67°F
weather icon Mostly Cloudy

February pruning, irrigating, fertilizing may revive old grapevine

Q: I am trying to revive an old grapevine that has been neglected. It produces plenty of grapes but of poor quality. It has been untrimmed and unsupported for years. The trunk is rotted halfway through and splitting.

A: This year, just get it growing and don’t worry about producing any fruit. This requires pruning, irrigating and an application of fertilizer all done in February. We can discuss this at my grape pruning classes Fridays and Saturdays offered on Eventbrite.

Remove excessive vine growth from the trunk. Select only two “arms” and leave only these attached to the trunk. Remove all the others. Cut these two arms back so they are each about 6 feet long. Support them so they are off the ground.

Next, locate smaller branches coming from the arms. Prune back these smaller branches coming from the arms, so they are 12 inches long. These are called “canes.” Observe where the fruit was produced on these canes.

Build a flat, dirt basin around the vine about 6 feet in diameter and 4 inches tall. Irrigate with about 30 gallons of water around the base of the vine and fill the basin with this water. Grapevine roots can be 30 feet deep or more. It will need this water to repair itself.

After the soil has been wetted, apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer, manure or compost in the basin and apply it no closer than 12 inches from the trunk. Use about 2 cups of fertilizer, or a 5-gallon bucket of manure or compost. Water this in with 5 to 10 gallons of water. Be sure not to apply this fertilizer, manure or compost near the trunk.

Water once a week in February to push new growth. You may or may not see flowering and berries depending on how much damage was done or how you prune it.

Next year, the fruit will be produced on growth from the current year. Where the fruit is produced on the cane will tell you if it should be cane-pruned or spur-pruned.

Follow good grape pruning practices in 2020. This year, just get it growing and observe where the fruit is produced. These efforts may not improve the eating quality of the grapes appreciably. If you still don’t like the grapes, replace the vine.

Q: I want to grow gardenias. I live in the desert and wonder what is the best soil and where I should plant gardenias in the yard. How much sun do they need? Do they need to be kept in pots or planted in the ground?

A: There are pluses and minuses when keeping gardenias in pots or containers; in some ways, containers make growing gardenias easier and, in other ways, more difficult. But first things first.

Gardenias are not desert plants. The reality is if you want to grow gardenias in the desert, then they will cost more to maintain and take more time to properly care for.

They are native to tropical and semitropical parts of the world that are nondesert. This means to grow them successfully, we need to try to emulate their native growing conditions as closely as possible. If you agree with that plan, then let’s get them planted.

*Light. They need light for flowering, but too much light will damage them because of the intensity of our desert sun. But planting them in too much shade will cause them to grow but not flower much. If it’s way too much shade, they won’t flower at all.

Typically, growing them on the east or north side of a home so they are shaded from the intense afternoon sunlight will work.

* Soil. The soil where they are planted should be amended so it is similar to the soils in parts of Africa and Asia where they are native. This means amend or mix into the soil a good quality compost when planting.

Dig the planting hole at least three times the diameter of the store-bought container. The hole doesn’t have to be deep, just wide, because plant roots grow horizontally where the fertilizer is applied.

Don’t cover the soil around them with rock. Use a 3-inch depth of woodchips so that it decomposes into the soil and continue to improve it as it decomposes.

* Potted or not? The good thing about containers is they can be moved to a different location if the first location is not the best. They can be moved into the garage if freezing temperatures are extreme. They can take temperatures down to 15 degrees F. They are semi-tropical plants so freezing could be a problem some extreme winters!

Secondly, container soils are isolated from bad landscape soils and can be amended much easier than landscape soils. But container plants require more upkeep. Every couple of years the plant should be removed from the container, the roots cut and the whole plant repotted with fresh soil.

Organic fertilizers such as compost are best but mineral fertilizers could be used if the soil is covered in decomposing woodchips. A single application of compost or a mineral fertilizer in mid-February is enough for general care, but if these are your pride and joy, then lightly fertilize these plants three or four times a year with a rose fertilizer.

To help prevent yellowing of the leaves during the growing season, add an iron fertilizer to the soil along with your first fertilizer application.

Q: Please advise on how to prune pineapple guava.

A: It’s not clear if you are using the shrub for its fruit or as an ornamental for its flowers. If you are harvesting fruit, then prune just after harvesting the fruit. If you are pruning it as an ornamental, prune after it flowers.

