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March 24, 2018
Last year our roses died from an attack of Japanese Beetles. We want to replace them
with something else. We get afternoon sun and they are in front of our windows so we don't want anything that would get too
large. What do you recommend?
I am assuming that you want something with color and that is evergreen since it is
along the front of the house, but if you are plagued with Japanese beetles, I assume
you live in the northern tier of our state. There are several choices. There are
large selections of dwarf Abelia that have variegated foliage, will tolerate full
sun and bloom with tiny white flowers all summer. You could also do a mix of some
evergreen hollies and boxwoods but then throw in some deciduous shrubs like ninebark--with
varieties with purple, orange or green foliage and white flowers in the summer; dwarf
fothergilla with beautiful white flowers in the spring and outstanding orange fall
foliage; itea with white flowers and red fall foliage and dwarf butterfly bushes.
If you don't live in the northern tier, several varieties of Loropetalum will do well
in the southern 2/3 of the state--check varieties because mature size will vary with
the variety you choose.
November 25, 2017
I planted six box woods this time last fall. It looked like good soil and we had pulled
up rangy azaleas first. They did well all spring and summer. Last month they started
dying, twig by twig starting from one end of the row and slowly working to the other
end. I tried a 3 in 1 pest spray recommended at the nursery, but they continue to
die back. I feel they've been watered adequately. Hate to lose the investment, but
if I pull them up, will future plants be in jeopardy? Or might adequate soil amendment
help? I've seen just a few other boxwoods like this around, but most look very healthy.
I would take a sample in to your local extension office. You want to sacrifice one
plant and take in stems, roots and even the crown of the plant. There is a boxwood
blight and they also can be affected by nematodes. It seems a bit quick to hit the
whole planting, so I would want to know what is going on before replanting in the
site. The sample will be sent to our disease diagnostic lab and they can properly
identify the cause of your problems.
July 9, 2016
I've just noticed today that I have a disease or infestation on new growth in my boxwood
hedge. It is all white and at the moment seems to be on the stems only. Leaves do
not appear to be affected at this time. It looks and feels like baking soda or talcum
powder. If possible, tell me what it and what would be my course for combating this
We have received reports from all over the state about this white powdery substance
that moves. Early on we did have wooly aphids, and now we seem to have more of a
flatid planthopper insect. While the immature nymph does closely resemble white wooly
aphid, and excrete honeydew like aphids, it is a different insect. They feed in much
the same way, but the biggest difference is that planthoppers move quickly when disturbed
and often jump or hop for several inches whereas woolly aphids are more sedentary.
Normally they are not found in numbers that require attention, but the same pesticides
labeled for aphids will give adequate control of flatid planthoppers --insecticidal
soap, a strong spray of water, Orthene, or Malathion. It looks worse than it is, so
don’t be alarmed.
We need some suggestions or ideas for an evergreen barrier that will get to 3-4 ft
tall in pm sun on the south and west side of our yard. We want to run this about 100
ft long. Water is no problem. Types and spacing ideas would be greatly appreciated.
There are a wide range of plants that stay in the 3-4 foot range including compacta
hollies, loropetalum—both green leafed and purple leafed (check variety height), Indian
hawthorne, boxwoods and even nandinas. All will take full sun. For a denser hedge,
stagger the planting in a zigzag pattern instead of in a straight row.
Please check the attached picture of topiary (maybe holly). We think this may be caused
by the heavy rains...the pots are large and have no drainage holes. There are spots
on the leaves and overall they don’t look good.
The picture wasn’t very clear, but it appears to be a boxwood. I also think the problem
lies with the container having no drainage hole. It doesn’t matter how large the pot
is, if it gets natural rainfall, it is swimming. And we have had a lot of rain lately.
Try to drill some holes in the pot and see if it doesn’t improve. I wouldn’t expect
much change this winter—the damaged leaves won’t re-green, but hopefully further damage
can be avoided. I bet if you tilt the pot on its side water will pour out.
Are there shrubs (besides azalea, rhododendron, and camellia) that will grow well
under pine trees?
Pines tend to have a high enough canopy that most shade and partial shade tolerant
shrubs do well. Cleyera, aucuba, fatsia, hollies and boxwoods are all possible choices,
but there are numerous others. Soil acidity can be a long-term concern under pines,
but most of these plants are pretty tolerant.
(March 2010) My boxwoods have greened up and look great EXCEPT I forgot to trim them
back in February. Will I mess up if I trim back now our do I just wait till next year?
