No, it's not too late to cut hollies

GARDEN Q&A

December 09, 2006|By Jon Traunfeld and Ellen Nibali | Jon Traunfeld and Ellen Nibali,Special to The Sun

Is it too late to prune my two hollies?

Hollies are best pruned when they are dormant - the bonus being you can use the clippings for your holiday decorations. If you do not get the chance to do it soon, they can be pruned until March. Pruning should be finished before they put out their new growth. Should I pile mulch around my shrubs and trees now for winter protection?

Although wood mulch decomposes and improves the soil, inches of mulch are not natural under trees like leaf mulch would be. Keep mulch pulled back several inches from stems and trunks year-round. This prevents harborage for boring insects or moisture buildup that fosters disease. In winter be especially careful; voles like to hide under thick mulch and gnaw roots and bark.

Checklist

Avoid bringing unwanted insects into the house by keeping firewood outdoors until it is ready to be burned.

Tree leaves that pile up and mat around groundcovers can lead to foliar diseases in the spring.

Jon Traunfeld, regional specialist, and Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, work at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, which offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's "hotline" at 800-342-2507 (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.) or e-mail plant and pest questions through the Send a Question feature at hgic.umd.edu.

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