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Ed Hume Answers Your Gardening Questions

Ed Hume cannot answer all of the garden questions he receives, but questions of general interest will be answered here every month.  Email your questions to HumeSeeds@aol.com.  Please note: we do not accept attachments.

Before submitting a question, be sure to check the index of previous questions and answers or search our site using key words.  Many questions have already been answered here on the site.

Other February Links

Dry Planting Area

Q My 84 year old Mother lives in Bremerton. For years we have tried to get something to grow in the flower beds right next to the house. Her soil isn't great and seems to have small bark chips in it. Another problem is that this area is under the eaves and doesn't get much water. A few bluebells manage to come up every year, but other than that, everything we've tried doesn't last longer than one season.

Any suggestions? I've about given up, but Mom does enjoy flowers and I'd love to find something that could survive with loving neglect, little water, and much enjoyment.

A That's really tough. Maybe the solution is to plant out at the edge of the eaves, and not try to plant under them. However, here are a few plants that will tolerate some dryness: Yarrow, Artemisia, Coreopsis, Globe Thistle, Gaillardia, Liatris, Sedums, Sage, Statice, Bachelor Buttons, Strawflowers, Cosmos.

Moving (and Pruning) Wisteria

Q We have a large Wysteria growing along the front of the house. I am afraid that it is holding moisture against the house and damaging the siding. I would like to move is to an archway trellis to prevent damage. What is the best way to transplant a Wysteria? Should I prune it beforehand? If so, how much?

A Winter dormant season is one of the best times of the entire year for moving a Wisteria. An established vine is hard to manage in any move, so it will be a lot easier if you cut it back before moving it. They will tolerate quite severe pruning, so cut it back to a size that is going to be manageable for you to move the vine. My guess is that would be back to 4 to 6 feet. However, you can prune even a bit more if needed.

Pruning Apple Trees

Q I've listened to your show and searched the web but I am having trouble finding specific information on how exactly to prune my apple tree. I've never done it before and I know I need to shape the tree, but when I look at it now it is just a jumble of limbs with a lot of new growth shooting up the middle. I've heard to "shape" the branches so the run horizontally--but what does that mean exactly? That I simply cut off all the shoots in the middle?

AIt is really impossible to tell a person how to prune any tree, because every tree has a different growth habit. But, here are a few basic suggestions. First, prune out (or thin out) any spindly growth and growth that criss-crosses, removing the weakest branches. That opens up the tree to allow for better sunlight exposure and for better air circulation. Next, remove the branches (suckers/water sprouts) that go straight up, as these are of little or no value. Now once you have done that you can get a better idea of what else needs to be done. Encourage horizontal growth as it bears best, and again provides better sun exposure, etc. Then it is simply a matter of thinning and shaping, until you get the shape you desire. I suggest you look at the pictures in a pruning book. Or, ask a neighbor or friend that has some experience in pruning, almost always they will be more then happy to give you a helping hand. On the site help, is the best help you can get.

Pruning Fatsia Japonica

Q We have a Fatsia japonica that is growing by the side of our house next to the dining room window. It has gotten so big that it is obstructing our view. I need to prune it. How do I do it and when do I do it?

A Cut back the main stock to the height desired. Mine has frozen clear to the ground and come back beautifully, so they will tolerate quite severe pruning. ,during the winter dormant season is a good time to prune them.

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