Thoughts are turning toward tomatoes. Flowering plants in the yard also demand attention.

Q. About 10 days ago, I purchased a four pack of small tomato plants. I repotted them in larger containers because I was not going to put them in the garden for more than two weeks.

Tuesday, I noticed two of the plants have a yellow bloom. Should I remove the bloom or leave it alone? They are, of course, much too young and small to begin producing.

— D.M., Lynchburg

A. Your plants must have suffered through some kind of stress that made them go into reproductive mode prematurely. Removing the blooms and any flower buds on the tomatoes will help get them back into a vegetative growth pattern to prepare for a later flowering date.

Q. When is the proper time to prune tall nandinas?

— D.K., Lynchburg

A. Early spring is preferred because fresh new leaves soon will cover the nandinas’ bare stalks. Other times of year also are suitable.

Q. I have got black crusty mold on my azalea and I was wondering if there is something that I could spray on it to get rid of it.

— L.S., Lynchburg

A. Your azalea stems are covered in lichen. This primitive plant often seen on rocks and tree trunks also proliferates on the branches of azaleas and boxwoods when they are affected by unfavorable environmental conditions. There is no spray that controls lichens growth on shrubbery. Making your azaleas more vigorous by fertilizing, pruning and applying aluminum sulfate to acidify their soil should discourage the lichen.

Q. I have what I assume is a fungus growing on the remainder of the pile of leaves the city delivered in December. I am planning to carefully put the fungus in plastic bags for the garbage but I am wondering how far down I need to go to get rid of potential spores. Is there anyway to visually determine this? And what about spores moving around once I place the leaves in the garden or compost pile? Could they become airborne from there? Given what’s going on, this is ironic if I’m going to have to wear a mask even when I am working in my yard.

— K.T., Lynchburg

A. Fungal spores definitely are throughout the pile of leaves. Although you may or may not see them going airborne, it is good to wear a N95 mask while moving the leaf pile. Once you place the leaves in their final resting spot you can remove the mask. There could be spores released from your compost pile at certain times of year but you probably will not notice them.

Q. My redbud tree has some unusual blooms I have never seen before. Have you?

— T.M., Appomattox

A. Your photo shows the tree’s trunks almost solid with purple color. Large clusters of blooms sprouting from the bark have a beautiful effect. My redbud has some of the same clusters but not the huge number yours has.

Don Davis is a retired Virginia Cooperative Extension agent. He can be reached at

Don Davis is a retired Virginia Cooperative Extension agent. He can be reached at

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