Tree Planting Time

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010 by Jenny Watts
    • Choose chrysanthemums in a variety of colors now. They are hardy perennials which will brighten your garden each fall.
    • Plant cover crops in areas of the garden that have finished producing for the summer. Crimson clover and fava beans will grow over the winter and enrich the soil for next year.
    • Apples, pears and other fruit trees can be planted in the fall from containers to get a head start on next spring.
    • Plant snapdragons, pansies and violas for color this fall, winter and next spring.
    • It’s time to divide overgrown perennials that bloomed in the spring or early summer. It’s also a good time to choose and plant some new varieties.

It’s the Perfect Time to Plant a Tree

A tree is a marvelous creation and it will greatly enhance your home and garden. It can provide colorful fall leaves, flowers, fruit or nuts and air conditioning in the summer time. Trees clean our air while giving us shade and beauty.

Fall is an excellent time to plant a tree, so here are some steps to follow for success.

1. Dig the hole two or three times as wide as the container or root ball of the tree, and the same depth as the rootball. Roughen the sides so the roots can penetrate the native soil.

2. Remove the container just before the tree is put into the hole. Lift the tree by the root ball instead of the trunk, and minimize the time the roots are exposed to the air. Roots circling the root ball should be cut vertically in five places around the outside. Cut off matted roots from the bottom of the root ball.

3. Set the root ball on undisturbed soil. Adjust the “best” side of the tree in the direction you want. Make sure the top surface of the root ball is even with, or slightly above, the ground level.

4. Fill in the hole around the root ball with the soil you dug out of the hole. Tamp down the soil as you fill it in until the hole is 2/3 full.

5. Water the tree to help settle the soil, then finish filling the hole but do not cover the top of the tree’s root ball. Don’t tamp this soil.

6. Use the remaining soil to make a berm around the edge of the planting hole. Fill this basin with water to thoroughly wet and settle the soil.

7. Remove any stake that came with the tree. Restake your tree only if the tree cannot support itself. Use two stakes and place them 12 inches away from the trunk on either side to support the tree against the wind. Make the ties loose enough so the tree can sway and bend in the wind.

If you are planting a tree in a lawn remove the grass at least two feet from the trunk of the tree. Grass roots will out compete a young tree for water and nutrients, stunting the tree’s growth.

Make sure the site you pick to plant the tree will accommodate the tree after it has matured. If planting close to your house, choose a smaller or slower-growing tree, unless, of course, you are trying to block out an undesirable view.

A tree planted in the fall will put on much more growth next summer than the same sized tree planted next spring. The soil will retain moisture better now and the roots can get established while the soil is still warm.

It’s fall, and time to plant a tree!

Trees for Summertime Livin’

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010 by Jenny Watts
    • Fall vegetables can be planted now for a fall harvest of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, chard and lettuce.
    • Rose of Sharon, with its hibiscus-like flowers, is a lovely summer bloomer in our climate. It grows 6 to 8 feet tall in full sun or part shade.
    • Sow these vegetable seeds directly in the soil: carrots, chard, lettuce, mustard, peas, radish, spinach and root vegetables. Keep the surface of the soil moist until the seedlings are established.
    • Divide Oriental poppies and bearded iris now. Add some bone meal in the bottom of the hole when you replant them.
    • Trim grapevines to allow more sun to reach the fruit and sweeten the grapes, if they are being shaded heavily by the foliage.

Trees for Summertime Livin’

Trees are never appreciated more than in the summer when their welcome shade provides a cool escape from the brutal sun. Though most of our trees bloom in the spring, there are a few trees that offer both shade and flowers to enjoy throughout the summer.

Crape Myrtle, Lagerstroemia indica, is perhaps the best known of our summer-flowering trees. In Willits they start blooming in August and continue into the fall. It is often chosen for a small tree because of its brilliant blossoms which come in all shades of pink, red, and lavender. The trunks and bark are also attractive and it grows well in small spaces. Easy to grow, the new crape myrtle varieties resist disease, grow faster and give you longer lasting, brighter blooms. The most popular color now is bright red, ‘Dynamite’.

