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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - October 27, 2006

From: Oneonta, AL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Varieties of lupines that will grow in Zone 7, Alabama
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I have just found you and read 500 plus questions, fascinated. My question concerns plants in Alabama, is there a variety of lupine that will grow is zone 7, sun or shade? Also, we purchased acreage that had been farmed and is very loamy we have abundant VOLES. Do you have any suggestion on how to get rid of them? We have used moth balls, have mixed castor oil with kitty litter. It seems that there are less but would like to make sure they travel far. The have cut some plants off at the base. Thanks for such a great site.

ANSWER:

Thank you for the kind words about our site.

Sundial Lupine (Lupinus perennis) is your best bet for Alabama and Hardiness Zone 7. There are three other species—Skyblue Lupine (L. cumulicola), Skyblue Lupine (L. diffusus), and Lady Lupine (L. villosus)—that grow in Alabama but they are more suited to Hardiness Zone 8 and above and would be marginal in Zone 7.

Do you have voles (Microtus spp.) or moles (Scalopus spp.)?

If you have voles, they like other rodents (such as rats and mice) need four conditions to be met to succeed: an abundance of food, ready availability of water, good shelter, and limited pressure from predators. If those four conditions are favorable, little can be done to limit their populations. However, changes in any one of the "big four" conditions that are unfavorable to rodents will soon reduce populations. Limiting their shelter areas is usually the most effective method of controlling their numbers. The University of California Davis Integrated Pest Management in their article, "Pests in Gardens and Landscaptes: Voles (Meadow Mice", offers more suggestions for controlling voles.

Moles are insectivores and do not feed on plants but can damage plants by tunneling through the roots and disrupting them. About the only effective way to control moles is by trapping them. Ohio State University Extension has an article, "Effective Mole Control", with more information and suggestions.

 

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