Fruit Tree Pollination


Posted by Horticulture Guy - Peter Punzi | Posted in Gardening Q & A, Midwest U.S. Gardeners, Northeast U.S. Gardeners, Northwest U.S. Gardeners, Outside U.S. Gardeners, Southeast U.S. Gardeners, Southwest U.S. Gardeners | Posted on 25-05-2013

Q. In one of your answers: Shinseiki Asian pear is “considered nearly completely self pollinated” Does it mean there is no need another pollinator? Lisa- from New York

A.  A little background – most fruit trees have a built in mechanism to prevent self fertilization – presumably because self fertilization similar to inbreeding reduces the vigor of future offspring and limits their gene pool.  This mechanism is not completely on or off but varies. So for example one tree may self pollinate 80% of the time and would be considered “nearly completely self pollinating”.  Another may only self pollinate 20% of the time and would be listed as requiring a suitable pollinator.  You may improve the “nearly completely” pollination with a suitable plant (usually shown on a pollination chart) and presumably get close to the additional 20% pollination.  The pollination chart takes into account the time of bloom (since bees don’t as a general rule pollinate with long term storage pollen) and how closely related the plants are.  Usually if trees share parents the self fertilization prevention mechanism can reduce pollination.  To answer your question – yes you do not require an additional tree for pollination – although pollination could be improved.  If you find that you need to thin fruit each year anyway I would say you do not need an additional pollinator tree.

Shady Cherry Laurel


Posted by Horticulture Guy - Peter Punzi | Posted in Southeast U.S. Gardeners | Posted on 29-10-2011

Q. While looking for a plant that would serve as a hedge (about 10′ tall) and grow in full shade, the garden center folks recommended the pruninus caroliniana. What I have read on the web says it needs partial to full sun. Will it grow in full shade? Kay – Charlotte, NC

A. Light requirements recommendations are always a bit shady (go ahead groan) to most people.  In part because there are different kinds of shade – early morning shade, afternoon shade, evening shade, dappled shade, full evergreen shade etc.  Plus you can look at references and see different recommendations in from different authorities. Some of this comes from the fact that shade in the southern latitudes is different than shade in the northern latitudes.  Prunus caroliniana is a native to NC (thus the specific epithet caroliniana) and is what is called a tree like shrub – and so will like to get large and could be trained as a large shrub or a small mutli trunked tree.  My resources indicate that it would be a full sun plant but could tolerate some shade.  One way to determine the amount of light your spot gets is to use a sunlight calculator.  If it reads anything less than partial sun I would suspect the shrub would languish.  If it reads partial shade then perhaps a Clethra alnifolia may work.

A Clover By Any Other Name


Posted by Horticulture Guy - Peter Punzi | Posted in Gardening Q & A, Southeast U.S. Gardeners | Posted on 03-04-2011

Question: On my newly purchased property, I discovered clover with a dark, heart shape in the center of each leaf. I am having difficulty identifying what kind of clover it is. I am very interested to learn what type of clover it is. Thank you! Melinda – Tickflaw, LA

Mystery Clover

Answer: This does look like a clover – it reminds me of  a muted version of Black Four-Leaf Clover ‘Dark Dancer’ (Trifolium repens var. atropurpureum ‘Dark Dancer’).

Dark Dancer Clover

Dark Dancer Clover

But I don’t recall a cultiver with just a spot in the center.  My guess is either this is a cultiver from down south that I am not aware of, or it is a regression of that cultivar or variety that may have produced offspring that had less of a purple mark.  There is an outside chance that is is an Oxalis (which are sometimes confused with Trifolium) but the sure way to know would be to see it in bloom. Trifolium has a ball shaped flower cluster – oxalis has a single 5 petal flower.   If anyone reading this is familiar with this cultivar post a comment or send me an email. 

Ficus outdoors in Texas


Posted by Horticulture Guy - Peter Punzi | Posted in Gardening Q & A, Southeast U.S. Gardeners | Posted on 27-02-2011

Question: I live in Corpus Christi, tx (zone 9a, i believe), my boss has a beautiful 20+ ft ficus tree in his backyard (he said he had two but one died).  I have a really nice outdoor potted ficus that has been outdoors for about two years but I have always brought it in indoors during any freezes.  Usually it gets below freezing one or two days a year.  I was considering planting it outdoors next spring because it is approx. 8 ft tall and the pot is just getting enormous. Im wondering though, can it be done, will it be okay in an open sunny spot?  I have a six foot fence to block most of the east winds,  Should I plant it so it\’s sheltered from the north wind?  Should I keep it short and \”bushlike\” to help prevent it from freezing?  Can I plant smaller plants densely around it to help keep the wind off of it? If left alone im sure this tree will grow upwards of twenty ft and trying to cover that with a sheet is not feasible.  What can i do to help it be as \”winterproof\” as possible?  Mary

Answer: Hello Mary, Thanks for your question. Ficus benjamina’s hardiness zone is 11.  I think you would either need to bring it inside or locate a section of the yard that would be a microclimate (meaning it would stay 2 zones warmer that the surrounding area) and stay above 40 degrees (which is zone 11). Let me know if you have any other questions. Live Long & Garden!

Mystery Flower is a Columbine


Posted by Horticulture Guy - Peter Punzi | Posted in Southeast U.S. Gardeners | Posted on 02-05-2008

Question: I’m trying to identify a flower. We live in Athens, Georgia (she’s about 20 minutes outside of Athens.) and this is something that has been in my friends yard since she moved into the house, and until this year she’s been pulling them up because she thought they were clover. Looks like 2 flowers put together, totally different parts of them. Front part is white w/yellow stamens and back part is purple and looks almost lily-ish.She hadn’t gotten to it this year, and they bloomed. Here’s the link for the pictures… Thanks, Wendy R.
Answer: That is a type of columbine (Aquilegia) a garden perennial. The darker colored part are the sepals and the white the petals. There are many types of columbines. Some produce flowers in a single color or like the one your friend has are bicolored.