Here are some questions I recently encountered and my responses to them.
Q: We have four large palms and heard we can sell them for a large sum of money. Who do we contact to help us out?
A: Just because you have large palms doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get lots of money. First, make contact with an arborist, who can be found under “Tree Removers” in the Yellow Pages, to see if he or she knows of a place to take your trees. Better still, do you have a willing buyer? Because they are large palms, there will be a great expense removing and transplanting them, such as the cost of a crane and trucking to make the moves. And people often forget about redoing their landscape after the trees are gone.
Q: I’m having good success with the “square foot” gardening method (4-foot-by-4-foot raised bed divided into 1-square-foot sections giving me 16 “plots”). It is time for some of my spring crops to go bye-bye (i.e., carrots). Is there something I can plant now, or do I wait until later in summer to plant the cool season crops?
A: Right now, plant cantaloupe, sweet corn, cucumber, muskmelon, okra, pumpkins, squash and watermelon. Or wait until mid-August and continuing through mid-October to plant broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, collards, endive, kale, lettuce, mustard, parsley, spinach, beets, carrots, garlic, kohlrabi, leeks, onions, parsnips, radishes, rutabagas, turnips, asparagus and horseradish.
Q: Why is my shoestring acacia so weepy? I think it is because the leaves are so heavy, causing the “leader” to bend way over. Do I need to prune it?
A: Yes, shoestring acacias do produce a lot of excessive growth, especially if overwatered. Thin out shoots, especially those loaded with fruit, and it’ll straighten up. And cut back the water to discourage excessive growth.
Q: Have you heard of a bonita ash? My landscaper wishes to plant one in my yard, and I am wondering if it does well in Las Vegas.
A: Dennis Swartzell of Mountain States Wholesale Nursery said bonita ash is a selection of Fraxinus velutina. It makes an excellent substitute for the traditional Modesto ash, which now has many problems. He loves its bright fall color, which lasts much longer than other ashes.
Q: I found a giant beetle — and I mean giant — on my paloverde tree. It is about 3 inches long and an inch wide. What is it and will it damage my trees?
A: It is a paloverde beetle, and you’ll never forget it when you see it. The beetle is a clumsy insect attracted to porch lights. Like cicadas, these beetles spend most of their life underground as grubs feeding on paloverde roots. They emerge from the ground, leaving an inch-size hole, and fly around looking to mate, lay eggs and then die. The eggs hatch, turn into grubs and return to the soil. They don’t cause much harm to the tree.
Q: I just love olive trees and heard about the Swan Hill olive. How will I know that I have purchased one or some other olive?
A: You will find a uniquely numbered tag on each one. This tag will assure you that the tree is a Swan Hill olive and is exempted from the Clark County Health District’s policy restricting the planting of pollen-producing olives. It doesn’t produce pollen.
Q: When I went to purchase an olive tree, I only found it in a 24-inch box and that is too costly for me. Where can I find a smaller plant?
A: The Swan Hill olive only comes in larger sizes, but for a very good reason. The nursery grafts this special tree on to Oblonga rootstock that is resistant to verticillium wilt, a disease in our soils. To ensure that the graft takes (a key point) and the rootstock is under control, the nursery finds it best not to market smaller sizes for your protection.
Q: Will avocados grow in Las Vegas? We have an avocado growing as a houseplant and want to plant it outside.
A: As soon as I say you can’t grow avocados in Las Vegas, I will hear many success stories. But here are the facts: Yes, the tree will grow here, but frost will get it when temperatures drop into the mid-20s. If it gets in the teens, you may lose the tree. You begin losing fruit when temperatures drop below freezing.
Q: What do I do with the flowering stalks of red yuccas after blooming?
A: Taking a pair of pruners, reach down in the bush and remove the stalks. If you are into flower arranging, they make excellent additions to dried flower arrangements.
Q: Is it possible to install a small yard without a formal irrigation system and just hand water it?
A: It is almost impossible. The extreme heat, low rainfall and your new plants need moisture to become established and maintained. Yes, you can drag a hose around, but that soon becomes a nightmare if you want to go on a vacation or become terribly sick. No other person will ever water them like you do.
Q: What can I use to cover a big slope along my backyard to make it look nice?
A: Here are some fast-growing ground covers: acacia redolens, coyote bush, prostrate, myoporum and trailing lantana. Here is a tip to water them so it won’t erode soil away. Remove the bottoms of coffee cans and place on the upside of the plant sunk in soil and put emitters in the cans. The water will drip slowly through the rootball rather than erode away the soil.
Q: When can I trim my rosemary plants?
A: Rosemary can be an invasive plant once it’s established, requiring control around companion plants on a regular basis. To renew plants each year, cut those extending branches back into hard wood about 6 inches in the spring before heat sets in. During the summer, keep the plant groomed.
DRIP IRRIGATION SEMINAR
This free class equips you with the skills to design and install a drip irrigation system. Learn the complete installation process from the street to the plants, including how to select and assemble components from experts from the Southern Nevada Water Authority. Get involved by building a drip system right in the classroom and learn just how easy it is to save water and have great-looking plants. The seminar is at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Springs Preserve, 333 S. Valley View Blvd.
DR. GREEN THUMB SPEAKS
Dr. Green Thumb Speaks is a new addition to the educational program at the Springs Preserve. It is every fourth Saturday, beginning this Saturday at 8:30 a.m. I will focus on your pressing gardening questions and offer seasonal tips on what to do in your garden. At this seminar, we will spotlight things to do in your yard in August to make your gardening experience more enjoyable. Join me at the preserve’s garden. This is a free class.
Linn Mills writes a gardening column each Sunday. You can reach him at email@example.com or call him at 822-7754.