Holly Plant: A Holiday Favorite that Shines in Winter

Holly Plant: A Holiday Favorite that Shines in Winter

Holly is commonly seen during the holiday season. Even carols tell us to ‘Deck the halls with boughs of holly.’ The plant’s green leaves and red berries (though some cultivars do have berries with other colors) are a festive pop of color in interior décor. In the outdoor landscape, they are a bright and welcome sight on cold and gray winter days.

There are around 400 species in the holly (Ilex) genus including trees, shrubs and climbers. American holly is the one we most often associate with the holidays. While holly are generally slow-growing, some species are capable of obtaining heights of 80 feet or more!

Holly Characteristics

All parts of the plant, including the berries, are toxic to humans if consumed. However, they are an important food source for birds. The dense foliage is also a great hiding place from predators! In native areas, birds help the plant survive by dispersing seeds. Unfortunately, this can be a problem in non-native geographies. For example, along the west coast of North America, from California to British Columbia, holly has been spreading rapidly and crowding out forest species.

Holly plants are separately male and female. Males produce flowers, but no fruit. The familiar red fruits are on female plants. For the female to bear fruit, a male must be planted nearby. The fruits ripen in winter. They provide a nice color contrast to the glossy evergreen leaves.

Holly often grows as a shrub or in hedges. In open conditions, it can also form a small tree after growing for many years.

Growing and Caring for Holly

These plants thrive in full sun or partial shade and well-drained soil.

Hollies are susceptible to various leaf spot diseases. Infection results in leaf discoloration and eventual defoliation. Management of these disease is achievable as long as they are identified and treated in a timely manner. Root rot is another disease issue that is common. The best course of action is to maintain healthy soil conditions so that roots can continue to grow and thrive.

Some insect pests attack holly. A Certified Arborist can identify and treat infestations of aphids, scale, mites or holly leaf miner.

Overall, this is a great plant in its native range that brings color and beauty to a winter landscape.

The post Holly Plant: A Holiday Favorite that Shines in Winter first appeared on Tree Topics.

Watch Out for Winter Tree & Shrub Problems

Watch Out for Winter Tree & Shrub Problems

Imagine staying outside all of the time, even during winter. Exposed to severe weather, you’d face many problems. Even though trees live and grow outside, that doesn’t mean that the challenges of winter aren’t stressful for them too! Low temperatures, heavy snow, ice storms and other extremes cause a variety of winter injuries on landscape plants. It’s important to know what type of problems to look for during winter.

Low Temperature Injuries

Root damage can happen during prolonged cold spells, especially on shallow-rooted plants, container plantings and non-native plants. When roots die during this weather, the symptoms won’t appear until late winter or spring. At that point, foliage turns brown, buds die and the entire crown may wilt and die suddenly.

Low temperatures can also kill above-ground portions of plants. Again, non-native plants are most susceptible.  

Winter Drying   

Winter drying generally affects evergreens, particularly mountain laurel, rhododendron, azalea and holly. Plants continue to transpire water during winter. When the soil is frozen, that water cannot be replaced and the foliage dries out. As with injury from low temperatures, in late winter or spring, foliage will turn brown and buds will die.

Stem Splitting or “Frost Cracks”

Frost cracks generally occur on young, thin-barked trees like maple, sycamore or linden. The sudden drop in temperature from sunny, daytime highs to the very lows of nighttime causes stem tissues to shrink and wood to crack.

In severe instances, cracks can extend well into the heartwood, but usually, it is restricted to the outer few inches of wood. Frost cracks can be an entry point for decay on certain species.

Breakage from Snow and Ice Accumulation

The added weight of ice and snow can break branches. Heavy or long limbs, branches showing signs of decay, or those with a weak branch attachment are more vulnerable. This can also be an issue for evergreens, which have a large surface area to “hold” snow.

Deicing Salt Injuries

The salt (sodium chloride) commonly used as a deicing agent can splash onto plants or seep into soil. Salt spray dries out foliage and buds. In the soil, high levels of salt dries out, and can kill, plant roots.