Don’t use hedge shears. Instead, remove about one-fourth of its entire canopy by reaching deep inside the shrub and cutting a stem with hand pruners just above a side branch. Perhaps three or four cuts like this are all that is necessary. Your cuts should be hidden, not easily seen, and removal of a stem should not leave a huge, gaping hole.

This type of pruning opens the shrub to sunlight, reduces its density and causes more growth to occur throughout the canopy. It is done every two to three years, and cleanup is quick and simple. Besides, it is the proper way to prune shrubs of this type.

Cutting only on the perimeter of the canopy with hedge shears causes the shrub to become dense, boxy and not open to sunlight. This dense shading suppresses growth on the inside and, instead, stimulates growth only on the perimeter. The inside of the plant becomes leafless and woody.

Q: Is it too early to begin to hard prune Texas rangers? We have a lot of them at our condo development. They have been sheared into balls over the years by our landscapers. If we could hard prune them now it would help our landscapers with scheduling other maintenance work.

A: Texas ranger, or Texas sage as it is sometimes called, should be pruned before flowers begin forming in early spring. Prune it hard, once in February, and don’t prune it again all season long. Remove as much of this shrub is you want, and it will come back with a little bit of fertilizer and water.

Consider pruning it 8 to 10 inches from the ground and don’t prune it anymore for the rest of the season. This should save your landscaping crew quite a bit of work.

It will grow back quickly with water and fertilizer. Yes, it’s that easy. Don’t let your landscapers use hedge shears on it repeatedly through the growing season. All they do is cut off the flowers and charge you for it.

Bob Morris is a horticulture expert and professor emeritus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Visit his blog at xtremehorticulture.blogspot.com. Send questions to Extremehort@aol.com.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Heavier traffic expected from EDC festival attendees
Electric Daisy Carnival attendees began to vacate the Las Vegas Motor Speedway starting before 5 a.m., the majority heading south on Interstate 15.
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DJ Steve Aoki visits Las Vegas comic book store
DJ Steve Aoki visits Torpedo Comics in Las Vegas Friday, May 17, 2019, for a signing for his new comic book series "Neon Future." (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas Smith & Wollensky opens at The Venetian
After 18 years, the Smith & Wollensky location on Las Vegas’ south Strip closed in 2017, to be re-born two years later with a rib-cutting — instead of a ribbon-cutting — in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Colin Cantwell, Creator Of Iconic Star Wars Ships Visits Vegas
Colin Cantwell, who created and designed such "Star Wars" ships as the X-Wing fighter, and Death Star, met fans at Rogue Toys in Las Vegas today. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Beauty & Essex in Las Vegas makes an EDC Wonder Wheel
In honor of the Electric Daisy Carnival, Beauty & Essex at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas makes its Wonder Wheel party-worthy. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Giada talks Vegas Uncork’d
Giada De Laurentiis talks during Aperitivo Hour, a Vegas Uncork'd event, at her Caesars Palace restaurant, Pronto, May 10, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Scenes from Vegas Uncork’d 2019 on the Las Vegas Strip
The 13th edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit brought four days of food, wine, celebrity chefs and parties to town, May 9-12. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three ingredients Gordon Ramsay can’t live without
Bon Appetit's Andy Baraghani interviews the "Hell's Kitchen" chef during a Vegas Uncork'd event at Caesars Palace, May 11, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Uncork’d launches wiith bubbles and a blade
Dozens of chefs representing some of the Strip’s top restaurants gathered Thursday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to launch the 2019 edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bunky the Clown at the clown convention
Bob "Bunky the Clown" Gretton talks about his life as a clown and the Clown Convention which was in Las Vegas at Texas Station this week. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Frying soft-shell crab at Lola’s in Las Vegas
At Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen in Las Vegas, soft-shell crab is breaded and fried and served either as an appetizer, po’boy or platter. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
The Stove in Henderson makes Pecan Pie Pancakes
At The Stove in Henderson, chef/partner Antonio Nunez stacks buttermilk pancakes with pecans and dulce de leche and tops them pie crust crumbs. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vinnie Paul remembered at Count's Vamp'd
The late rocker's favorite table at one of his favorite clubs in Las Vegas. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
4DX movie experience at Red Rock
4DX movie experience during a demo reel at Red Rock. (Christopher Lawrence/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What To Do On May The 4th
There are plenty of events going on May the 4th this year around Las Vegas. Celebrate Star Wars and Comic Book Day all at once. The Rogue Toys, the 501st, Rebel Legion and Millennium Fandom Bar are all hosting fun events to help celebrate your geek-dom. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Water Sports Introduces New Attraction At Lake Las Vegas
Las Vegas Water Sports will debut its new aqua park attraction at Lake Las Vegas Days this weekend. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Making the Space Invader at Greene St. Kitchen in Las Vegas
Lysa Huerta, pastry cook at Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms in Las Vegas, starts with angel food cake, Fruity Pebbles ice cream and strawberry sorbet to create a space creature engulfed in flashing lights and swirling mists. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Pools
The M, Park MGM and NoMad are just a few great pools in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jose Andres explains Iberico pork
(Al Mancini/Las Vega Review-Journal)
Inside Life is Beautiful
Craig Asher Nyman explains how Life is Beautiful festival is booked and talks about this year's line-up. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America Pops Up In Vegas
Tattoo'd America, a new pop-up attraction on the Linq Promenade, had their grand opening Friday. The attraction is dedicate to the culture of tattoos. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jose Andres gets key to the Strip
Chef Jose Andres was presented with a Key to the Las Vegas Strip and a proclamation declaring April 26 Jose Andres Day in Clark County by County Commissioner Tick Segerblom on Friday. The ceremony took place at his restaurant Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sadelle’s in Las Vegas makes a grilled cheese with an inverted bagel
Michael Vargas, executive sous chef at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas, inverts an everything bagel and grills it with Swiss, cheddar and Muenster cheeses to make the Inverted Bagel Grilled Cheese. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures
Kassandra Lopez at Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prime rib is carved tableside at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas
Dave Simmons, executive chef of Lawry’s The Prime in Las Vegas, which plans special cuts for National Prime Rib Day, demonstrates the restaurant’s service from rolling tableside carving carts. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making gluten-free pizza at Good Pie in Las Vegas
Good Pie owner/pizzaiola Vincent Rotolo makes his gluten-free pizza.
Rockabilly fans enjoy Las Vegas weather poolside
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender runs Thursday, April 18th through Sunday, April 21st with a huge car show on Saturday featuring The Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers and The Coasters. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Spray grapevines to control pests