Another beautiful tree is Albizia julibrissin, known by several common names including “Mimosa” and “Silk Tree.” This gracefully spreading tree grows to a height of 15 to 25 feet, spreading to 25 – 35 feet wide. It is fast growing and has a low branching habit that often creates multiple trunks. The delicate, lacy, almost fern-like foliage is very attractive. Fragrant, silky, pink puffy pompom blooms appear in the summer. The litter problem of the blooms, leaves and long seed pods requires consideration when planting this tree. Mimosa is popular for use as a terrace or patio tree for its light, dappled shade and tropical effect. The variety ‘Flame’ has rose-red flowers that are very beautiful.

Another lovely tree, which is not well-known, is the Chitalpa. It is a tough tree that does well in hot, dry areas. It grows 20 to 40 feet tall and as wide with soft leaves and beautiful blooms. Indeed the blossoms are its crowning glory. The fragrant and orchid-like flowers appear at the tips of the branches from early summer to fall, in shades of lavender and pink. The multi-trunked habit makes it well suited for a wide screen. Its light shade allows enough light for flowers to grow beneath.

Evergreen magnolias, Magnolia grandiflora, offer a long season of sweet scented white flowers in the summer. These magnificent trees are slow-growing but provide an excellent backdrop to a large garden, or a tall, spreading shade tree. Their glossy, leathery leaves, 4-8 inches long, are attractive throughout the year. The fruit is a cone-like cluster (to 3-5” long) of rosy-red glossy seeds. Magnolia trees are heat-resistant and tolerate wet soil. There are also smaller forms available with the same deliciously fragrant white flowers.

Flowering trees provide a focal point for the summer garden or patio area and add to your enjoyment of the outdoors.

Flowering Plums Announce Spring!

Sunday, February 28th, 2010 by Jenny Watts
    • Last chance to spray peach and nectarine trees for peach leaf curl before the buds break open. Use copper sulfate wettable powder for the best results.
    • Broccoli, cabbage, lettuce and other cool season vegetable plants can be set out now for a spring crop.
    • Flowering dogwoods and tulip magnolias can be planted now during the dormant season from balled & burlapped specimens.
    • Asparagus will provide you with delicious, low-priced spears for years to come if you plant them now from dormant crowns.
    • Fragrant daphne is an early-blooming shrub that will delight you with its strongly scented blooms each spring. Plant it in well-drained soil.

Flowering Plum Trees

Some of the showiest flowering trees in the springtime are flowering plums. Their pink flowers, which are coming into bloom right now, are always a pleasant sign that spring is on the way.

These trees are widely planted throughout California. Their reddish purple foliage, which appears after the flowers are through, remains colored throughout the entire growing season. All varieties are deciduous, dropping their leaves in the fall.

Flowering plums are small trees, growing 20-25 feet tall. They are densely branched and should be thinned to remove crossing branches after they bloom. They should not, however, be “headed” or they will just become more thickly branched. “Thinning” cuts remove whole branches down to where they meet a larger branch; “heading” cuts remove the end of a branch, leaving a stub.

The Blireiana plum has beautiful, large, fragrant, double pink flowers that bloom over a long season. The tree grows to 25 feet tall and 20 feet wide with long, slender branches. The leaves start out reddish purple, turning to greenish bronze in summer. It is a choice ornamental tree for the lawn or patio, as it produces little or no fruit.

Krauter Vesuvius is the best known variety for its dark reddish purple leaves in the summer. It is known as the “purple leaf plum”. Its flowers are a lovely, light pink and are smaller than those of the Blireiana. It grows to about 20 feet tall and 15 feet wide with an upright branching habit. It produces a good crop of small fruits in summer which can be quite a mess around paved areas.

Crimson Pointe™ is the first and only columnar shaped, purple leafed, ornamental plum on the market. This deciduous tree has glossy bronze foliage, that turns a deep merlot-burgundy color in summer. It produces showy white flowers and dark purple fruit, and will eventually reach 20 feet tall and 5 feet wide. It is good for a side yard or other narrow area or can be planted in a single line to draw the view toward a focal point.

Flowering plums are tough trees that take hot dry weather and tolerate drought. They will grow in any type of soil, and prefer a sunny location. They are a good size for most yards, adding beauty as well as some shade to the landscape.

If you are looking for a small, ornamental, flowering tree the flowering plum may be the tree for you.