Here are this week’s gardening questions and answers, provided by Parker County Master Gardeners.To submit a question, send it to email@example.com. For more information about Parker County Master Gardeners, or to become a member, call 817-598-6096 or visit www.pcmg-texas.org.
Do you have any suggestions for planting a living Christmas tree?
After Christmas, it is best to plant the tree in your landscape as soon as possible.
The hole you dig for the tree should be large enough to allow three to four inches of soil on all sides of the root ball. If the plant was balled and wrapped in burlap, the burlap should be loosened and any wire should be removed before planting.
Settle the tree into the hole and make sure that the planting depth is correct. The soil line on the tree should be level with the surface soil around the hole. Planting the tree deeper or shallower than the original planting will affect the health of the tree.
Do not amend the soil that is used to fill the hole. Plant roots will tend to stay in that nice, rich soil instead of reaching out beyond the hole into the surrounding area. The plant growth will be stunted as a result. Fill the hole three-quarters full, water the tree well and then finish filling. Do not mound the soil up onto the trunk.
Once planted, there are a few things you can do to keep it healthy. Water it deeply and regularly, allowing the soil to dry a little between watering. Add a thick layer of mulch to reduce weeds and conserve moisture.
Keep weeds and grass away from the tree as they will compete with the roots for nutrients. Wait to fertilize the tree until June or July. Planted in your landscape, these trees can add beauty throughout the year and serve as an outdoor Christmas tree year after year.
When should I prune my oak tree?
Now through the end of January is the time to prune oak trees. Oak wilt is a disease that has devastated the population of oak trees in North Central Texas. Live oaks, Spanish oaks, water oaks, black jack oaks, Shumard red oaks and other members of the red oak family are particularly susceptible.
The most important management strategy is to avoid pruning oaks during the growing season when sap-feeding beetles are active. The coldest part of winter is the safest time to prune. This recommendation is critical in preventing the spread of the oak wilt.