60°F
weather icon Clear

Be gentle with au naturel trees

Question: This question is regarding our bottle tree. Should we trim and shape the tree? It has grown to a considerable height. The wind, appearance, and health of the tree are our concerns. Does the cracking on the trunk need addressing? And should I wrap the trunk in winter?

Very nice-looking tree. I posted the picture you sent me on my blog. I would not do anything to it. The cracking in the trunk is normal for an aging tree. It should not have difficulty handling a normal winter of freezing temperatures.

I know it may not look picture-perfect, but that is what can be charming about these types of trees used in our environment. As it grows, it will naturally fill in some of the voids.

You could prune it to shape it a bit, but be very careful when you do this and do not change it radically, or the plant may respond in a way that you may not like.

Don’t do anything dramatic to it or you could end up with some problems such as sunburn on the lower limbs and, consequently, dieback.

If you are going to do some pruning, do it this winter and hire someone who has a good reputation with shaping trees. This tree is a focal point on your property and needs special care.

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.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Select desert plants for privacy hedge

My Saturday, four-week class, “Fix Your Landscape” will start Oct. 26 in North Las Vegas. This weekly landscaping class will show you design tricks that save water and electricity, plant selections that work, planting methods that are successful and how to fix problems, and irrigation installation and how to water.

Skeletonizer damages leaves of yellow bells

Skeletonizer insect damage is common to Tecoma in warmer parts of the Southwest. It’s feeding damage by the young — or larvae — of a moth given the common name Tecoma leaf tier skeletonizer.

Over-pruning tomato plants could lead to sunburn

You can harvest fruit from tomato plants when it’s hot, but they won’t set fruit again from new growth until the temperature drops back into the mid-90s. Either pull the tomato plants when they’re done producing and plant new ones from seed or prune the old ones back and let them flower and fruit again when it’s cooler.

Late afternoon direct sun can be damaging to roses

Somewhat tender plants like roses and crape myrtle can handle the intense desert heat and sunlight if they are growing in soil amended with organics and the soil is covered with mulch that rots or decomposes. Roses and crape myrtle will struggle after a few years when planted in soils covered by rock

Wet, humid spring weather caused influx of aphids

The high population of aphids this year was caused by our wet and humid spring weather. The fastest way to get rid of them is to drench the soil beneath the tree with a systemic insecticide diluted in a bucket of water.

Grasshoppers can be destructive to yards

Grasshoppers start cute and small with small appetites and jump from plant to plant. But as they grow bigger, their increased appetites cause more and more damage to landscapes.

Good tomato crop probably a result of cool spring weather

Tomatoes stop setting fruit when air temperatures stay consistently above 95 degrees. The tomatoes that set earlier continue to grow and mature when it stays hot. If the air temperature drops below 95 for a couple of days, new flowers will again set fruit.