Call 855-660-4261 with your lawn & garden questions every Saturday from 8:06am to 10:00am ET. Then listen to Mort answer your questions. Or email anytime at questions@themagicgarden.com
Listen to the weekly archive 24 hours a day 7 days a week on demand.
Category Search Results for:
Trees, Shrubs and Hedges

367 Total Found

Question: 1084-514
We had a split on the trunk in our tree last year. I also saw ants around there last year. Could this be a problem? Burt, Providence, RI

Mort's Answer:
The ants are predators trying to steal the eggs earwigs. This could be a problem, if you let the home of the earwigs continue to spread. You can perform some basic tree surgery. With a sharp razor knife or linoleum knife, make a cut that has a point at the top and another at the bottom. The incision will be leaf shaped and enclose all the affected area. Go as deep as necessary to get out all the brown wood. You can do this as soon as the tree is not frozen. Dab a little malathion in the area and seal with tree seal or tree wax. The ants will disappear as soon as you complete this procedure. If you do not do this surgery, the earwigs may encircle the bark and cut off the fibrovascular tubes. When the cambium inside the bark is eaten out, the tree will be unable to take up nutrient and water and will eventually join the great majority in Eden.

back to top




Question: 11-5201
The lightening split our apple right down the middle. Will I have any apples and should I cut it down now? Sharon, Hastings, NEB

Mort's Answer:
I would cut the lesser half off at the stem. Use tree wax over the cut. Also apply tree wax over the exposed split that is left. Can you save it? Maybe. Should you try? Yes. You will need to fertilize as instructed in the above question. You will need to prune more severely because a lot of energy will be needed to restore the tree to health. The apples will ripen but they may be a lot smaller unless you do the recommended treatment soon.

back to top




Question: 611-3711
My apple tree is three years old and started an apple this year but it somehow went. No apples again this year. Can I cut the tips off each branch in the fall? Will that make the tree wider? I put holly bush organic food, magnesium,bone meal and potassium around the tree, and around the holly bushes, rhododendron bushes and my ash tree, which is doing well. The directions said this is good for all trees, and bushes. When can I prune the trees and bushes and how do I prune my butterfly bush?, which had a lot of flowers this year, but some have gone brown. MVO, Warwick, RI

Mort's Answer:
You can go to our library on our website, themagicgarden.com, for instructions on pruning. Briefly, apples need to be pruned in the winter. Wide is better for apples than compact. Clean out any upright shoots and build a scaffolding for flower bearing branches. The butterfly can be cut back to half, if shrub like, in the spring. If your butterfly is older, you can just remove dead flowers. High phosphorus fertilizers are excellent for flower and fruit bearing plants.

back to top




Question: 639-4411
My apple tree did very little in its first year. It is a scrawny six feet tall. How can I get it to flourish? Joel, Eveleth, MN

Mort's Answer:
You will need a spray program, good pruning and some fertilizer to start. Pruning requires a sense of purpose. Apple trees are best left open on the inside. This winter or fall you can start with cutting two feet off the top. You will need three main branches that will grow mostly laterally. In the third or fourth year as the tree gets taller you can have five main branches to become the scaffolding for the fruit bearing branches. Use a home orchard spray. It contains two insecticides and a fungicide. Follow directions on the label. You can also use a dormant oil spray or Neem when the leaves fall. Apply the oil again in the spring before the buds swell. Fertilize with 5-10-10 now. Dig five holes with a crowbar that go down a foot in a circle at the leaf drop. Fill them with the fertilizer.

back to top




Question: 749-2716
My apple tree is very sparse and has hardly any fruit. In the past this 12 foot dwarf has produced lots of fruit except two years ago. I do not use any sprays. What is happening? Gary, Norwich, CT

Mort's Answer:
If you do nothing, you could have a good crop every other year. This year a thaw in March produced a spurt of growth that was stifled by the frosts. We also had a large dose of winter moth followed by the gypsy moth. Dry weather has inhibited a fungus that would have discouraged the gypsy moths. Some rain in the future will reestablish this natural fungus. Roses and fruit trees truly need an assist to bear good fruit every year. You could strengthen the tree by fertilizing now. Dig eight to ten holes about 10 feet from the trunk in a circle. Go as deep as you can using a crowbar or some like instrument. Fill the wholes with 5-10-10 granular fertilizer. This will be good for five years. Clover under the trees is a good source of nitrogen but you need the other elements as well.

