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Welcome to Garden Gate's weekly newsletter. Here you'll find information you can use right away to make your garden bloom better, produce more and easier to take care of. We'll share our favorite plants and combos, pests you should be on the lookout for this season, as well as exclusive planting plans and product recommendations.

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July 2007

Starflower

Once starflower starts to bloom, nothing stops it until frost. Like many butterfly plants, this one prefers, in fact needs, heat to bloom its best. So there’s no point setting it out into your garden until all danger of frost is past.

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Quackgrass

This rough-looking perennial grass grows 1 to 3 feet tall in clumps or mats. Quackgrass, or “couch-grass,” emerges from hairy roots into slender stems that are separated into little joints every few inches.

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Raccoons

Nothing irks a bird-lover more than having the seed in carefully erected bird feeders raided by raccoons! Mounting baffles on the supporting posts is a good way to thwart these unwanted visitors, and you can make as many as you need for around $10 each.

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Tobacco hornworm

These 3- to 5-inch-long giants of the caterpillar world have a large harmless spike, or horn, on their tails. Their green color blends into the foliage of tomato and tobacco plants, some of their favorite foods.

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Video: Watering hanging plants

If you live where it’s hot and dry, you’re probably spending lots of time watering, especially if you have containers. Here are some tips and a tool to help make that task easier and more enjoyable.

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Pepperweed

If you crush or bite into a pepperweed seed pod, you’ll know where it gets its name. It has a definite pungent scent and taste. A biennial, pepperweed sprouts in the fall and spends the winter as a small rosette of leaves.

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Spider mites

Plants stressed from too little water can be in double jeopardy. First, lack of water weakens plants. Second, once they’re not healthy, they’re more susceptible to other problems.

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Hosta ‘June’

You’ll never get bored with this beautiful hosta. Leaf centers are chartreuse in spring then change to a creamy yellow by summer. The color varies depending on the amount of light available — you’ll get the best color by growing ‘June’ in morning sun and afternoon shade.

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Powdery mildew

In mid- to late summer, you may notice a gray-white film on a plant, and the plant may begin to lose leaves. The culprit is powdery mildew. You’re most likely to see this problem on roses, phlox, zinnias, bee balm and lilacs.

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