Stumped on downed shade trees


In The Garden

November 07, 1999

Q. Two shade trees came down during Hurricane Floyd. I've never had to deal with stumps. Should I remove them to plant replacements in the same area?

A. Yes, check with your neighbors or consult the phone book to find businesses that grind stumps. They can usually give you an estimate over the phone. It pays to be home during the grinding to help the operator spot the large, deep roots that extend 1 to 2 feet out from the base. All large roots should be ground. But don't pay extra to have the wood chips hauled away. Just broadcast a nitrogen fertilizer over the stump area to hasten decomposition, and rake the area level. The mound of chips and soil will settle over the winter and you can replant in the spring.

Q. I was given two very pretty Chinese hibiscus plants in pots this summer and have no idea how to keep them growing indoors. Do they need lights to bloom during the winter?

A. Hibiscus do very well as a year-round houseplant or as a houseplant moved outdoors for the summer. It is a long-day plant, meaning that it blooms more heavily when days get longer. It's better not to push your plants to bloom this winter with supplemental light. They need a winter rest period to perform well each year. Locate your plants in a sunny window or sun room. They'll do fine in a cool, 60-degree room. Don't fertilize until spring and keep the root system moist but not soaking wet.


1. Become a Maryland Master Gardener next spring. Contact your local Extension Service office for information on training dates and fees.

2. Drain and store all garden hoses. Turn off water to outdoor spigots and drain check valves.

Garden tips are provided by the Home and Garden Information Center of the Maryland Cooperative Extension . 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

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