Now is the time to talk about trees

Published 10:22 pm Saturday, February 16, 2008

At the Adams County Extension Office we seem to get several inquiries this time of the year about planting and maintaining different trees and shrubs around homes.

Last week we celebrated Arbor Day. This week I had the opportunity to go with Cheryl McClure, Charles Wellborn, Smokey the Bear and others to teach students from Trinity, West Primary, ACCS, Holy Family and Cathedral about trees and their many uses.

Students were taught the history of Arbor Day, the importance of trees, what products and foods we get from trees, how to prepare trees for planting and how to plant trees.

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In addition, students received free trees to take home and plant. The students all learned great information and asked some great questions as well. Here are some more common questions we have received regarding trees and shrubs this week.

Q. What should I look for when selecting young trees to plant?

Nurseries typically begin to get their dormant tree stock in during this time.

Many young dormant tree species will have no leaves on their branches now so it is important to investigate the tree to ensure it will survive when you get home and plant.

Select trees with straight unscarred trunks, tight, smooth unblemished bark, and a dominant shoot or leader. You should be able to slightly bend the limbs without them snapping or breaking, if the roots are visible through the bottom of the container they should be white and healthy, black roots are not a good sign.

When planting, dig the hole three to five times the diameter of the soil ball (for container plants) but no deeper than its height.

Q. Can I prune my azaleas right now?

No, now is not the time to prune azaleas.

Everyone wants to start early and prepare for a beautiful spring lawn and landscape. Pruning plants in the landscape will accomplish this but timing is critical.

Pruning is great for limiting the size and shape of plants, removing undesirable or diseased growth, stimulating flowers or fruit production, eliminating interference with structures, enhancing visibility problems, and many more beneficial purposes.

Now is the time to prune abelia, hibiscus, hydrangea, butterfly bush, shrub-althea, roses, forsythia and crepe myrtle.

While I am thinking a special thanks goes out to all Adams County Master Gardeners who spent countless hours pruning hundreds of crepe myrtles at the city cemetery and many local citizens came out to help and learn proper pruning techniques.

You should NOT prune spring flowering trees and shrubs this time of year. Some spring flowering trees and shrubs are: azaleas, camellia, spireas, Indian hawthorne, wisteria, dogwoods, redbud, magnolia and fringe tree. Spring flowering plants should be pruned in late spring after the flowering season has ended to allow for adequate growth during summer and fall to produce buds for the following year.

For plants with colorful berries, prune after the berries are gone.

DaviD Carter is the director of the Adams County Extension Service. He can be reached at 601-445-8201.