Saturday, April 26, 2008

Garden Clubs?

There are so many plants in my yard, I have no idea what a lot of them are. I had dead looking sticks which have now produced leaves. Some are a reddish orange color and some are large leafy green. I have what I think are some type of laurel on the side of my garage and in my back yard. One type, the new leaves are red and the other stays green. Each day I look for more plants to pop up. It's GREAT!! I am now planting an herb garden. I am a novice gardener but I love it and want to learn more. I love to watch the plants grow and take care of the yard. Are there any gardening clubs in Greensboro ( Green Valley Area) I could join that would help me learn the plants of NC and how to take care of them ???

Anne's response:

There are lots of good garden clubs in Greensboro and there is a Greensboro Council of Garden Clubs. Check the telephone book or the internet for an address and telephone number.

Toppping Trees

I see my neighbors cutting the whole tops off of the large trees in their yards. What is this kind of tree that can take such MAJOR pruning? I live in Hickory , North Carolina.

Anne's response:

I usually call them ugly and likely to cause a lot of problem. This is not a good practice – topping trees used to be common to reduce problems in ice storms but no good arborist recommends it anymore.

Replanting Camellias

We also have a lot of Camila's. The leaves have silvery dry patches on them and I noticed that they we not planted deeply. I could see the original root ball on top of the soil and the plant is leaning to one side. One main truck looked split and rotting. Should I dig them up and try to re plant them??

Anne's response:

I would not try to replant a camellia that has been in the ground for several years. One method to improve the situation is to mix some native soil with composted leaves and composted manure. Cover the area around the plant with the mixture to bring the surrounding soil up to the level of the original rootball. You could try staking the plant to return it to an upright position.

Yellow Holly Leaves

We recently bought a home in Greensboro (we moved here from Maryland)and our yard is nicely landscaped but was not taken care of by previous owners. The bushes were overgrown with a lot of dead branches, black spot and packed with dead leaves. I cut back the bushes and trees in early spring and cleaned out the dead leaves and branches. My holly trees are now in bloom but I have noticed a lot of yellow leaves. I fertilized them with Acid fertilizer in early spring. What should I do to treat the trees?

Anne's response:

The yellow leaves are the natural aging signs of a plant. Expect about 1/3 of the leaves to turn yellow and fall off. As long as new growth appears, the plant is healthy. You fertilized the plants at the proper time of year.

Dividing Peonies

I saw something that peony's do not like to be replanted. Well, I have a large bush of them, and now several neighbors would like to have starts from them. How do I go about digging them up. I did tell them I could not do it before December. This is when I cut them back for the winter. Should I leave maybe 4" to 6" growth on them and then cut from the outside in? Or do you have some suggestions, about where the cuttings should come from. The bottom of the bush is about 3' in diameter. They have been growing steadily for the last 20 years, without any trim back.

Anne's response:

Peony plants do not like to be disturbed. If they are to be divided the best time to do it is in September as the foliage begins to die down. Remove the soil around the plant carefully to determine where the tuberous roots are and then dig the entire clump very carefully. You want to do as little damage as possible to the tubers. Use a clean knife to separate the sections of the plant and allow the wounds to heal over before replanting them.

Transplanting a Pineapple Plant

Hi Anne,
How do you transplant a pineapple plant? These two plants are from the tops of pineapple that a lady at work gave me two years ago and told me to plant them. I did. Now they are doing really well but they are planted in buckets that held bubble gum in bulk. The buckets are cracking from age, the plants are two this summer. But they are approx 2-3 feet wide and around and have long pointy sharp fonds/leaves. How do I safely, properly transplant them?

Anne's response:

Most pineapples grow well for two years and then start to decline. They should produce fruit one year from planting, produce the second fruit and then start to decline in vigor. If you want to try to keep them alive and transplant them, find a container at least 6 inches wider than the one they are in. Remove the plant from its current container – wrapping the plant with a piece of canvas or other sturdy fabric that will allow you to work with the plant. Place enough soil in the bottom of the container to support the current root system. Place the plant on top of the soil and fill in around the root ball.

