It’s OK to prune beautyberry now


Q: My beautyberry bushes are 12 feet high and haven’t been pruned in years. Can I prune them now? Helen Rice, email

A: Good news: beautyberry blooms on new wood, so you can prune in winter. The eye-catching berries seen in fall follow the flowers you’ll spot in early summer. I have a complete shrub pruning calendar at bit.ly/prunecal.

Q: A bluebird just appeared in my backyard. Isn’t this too early for them? Martha Benton, Lilburn

A: My friend Cathy G. maintains nesting boxes in our neighborhood and feeds bluebirds in her yard year round. They don’t typically migrate in fall. During the winter bluebirds simply cluster where food and shelter is most available. They might be in a nearby green space where there are juniper, holly, and mistletoe berries to eat plus evergreen shrubs for shelter. The one you saw is probably out scouting for food. Bluebirds really enjoy live mealworms in winter. Consider buying a bluebird feeder and some live worms online and put it near a window so you can watch your bluebird during cold weather.

Q: We have eight loropetalum shrubs in front of our house. We want to move them to another spot. Is now a bad time to do it, even when it’s cold? David Decker

A: Loropetalum is reasonably tolerant of moving in winter as long as you bring lots of roots along with the shrub. To that end, when a few warm days are forecast, liberally soak the ground around the shrubbery. Use a spading fork or pitchfork to loosen the soil and then use your hands to identify the large roots. Gently pull the roots free. When most of them are loosened from the soil the whole shrub can be pulled up. A few roots may need to be clipped in the process. Spray the roots with water to keep them wet and move them to their new spot, which you have already prepared for their installation. You can thin some limbs from the shrub before moving it but it’s best to leave as many branch tips intact as you can.

Q: My wife and I are having a debate. I take our croton and mandevilla outdoors when the temperature rises above 40 degrees. She wonders if moving them in and out is detrimental? Ken Chadwick, email

A: I think your wife is right. Many of the physiological processes in a tropical plant slow down greatly at temperatures below 55 degrees. I think you should leave your plants indoors unless it’s warmer than 55 degrees outside.

Q: I am concerned about dry soil and cold weather. Would it be helpful to water my lawn now? I have bermuda, centipede and some fescue. Charles Corbett, email

A: I can’t think of how watering would help dormant grass unless it was newly laid sod. I realize that it hasn’t rained in a while but there is still moisture in the soil. Unless your fescue is newly seeded, it doesn’t need water either.

Listen to Walter Reeves Saturday mornings on News 95.5 FM and AM750 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook Fan Page at bit.ly/georgiagardener for more garden tips.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Living

‘American Idol’ Atlanta auditions at Infinite Energy draw first and second-round hopefuls
‘American Idol’ Atlanta auditions at Infinite Energy draw first and second-round hopefuls

“American Idol” Thursday held its final early-round auditions at Infinite Energy Arena before the three celebrity judges start vetting the talent. Patrick Lynn, the supervising producer who has overseen “Idol” auditions since the show’s launch in 2002, said in an interview that the audition date was added on the schedule...
CDC approves nasal-spray vaccine for flu season
CDC approves nasal-spray vaccine for flu season

After advising the public to avoid the nasal-spray version of the flu vaccine for the past two years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now giving it the green light. A favorite of the needle-averse, the spray did not appear to work as well against H1N1, a strain of the flu, in the past few seasons, the CDC said. But it’s expected...
HPV-related cancer rates are rising. Vaccine rates are rising, too

Cancers linked to the human papillomavirus have increased significantly over the last 15 years in the United States, with throat cancer now the most common HPV-related malignancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 43,000 people developed HPV-associated cancer in 2015, compared with about 30,000 in 1999, the CDC...
Lab-approved ways to disaster-proof your home
Lab-approved ways to disaster-proof your home

Whether you’re an owner or a renter, stay one step ahead of fires, leaks, floods and worse with our expert advice to avoid costly repairs and keep your family safe. Four ways to fireproof the fam In a recent survey, you told us that unexpected flames are your No. 1 home concern. Follow this checklist to ease your fire fears: 1. Assess your equipment...
Huge clinical trial collapses, research on alcohol remains befuddling

Research on alcohol consumption is in a pickle. There’s no question that pounding one drink after another is bad for your health. Things get murkier when it comes to “moderate” drinking. What does that mean? What’s the limit? Can a health-conscious person serenely order a second round? The alcohol industry has long embraced...
More Stories