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Consumer Q's: Caring for a 'dancing bones' cactus
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    Question: I occasionally catch the "Pick, Cook, Keep" spots on television about Georgia Grown crops. Are they viewable online?
    Answer: The 33 episodes of "Pick, Cook, Keep" can be viewed by visiting the Georgia Public Broadcasting website at www.gpb.org/pick-cook-keep/episodes. You'll get information about honey, greens, tomatoes, beans, apples and other Georgia commodities along with recipes and instructions on how to use them.
    
    Q: I saw a huge caterpillar in early October in Conyers. It was at least 6 inches long and an inch in diameter.  It was reddish brown and had some pale green spots on its side.  It had some horn-like things on it and some hair. Do you know what kind of caterpillar it is? Is it harmful?
    A: From your description it sounds like the caterpillar of the imperial moth, one of our largest and most beautiful insects. There are brown and green forms of its caterpillar. Yours appears to be the brown form. The caterpillar is neither poisonous nor harmful. It does not damage crops or gardens. Caterpillars of the imperial moth will feed on a wide range of host plants including pines, oaks, box elder, maples, sweet gum and sassafras. The adult moths do not feed. They are quite large, sometimes with a wingspan exceeding 6 inches. They are yellow and purplish brown. If you are ever fortunate enough to see one, you will be amazed at its size and beauty.

    Q: Someone gave me a dancing bones cactus. What can you tell me about it?
    A: Dancing bones cactus (Rhipsalis salicornioides, formerly Hatiora salicornioides) is not a desert cactus but is an epiphytic one like the more familiar Thanksgiving and Christmas cactuses. It is native to the forests of Brazil. It is an interesting, easy-to-grow houseplant. Ordinary potting soil that is well-drained and a window facing south, east or west will suit it fine. Allow it to dry out between waterings.
    Dancing bones cactus has small yellow flowers that fade to salmon. It is grown mostly for its overall appearance, not the flowers. Older stems on mature specimens can become woody and make the cactus look like a pseudo-bonsai. It would be an excellent choice to train to look like a miniature, multi-trunked tree in a large bonsai pot.
    The cactus gets its name from its jointed stem segments. These segments can resemble little bottles and provide the plant's other colorful and alliterative name, "drunkard's dream."

    Q: Are dwarf pomegranates edible?
    A: Technically, yes. However, the shrub is grown more for its ornamental qualities such as the attractive small fruits, bright scarlet flowers and waxy buds. The fruits are generally quite sour and too small to be worth the effort. 

    If you have questions about services or products regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, write Arty Schronce (arty.schronce@agr.georgia.gov) or visit the department's website at www.agr.georgia.gov.

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