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Volume xviii, Issue 15 ~ Apri 15 to April 21, 2010

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Bay Gardener

by Dr. Francis Gouin

Repairing Winter’s Damage

Bent-over trees and shrubs may never stand upright

Trees and tall shrubs bent over from snow and ice is a difficult problem to correct. Bending crushes the live cells on the bent side while it stretches the live cells on the opposite side. The dead plant cells in the sapwood of the stem are either splintered or bent, depending on whether the process occurred quickly or slowly.

In other words, the stems have suffered permanent injury, and there is a good possibility that they will never fully recover. If you take a walk in the woods, you will often see trees growing at an angle or with a bend in the trunk as the result of storm bending.

If the tree is young, meaning with a trunk diameter of two inches or less, measured at four and a half inches above ground, it may be salvageable. Stake the tree using a stout stake or one-and-a-quarter-inch pipe pounded into the ground eight to 10 feet from the trunk. Using 20- to 24-gauge wire covered with garden hose, secure the top portion of the tree to the stake. The stem of the tree should not touch the stake or pipe. If the stake or pipe is not capable of keeping the top of the tree vertical, secure it with a 45-degree tie to a ground stake and cable. The tree should remain staked for at least two years.

If the trunk of the tree is greater than two inches in diameter, it is unlikely to ever return to normal.


Japanese hollies are very different from American

Q I have Japanese hollies that continue to struggle. The plants get regular (if not excess) water and the air circulation is poor. They also show signs of sooty mold. Can you please make recommendations to remedy the problem?

–Anthony Barbarino, by email

A Based on the soil sample results you forwarded me, the nutrient concentration of the soil appears adequate, but the organic matter of 2.2 is much too low. I recommend digging up the plants and amending the soil with equal parts of soil and pine fines. Also, Japanese hollies do not like wet soils. They are very different from American hollies, which can tolerate wet soils. Lower the pH, increase the organic matter and raise the plant to get its roots out of water.


Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at frgouin@erols.com. All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address.


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