Garden Doctors: Trouble with earwigs

A reader asks: Do you have any helpful hints to dispose of earwigs or have them go elsewhere?|

Kathy R. from Windsor asks: Earwigs are a problem in my vegetable garden. Do you have any helpful hints to dispose of them or have them go elsewhere?

Try this: Roll up several thicknesses of dampened newspaper with a little oatmeal or corn meal lined along the inside. Place it next to your trouble spots. The next day, discard the newspaper in the trash, or submerge the newspaper rolls into a bucket of hot water. You’ll have to do this every night, which is a pain, but after a week or so, you’ll cut down quite a bit of the population. If you feel you’re losing the war on earwigs, you can take some comfort knowing that they have a beneficial side, too. They like to eat aphids, caterpillars, fruit worms, spider mites, and thrips.


Jennifer Y from Santa Rosa asks: Do I need to remove the dead flowers from my azaleas and rhododendrons after they’re flowered, or no?

Yes, you should. Deadhead your azaleas and rhododendrons once they’ve finished blooming. An estimated 70% of a rhododendron’s energy goes into the formation of seed. Use a whisk broom to lightly dislodge the dead blooms of azaleas. Use pruners, or your two fingers to remove the spent flowers of the rhododendrons and cut just above the two new leaflets.


Anna P. of Windsor asks: What can I do with my spent tulip bed? They look beautiful when they’re in bloom, and then after that, I’m looking at unsightly, browning foliage. I planted them last fall, so this is their first year blooming.

Plant lots of summer-blooming, color annuals in between the browning foliage. With an assortment of heights, the annuals will cover up the old foliage. Don’t cut the foliage off until it’s pretty dried up. The bulbs need the nutrients from the foliage to feed them for the next year. If you want, you could roll up the foliage and tie it in a loose knot so it will be less visible.

You could carefully also dig them up. Without harming the bulbs, you can dig them up and leave them in a holding bed, in a shaded area, until the leaves all die back. Then simply sort out the bulbs, keeping the larger sized ones, and store them in mesh bags in a cool dark place with good air circulation. Replant them in the fall.


Colleen A of Santa Rosa asks: Every so often, a shoot from one of my plants, in this case, a rose bush, grows in a very distorted way... like someone flattened it out with a roller. The shoot is thick and very odd looking. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it’s quite noticeable. Why does the plant do this and is there a name for it?

Fasciation is one of the most unusual-looking disorders gardeners commonly see on plants. This strange phenomenon affects a wide variety of plants. The stems usually become enlarged and flattened, often developing a ribbed look. The flower stems can also be affected, although it’s less common, with the flowers and buds developing on the distorted, flattened stems.

It is thought that fasciation results from unusual activity in the growing tip. This could be caused by insect, disease, frost, or mechanical damage. It’s also possible that viral or other infection could be the cause.

Although fasciation looks rather strange, it is harmless and will not affect the vigor or health of the plant. If you think it’s unsightly, then just prune out the affected stems back to normal growth. There’s no guarantee that other shoots will not be affected.

Dana Lozano and Gwen Kilchherr are garden consultants. Send your gardening questions to The Garden Doctors, at The Garden Doctors can answer questions only through their column, which appears twice a month in the newspaper and online at

UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:

  • This is a family newspaper, please use a kind and respectful tone.
  • No profanity, hate speech or personal attacks. No off-topic remarks.
  • No disinformation about current events.
  • We will remove any comments — or commenters — that do not follow this commenting policy.