Pruning A Vertically Compromised Little Leaf Linden


Posted by Horticulture Guy - Peter Punzi | Posted in Northeast U.S. Gardeners | Posted on 11-10-2006

Q. We have a Small Leaf Linden tree at our curbside.  It is quite large. 10 years ago, when it was pruned, the leader was cut.  Since then, it has grown into a very huge, very full mushroom shape. 3 years ago, we had it pruned by an expert. Wonderful job.  However, all summer long, small dead branches kept falling off into our driveway.  It is overgrown again and must be pruned again. Hubby wants it pruned and cut way back on the sides and top to make it smaller.  Please advise us for the best time of the year to have it pruned.  Thank you. G. Davis – Philadelphia, PA

A.  With the loss of the leader you now have a large shrub on a trunk.  I am not sure if the person you had prune the tree mentioned about trying to retrain another branch to become a leader and give the tree back its pyramidal shape. This is not essential in this case since the Little Leaf Linden (Tila cordata) can be pruned like a hedge.  Lindens have a tendency to bleed sap if pruned around its growth spurt in spring so avoid late winter through spring for pruning.

Speed Grafting


Posted by Horticulture Guy - Peter Punzi | Posted in Northeast U.S. Gardeners | Posted on 01-10-2006

Q. I’ve heard in the past. You only have about 15 seconds to make your cuts while grafting, and connect the two together…is this true? thank You for any info.  Scot Rabosky – Cape Cod, MA

A.  Maybe if you are grafting in the desert.  The truth to this is that you do not want the exposed cuts to dry out at all.  This is dependent on the relative humidity of where you are working.  There is no magic number of seconds.  Just as critical is that the when the grafting is complete that you immediately cover the union with tape or grafting wax.  You also have to make sure that the rootstock and scion are in the proper physiological state and the cambial regions must be placed in intimate contact and must be compatible.

Overwintering Elephant Ears


Posted by Horticulture Guy - Peter Punzi | Posted in Northeast U.S. Gardeners | Posted on 20-09-2006

Q. I loved the video on planting elephant ears. I have mine in a big clay pot on the patio but need to know how to care for it. So I dig it up after the frost and keep it in a cool dry place but do I separate any new thingabobbers from it now or when I get ready to plant it next spring. Or can I just leave it in the pot for winter. We have some below 0 temps here in Southwest Va. so I don’t want it to freeze on me. Thanks Janet Tester – Tazewell, VA

A. Thanks Janet. Glad you enjoyed my video segment on Elephant Ears (Colocasia esculentum). You can over-winter the elephant ears either way. I usually just pull mine into the sunroom and they grow slowly during the winter. I slow down watering and reduce fertilization as well. If you have a very sunny window where it could fit this could be an option. I think it is easier to overwinter them in their pots and if you want to repot them do it in the spring when you are ready to take them out of dormancy. They key if you put them in a cool, dry, dark place is to make sure the soil in the pots are dry as well. The Elephant Ears have a tendency to rot if they are kept to wet in storage.

Angel Lace Hydrangeas Not Blooming


Posted by Horticulture Guy - Peter Punzi | Posted in Northeast U.S. Gardeners | Posted on 11-09-2006

Q. I planted 3 Angel Lace Hydrangeas in 2005.  They have not bloomed, and I’ve found that they are hardy to zone 6 – I’m in zone 5.  Is this the reason that they haven’t bloomed?  They are green and healthy looking and have probably doubled in size since planting.  Can you give some advice on what to do with them? Erin – Pittsburgh, PA

A. This Lacecap Hydrangea is botanically from Hydrangea macrophylla and therefore is a hydrangea that blooms on previous season’s growth.  What will likely happen with your hydrangea is that although it may survive your winters you will loose the flowers on the old wood and it will not bloom, at least not regularly.  Not every year provides a zone-defining winter and so some years you may have flowers.  You may consider providing additional protection for the winter to protect the old wood.  Building a chicken wire cage around the shrub and filling it with leaves or straw would provide this kind of protection.  Needless to say you would also want to make sure you prune your hydrangeas after they bloom and not wait until later in the season.

Time To Plant Bleeding Heart


Posted by Horticulture Guy - Peter Punzi | Posted in Northeast U.S. Gardeners | Posted on 01-04-2006

Q. When is it safe to plant bleeding heart .I received a plant but know nothing about when I can put it in my garden. Thank you for any advice you can give me.  Christina Mulac – Louisville, Kentucky

A.  Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis) is a hardy perennial in the continental US.  Hardy means it can survive the coldest temperatures in the winter and perennial means it comes up multiple years (as in perennially).  Like other hardy perennials they can be sown in the spring or in the fall.  If you bought the plants as dormant roots then plant them as soon as you can work the soil.  This means waiting until frost leaves the soil and the soil dries out sufficiently.  This prevents damage to the soil structure.  To tell if the soil has dried out sufficiently take a hand full and squeeze it together lightly into a ball.  Then drop it to the soil surface from about 18 inches.  If the ball breaks apart the soil is dry enough to work.  If it stays in a firm ball then you should wait.  If the plant is grown in a container it can also be planted as soon as the soil is ready except if the plant was grown in a protected structure, like an greenhouse or coldframe.  If it was bought at a garden center you can ask them if the plant has been outdoors unprotected for at least two weeks.  If so then plant away! Bleeding heart prefers a partly shady spot – especially when grown in an area with hot summers like you can get in Louisville.