Damage from Animals

Some animal activity during winter is harmful to trees and shrubs. Deer are one example. As other food sources become unavailable, deer turn to twigs and buds for sustenance. Further, deer injure trees by scraping their antlers against the trunk. This is called “buck rub.”

Small rodents and rabbits can also be problematic. These animals eat bark tissue around the lower stem and root collar during winter. This can result in tree death when feeding leads to girdling, where the bark is completely stripped from the tree.

salt injury
Deicing salts can kill plant roots and dry out foliage.
animal damage
Small rodents and rabbits feed on bark when other food sources are sparse.
low temperature injury
Low temperatures can damage roots or the above-ground portion of plants.
winter drying
Browning foliage resulting from winter drying.
breakage in tree crown
Breakage from winter weather is readily apparent once the leaves have returned.

The post Watch Out for Winter Tree & Shrub Problems first appeared on Tree Topics.

How to choose the right tree for your backyard

How to choose the right tree for your backyard

There are just so many trees out there to choose from, how on earth do you narrow down your choices? Tree selection has become more complicated these days as more and more kinds of trees are grown and sold at your local nursery.

You want to choose the right tree, and you know that it is important, but how do you go about it? Well, don’t worry, because we’ve got your back. Here at Darryl’s Tree Care we’ve seen many trees located in the wrong place for their welfare, and that of the structures around them.

In this article, we will cover 3 simple criteria that you can use to assess tree selection possibilities for your garden. We hope that they will guide you through the process of making a decision so that you can choose the right tree for your situation.

Size

The first thing that you really need to get right when you go to choose a tree for your backyard is size. You need to choose the right tree for the size of your yard. That is, don’t be tempted to squeeze a huge tree into a small space, as that will not end well.

Have you ever seen a home that is getting almost eaten alive by a nearby tree? It can really detract from the look of your house. Tree choice is something that requires a lot of thought, otherwise, you may regret your decisions years down the track when it’s too late to do anything except get your tree trimmed constantly.

Another warning when it comes to tree selection concerns power lines. You need to ensure there is plenty of space for your new tree to grow upwards, and that there are no buildings or other obstructions in the way, including existing trees.

The general rule is to allow for 1.5 times the expected width of the grown tree around the planting site. The information tag on your tree should tell you what the end width of the tree will be.

Function

In order to choose the right tree, you need to take function into the equation of tree selection. What do you want your tree to do?

To choose the right tree, you need to consider your situation. Do you want shade? Exactly how much? This will determine whether you should opt for a medium or large tree, as will your available room in the backyard.

Do you want to choose a tree that will give you more privacy? Then you may want to decide on an evergreen tree, as then your privacy shield won’t drop its leaves to become see-through every Autumn.

Maybe your tree selection is governed by the need for a tree that your future kids can climb? Or perhaps you just want some greenery to frame your outdoor entertaining area? Other uses for trees may involve harvesting fruit or nuts to offset the family grocery bills.

You may be guided to a certain tree selection based on a love of a particular tree for its flowers or leaf colour, or maybe you intend on picking something that brings local insects or birds to the garden.

There are endless potential purposes for trees, but the most important thing is that you consider what function your new tree will have in your backyard. That way you can ensure you choose the right tree for your desired effect.

Conditions

In order to choose the right tree for your backyard, you need to ensure that the conditions in your garden match the conditions that your potential tree thrives in.

Soils range from sandy to clay to everything in between. Some areas get more rain than others, and some plants are prone to being singed by the summer sun if they are put in the wrong spot.

Does your new sapling need full sun or partial shade? Does it need well-drained soil? It’s a good idea to check out what conditions your tree prefers before planting in the ground and hoping for the best.

There are things you can do to help beyond tree selection, such as using an irrigation system if your tree needs more frequent watering, or using fertiliser or mulch to aid the health of the soil.

But really, if you want to choose the right tree for your yard, you really should go to the effort of doing a bit of research to ensure your garden conditions are compatible with the climate preferences of your tree.

Need help with your trees?

Here at Darryl’s Tree Care, we’ve been helping people get control of their trees for years. If you need tree stump removal, tree trimming, tree selection help, or even possum control or a hazardous tree assessment, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

The post How to choose the right tree for your backyard appeared first on Daryl’s Tree Care And Surgery.