Grapeleaf skeletonizer and grape flea beetle were found in the orchard during the last couple of days. These two pests damage grape leaves but few other plants.

Removing dead fronds doesn’t affect health of sago

Q: The top ring of sago palmfronds died after I transplanted it but remain on the plant. I left this brown ring of fronds around the crown of the plant and it looks like new growth coming from the center is OK. Should I trim off the dead fronds without disturbing the crown or just let them fall off?

Yellow leaves not necessarily caused by fertilizer

Q: I see many times where you’ve said fruit trees only need feeding in the spring. However, without periodic applications of nitrogen, my 3-year-old peach tree leaves become yellow. Could there something going on I should investigate?

Waxleaf privet should have more than one drip emitter

Q: I purchased a few waxleaf privet plants in February. They were planted in my yard using drip irrigation with one drip emitter per plant for about one month now. I am starting to see some black markings and yellowing on the leaves. I also think there may be some root rot, but I am unsure.

Removing excess fruit allows remaining fruit to grow larger

If you have fruit trees, the next big tree management activity you are facing is fruit thinning or removing excessive amounts of fruit so that the remaining fruit gets larger. Peaches, nectarines, plums, apples and pears must have excessive fruit removed if you want larger fruit. Do this as soon as the fruit reaches the size of your thumbnail.

Proper pruning, thinning, irrigation increases fruit size

Q: Peaches from my dwarf peach tree were very small again last year. This is the third year the fruit developed into a small size. We fertilize them twice a year with vegetable spikes and our in-ground system fertilizer system has Dr. Benson’s Natural Mix added five times per year. Any suggestions?

Grape varieties grown in hot dry climates do best here

Q: I am from San Miguel Community Garden, a nonprofit garden located near the North Las Vegas Airport. We are considering adding more grape plants to the garden. We have Flaming Red and Thompson grapes. You said you have grown many different varieties in the Las Vegas Valley, and I was wondering if you would share with me other varieties that were successful for you so we can explore them as well.