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Trees - Care, Selection, etc.

Rescuing lime tree in distress

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

My dwarf lime tree has been losing leaves (now almost bare) and its branches are turning brown...I know they are supposed to be green. I've had the tree for 4 years now and I water and fertilize regularly. Please help.

- Danny in San Francisco

A: Dear Danny,

We had colder than normal temperatures this winter in San Francisco. There was even a period of overnight temperatures below 30 degrees. I suspect that your lime tree is showing the extent of its cold damage. The extent of the damage shows up once the temperatures warm up and the season changes. You will probably lose many of the smaller branches. Everything that has died should turn brown by the month's end. At this time, prune back to healthy wood to stimulate regrowth. Since all the leaves have fallen, do not continue to water regularly or feed. Feeding a distressed plant does more harm than good. You also do not want the soil to stay constantly wet.

.........................................................

Planting apples & nectarines

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I have a large sloped yard and would like to plant more fruit trees. I am fond of Fuji apples and nectarines. My yard is wet in winter and damp through early spring. Sunlight is plentiful in summer and fall. Any chance these fruits will grow here?

- Dave in South San Francisco

A: Dear Dave,

You will have more success with the Fuji apple. The nectarine requires more winter chilling than you may get in South San Francisco. Should you want to try, I recommend the Independence variety. The wet winter soil is not an issue as it dries out at the appropriate time.

.........................................................

Princess Tree needs help

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

Help. My Princess tree is doing very poorly. It is on my terrace with an easterly and southern exposure. The leaves, what are left of them are curled, yellow or spotted. Small birds have been landing on the branches and pecking at them. I have tried various organic sprays to no avail and at the same time need to be mindful of hummingbirds.

- Judith in San Francisco

A: Dear Judith,

It sounds like a couple things are going on. First, the birds on the branches are obviously finding some insect pest to eat, possibly scale or thrips. What have you been spraying the plant for? Insects? Fungus? The Greenlight Rose Defense can be used to combat aphids and scale. Spinosad, a bacteria based insecticide, will work on thrips, aphids and caterpillars. Both of these sprays will not harm birds. The spots on the leaves may indicate thrips damage if they are small and black. Another problem may be that the Princess flower was damaged during the cold weather. Cold damage would be loss of leaves, twig dieback and yellowing. It would be best to take a sample into the Sloat nearest you for a better diagnosis.

.........................................................

Protecting a Japanese maple
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I have Japanese Maple planted in the front yard, in an open area getting either too much wind/sun. How do I protect the tree and will it die before winter sets in?

- Ruby in San Bruno

   
A: Dear Ruby,

Your Japanese maple may have burned from those 2 or 3 days of intense heat we had. It should be fine. It is important to be sure that the plants are well watered, especially if newly planted. The leaves will begin to fall off shortly, probably sooner than normal if they scorched. New leaves will resprout in the spring. To prevent further wind damage, spray the tree with Cloud Cover or Wilt Proof after watering. The coating will prevent moisture loss in the leaves.


Rescuing lime tree in distress

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

My dwarf lime tree has been losing leaves (now almost bare) and its branches are turning brown...I know they are supposed to be green. I've had the tree for 4 years now and I water and fertilize regularly. Please help.

- Danny in San Francisco

A: Dear Danny,

We had colder than normal temperatures this winter in San Francisco. There was even a period of overnight temperatures below 30 degrees. I suspect that your lime tree is showing the extent of its cold damage. The extent of the damage shows up once the temperatures warm up and the season changes. You will probably lose many of the smaller branches. Everything that has died should turn brown by the month's end. At this time, prune back to healthy wood to stimulate regrowth. Since all the leaves have fallen, do not continue to water regularly or feed. Feeding a distressed plant does more harm than good. You also do not want the soil to stay constantly wet.

.........................................................

Planting apples & nectarines

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I have a large sloped yard and would like to plant more fruit trees. I am fond of Fuji apples and nectarines. My yard is wet in winter and damp through early spring. Sunlight is plentiful in summer and fall. Any chance these fruits will grow here?

