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(November 2011)

QuestionThe Conservation District in our county in their "Beautification Tree Project" offered a choice of thirteen ornamental trees for sale. Some were native, others included some alien invasive species, such as Cleveland Pear and the Mimosa tree. What is the effect of adding these trees to our landscape and neighborhoods? As good stewards what should be recommended or omitted from planting in our communities?

AnswerIn looking at the plant list I have to commend them for making some great trees available at really good prices. Two named cultivars of red maple, the native fringe tree, dogwood and tulip poplar, in addition to yellowwood, smoke tree, redbud and golden raintree are great trees. It looks like they are going for trees that have some form of color, whether from flowers or from fall foliage. The Cleveland pear fits the bill, but is not high on my list of favorites. It is a smaller adult form of the ornamental pear which we collectively often call Bradford, but it still can fruit and become invasive. We have seedling callery pears coming up all over our state. The mimosa, however, I do consider a trash tree. Many folks like them, but they often suffer from mimosa wilt and send up seedlings, so not a good choice.

(July 2010)

QuestionI have a smoke bush and would like to start a couple more from cuttings. How would I do that?

AnswerTake cuttings now and see what happens. Smoke tree is not the easiest plant to root. We like to take cuttings from woody plants in mid June through July. The new growth has had a chance to build some stability but isn't totally woody yet. Cuttings should be between 3-6 inches in length. I would suggest getting a large pot and filling it with fresh, sterile potting soil or peat moss. Take twice as many cuttings as you want to root. Dip the cuttings in a rooting hormone--Rootone, Dip'n Grow or similar product, and then put the cuttings inside the container and put pot and all inside a clear plastic bag. Put the bag in the shade and leave it alone. The humidity and moisture levels should stay high. After 8 weeks, check the cuttings to see if they have rooted. They will need to be kept in the container all winter and planted next spring, but the plastic bag can come off if they are rooted. Good Luck.

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