Gem Magnolia Root Growth

I am considering planting an espaliered Little Gem Magnolia and want to know the expected root growth, space is limited.

Anne's response:

You can expect the roots of a plant to extend about the diameter of the width of the plant. If the plant is 20 feet wide you can expect the roots to extend 40 feet from the trunk of the tree.

Camellia Losing Leaves

We have a 75 yr. old japonica camellia tree that is at least 20 ft. tall. It is covered with small pink flowers late fall that last for 2 months. It is a gorgeous tree. Lately it is losing an abundance of leaves that have turned yellow. This happens annually but many more leaves are falling this year. Should we be fertilizing the tree? Is there a problem that we should be addressing at this time of year or at any time in order to lessen the number of leaves that are lost?

Anne's response:


The yellow leaves on your camellia are the natural aging of a camellia plant. You can expect to lose about 30% of the leaves each year. When plants are under the stress of drought and high temperatures, as many of them were last year, there may be a larger than normal leaf loss. Camellias do benefit from an occasional application of fertilizer. Organic products such as cottonseed meal or Espoma Hollytone work well as they provide soil nutrients over an extended period of time. The ideal time to apply fertilizer is April as new growth appears.

Planting Hen&Biddies

I wanted to plant some hen & biddies in a strawberry planter. How do I go about it? I tried putting potting soil in the planters but I lose quite a bit of it through the holes. I thought if I filled the planters with soil then I could stick the hen & biddies in the holes. I don't think I'm doing something right. Can you help me?

Anne's response:

Put soil in the bottom of the strawberry jar to the level of the first row of openings. Put the sedum in the openings and press soil around the new plant. Water the plants to compact the soil. Add more soil to the jar to come up to the next row of openings, plant those openings and continue the process to the top of the jar.

Keep or Remove Leyland Cypress?

Hi Anne,

I have a staggered row of green giant arborvitae as a privacy border which I planted last fall and they are doing very well. I recently purchased two leyland cypress and planted them next to the green giants. My question is, since Leyland cypress are prone to certain diseases, can they transmit this disease to the green giants? Right now the Leylands are healthy. Should I remove the Leylands and replace them with Green giants? Thanks for your help.

Anne's response:

Many Leyland Cypress will live without any problems. I would not make any changes until you have a problem.

KiIling Pompas Grass

Could you please tell me if there is anything I can put on Pompas Grass to kill it? Would Roundup even help? Thanks.

Anne's response:

Pampas Grass can be killed with Roundup or with any weed killer labeled for use on grasses. It is usually effective when new growth is at least 10 inches tall.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Flowering Bushes

Hello Anne,

I'd like to get your recommendation on which type of flowering bushes I should consider planting in my front yard. Currently, everything in my front yard is green, and I'd like to add some bushes that flower often with a color other than green. My local gardening store recommended Loropetulum's, and I wanted to get your thoughts about this. Since I'm not a very diligent waterer, I'd like to get something that is virtually maintenance free; also I'd like a bush that the deer won't like to snack on.

The designated areas in my yard get morning shade, and full afternoon sun. I'd like to get bushes that will grow to about four feet in height and three to four feet in width. Also, please let me know what type of nutrients/soil I should plant these with.

Thanks very much for your help, and I enjoy your show on News14.! Ed

Anne's response:

You might consider some variegated foliage plants and plants with yellow or red foliage. I like Gold Mop Chamaecyparis, Girard's Rainbow Leucothoe, Japanese Aucuba (for shady areas), variegated hollies. One problem with the purple lorpetumum is that it grows to be a much larger plant than people expect and it is hard to keep it pruned as a small shrub.

Questions About Many Plants

My wife and I listened to you and Mike on Saturday mornings on 680 WPTF and we enjoyed your show very much. We have now moved to the Lynchburg VA area (6/05) with more country spaces. I would like to ask you regarding: fertilizing, pruning, disease control, and watering on the following: Nellie Stevens Holly Golden Arborvitae Forsythia Jane Lew Magnolia Flowering Cherry (Kwanzan) Hydrangea

Thanks Ann

Anne's response:

I am one of those gardeners who believes in leaving the watering of established shrubs to Mother Nature. During a very dry, hot summer I might water an hydrangea if it is still wilted first thing in the morning. (they should recover overnight.)

