A 'dwarf' Burford holly can grow to 6 feet

Backyard Q&A

cicadas won't harm annuals or perennials

In the Garden

May 09, 2004|By Dennis Bishop | Dennis Bishop,Special to the Sun

I bought a Burford holly about 10 years ago that was supposed to be a dwarf plant. However, it continues to grow and is about 6 feet tall. What happened?

It is possible that you were mistakenly sold a full-size Burford holly (Ilex cornuta 'Burfordii'). The full-size Burford holly grows up to 10-12 feet tall over time, and can be easily confused with the dwarf variety at the nursery or garden center. On the other hand, it is not unusual for a dwarf Burford holly to grow 6 feet tall. I have seen dwarf plants more than 8 feet tall at arboretums and botanical gardens.

When the term dwarf is used to describe a landscape plant, it is used comparatively in relation to a full-size variety. In this case, the dwarf Burford holly is only about 20 percent smaller than the full-size plant. In other cases, the difference between a plant and the dwarf variety may be greater. If you would like to keep the plant smaller, you will need to prune it annually. Or, you could remove the plant and replace it with an entirely different plant that naturally grows smaller.

We just finished planting all of our annual flowers and vegetables. Will the cicadas that are emerging this month attack them?

No. Cicadas do not really attack anything. However, they will cause some damage to woody plants when the females lay their eggs in the stems of trees and shrubs. The damage occurs when they slit the bark to create a crevice for their eggs to be laid in. Because cicadas do not lay eggs on vegetable plants or annual and perennial flowers, they will not be affected.


1. To prevent cicada damage, cover newly planted trees and shrubs with plastic netting. The holes in the netting should be a quarter- inch or less.

2. Do not spray chemicals to control cicadas. The chemicals will have little or no impact on cicadas but may damage the environment.

3. Areas with large stands of mature trees can expect to have large populations of cicadas this summer. Urban areas with fewer and smaller trees will have fewer insects.

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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