Evergreens that are grown for foliage and do not bloom can lightly be shaped at almost
any season. Heavy pruning—more than one third should be done as early in the spring
or late winter as possible to catch that burst of new growth that can help the plants
quickly recover. Boxwoods are a bit tricky, in that they have such dense outer foliage
that there is basically no growth on the interior of the plant. Pruning back leaves
the plant looking pretty barren. As long as you can prune by early April, I think
you can still expect the plant to fill back in fairly quickly--much later than that
and you have a pretty homely plant for a season.
Spring has sprung and time, I think, to do some bush trimming. We have 4 large boxwood
shrubs in front of our office. Is it ok to trim them back at this time? Thanks for
If they need trimming do so as soon as possible. Boxwood shrubs (Buxus sempervirens)
tend to have very dense outer foliage, leaving a fairly bare interior to the plant.
If you wait too late to prune, the recovery time is slow and you end up looking at
a pretty ugly plant for a period of time. After you prune, give them a light application
of fertilizer to aid in their re-growth. Just because it is spring, doesn’t mean every
plant needs pruning. Be sure you know why, when and how to prune the shrubs in your
I have two dwarf nandinas that have grown larger than I want. Can these be trimmed
back severely, and if so, when is the best time to trim them? I also have boxwoods--Is
it too late to trim these? I usually trim them in early spring and again in October.
Dwarf nandinas can occasionally get overgrown, and can be pruned if needed. They tend
to grow fairly slowly, so annual pruning is not needed. If you plan to prune I would
do so as soon as possible. I prefer to prune nandinas as they green up in the spring
of the year, to allow ample time for recovery before fall and winter—their prettiest
season in my opinion. The reason I wouldn’t prune much later is when the summers get
horrid, there is little new growth on our plants—they conserve energy to survive.
Boxwoods can be shaped as needed, but do keep in mind that most of the foliage on
these plants is on the exterior of the plants. The outer foliage is so dense, there
is little growth on the interior of the plants. Allow recovery time, since they often
look fairly ugly following a good pruning.
Are there shrubs (besides azalea, rhododendron, and camellia)that will grow well under
I have a new home that is surrounded by woods. We have quite a few deer that we are
feeding in the woods. I want to landscape the front of my house soon. Can you tell
me any plants that deer are not interested in? The house will have northern exposure.
The sun comes across the house so the front has sun most of the day.
We do have a list of deer resistant plants that we can send you. However, one word
of warning: if you are feeding the deer, you are encouraging them. As long as you
continue to have food for them, they should be happy, but if it runs out they can
wreak havoc on your landscape. If desperate enough, they can begin to feed on supposedly
deer resistant plants. Boxwoods and yaupon hollies are two standard evergreen plants
that they usually steer clear of. Others include buckeye, elaeagnus, abelia, nandina
and aucuba. On the flip side, they love azaleas, hosta and daylilies, so you may want
to avoid those.
I have several large overgrown hollies and boxwoods in my yard. I know I was supposed
to prune them in February, but time slipped away and they didn’t get done. Have I
waited too late? I need to cut them back by at least one third, but I don’t want to
look at dead looking twigs all summer either. What is my best bet?
There is still plenty of time. Severe pruning - taking off more than one third, can
be done any time from late February through April. You can even get by with pruning
into June, but by mid to late June, temperatures start rising and rainfall usually
decreases, thus we see less new growth. Pruning while we are still at the peak of
the growing season allows the plants to have a quicker recovery rate. Boxwoods in
particular often look pretty barren following even light pruning, since they have
all of their leaves on the outside of the bush. Water when dry and one light application
of fertilizer should help in recovery.
I did some minor trimming on my boxwoods this fall. During winter and now the top
is brown and dead looking. As spring arrives what do I need to do to get the boxwoods
looking good again? My neighbor did the same and his are just like mine. Also, I have
a couple of boxwoods that have an orange tint to them. I put fertilizer on them but
with no results in change of appearance. Any suggestions. I live in Hot Springs Village,
if that matters on boxwood care.
There are a number of boxwoods that have white tips caused by winter burn this season.
This was actually a combination of dry and cold weather -- next year be sure to water
even in the winter if it is dry. Lightly shear off the damaged area and it should
leaf out. The orange color is a naturally occurring process during the winter. As
they begin spring growth, they should bounce back to their natural green color. Give
them a light application of nitrogen as they begin to grow and they should fill in
Spring has sprung and time, I think, to do some bush trimming. We have four large
boxwood shrubs in front of our office here in LR. Is it ok to trim them back at this
time? Thanks for the help!
Yes, but get it done soon, especially if you need to do severe pruning. Boxwoods tend
to have very dense outer foliage, and very little interior foliage. They can look
a little ugly immediately following pruning. Pruning while the weather is ideal should
encourage a rapid recovery.
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