All of the plants mentioned can be fertilized as new growth begins in the spring.

I prune forsythia by removing the oldest canes at ground level after they bloom in the spring. You can remove 1/3 of the canes without damaging the plant. This allows new growth to form and maintain the flowing plant form.

Prune Nellie Stevens before new growth forms in the spring. Prune the Kwanzan after it blooms. The others can be pruned in late February to removed damaged limbs, limbs that rob against others and small limbs that grow out underneath the larger limbs.

Brown Gardenia Blossoms

Dear Anne,
I have a large gardenia bush which usually has an almost uncountable number of blossoms. I notice that presently (mid April) the blossoms which are developing are turning brown.) Can you suggest a reason? Incidentally, about six feet from the plant is a large camellia bush. It had many buds this year and some developed into flowers, but many of the large buds just fell off the bush (tree.) Any relationship of the two problems? I have done nothing different this spring from other years, I don't think. Thanks in advance for your help.
Esther, Sacramento, CA

Anne's response:

On the gardenia check the stems and trunk of the plant for an enlarged growth or canker. I do not know what you could use to correct that problem. The only control I know of is to prune out the infected portions of the plant and clean off the clippers with alcohol between cuts. Brown buds can also be caused by a light frost or by a Botrytis fungus. The control of the botrytis is to remove all infected buds and destroy them. Bud drop is often caused when it is too warm, too dry or there is insufficient light.

Camellias often "blast" buds. Camellia bud drop in California is often caused by lack of sufficient moisture - both in the soil and in the air. A severe frost in September or October produces bud drop. An irregular water supply also causes the problem

Milky Substance on Plants


My Carissa Hollies have some milky looking stuff on the top of the leaves and I believe on the stems. This is the second season I have noticed this and they also have thinned out and do not look as full. Do you know what this could be and how to treat?


Anne's response

I think you may have an infestation of the scale insect on the plants. At one point it does look white and milky and you may notice some of the spots moving around a bit. One method of control is to use a horticultural oil spray on the leaves (front and back) and stems of the plant. Read the directions on the product very carefully as some products cannot be used in hot weather.

Transplanting Chinese Privets

Dear Ann,
I always enjoy your advice and knowledge. I have 2 Chinese Privets, I would like to transplant, if possible. They are currently about 4 feet tall(after a very severe punning last year)and at least 8 years old. What time of year is best for trying this? Or will I just be wasting my time? The location I want to move them to gets morning sun and I need to try and create some privacy in my back yard. Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions! Deb

Anne's response

It is possible to move privet in the fall without harm to the plant. The problem you will have is that the rootball of a 4-foot plant will be quite large - heavy and awkward to move. Privet are quite easy to root. When the new spring growth this year hardens to the point you can break the stem cut 6 inches off the end of the branches and root them in a medium of half sand and half peatmoss. The container of cuttings should be kept in an area with good light but out of full sun. You may be able to "tuck them under" the parent plants. You will need to keep the cuttings moist until they root which will probably be 4 to 6 weeks.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

No blooms on Kwanzan Cherry

I purchased a Kwanzan Cherry tree last spring from Lowes. It had a couple of blooms last spring, but not very many. This year the tree has not bloomed at all. The tree already has lots of leaves, but no blooms. I have seen several other Kwanzan trees in the Raleigh area that are already blooming, and I have read that Kwanzans bloom from mid to late April. Is it possible for my Kwanzan Cherry to still bloom this year? Do Kwanzan Cherries normally get their leaves before the bloom? If the tree isn't blooming, what might the problem be?

Heather K.

Anne's response

Kwanzan cherries bloom early in the spring then develop their leaves. It is not unusual for a newly planted tree not to bloom the year after it is planted. It has used its energy to produce a root system. Also, plants were under stree during the heat and drought last summer. If the tree had very few blooms when you purchased the plant it may be very young or it be a plant that with a genetic trait of sparse blooms.