- Dave in South San Francisco

A: Dear Dave,

You will have more success with the Fuji apple. The nectarine requires more winter chilling than you may get in South San Francisco. Should you want to try, I recommend the Independence variety. The wet winter soil is not an issue as it dries out at the appropriate time.

.........................................................

Princess Tree needs help

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

Help. My Princess tree is doing very poorly. It is on my terrace with an easterly and southern exposure. The leaves, what are left of them are curled, yellow or spotted. Small birds have been landing on the branches and pecking at them. I have tried various organic sprays to no avail and at the same time need to be mindful of hummingbirds.

- Judith in San Francisco

A: Dear Judith,

It sounds like a couple things are going on. First, the birds on the branches are obviously finding some insect pest to eat, possibly scale or thrips. What have you been spraying the plant for? Insects? Fungus? The Greenlight Rose Defense can be used to combat aphids and scale. Spinosad, a bacteria based insecticide, will work on thrips, aphids and caterpillars. Both of these sprays will not harm birds. The spots on the leaves may indicate thrips damage if they are small and black. Another problem may be that the Princess flower was damaged during the cold weather. Cold damage would be loss of leaves, twig dieback and yellowing. It would be best to take a sample into the Sloat nearest you for a better diagnosis.

.........................................................

Growing plums by the beach?
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I live on 42nd ave right near the beach in the Sunset. I really want a good, fruiting plum tree but there are so many to choose from. Is there a particular cultivar that works the best in my microclimate? If there is no such thing, then is there another fruit tree that does well out here?

- Anja in San Francisco

   
A: Dear Anja,

We carry the Santa Rosa plum which is self fertile and requires very little chilling. This is the best producer for your area. They are due to arrive at our store by the Zoo in January.


Rescuing lime tree in distress

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

My dwarf lime tree has been losing leaves (now almost bare) and its branches are turning brown...I know they are supposed to be green. I've had the tree for 4 years now and I water and fertilize regularly. Please help.

- Danny in San Francisco

A: Dear Danny,

We had colder than normal temperatures this winter in San Francisco. There was even a period of overnight temperatures below 30 degrees. I suspect that your lime tree is showing the extent of its cold damage. The extent of the damage shows up once the temperatures warm up and the season changes. You will probably lose many of the smaller branches. Everything that has died should turn brown by the month's end. At this time, prune back to healthy wood to stimulate regrowth. Since all the leaves have fallen, do not continue to water regularly or feed. Feeding a distressed plant does more harm than good. You also do not want the soil to stay constantly wet.

.........................................................

Planting apples & nectarines

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I have a large sloped yard and would like to plant more fruit trees. I am fond of Fuji apples and nectarines. My yard is wet in winter and damp through early spring. Sunlight is plentiful in summer and fall. Any chance these fruits will grow here?

- Dave in South San Francisco

A: Dear Dave,

You will have more success with the Fuji apple. The nectarine requires more winter chilling than you may get in South San Francisco. Should you want to try, I recommend the Independence variety. The wet winter soil is not an issue as it dries out at the appropriate time.

.........................................................

Princess Tree needs help

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

Help. My Princess tree is doing very poorly. It is on my terrace with an easterly and southern exposure. The leaves, what are left of them are curled, yellow or spotted. Small birds have been landing on the branches and pecking at them. I have tried various organic sprays to no avail and at the same time need to be mindful of hummingbirds.

- Judith in San Francisco

A: Dear Judith,

It sounds like a couple things are going on. First, the birds on the branches are obviously finding some insect pest to eat, possibly scale or thrips. What have you been spraying the plant for? Insects? Fungus? The Greenlight Rose Defense can be used to combat aphids and scale. Spinosad, a bacteria based insecticide, will work on thrips, aphids and caterpillars. Both of these sprays will not harm birds. The spots on the leaves may indicate thrips damage if they are small and black. Another problem may be that the Princess flower was damaged during the cold weather. Cold damage would be loss of leaves, twig dieback and yellowing. It would be best to take a sample into the Sloat nearest you for a better diagnosis.

.........................................................

Planting fruit trees on a hillside
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

We have a plot of land that is on a hill. I would like to plant some fruit bearing trees. Our hill faces West and gets a lot of sun. What sort of fruit bearing trees would you recommend and do you see any problems with planting these kind of trees on a hill that slopes 20 degrees or more? We may have to build some sort of retaining wall to make it happen, but I wanted to see what your thoughts are in terms of planting these type of trees.

