Consider trees a community investment and plant native varieties, not Bradford pears

Backyard Q&A

July 28, 2002|By Dennis Bishop | Dennis Bishop,Special to the Sun

Q. We planted two Bradford pears last fall. Now I understand that these trees are prone to breakage. Should I remove the two trees and replace them with different trees?

A. Young Bradford pear trees are much less prone to breakage than older trees, so you could probably keep the trees for some years without any problems.

However, as the trees mature, one or more large branches are likely to break off. Because the trees are symmetrical, the loss of these branches ruins the tree.

Whether you are planning on staying in your house for one year or many years, I think the trees should be considered a long-term investment in the community. I would remove them and replace them with native trees of comparable size.

Q. My daughter gave me a pink flowering hibiscus tree for my patio this spring. It looks very healthy and is full of buds, but it only has a few flowers at any one time. Is this natural or is there something wrong?

A. This is probably natural, but here some tips to having a healthy hibiscus tree.

If you care for your tree, it will flower continuously (a few at a time) from late spring all the way through early to mid fall.

First, place your tree in full or partial sun, but remember that hibiscus trees need frequent watering. When placed in full sun, they may need to be watered every day. Also, be sure to fertilize your tree several times a year.

The "patio" hibiscus tree is related to a popular landscape shrub, rose of Sharon; however, the hibiscus tree is not hardy.

It needs to be brought indoors in the wintertime. It will grow larger over the winter, and will have proportionally more buds and flowers.

Checklist

1. Dogwood trees are prone to disease and insect damage when they are stressed by drought. Keep your trees mulched and watered.

2. Fruits that are not picked may rot on the plant and spread disease. Keep mature fruits and vegetables picked.

3. When conditions are dry, marigolds are particularly susceptible to spider mite attack. Damaged leaves will have a white stippling and appear stunted. To prevent damage, keep plants well watered.

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.hgic.umd.edu.

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