Caladiums in Red Clay

Hello Anne-

I have been trying to get answer on what to do about this red (clay) dirt that I have in my yard. I'm a new to gardening and I would like to plant some Caladiums and Hosta, but it seems to be impossible with this dirt. What kind of flowers do you suggest for me to plant in a sunny yard with no trees around, and do I need to use mulch with any plants. Thank you for any help that you can give me.

Anne's response

Caladiums and Hosta are plants the love to grow in the shade so if you wish to grow them you will need trees to provide that shade. Red clay soil has wonderful mineral content for plants and it holds moisture but it does need to be amended with composted organic material such as manure and leaf mulch. You till the ground to a depth of at least 8 inches, add a 6 inch layer of organic material on top and till that in. You are then able to grow roses, daylilies, chrysanthemums, Shasta daisies, iris, asters, phlox and even tomato plants.

Good Spot for Magnolia Jane?


I just purchased two Magnolia Jane trees. I have two planting areas which are attached to my brick home. Each runs 7ft across the front of my home and 12ft out from the front of my home. The areas are on a sunny/partshady well drained hillside which is surrounded by a brick enclosure. Is this a suitable location? Will the root system damage my brick?


Anne's response


The location seems to be an acceptable one for a Jane Magnolia but you may have to root prune the plants as they get older to keep the roots from expanding beyond their 7x12 foot enclosure. The roots of the plant can be expected to grow out about twice the mature width of the tree.

Leyland Cyprus Disease?


Several of my Leyland Cyprus’ died during this past summer. I was planning on replacing them but I have heard rumors about some sort of disease that attacks Leyland Cyprus. Is this true, and if so what are some other “border” options from the road?

Thank you

Anne's response

There are some diseases that affect Leyland Cypress although many of the plants lost last year were from drought and heat problems. You may want to check with your local County Cooperative Extension Office for advice on testing for diseases. Nellie Stevens Holly makes a good screen as does eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), Little Gem Magnolia, Foster Holly, Privet and Florida anise.

White Camellia's Leaves Turning Yellow

Dear Mrs Clapp,

I live in Sydney, Australia and I would be very happy if you could give me some advice as to why my white camellia's leaves are turning yellow and falling off. The buds seem to be OK. As we are in the second month of autumn, I fertilized it with some camellia and azalea fertilizer, also a little blood and bone about a month ago, and it seems to have lots of mulch at its base. The shrub is about 3 years old and it has been healthy looking until now. I've had some beautiful blooms. It is situated about 3 ft. from a fence, facing east. Behind the fence my neighbour has a mango tree. Is this the reason why the camellia is shedding its leaves, and should I move my camillia? Many thanks for your kind answer.


Anne's response


It is not unusual for camellias to lose a lot of foliage after a year in which they bloomed heavily. In the natural aging process the leaves of a camellia begin to turn yellow, then brown and drop from the plant. As many as half the leaves may be lost in a single season. If the plant has new growth buds I would assume it is still healthy. From your description of the growing conditions of the plant there does not seem to be a problem. There is an active Camellia Society in Sidney and I am sure one of their members could give you additional information.

Damaged Cypress

Hello Anne,

We have 15 cypress trees that are at least 30 feet tall. They are
beautiful however, when we purchased our home the previous owner had
morning glories blooming and growing up them. Our gardener said we
needed to remove the vine as it was strangling the cypress. He
removed all of the morning glories and the bottom of the cypress
trees were left brown and dead looking. It has been two years and
they have not filled nor any green branches returning to them. What
should I do?

Thank you,

Anne's response

It is not unusual for the lower limbs of evergreens to die as the plants
get older. If the tips of branches are cut or damaged the foliage on the
limb closer to the trunk usually is not regenerated when the old foliage
turns brown. Scrape the bark on one of the limbs to see if there is any
green cambium layer still visible. If not, you need to remove the
damaged limbs at the trunk. Planting a groundcover under the plants may
help fill in the spot until the bottom limbs drop down to fill in the
space left when you removed the damaged ones.