- Bruce in San Francisco

   
A: Dear Bruce,

I see no problem with planting fruit trees on a slope. Most every fruit tree prefers good drainage which a slope will provide. You would do well with apple, pear and plum trees. You will most likely need to do some excavation to form recesses that the trees can be planted in and take into account how you will reach future harvests.


Rescuing lime tree in distress

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

My dwarf lime tree has been losing leaves (now almost bare) and its branches are turning brown...I know they are supposed to be green. I've had the tree for 4 years now and I water and fertilize regularly. Please help.

- Danny in San Francisco

A: Dear Danny,

We had colder than normal temperatures this winter in San Francisco. There was even a period of overnight temperatures below 30 degrees. I suspect that your lime tree is showing the extent of its cold damage. The extent of the damage shows up once the temperatures warm up and the season changes. You will probably lose many of the smaller branches. Everything that has died should turn brown by the month's end. At this time, prune back to healthy wood to stimulate regrowth. Since all the leaves have fallen, do not continue to water regularly or feed. Feeding a distressed plant does more harm than good. You also do not want the soil to stay constantly wet.

.........................................................

Planting apples & nectarines

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I have a large sloped yard and would like to plant more fruit trees. I am fond of Fuji apples and nectarines. My yard is wet in winter and damp through early spring. Sunlight is plentiful in summer and fall. Any chance these fruits will grow here?

- Dave in South San Francisco

A: Dear Dave,

You will have more success with the Fuji apple. The nectarine requires more winter chilling than you may get in South San Francisco. Should you want to try, I recommend the Independence variety. The wet winter soil is not an issue as it dries out at the appropriate time.

.........................................................

Princess Tree needs help

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

Help. My Princess tree is doing very poorly. It is on my terrace with an easterly and southern exposure. The leaves, what are left of them are curled, yellow or spotted. Small birds have been landing on the branches and pecking at them. I have tried various organic sprays to no avail and at the same time need to be mindful of hummingbirds.

- Judith in San Francisco

A: Dear Judith,

It sounds like a couple things are going on. First, the birds on the branches are obviously finding some insect pest to eat, possibly scale or thrips. What have you been spraying the plant for? Insects? Fungus? The Greenlight Rose Defense can be used to combat aphids and scale. Spinosad, a bacteria based insecticide, will work on thrips, aphids and caterpillars. Both of these sprays will not harm birds. The spots on the leaves may indicate thrips damage if they are small and black. Another problem may be that the Princess flower was damaged during the cold weather. Cold damage would be loss of leaves, twig dieback and yellowing. It would be best to take a sample into the Sloat nearest you for a better diagnosis.

.........................................................

Need recommendation for a flowering tree that offers privacy
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

We searching for a small tree recommendation. We are looking for a tree (or two) to plant between our patio and our fence that will afford some privacy from passersby on the sidewalk but is still small enough fullgrown to never interfere with overhead powerlines. Of course, the ideal tree would either flower in the spring or having pretty fall foliage, but any advice will do!

- Anna in South San Francisco

   
A: Dear Anna,

If you enjoy flowers, these trees bloom in spring- flowering cherry, flowering plum, and crabapple.  They also lose their leaves in the winter.

These trees are evergreen - Dodonaea, also known as Hopseed, has rich purple foliage.  Purchase it as a 'standard" (trunk with a head as opposed to a shrub). Arbutus Marina has beautiful bark and pendulous white flowers in spring.  Magnolia Little Gem is a small sized tree with fragrant, summer blooms.


Rescuing lime tree in distress

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

My dwarf lime tree has been losing leaves (now almost bare) and its branches are turning brown...I know they are supposed to be green. I've had the tree for 4 years now and I water and fertilize regularly. Please help.

- Danny in San Francisco

A: Dear Danny,

We had colder than normal temperatures this winter in San Francisco. There was even a period of overnight temperatures below 30 degrees. I suspect that your lime tree is showing the extent of its cold damage. The extent of the damage shows up once the temperatures warm up and the season changes. You will probably lose many of the smaller branches. Everything that has died should turn brown by the month's end. At this time, prune back to healthy wood to stimulate regrowth. Since all the leaves have fallen, do not continue to water regularly or feed. Feeding a distressed plant does more harm than good. You also do not want the soil to stay constantly wet.