back to top




Question: 818-3812
My apricot tree has a borer eating in the bark and it is oozing sap. What can I do to remedy this? It is about five inches in diameter near the ground and about 15 feet high. Steve, Roswell, NM

Mort's Answer:
You can do some home surgery. If the borer girdles the bark completely there is no hope for the tree. The fibrovascular tubes that feed the tree from the roots are in the outer ring just inside the bark. Make a leaf shaped incision that will encompass the entire infected area with a sharpened knife. It must be contiguous and as wide as necessary to remove all black or brown wood. If you need to go deep, you can use a chisel. Dab the white wood with malathion and cover with tree wax or tree seal. If it is large hole, you can use cement. Eventually the new hole will grow together as the tree grows and the cement will crumble. It is only made of clay.

back to top




Question: 80-5201
When is the best time to trim evergreens like arborvitae? James Morristown, TN

Mort's Answer:
You should wait until the new growth has fully emerged. At that time, you can cut the protruding tips of the branches. You should cut the Junipers, yews, Chaemycyparis, arborvitae and the like at least 4 times a year, if you want them to maintain their shapes. Pine, spruce and firs can be cut in the late fall each year. I rarely cut my pines and like evergreens at all. Since I do not try to keep the tight shapes on the arborvitae like evergreens, I will generally cut just their tips during the summer months. You must be careful not to cut too deeply into arborvitae and other hedge type candidates. If you will notice that inside these finely sheared specimens, there are no leaves. Since the sunlight cannot penetrate beyond the tight growth, there isnšt any chlorophyll being manufactured by the plants. If you cut beyond this stage, you can severely damage your plants, especially in the winter and early spring. On pines and their like, the branches are further apart and most often growth can be regenerated in the interior. It is no problem with deciduous trees and shrubs, if you cut them back a foot or so.

back to top




Question: 81-5201
Our three foot pyramidal arborvitae are coming apart. There seems to be two main stems. Can we prune them? Priscilla, Norwich, CT

Mort's Answer:
I would cut hem back in two steps. I would cut the taller ones back 6 inches in the spring. Cut the other side back a foot in mid August. Keep the outside trimmed with monthly shearing to keep the growth compact.

back to top




Question: 82-5201
This past spring I cut back our arborvitae to within a foot of the ground. This summer they didn't do anything. They got worse. My grounds are very shady. What could replace them? Pete, East Lyme, CT

Mort's Answer:
If they are showing some green and do not have spider mites or galls, then I would wait until this coming summer before I replaced them. Yews do well in the shade. Hicks and hatfield yews made a good upright hedge, when planted four or five feet apart. Large firs and spruce need to be planted 20 feet apart at a minimum. The advantage of spruce and fir is that they should not be trimmed. Hemlock can be cut and are best planted about 6 or 8 feet apart. Pines will drop a lot of needles and are best left alone. I would plant pines about 10 feet apart. Do not repeat the scalping in any case.

back to top




Question: 83-5201
We have a row of 60 arborvitae that are not doing well. What can we do to liven them up? We want to use something organic. Fran, East Hampton, NY

Mort's Answer:
You can purchase a load of 5 to 8 yards of aged manure. You should cultivate in between and along side the row of arborvitae before applying a good three or four inches of the gold. Be sure not to get it within three inches of the trunk. This should spruce them up before they pine away.

back to top




Question: 84-5201
My arborvitae are all brown at the bottom. It seems to be getting worse. What could be the problem? Frank, East Hampton, NY

Mort's Answer:
First, I would check for spider mites. You should open a white sheet of paper under a partially green leave. Shake the leave. If there are red spot on the paper after you have folded the paper in half and rubbed it together, then you will have to spray with Kelthane or some other miticide. Next I would check for grubs eating the roots. This is best done in the early fall. Dig a hole along side the root to a depth of 18 inches. If you see the little shrimp like pests, use a dursban powder. Follow directions on the llabels in each case. You should also fertilize with 10-6-4.

back to top




Page 2 of 34

[First Page] [Prev] [Next] [Last Page]