Winter prep, poinsettia problems and more Japanese maple beauty


Where to care for azaleas in winter

Q: I have many bonsai trees that need some wintering. Other less hardy hardwoods like crape myrtle will actually go into an unheated garage that never goes below 50 or 55 degrees, but not until they go completely dormant outdoors first. Finally, my tropical plants go to a climate-controlled greenhouse where they enter a kind of reduced ‘growing season’. However, in one tree I am always wondering which option is best (1 or 2).The tree, the large-leaved azalea pictured here, is now being mulched outdoors [the reader sent a photo]Do you store it outdoors or in your garage? Your Expert Opinion – My requirement is to prefer trees that come in spring and are less war-scarred, but without sacrificing optimal health and longevity.

A: If you had a crystal ball and could vouch for the weather, the answer would be simple. Garage option is the best when it comes to safety. Even established azaleas can suffer winter damage, especially in cold winters. Bonsai plants have a limited root system, which makes them less cold-tolerant. If you have the option (and patience) to leave it outside, you can also move it only in dire circumstances.

A new way to shine Japanese maple

Q: I recently read a column that said the autumn colors of Japanese maple trees are beautiful this year. This one here was particularly interesting in that it combined the outer leaves, which had turned silvery from the drying frost, with a rush of underlayer leaves, which had turned red after a few weeks of deep soaking. [the reader sent a photo]It gave the tree an attractive and different fall color scheme that I had never seen before.

A: That’s great. Thanks for sharing. What an interesting year for autumn colors!

Sick trees need warmth in winter

Q: Help! I have a sick palm. You just got it in the garage and you killed it? Please help me save.

A: It looks like a Yucca gigantea, not a palm. This yucca is not the same species as an outdoor garden yucca, nor is it winter hardy in Arkansas. I was hit by the cold, but I would be surprised if I was killed. Store it in the garage over the winter and trim the damaged leaves when you put it back outside in the spring. Yucca is a fairly hardy plant. It may take some time to get back to peak performance, but it should come back.

Grow poinsettia vigorously until December

Q: I know you’ve taught me a thousand times how to take care of my poinsettia, but I don’t have a green thumb. increase. what can i do?

A: Make sure it is not over watered or submerged. Overwatering is definitely more common, but both drawbacks can cause leaf drop.The red “flowers” are actually modified leaves called bracts. With just moisture and enough sunlight, they can keep their red color for months. From there, put it back in plastic wrap or place it in a tray. Bright sunlight or artificial light during the day is also important. Good luck!

There’s Still Time to Work on the Bark Scale

Q: I have white mold growing on two crape myrtle trees. Is it too late to apply hibernate oil?

A: The white “mold” is actually scales on the bark of the crape myrtle. Insects are usually associated with a black, sooty mold that forms on the sticky excrement they exude. It’s never too late to use dormant oils. Choose a day when the temperature is above freezing to fully saturate the tree. More mature crape myrtle often have flaking or scaly bark, so it’s usually not possible to cover them completely with oil, but it helps.

Janet Carson, retired after 38 years at the University of Arkansas’ Joint Extension Service, is one of Arkansas’ most renowned horticultural professionals. Her blog can be found at her arkansasonline.com/planitjanet.Write to her at her PO Box 2221, Little Rock, Arkansas 72203 or email her at [email protected]


A dry frost dyed the outer leaves of this Japanese maple silvery, then enough water made the fresh underlayers blush. (Special to the Democratic Gazette)



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This yucca gigantea, which looks healthy in early March, is not the type of yucca to survive the Arkansas winter. (Special to Democratic Gazette)



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This yucca suffered from the cold outdoors, but should survive the rest of the winter in the garage. (Special to Democratic Gazette)




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