Red maple is native to this area

BACKYARD Q&A

'Red Sunset' is a cultivar

March 31, 2002|By Dennis Bishop | Dennis Bishop,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Q. We would like to plant several native trees on our lot this spring and are considering red maples. Is the 'Red Sunset' maple a native tree and will it grow well here?

A. The red maple (Acer rubrum) is native to Maryland and most of the Eastern United States. It is naturally found in moist areas and prefers slightly acid soil, but it will grow well under a range of conditions.

It is very popular in the nursery industry and can be used as both a lawn and a street tree. However, the 'Red Sunset' maple is not technically the native species. It is a cultivar that was derived from the native species and has several different characteristics. For example, it tends to be somewhat smaller in size and has a more pyramidal outline than the true native plant. If you want the true native species, be sure to buy a plant whose label reads: Red Maple, Acer rubrum. It should have no cultivar name beyond that.

Q. The tops of many of my tulip bulbs were eaten last year by deer, and I got very few blooms. Is there anyway to protect them this spring?

A. The only way I know of to prevent deer from eating tulips is to keep them away from the tulips. Wildlife managers call this method exclusion. You can do that by fencing off the entire area where the tulips are growing, or you can try to cover the tulips themselves.

Because deer will jump over a standard 6-foot fence, it is recommended that the fence should be at least 8 feet high. If you decide to cover the tulips, I would use a lightweight plastic mesh. It is the same type of mesh that is used to keep birds from eating the fruits of plants and can be found at garden centers. The mesh can be removed just before bloom time.

THIS WEEK'S CHECKLIST

1. Are you growing seedlings indoors for spring planting? Be sure to harden them off by gradually bringing them outdoors for several hours a day. This should be done when temperatures are above freezing.

2. Looking for information on native plants? Visit the Natural Lands Trust Web site at www.natlands.org

Dennis Bishop is an urban horticulture educator for the Baltimore office of the Maryland Cooperative Extension Services. If you have a gardening or pest problem, you can call the Home and Garden Information Center hot line (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1-p.m.) at 800-342-2507. You can also e-mail questions, order publications and diagnose plant problems by visiting the Web site, www.agnr.umd.edu / users / hgic.

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