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Garden Solutions: How to deal with centipedes

I found a centipede in a houseplant we have had for many years. It was common to find centipedes indoors when I lived on the East Coast, but I didn’t think we had to worry about them in Arizona. Where did it come from, and how do I prevent them from coming back?

The house centipede, Scutigera coleoptrata, is native to the Mediterranean region but can be found in homes throughout the U.S. It hides in dark, damp locations and is known to set up shop in houseplants. Although mildly venomous, house centipedes are not considered dangerous because of their reclusive ways. Your centipede may have been living in that plant for a long time, sneaking out at night to hunt insects and spiders. It’s difficult to say exactly how the centipede found its way into your home, but you can make conditions less hospitable to them by removing any dead leaves from the pot and letting the soil dry out more between watering.

My dog dug up a passion vine that we transplanted last October. I put the plant back in the hole as soon as I found it uprooted, but it may have been out of the ground for a few days. Does it have any chance of surviving?

As long as the plant wasn’t completely dried out and dead before you got it back into the soil and put some water on it, your vine may survive. If the stems are green and flexible, the plant is still alive. If stems are dry and snap easily, they are dead. Passion vine growth typically slows during winter months, so you may not see any new leaves and stems until the days start getting a bit longer. In the meantime, do not let the roots dry out, and consider putting up a temporary barrier to keep your curious pooch from digging the vine up again.

What’s the best type of living Christmas tree that we can eventually relocate into our Carefree landscape?

There are two types of pines that do very well in Sonoran Desert landscapes: Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) and Afghan pine (Pinus eldarica), and both can serve as living Christmas trees. Young Aleppos have a classic Christmas tree shape, but as they mature they take on a more rounded form, eventually reaching 50 feet high and 40 feet wide. Afghan pines are often marketed as living Christmas trees and survive the transition from indoors to outdoors after the holidays. Afghan pines grow as tall as Aleppo pines but only spread to about 25 feet. Both species are native to very sunny locations, so don’t plan keep your tree indoors for more than 7 to 10 days, as prolonged low-light conditions will stress it out and may kill it.


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