Q: I would like to plant a fruit or nut tree in my backyard. Early morning sun is brighter than afternoon shaded sun in the afternoon. Any suggestions? -Carla Erickson, Raleigh
A: There are plenty of fruit and nut trees that will grow in our area and typically they really want at least 6 hours of good sunlight to be productive. The fruits in the rose family (apples, pears, peaches, plums, cherries) can be somewhat disease prone and a fungicide is often necessary to keep the plants at their healthiest. With most of these fruits and the more common nut trees like pecans, I would recommend planting a second variety as cross pollination. Another fruit tree or shrub which grows quite well in our area is the pomegranate (Punica granatum), which makes a small, shrubby plant to about 15 feet tall with multiple stems. Pomegranates produce big, showy orange-red to pink or even white flowers followed by delicious fruit. I like to use the pomegranate seeds in salads and on pork dishes to add some sweetness, acidity, color and crunch.
Q: Four years ago I planted a Japanese plum-yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia ‘Fastigata’) in a spot where it gets morning sun only, and now it is 4 feet high and is doing fine. However, I planted it too close to a dogwood tree, and in the future they will overlap. I have been told that plum-yews do not like to be transplanted, but is it possible if one does it properly and at some designated proper time of the year? -Robert Ferone, Raleigh
A: I have moved quite a few plum yews in my time and have never had serious problems with them. Ideally you move them while they are dormant over the winter and then protect them from cold, drying winds. In a normal year this would be a great time to move it. Our plum yews have started to push out some new growth making it less than optimal to move them now, but waiting a year could make your plant more difficult to transplant due to size. I would recommend digging your plant now and moving it, but be very vigilant about keeping it watered for the next year.
Q: My knock out roses are developing large gnarly masses of entangled buds intertwined with wild sprouts. These masses of wild sprouts look unsightly and do not produce any flowers. What is wrong with them? -Tom Rains, Garner
A: You my friend are experiencing rose rosette disease. I definitely feel for you as this is a difficult pest and you are not going to like my answer. You need to dig any and all roses showing signs of abnormal growth, bag them up, and throw them away. The good news is that the disease is not persistent in the soil and after about a week, roses can be replanted in the same spot with no ill effects. The disease is spread by airborne mites and evidence has shown that putting up a windbreak can be effective in reducing the amount of new disease infestations.
Common name: Upright Japanese plum-yew
Botanical name: Cephalotaxus harringtonia ‘Fastigiata’
Family: Yew (Taxaceae)
Category: Evergreen shrub
Primary uses: Accent, hedge, container
Dimensions: 6 to 10 feet tall by 3 to 6 feet wide
Culture: Sun to shade. Japanese plum yews are tough evergreens well suited to the heat and humidity of southeastern gardens. Plant in a moist, well-drained soil. Prune as needed to maintain size.
General attributes: The upright Japanese plum-yew makes a very vertical accent in the garden with every branch growing straight up. The flat, plastic-like needles are carried in whorls around the stem like a giant bottle brush. Over time, plants can be come half or more as wide as they are tall.