GARDENER'S MAILBAG

No need to prune fusing crape myrtles

By Neil Sperry | Published Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Share this page...

Dear Neil: I have a crape myrtle with two trunks that are rubbing together enough that they are almost fusing. Is there any reason to worry about that?

Not especially. It happens every once in a while. As long as they are unencumbered on their opposite sides so that they can just form a natural graft and continue growing, they’ll be fine. It’s when they could be girdled by being bound on more than one side that you would need to do some type of corrective pruning. From your description, you should be fine.

Dear Neil: I had two rose bushes left over from the previous homeowner. They were unsightly, blooming very poorly. I dug them out, but apparently I missed some of the roots of one. It has regrown, but it looks very different. It still hasn’t bloomed. Should I remove it?

This is probably the rootstock of the original rose, and it’s not going to be worth saving.

Dear Neil: Our container lemon and lime trees have curling leaves. I’m also seeing lines on the leaves. What do we need to do to help them? Will it harm the fruit?

Several things can cause leaf curl in citrus. Drift of a broad-leafed weedkiller would be one possibility anytime any plant has curled leaves. Aphids feeding on new growth can also cause puckering. However, citrus leaf miners are a common cause. They are the larval form of a small moth. They tunnel through the leaves (hence the lines), causing the puckering in the process. They are not easily controlled, but horticultural oil sprays might be of help.

Dear Neil: I bought a Pride of Barbados last year. It grew quite well. In fact, I had to prune it to keep it within the five feet of space I had for it. I understood I was to cut it to the ground this past winter, but now this is all the growth I have for this year. What am I doing wrong?

I would only recommend cutting them back if they freeze. That will happen in very cold winters, but in your plant’s case, it really looks like this one needs more water and nitrogen. I’m not sure there’s enough time left in this growing season for it to do much. Perhaps you’d be better advised to start with a new plant next year. Use this space for something more spectacular the balance of this growing season.

Dear Neil: I have two Arizona ash trees in our backyard. Both seem to be doing quite well, but for the past couple of years one of them has had this huge indentation at its base. It has grown to be fairly large. I don’t see any type of fungus, but I also don’t want it to come crashing down in a windstorm. It’s 40 years old. Do you have any suggestions?

This tree is an accident waiting to happen. That’s beyond the average life expectancy of an Arizona ash by probably double, and my guess is that the interior of the trunk is hollowing out at a fast pace. It’s not a matter of if it will come down, but when. I faced the same issue with a 70-foot-tall American elm along a creek behind our house. It was 48 inches in diameter, and I had it taken down because I was afraid of its toppling over and taking out half of my landscape in the process. Be very cautious around this tree.

Dear Neil: I planted some Soft Touch hollies about four weeks ago. Almost overnight leaves on two of them turned brown and fell off. The other three aren’t looking very healthy, either. Will they come back? Was this transplant shock?

If these plants were bought in pots there should have been no transplant shock. That happens when plants are dug with associated loss of roots. These plants got too dry at one or more times. It could even have happened just before you bought them. I’ve been guilty of doing that to my own hollies a time or two over the years. Hollies don’t really wilt when they get very dry. Perhaps we notice that they’re dry, or maybe we don’t, but either way we water them. A couple of days later the leaves start to shed. At this point, my best advice is that you keep them moist and see how well they bounce back.

Dear Neil: Do lantanas cycle into and out of flower? Mine has had no blooms at all for some time.

Yes they do. That’s one of the reasons the variety New Gold became so popular when it was introduced 30 or 40 years ago. It is a sterile triploid selection that cannot set seed. Therefore, it just keeps blooming, at least as long as we keep it supplied with water and nitrogen.

Have a question you’d like Neil to consider? Mail it to him in care of the Wise County Messenger, P.O. Box 149, Decatur, TX 76234 or e-mail him at mailbag@sperrygardens.com. Neil regrets that he cannot reply to questions individually.

Leave a Reply. Note: As of March 24, 2011, all posted comments will include the users full name.

WCMessenger.com News and Blog Comment Guidelines

You must be logged in to post a comment.