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Bob Morris

Water - too much or too little - root of problems

Q: I planted six Podocarpus in March, three by the north wall and three by the south wall. Now the three on the north wall have leaves that are turning brown. The three on the south wall are fine. I didn’t realize that the trees would get this much sunscald. Any suggestions on what I can do, besides give them macronutrients and hope for the sun to change course?

Girdling keeps plant roots from spreading properly

Q: We notice that some of our trees don’t seem to be rooting into the soil properly. We assume it’s because of improper root ball preparation or girdling roots. Our test to see if the tree has rooted after at least one growing season is to bend the tree trunk back and forth. If the root ball under the soil easily moves when the tree is pushed, we assume that the tree has poor or little rooting into the surrounding soil.

Taper of the trunk indicates tree's strength

Q: I have read that African sumacs are fast growers. The African sumacs here seem to be at a stand still. I have had two in my backyard since April. They are alive but the canopy and trunk just seem the same; there has been perhaps 10 percent growth. The trees are solid with tall, thin trunks, about ½ to ¾ inch in diameter, with a canopy that branches out at 8 feet. There are no branches or leaves below that. The trees are staked high and the stems are all finger diameter. Will they take off eventually?

Fungus likely to blame for spots in lawn

Lawns are getting toasted right now. This is a stressful time of year for plants, particularly those that are not truly desert plants. Temperatures are out of their “comfort zone” and they become susceptible to diseases because they are less capable of fighting through a problem.