Re­plac­ing col­or­ful but in­va­sive plants

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - GARDEN - By Ellen Nibali

It’s easy to see some red shrubs in the woods now, be­cause they are the only thing that still has leaves. I have loved my burn­ing bush’s color and re­sisted re­plac­ing it, even though this eu­ony­mus is listed as in­va­sive. But, now I see th­ese red shrubs. Are they eu­ony­mus? What can I re­place them with that has beau­ti­ful red fall color?

Many in­va­sive plants are the last to stop grow­ing in fall — and the ear­li­est to leaf out in spring. Their ex­tended grow­ing season gives them an ad­van­tage.

For­tu­nately, Asian eu­ony­mus are not hard to kill. Re­place with na­tive shrubs with fab­u­lous reds such as the high bush blue­berry pic­tured. (Plant sev­eral va­ri­eties for good berry pro­duc­tion.)

For color clos­est to burn­ing bush, try black or red choke­berry. (For­merly called Aro­nia melanocarp­a or A. ar­bu­ti­fo­lia, now Pho­tinia.) Select a va­ri­ety known for good color. An­other spec­tac­u­lar fall shrub is fothergill­a. For a shorter op­tion, Gro-Low sumac ‘Gro-Low’) only reaches 2-3 feet and spreads to make a great ground cover, too.

We were told our fid­dle leaf fig would grow 3 feet tall, but it shows no sign of stop­ping. How much taller should we ex­pect? Can I re­move the bot­tom leaves to make a “tree” ef­fect? How long can it stay in the orig­i­nal 12 inch pot?

Fid­dle leaf figs can grow up to 10 feet and, yes, you can re­move lower leaves for more of a tree ef­fect. Fig house­plants, in gen­eral, like a slightly cramped root sys­tem. The pot should look a bit too small. Re­pot into a pot that is only one size larger, when you see roots com­ing out of the drainage hole or a net­work of fine roots on the soil’s sur­face. Re­pot in spring.

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