In the Garden Blog
Cincinnati's Garden Blog
At Natorp’s Nursery we grow 10,00o trees each year, this week our tree experts are answering your tree care questions.
“Is it okay to use Tree Wrap as a trunk protector against deer damage?”
Absolutely! I wouldn’t recommend using it on trees with exfoliating bark, but otherwise, yes indeed. That’s what we always ‘used to’ use, until actually plastic trunk protectors were being made, or using perforated drainpipes as sleeves around the trunks of trees (all easy to install). Make sure when you use the tree wrap you start at the bottom and work up, so the overlapping acts like shingles on the roof and water run down the outside. And make sure it’s tight enough and tied enough to not come loose over the winter. Then remove it in the mid-spring, just like the other protectors.
“How do you tell if a Holly is male or female?”
Great question, as it’s the female holly that has the berries but needs a male holly for pollination. They need to be within a bee’s flying distance. The only way to tell is to look at their flowers and bring back a few terms we learned in our botany classes in high school. All Holly flowers have four (sometimes 5) white petals. The male flower has four prominent stamens each having a stalk that supports an anther. The anthers have sticky pollen on them. Here is the tell-tale of the male flowers – look in the center of the flower. The ovary is very small or not there, and the center looks hollow.
Now, look at the female holly flower. Four white petals and they even have the four stamens like the male flowers, although they don’t produce pollen. But, look at the center of the female flower. You’ll find a prominent pistil made up of a stigma, style, and a very large green ovary. Males have no green ovary in the center of the flower and females have a large green ovary in the center of the flower. It’s as simple as that!
“What are warts on my maple tree? What are the bumps on my oak tree? Why is my hackberry shedding leaves? Am I losing my tree?”
Every day, these are the type of questions that roll in this time of the year. It’s scary to see these structures on the leaves, especially if the leaves are dropping, and we definitely don’t want to lose the trees! Well, 99% of the time, you can relax. Those are galls, mostly caused by a type of insect that stings the leaf bud or leaf, which causes the leaf to form the structure you see, around the insect’s egg(s), the eggs hatch, they fly or go away, and the gall dries, and usually falls off the leaf leaving a hole or two. No harm to the tree, mostly aesthetic, and rarely to never sprayed for control. And some years you’ll see them and some years you won’t. Nevertheless, when you see things like that which you’re not sure what it is, bring in leaf samples or email pictures to email@example.com. We will identify what it is and whether or not it is a concern and give help if needed.
“What’s wrong with my River Birch?”
That’s a widespread leaf problem (and it’s usually only on leaves scattered about the tree, but sometimes the numbers go up and down and sometimes none at all) for Birch caused by an aphid. (Spiny witch-hazel gall aphid) The leaves eventually turn brown and fall from the tree (many times new leaves flush back out). And in most cases causes no harm besides scaring you. Rarely to never sprayed for as timing is too critical and never gets excellent control. Let the Lady Beetles enjoy the aphids and forget the sprays. The Birch will be fine.
Cincinnati Gardening Made Simple! Have a question? Ask Cincinnati’s tree experts!