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Garden Doctor

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July 28, 1985

Q: What causes some sweet peas to develop a curled, puckered look? --R.T., Temple City

A: Mosaic virus diseases often cause such symptoms. Because growth of veins within the tissue of the petals is retarded, they curl and pucker. Remove the infected plants as soon as you can, because insects transmit such diseases easily from one plant to another.

Q: I have been getting a number of suggestions concerning azalea care. In your opinion, what rules should I follow when feeding azaleas? My fertilizer was especially formulated for them. --S.H., La Canada A: Frequent, light feedings throughout the growing season help. Always water thoroughly a day or two before feeding. Also water after feeding to make sure that the plant food penetrates the entire root zone.

Q: Our St. Augustine grass has brown dry spots over much of the area that gets the most sun. What causes this?

--W.D., Monrovia \f7 A: The Southern chinch bug has now spread through much of Southern California and causes the damage you have described. The pest is an insect about an eighth of an inch long, with a black body and white wings. It can be controlled with Diazinon.

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