In this issue:
• Clipper guide for weeping cherry
on a bad hair day
• Make the most of it when you divide that
• Recognize the signs, fruitless plant
• Help for winter-burned evergreens
• Yuccas cut back like cheese
• Preventing construction damage to a
• Not as cold as you think: Put those
• Stop tree hackers: Check tree removal crew
Suckers at the root of weeping cherry's wild look
Dear Janet & Steven,
I've pruned my weeping cherry regularly but it's still
wild-looking. There are straight pieces sticking up like a bad hair
day. What can I do to make it weep like it should? - W.W. -
Trace each straight piece back to its origin and cut it off
there. They are suckers that are guided by the genes of the roots
or the straight trunk below the graft. You've probably cut them in
part but haven't removed them.
Once all the suckers are gone, stand back, take a look at what's
left and start a three-year plan to gradually improve its
Dividing a hosta
Dear Janet & Steven,
Is it too early to divide hostas? How small can I divide
them? - K.T. -
If you can dig them, you can divide them. Split each in four and
replant just one quarter in place of the original. Refresh the soil
with compost in a volume equal to the ousted three-quarters.
Now divide the remainder as small as you like. Each eye, with
its roots, makes a whole new clump, sooner than you think. Those
little pieces are also much easier to plant among tree roots where
you may need groundcover.
Plant jealousy says
"Hello" from San Bernadino...
...where we're thinking we just shouldn't travel any more to new
places. We return from each trip coveting at least one new plant we
northerners shouldn't even try to grow. It's so silly since we
haven't even learned how to grow all the true Great Lakes plants
Bleached or scorched tips
on your evergreens?
Boxwood, holly, rhododendron, azalea, euonymus, pieris, yucca
and even some yews did burn this winter from cold and wind. You can
green them up by cutting off every discolored leaf or just the
burned portions of each blade. Although that last option is simple
on a yucca it's hours of work on a boxwood.
A quicker option is to cut whole branches back to below the
damage, even to bare, leafless wood. All of the plants listed here,
if otherwise healthy, will develop new shoots with fresh green
within four or five weeks of a spring cut.
If you must cut back to bare wood, do so then step back to
assess the overall situation. Replacement growth will come from
just below the cuts so take this chance to shape the plant's
comeback. If you want the shrub to be round-topped, make the cut
limbs describe a dome, too. If the plant had been showing ugly
ankles -- leaflessness in its lower parts -- then cut some limbs
shorter than others so it will now have multiple levels of
A yucca is an evergreen with branches below ground. Cutting it
back in spring to refresh its looks can mean razing it at ground
level. You can cut it by hand or wrap a strong, thin rope around
its base, then pull that with your lawn tractor or car to slice
through it like a string cuts cheese.
Warn away onlookers since in this process a snapped rope can be
Did you say
"build," "remodel" or "add on?"
Guard your landscape while that construction is underway. We
developed a checklist for preventing construction damage to show
you how to and guide your building contractor to save all you can
of your landscape. You can bring that guide out of its place in the
queue and onto this site right now. Sponsor us, and tell us in your
sponsorship email that preventing construction damage is the topic
you're interested in!
Green thumbs up
to putting some houseplants outdoors now. If it feels cramped
indoors after a long winter at close quarters and your family's
browsing catalogs for machetes, push your hardiest greenery out the
door. Check each plant's cold tolerance in a houseplant book. On a
warm day recently we hustled our 30-inch jade (okay to 40 degrees),
bushel-size rosemary (25 degrees), hip-high bay tree (25 degrees)
and monstrous aloe (30 degrees) onto the shaded porch to begin
their gradual reacclimation. We can recall them if real cold
threatens. Meanwhile we have room for dinner guests. Or to acquire
to tree hackers who focus on speed alone as they take down dead
trees. All the work associated with our ash tree disaster (emerald
ash borer) attracts this sorry crowd. It has lured people from
other States and professions, many unskilled in
arboriculture. As these people move through our landscape they are
leaving wakes of permanently disfigured and critically injured
bystander trees. We can't afford to lose more trees.
Check your tree cutting candidates' credentials and references
to hire a responsible arborist who knows how to remove one tree
without smashing trunks, limbs and roots of remainder trees.
Originally published 4/3/04