In the garden
QRabbits are destroying some recently planted hostas. What would help prevent this? My daughter-inlaw has tried sprinkling pepper around ground … not working … moth balls?
AWith animals, you need to try a variety of tricks. There are several animal repellents on the market, including Repel and Hinder. You can also physically block the creatures, using fences. Some gardeners have luck by sprinkling blood meal around — it is a nitrogen source though, so be careful that you don’t burn the plants.
QWe were told to thin out our hollies so they would grow straight up. However, now they look chopped, mangled and ruined. What should we do at this point? Should we “top” them some? Or cut them down to the “nub” and pray they start sprouting at the bottom? Or should we wait until later in the year to do any pruning? There is a large, nice crape myrtle in the background whose “trunk” the hollies hide, and I wasn’t too enamored of the hollies being there anyway. What should we do? I read your column religiously, and I would
appreciate your advice.
AWhen did you prune them? This is not a great time to do anything else — we are in the hottest and driest time of the year, and there would be very little plant recovery. I hope you pruned them this spring. A poor pruning is sort of like a bad haircut. It will take time to grow back in. I think selective thinning is a better idea than shearing. At this point, I would do nothing until February. See where new growth begins then and selectively thin, fertilize and water. Gradually you will get them back in line. If you don’t like them, you can also cut them to the ground next spring and see what happens.
QI finally dug up the root of a Knock Out rose that died one stalk at a time in my backyard. The rose bush was in an area with sun about 50 percent of the day, but near the drip line of a Southern magnolia tree. If I want to replant the rose near the same location, what measures should I take to avoid losing another rose bush?
AMagnolias are large trees with competitive roots. Did you water the other rose bush? Rose bushes can be planted near magnolias, and Knock Out roses can bloom with as little as four hours of sunlight; but you need to counteract the competitiveness of the tree roots by watering and fertilizing a little more. I don’t see any reason why you can’t replant.
QPlease see the pictures I am sending of this plant and how it has grown and fallen over. We have had it about 40 years. The lady who gave us this plant called it a mock orange tree; we don’t know the actual name of the plant. We live in Fayetteville. What time of the year should we prune or trim it back and how much of it should we cut off?
AIt is a mock orange shrub — Philadelphus is the genus. Mock orange is a cane-producing plant, meaning there is not a dominant trunk, but multiple stems at the base. I think the only pruning you have done is to prune the tops of the canes, which makes the canes top-heavy. After it blooms next spring, prune out a third to half of the old canes at the soil line. This should encourage new canes to grow from the soil up, which will make the shrub fuller and stronger. Then next year, take out the other half or another third. It is too late to prune now without interfering with flowering for next year.
Shearing off the
top made this mock orange top-heavy; it’s better to thin cane producers like Philadelphus at the soil line.