Will My Tomato Plants Get Fruit?

Hi Anne,
I wonder if my tomato plants will set fruit this year since I have them potted in self watering containers that are located in a screened in enclosure aka a "Lanai" type of structure. The structure is screened in on all sides including the roof and receives 100% of daily available sun.

I worry that the lack of flying insects will prevent pollination? Do tomato plants self pollinate?


PS: I am located in Northern Florida on the coast and our plants are already blossoming flowers.

Anne's response

The plants willl need to be hand pollinated just as many greenhouse grown plants are. The easiest way to do it for one plant is to use a q-tip to remove the pollen from a blooms as it opens and transfer it to another bloom. Just keep swabbing the Q-tip from one bloom to the next until you have all the blossoms pollinated.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Leyland Cypress on Property Line

I am interested in planting leyland cypress trees about 4 feet away from the fence which seperates our neighbors and us. My plan is to place these trees in plant box supported by stacking blocks. I was wondering if I could plant the tree three feet high instead of at ground level.

Thank You

Anne's response:

The root structure of a Leyland Cypress is really too large for long term containment. High winds will pull the plants out of wet ground so planting them as you propose would cause real problems by the time the plants get 5 or 6 feet tall.

No Fruit from Avacado Tree

Hello Anne,

I have an avocado tree in my front yard. There are three other different trees planted around it. This tree is already very big. It is about 10 feet tall or maybe a bit taller. My tree doesn't give any fruit but it has in previous years. I have no idea what is wrong with it and if there is something I can do for it to give fruit. Can you help?

Anne's response:

I would think there is a problem with pollination of the plant. Either pollinating insects are not visiting when the plant is in bloom or the plant has depended on a neighborhood plant for cross pollination and that plant is no longer there. Keeping the use of insecticides to a minimum is important during the blooming season of plants.

Using a pH Meter

Hi Anne,

I have a problem. A year or so ago, I purchased a PH test meter, on line. I have misplaced the instruction sheet, and wonder if you might be familiar with its' operation. It is a battery free meter, with a wire attached to it and a "probe", which apparently inserts into the ground. I recall the ground should be wet, but, after that I am lost. Can you give me any help? If so, thanks in advance.

Gil in Mass

Anne's response:

The only pH meter I know of that fits your description just cautions that the probe be cleaned prior to use and that the soil is moist. Insert the probe into the ground. Leave for at least three minutes for an accurate reading. Then remove the probe and clean it.

Dog Damage to Shrubs

Our dog Mulligan urinated this winter on our shubs. It has killed several branches on three shrubs but not the entire shrub leaving holes in 3 of the shrubs. Should I prune off the remaining affected areas? Are those affected shrubs best to be taken out and replace them? with pruning, will any of the affected area come back? Please help.

Highland Mills NY

Anne's response:

Sometimes plants will recover from visits from the family dog. Pruning the affected areas does help. If the “indiscretion” is noticed quickly enough you can sprinkle gypsum on the affected plant and on the ground around it. Farmers use gypsum to treat areas that receive an overdoes of nitrogen fertilizers and I used it with success for the visits my female dog made to the side lawn.

"Whippoorwill Bush"

A friend would like a bush that she remembers growing in her mother's yard.(Faith, NC) She says it was called a "whippoorwill bush". I've researched extensively and cannot find anything having this name. She says it had woody stems with Easter blooming sweet smelling pink clusters. Maybe this is the "southern" name given to this plant? Please help me in this search!


Anne's response:

There is a possibility that the plant is Weigela florida. It is a fragrant pink flowering shrub that blooms in early April and is a plant that has been a pass-along plant in the south for many years. The only plants in any of my references that are called whippoorwill plants are some native ground orchids.

Bougainvillea in N.C.

I'm asking about bougainvillea. I'm pretty sure that I spelled it wrong but I know I got close enough to understand. I lived in LA for ten years and I just loved this plant/flower, Can I find it here to make a hanging basket?


