Pucker up, Eastern Shore

Garden Q&A

January 25, 1998

While traveling around the Eastern Shore I noticed clumps of green leaves up in a stand of oak trees. Can you tell me what I was seeing?

You saw Eastern mistletoe, the traditional Christmas decoration. a parasitic plant that grows mostly on oak trees. The small, attractive fruits are eaten by birds but are poisonous to humans and livestock. Colder temperatures on the Western Shore prevent wider distribution of this interesting plant.

How early can I start seeding some bare spots on my lawn?

From late February through March is the second-best time to seed a lawn. Fall is the best time.

There are several things you should do before seeding your lawn. Try to figure out why the bare spots developed. Are those areas in heavy shade? Is the soil compacted, preventing strong root growth? Is the soil pH extremely high or low? To find out the latter, get a soil test.

The normal seeding rate is 5 to 8 pounds of fescue seed per 1,000 square feet of lawn. Seed should be raked in lightly. Cover the area lightly with straw. Water once or twice a day.

I bought an American holly tree two years ago that still hasn't made any red berries. How do I know if I have a female tree?

American holly trees are either male or female. The male trees make small white flowers that fall off and don't produce berries. Healthy female trees in good locations will produce berries by their fourth or fifth year, provided there is a male tree nearby. Give your tree a few more years to reveal its sex.

Garden tips are provided by the Home and Garden Information Center of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Maryland. For additional information on these questions, or if you have questions of your own, call the center's hot line at 800-342-2507 or visit its Web site at http: //www.agnr.umd.edu/hgic.

Checklist

* Plan to replace problem plants in your landscape with hardy, native plants.

* Pull chickweed from strawberry and asparagus plants and from flower beds.

* Feed houseplants with a water-soluble fertilizer when they show signs of new growth.

Pub Date: 1/25/98

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