Q: I have a pomegranate plant that I started two years ago. It is about four feet tall now, and looks like it wants to be a bush. Can I trim all the little branches off except the biggest one and try to make it a tree?
A: Pomegranates can be trained as a bush, which they normally want to be anyway, or they can be trained into a single or multiple-trunked tree. I prefer them as a multitrunked tree myself. I usually pick three to five of the largest stems coming from the ground and remove the rest below ground level. Each winter, I remove any new sucker growth from the base and just retain three to five oldest stems.
It is important to remove the suckers below ground level. Do not just simply cut the suckers off at soil level. Pull soil away from the suckers and remove them from the mother plant. This should not be more than a few inches below the soil level.
Suckers can be removed anytime of the year, but removal during the winter months is most common. If you continue to remove suckers for the next five years, they will stop producing suckers or the number of suckers will decrease significantly.
The multitrunk tree will have little to no sucker removal and you can just prune the tops each winter.
If you do not remove these suckers at least annually then you will have sucker development for many more years to come.
Q: I ordered an avocado tree online and followed the directions for care. I understood it was compatible with the Las Vegas climate but it kept loosing leaves. New leaves would grow but I finally gave up on it. Just for fun, I presoaked a pit from a fresh avocado and I planted it outside and it’s doing well. Now that the weather is cooling down, should I leave it in the ground or transplant it to a pot and bring it inside? What do you recommend I do with it in the spring? Would it ever bear fruit?
A: A lot of people would really love to grow avocados here, but they are very “iffy” in our climate. For the most part, I would discourage most gardeners from planting them. If you could get it to survive here it would bear fruit.
The usual reason for dropping leaves is a watering problem; going from dry to wet and back again. If you are going to experiment with an avocado I would suggest putting down a 4 to 6-inch layer of wood mulch around the trees, but keep the mulch a foot away from the trunk for the first five years. I think you will see a big difference.
If you just have to grow an avocado tree focus on the more cold hardy types such as the variety “Mexicola”. Find a warm spot in the yard out of the wind. Store bought avocado fruit, such as Hass or Fuerte, are not cold hardy varieties. These would be best as houseplants or grown in greenhouses.
Avocados are really big trees. Another possibility is to try a dwarf avocado and put it in a container. There is one true dwarf avocado called “Wurtz” or marketed sometimes as “Little Cado”.This variety does not tolerate any freezing temperatures at all, so you must move it into a spot that will not freeze at the first hint of a frost.
If you just want to play around and experiment then by all means do that. Just remember that avocados are typically not tolerant of our winter cold.
Q: Would you help me solve what varmint has gobbled down the vegetables in my two raised vegetable gardens? I have a fence and bird net around each but the culprits keep getting in. Thought you maybe could figure it out from the way the vegetables are chewed.
A: That sure looks like rabbit damage to me from the pictures you sent to me.
They are very good at lifting fencing with their noses and pushing it up and getting in and out. Rabbit fencing has to be tacked down to the ground tightly or buried for good control.
My experience with plastic fencing and rabbits is that they chew right through it. Also, if there is any gap in the fencing AT ALL, they will squeeze or push their way through particularly if they are hungry or your veggies are appetizing
If you have not done this, I would strongly suggest metal chicken wire with 1 inch hexagonal openings. You will also find that baby rabbits will be able to go through this 1 inch opening the first couple of months after they are born.
The fencing must be buried a couple inches deep all around the perimeter. The fencing must have no openings at all. If they are overlapped, overlap them about a foot and join them together with wires so they cannot be pushed open.
The fencing needs to be at least two feet high and supported with metal stakes so that it cannot be bent to the ground.
I usually use a top wire that goes from stake to stake to support the top of the fencing and keep it upright.
Bob Morris is a horticulture expert living in Las Vegas and professor emeritus for the University of Nevada. Visit his blog at xtremehorticulture.blogspot.com.