Anne's response:

Bougainvillea is usually available in the Raleigh area in late April or early May. It does well in a hanging basket and can be overwintered in a warm sunny area in the house or garage.

Brown Foliage on Wax Myrtles

A landscaper transplanted 6 large (6-8 feet) wax myrtles to help screen off the view of a neighbor's house. The plants were b&b, with root balls so large they needed a small cat to lift them into the holes. They've been in the ground about 10 days, and virtually all the foliage has turned brown. The stems are still supple, however. When can I expect new growth? I have been giving them plenty of water (every couple of days) and the soil they were put in is well-drained woodsy loam. On a more negative note, how long do I give them before telling the landscaper they've expired?


Anne's response:

They may have too much water! Once a week is adequate for newly transplanted shrubs. Wax myrtles will be putting on new growth for the next two or three weeks. Look at the base of the leaves on the plants and see if there is any sign of new growth emerging. I would also call the landscaper who installed them for his advice – and that also puts him on notice that there is a problem.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Planting Near Property Line

We were advised by a landscaper to plant a row of alternating Cleveland Pear and Yoshino Cherry trees along our property line with a neighboring house. Can you please advise us as to how far from the property line these should be planted and how far apart they should be.

Our research shows these trees have about a 20-30 ft spread, so my husband is thinking the trees ought to be about 30 feet apart. Is that correct, or can we put them closer?

Also, our property line is about 5 ft from the neighbors driveway. How are the roots on these? We do not want to plant them or anything close enough to cause the neighbor’s driveway to buckle or crack.

Thank you,

Anne's Response:


You need to plant the trees 30 feet apart. To protect the neighbors’ driveway they need to be at least 20 feet from your property line. The roots of the plant extend 30 feet or more from the base of the tree but the roots can be controlled by root pruning near the driveway before they become a problem.

Planting tomatoes

Hi Ms. Clapp,

My sister and I saw your piece this morning regarding planting tomatos. We were wondering which is better, to grow tomatoes in a container with a stake to help keep them straight or to use an upside down tomato grower.

Thank you,

Anne's response:


I tried the upside down tomato planters with mixed results. They do work for small patio tomatoes and plants that don’t get very tall. The taller tomato plants try to grow up to the sun and when they set fruit the stem breaks from the weight. I think for most purposes the stake and cage technique works best.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Pear tree propagation

Dear Ms. Clapp:

I have been trying to propagate a very old d'anjou pear tree by means of cuttings with no success whatever.

I've taken about a dozen cuttings, dipped them in rootone and planted them in a !:1 mix of perlite and potting soil.

The pots were then covered with glass enclosures and kept fairly warm from below.

Nothing took. Something is wrong but what? the cuttings(size, location on tree)?, time of year?, potting mix?

Perhaps the method. Should I use some other technique? If so, what, and how?

Being a rank amateur I would like very much to stick to the simple technoique of cuttings, rather than more advanced approaches such as grafting, which is a complete mystery to me; however, if that's what it takes then perhaps you could give me a start.

Apologies for the length of this note.

Many thanks,

Anne's Response:

The most successful way to propagate an Anjou pear is by grafting. Some experts recommend grafting the cutting to a seedling quince that is about the diameter of a pencil in early spring. I graft camellias but not pears so I recommend you find a good book with illustrations. It is not that hard to do but it is difficult to describe without illustrations.

For rooted cuttings of the plant try taking the cuttings from new wood in late May or early June. Take the cutting from a branch tip. Use a moistened potting medium of half vermiculite and half perlite. Dip the cut end of the cutting ( no more than 6 inches) in a rooting hormone. Poke a hole in the rooting “soil” and insert the cutting to a 1-inch depth. Firm the soil. The best luck comes when you can mist the plants for 6 weeks – but you can try putting the cuttings in a chamber (I have used a Styrofoam cooler covered with clear plastic.) to maintain a high humidity.Roland

Powdery mildew

Hi Anne,

I believe I have a powdery mildew problem. It seems to be getting worse too, even though we've been in a drought. It will show up every summer on my zinnias, crepe myrtles and boxwoods. We try to avoid chemical use in our yard, but will do so if it means saving our plants. What do you recommend?


