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January 20, 2018


Our long term (previously healthy) elaeagnus lining our backyard appears to be dying now.  Many branches have simply turned dry & brown. We do have a sprinkler.  Would you please advise? 




We had an exceptionally dry fall and early winter. That, coupled with the low temperatures and the length of those low temps will lead to some plant damage.  We won't know how much until plants begin to grow in the spring.  We still have a bit of winter left to go. For now, just wait and see what happens for the rest of the winter.  Assess them in the spring and see how they come out.  Give them a chance to grow in the spring and then decide what to do with them.


October 31, 2015


We are planning to put in a hedge to screen us from the property next door. I think Elaeagnus would be best to reach at least 6 feet and would grow quickly. There are many varieties of Elaeagnus and I am somewhat confused as to which one would be the best and will grow in north central Arkansas. Also, how invasive are the roots and what is the best month to plant? Can you help?



There are several varieties of elaeagnus, but I would avoid Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) and Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellate), since both can be invasive.  Thorny elaeagnus (Elaeagnus pungens) is a great evergreen shrub which is blooming right now. The flowers are as fragrant as gardenias, but hidden within the bushes.  They tend to have a few wild sprouts periodically throughout the year requiring a little pruning.  Another one that is not as common in central or northern Arkansas is Elaeagnus multiflora or goumi berry, which does produce edible berries, but is deciduous.  Overall, your best bet would be the thorny elaeagnus.  They are quite winter hardy, so fall planting would work well—any time from now through spring is fine. 



March 2014


Could you give me a pointer on pruning our eleagnus bushes?


Answer Eleagnus is a great hedge or foundation planting. If it is growing too tall, it can be height controlled by selective pruning. I personally don’t like the looks of a sheared plant, but prefer a more natural look with selective branch pruning.  If you need to take off more than 1/3, do so quickly to allow for new growth to kick in.  Eleagnus are notorious for having a bad hair day 2-3 times a season—they send up huge sprouts periodically that need to be sheared and managed.  Other than that, they are great plants with fabulously fragrant flowers in the fall. 

(May 2010)

QuestionWhat shrub would you recommend as a hedge in the Cammack Village area? I'd like to create a living screen to hide a shed & work area in the backyard. The shed sits at the back of the property which is fairly narrow & deep like a rectangle. What vine would you recommend to use for a small arbor which located just out the back door of the house on the same property?

AnswerIs the area shaded where the hedge will be planted? If so here are some good choices: wax myrtle, illicium (Florida anise), cherry laurel and Sweet bay magnolia--this last one is not evergreen. In sunny conditions you can use Little Gem magnolia, one of the hollies- Foster, Yaupon, Lusterleaf, Nelly R. Stevens; or eleagnus. For the vine, you could use a mix: trumpet honeysuckle, clematis, akebia and some annual vines: moon flower morning-glory, cypress vine and hyacinth bean.

(Nov. 2009)

QuestionI am interested in planting a privacy hedge between me and an untidy neighbor. Would you compare Russian Olive versus Nellie Stephens Holly that you have recommended in the past. Where can I see a Nellie Stephens Hedge and also purchase it?

AnswerRussian olive is much more wild and wooly than Nellie R. Stephens Holly. Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) is a form of eleagnus, but it is often considered an invasive plant in most states other than in the south, where it can struggle to grow well. A better form of Elaeagnus would be Elaeagnus pungens, which has broad evergreen foliage. It has some wild days where it throws up tall shoots that need management, but it makes a nice hedge. In either instance the holly would be much more manicured and well behaved. Most nurseries in Arkansas should have the holly.

(Nov. 2008)

QuestionI hope you can identify a plant from a description, since it wasn't my plant to take cuttings from. It is a hedge plant, or at least used as one in this landscape. The shrub is thick-stemmed with alternate, smooth edged leaves with a slight rippling effect. The underside of the leaves are speckled, the stems are white with tiny speckles similar to what is on the underside of the leaf. It also had a 1/2 inch white tubular bloom in October that smelled really good!

AnswerFrom your great description, I believe you have Elaeagnus pungens. It is an evergreen hedge or large shrub with a silvery back to the leaf coupled with the small brown scales you noticed. Some folks think the brown scales are an insect infestation, but it is a natural occurrence. The fall blooms smell as sweet as gardenia's but they are hidden within the plant. Although not showy in appearance, their fragrance spreads throughout the landscape in a season when we need a little boost!

(September 2006)

QuestionI 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.

AnswerWe 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.

(March 2005)

QuestionI need your help. We have cut down most of our red-tips because of the fungus. I have fought it for so long and now it has spread to all of them and we had so many. Now we want to replace them and we don't know what to put there. We would like something that grows well with no disease problems. I thought you might have some suggestions.

AnswerRedtop photenias have really been hit hard by the leaf spot fungus and are dying across the south. You are wise to stop fighting it, and replace. There are numerous options. You can use Nelly R. Stephens holly, Foster Holly, Elaeagnus, Green Giant Arborvitae, winter honeysuckle, and cherry laurel, just to name a few. Visit with your local nursery and look at the plants, and see which ones you like best.

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