Native sugar and red maple trees more friendly than Norway maple

BACKYARD Q&A

November 16, 2003|By Dennis bishop | Dennis bishop,Special to the Sun

We would like to plant several maple trees for shade. Does Norway maple have good fall color and does it grow well here?

The Norway maple generally has good fall color and grows well here, but there are many cultivars and some have better fall color than others. Regardless, I do not recommend planting Norway maple for several reasons. First, the Norway maple has escaped cultivation and now inhabits our native forests, where it is considered an invasive species. Second, I do not think that the structure of this maple is as good as red maple or sugar maple. And third, the canopy of Norway maples is very dense, which makes it difficult to grow other plants underneath it.

I would recommend that you plant either a sugar maple or a red maple. Both are native plants, grow well here, and have outstanding fall foliage. The sugar maple will have yellow to orange fall foliage, while the red maple turns red in fall.

We are having a room addition put on this winter in a location where I have perennials planted. How can I save them for replanting after construction?

Dig the perennials out as soon as possible and move them to a protected site well outside the construction zone. If you move them in large clumps, they will be more likely to survive the winter without heaving out of the ground. I would plant them at ground level, cover them with 3 to 4 inches of a light, loose mulch such as straw, and then water them well. That should be all they need. If you like, you can divide them in the spring when you move them back to the area around the room addition.

Checklist

1. This is the best time of year to buy and plant trees. You should find an excellent selection of shade and ornamental trees at your local garden center.

2. Clay pots should be brought in for the winter. Winter freezing and thawing will crack them, especially when they are wet.

3. Don't let disease get carried into next year. Clean up the leaves as they fall from diseased plants. Do not use them as mulch.

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

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