Anne's Response:

I didn’t think boxwoods had a problem with powdery mildew. Plants will develop the disease when we have a cloudy, moist night and when there is not good air circulation around plants. So pruning to keep plants from being crowded together helps. Organic gardeners have found that spraying with lime-sulur just before the crapemyrtle leafs out in the spring will help control the disease. For the zinnia try using a wettable sulfur powder when the disease first appears.

Drought Resistant Flowers

Hi Anne,

Spring is here and flowers are beginning to bloom. I am itching to plant flowers around my Pine trees in the front yard. My front yard gets full morning sun. What kind of drought resistant flowers can I plant that will give me some color for the spring and summer? I usually plant petunias but they dried up due to drought.

-Walter C.

Anne's Response:

You could try some salvia, coreopsis or cosmos. Iris and daylilies are also drought tolerant.

Cherry Tree Pollinator

I've recently purchased a Rainier Cherry Tree which I hope will someday produce some of it's delicious fruit for me. I know it needs a pollinator and a Bing is recommended, but my yard space is small. I was wondering if my neighbors flowering Japanese cherry trees (Yoshino I think) would work as a pollinator if I planted my new tree within 100 feet of them. Any information would be appreciated.

Charles R.

Anne's response:


Your problem of needing a pollinator for a tree in a small space is shared by many. The flowering cherry trees will not work. One technique is to graft a piece of the Bing cherry onto the Ranier Cherry. You may have to find a local nurseryman who would be willing to do that for you. Some gardeners have luck growing the pollinator in a pot. You keep it small, let it flower in the spring and keep it close to the Ranier cherry during the time they are in bloom. You can keep Bing pruned back to a small size and hide it out of sight when his pollen is not needed.

Burning Bush


I have a question concerning our Burning bushes that we have in Tennessee. Can you cut off 6" limbs and directly transplant or is there a special way to make roots grow from a cut limb? We bought our first Burning Bush six years ago and our only dwarf bush was only 6" in height and had a root composite from which looked like a cut limb.


Anne's response:


Many burning bushes in the wild are actually grown from seed. Collect the seed in the winter and plant it in an outside area where it will get cold and freeze. They usually sprout in late spring. I think the plant you have was a seedling that someone cut off at ground level. It sprouted a new top the following year. You can also “layer” a burning bush. Just pull a stem down to the ground, scrape the bark on the bottom of the limb. Push it into the dirt and put a rock or brick on top to keep it moist and in good soil contact. By fall the plant is usually ready to cut away from the mother plant. Many people consider Burning Bush Euonymous an invasive plant and encourage people to destroy the plants – not continue to grow them.

Cutting Back Azalea

I have several HUGE azeala bushes beside my house that block two windows. When can they be cut back and how far back can they be cut?

Anne's response:

The azalea bushes that are now huge and block the windows can be “whacked back”. They get pruned as soon as they finish blooming and there are two approaches you could take. One is to cut he plants back to a manageable size then prune them to shape making sure you leave space in the middle of the plant for good air movement and some future growth. Remember to make all your final pruning cuts to a point on the stem that is just above a leaf scar where future growth can occur. The more drastic technique is to cut the plants back to less than a foot tall and let them produce new growth from the base of the plant. My large Formosa azaleas get that treatment about every 15 years to keep them in bounds. It takes about a year for them to recover but mine will have a few blooms the next year.

Bamboo in North Carolina?

Hello Ann,

Do you know of any area around NC that has fields of bamboo? I'd like to harvest some this year. Love that stuff.


Anne's response


I know lots of people who are trying to get rid of bamboo that is growing over from their neighbor’s yard but I don’t know of anyone who has a “cut-your-own” bamboo field. Someone in your county agricultural extension office might know of someone who is trying to get rid of bamboo and would let you cut it. They are usually getting calls at this time of year for information on spraying or killing bamboo.