Japanese flowering cherries make excellent street trees

Backyard Q&A

In The Garden

February 08, 2004|By Dennis Bishop | Dennis Bishop,Special to the Sun

I have seen the Kwanzan cherry used as a street tree in a number of places in Baltimore. Are there any other cherry trees that make good street trees?

The Kwanzan cherry tree is a cultivar of Japanese flowering cherry (Prunus serrulata). It is a vase-shaped tree that stays relatively small and produces double pink blooms in early spring. It makes an excellent street tree because it grows up and over sidewalks and streets and does not interfere with pedestrian and automobile traffic. And because it stays small, it does not grow up into power lines.

Other cultivars of Japanese flowering cherry could be used as street trees, but they may not be as easily found as Kwanzan. I suggest that you call several local nurseries to see what cultivars they might have in stock this spring. You may find some white-flowering cultivars and some with single flowers. Also, be sure to inquire about the tree's shape. A more rounded crown would not be as suitable for a street tree as a vase-shaped one.

Keep in mind that the average life of a cherry tree is 20 years. This will be a relatively short-term investment for your home and neighborhood.

I am a beginning vegetable gardener. Last year, I had trouble growing green peppers. My plants were small. What can I do to get better results?

Start by doing a soil test to determine the quality of your soil and then try these suggestions (if you need help with soil testing, please call the Home and Garden Information Center at the number below).

Peppers are native to tropical areas, where they are perennial plants. In cold climates, they are grown as summer annuals. They cannot be planted until after the soil warms, so it is important to get your plants off to a good start. Seedlings can be set into the garden about two weeks after the last frost (April 15 in Baltimore City, later in outlying areas).

Peppers like plenty of sun and rich, moist soil. Before planting, I would amend the soil with compost or another source of organic matter and add the nutrients that are recommended by the soil test. Following that, I would mulch the plants with a loose material such as straw and then keep the plants watered during the growing season.

Checklist

1. Are you planning to grow your own vegetable seedlings at home? It's time to get started. Most plants need six to eight weeks to germinate and grow before transplanting.

2. Use de-icing materials sparingly on sidewalks around the home. They can damage plants and become pollutants of waterways. Sand can be used for traction.

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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