Ag News December 2009

Bennett Joffrion  |  12/14/2006 2:35:18 AM

American Holly

Tree Species Profile
American Holly – Ilex opaca

This is a very pretty evergreen tree that should be added to the landscape planting more often. American holly comes into its own, covering itself in bright red, berry-like drupes in the winter.

Like all hollies, American holly is dioecious, so both a male and a female plant are needed for fruit production. Only female trees produce berries.

It generally reaches a height of between 30-40 feet here and can be pruned as an upright conical form. Planted in full sun, they tend to stay very symmetrical.

Brief Recognition Factors
• Bright red berries on female plants.
• Pyramidal form.
• Long-lived tree.
• Yellow-green foliage.
• Wildlife food.
• Good screening tree.

Now, some of the negative aspects. It is important that a male plant be in fairly close proximity to the female plant for berry production.

Leaf miners and scale insects are pest. Iron chlorosis (yellowing) is often a problem if pH is above 6.5 Spines on end of needles.

Overall, this is a very good tree properly placed in the landscape with many cultivars and many different growth characteristics to choose from.


Christmas Cactus

We get a lot of calls after Christmas about how to care for poinsettias, but over the last several years many calls have come in about caring for Christmas cactus.

Christmas cactus is known by the scientific name Schlumbergera bridgesi.

Thanksgiving cactus is a related cactus and its scientific name is Zygocactus truncatus or Schlumbergera truncatus. This cactus blooms from October to November and has rather flat, glossy green leaves that are distinguished by two prominent teeth (claws) at the growing tip. Flowers are usually scarlet. Christmas cactus is distinguished from the Thanksgiving cactus by its rounded leaves and blunt tips. Flowers are carmine-red with a purple tinge in the center.

Care of Cactus

After flowering is complete the plants will produce new vegetative growth. This new growth will support flower buds for the next blooming period. During this active growth period, provide more fertilizer and water. Harden off new growth and increase opportunity for bud development in the fall by reducing irrigation and fertility in mid August.

Holiday cactus thrive in a well-drained, sterile potting medium that is high in organic matter. A soil pH of 5.5 – 6.2 is optimum for growth. A good soluble fertilizer (such as 20-20-20) is recommended.

Allow soil to dry between waterings. Do not over-water. During the growing season, maintain temperatures of 70-80 degrees for ideal growth. Cactus will tolerate 90-100 degree temperatures, but vegetative growth may be reduced.

Tips to do soon.

? Daffodils can be planted through late December.
- Plant gladiolus in late February.
? Watch azaleas in February for lacebugs.
-Plant trees in winter and water well during dry periods.
? Fertilize existing trees in late January and February.

Vegetables to plant in January

Beets, carrots, radishes, turnips, Cabbage, broccoli, mustard, spinach, kale, and Irish potatoes.
Seed in coldframes, hotbed, or greenhouse: Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, Cabbage, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower and lettuce.

Question: I received a Norfolk Island Pine for Christmas. Will this tree live outdoors or must it stay indoors?

Answer: Let me say that Norfolk Island pines will live outdoors but it comes with a risk.

Many people bring them in during the winter and put them outdoors after the threat of frost. While indoors in the winter, it can be placed in full sun during the winter months. During the summer months move it to partial shade.

At the beginning of the answer I put that they will live outdoors here with a risk. I planted a small one twenty four years ago. It did well outside in a protected area for about 10 years and grew well over 15 feet in height. I covered it when temperatures went below freezing several times. After it reached a height over 15 feet it became hard to protect and then we had temperatures in the mid-to low 20’s and those temperatures killed it off.

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