside to minimize bringing pollen indoors. And then you may be lucky like me.... I have turned from any itchy sneezy person to a person who is now tolerant of almost everything. I knew growing older had its benefits!

Is there anywhere in western New York where you can buy ladybugs? Not that I know about. You can order ladybugs online but I wouldn't bother. The benefits of introducing ladybugs to your garden are negligible. When ladybugs are released into gardens they don't stay in one place but spread out and go where they can eat. In addition,ladybugs are harvested from the wild, usually in California. Their sites are secret and those who harvest them do not share the ladybugs whereabouts with other people. It is a serious business that takes ladybugs away from their natural environment! Instead please consider green lacewings. Plant cosmos, sunflowers, coreopsis, and plants that have umbel flowers such as dill, parsley, and many herbs to attract them to your garden. Green lacewing females lay eggs.

Forever Young Magazine - March 2013