.........................................................

Planting apples & nectarines

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I have a large sloped yard and would like to plant more fruit trees. I am fond of Fuji apples and nectarines. My yard is wet in winter and damp through early spring. Sunlight is plentiful in summer and fall. Any chance these fruits will grow here?

- Dave in South San Francisco

A: Dear Dave,

You will have more success with the Fuji apple. The nectarine requires more winter chilling than you may get in South San Francisco. Should you want to try, I recommend the Independence variety. The wet winter soil is not an issue as it dries out at the appropriate time.

.........................................................

Princess Tree needs help

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

Help. My Princess tree is doing very poorly. It is on my terrace with an easterly and southern exposure. The leaves, what are left of them are curled, yellow or spotted. Small birds have been landing on the branches and pecking at them. I have tried various organic sprays to no avail and at the same time need to be mindful of hummingbirds.

- Judith in San Francisco

A: Dear Judith,

It sounds like a couple things are going on. First, the birds on the branches are obviously finding some insect pest to eat, possibly scale or thrips. What have you been spraying the plant for? Insects? Fungus? The Greenlight Rose Defense can be used to combat aphids and scale. Spinosad, a bacteria based insecticide, will work on thrips, aphids and caterpillars. Both of these sprays will not harm birds. The spots on the leaves may indicate thrips damage if they are small and black. Another problem may be that the Princess flower was damaged during the cold weather. Cold damage would be loss of leaves, twig dieback and yellowing. It would be best to take a sample into the Sloat nearest you for a better diagnosis.

.........................................................

Crepe myrtle is no longer flowering
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

My crepe myrtle is no longer flowering. The tree is robust, healthy good structure, but a few years back the flowering tapered off, this year no flowers. Any thoughts?

- Karen in San Rafael

   
A: Dear Karen,

Crepe Myrtles flower on new wood.  If the tree is not pruned regularly in the dormant season (winter), new flower wood is not generated and the tree eventually stops flowering.  You do not need to prune drastically; just shearing back the shoot tips is sufficient.


Rescuing lime tree in distress

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

My dwarf lime tree has been losing leaves (now almost bare) and its branches are turning brown...I know they are supposed to be green. I've had the tree for 4 years now and I water and fertilize regularly. Please help.

- Danny in San Francisco

A: Dear Danny,

We had colder than normal temperatures this winter in San Francisco. There was even a period of overnight temperatures below 30 degrees. I suspect that your lime tree is showing the extent of its cold damage. The extent of the damage shows up once the temperatures warm up and the season changes. You will probably lose many of the smaller branches. Everything that has died should turn brown by the month's end. At this time, prune back to healthy wood to stimulate regrowth. Since all the leaves have fallen, do not continue to water regularly or feed. Feeding a distressed plant does more harm than good. You also do not want the soil to stay constantly wet.

.........................................................

Planting apples & nectarines

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I have a large sloped yard and would like to plant more fruit trees. I am fond of Fuji apples and nectarines. My yard is wet in winter and damp through early spring. Sunlight is plentiful in summer and fall. Any chance these fruits will grow here?

- Dave in South San Francisco

A: Dear Dave,

You will have more success with the Fuji apple. The nectarine requires more winter chilling than you may get in South San Francisco. Should you want to try, I recommend the Independence variety. The wet winter soil is not an issue as it dries out at the appropriate time.

.........................................................

Princess Tree needs help

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

Help. My Princess tree is doing very poorly. It is on my terrace with an easterly and southern exposure. The leaves, what are left of them are curled, yellow or spotted. Small birds have been landing on the branches and pecking at them. I have tried various organic sprays to no avail and at the same time need to be mindful of hummingbirds.

- Judith in San Francisco

A: Dear Judith,

It sounds like a couple things are going on. First, the birds on the branches are obviously finding some insect pest to eat, possibly scale or thrips. What have you been spraying the plant for? Insects? Fungus? The Greenlight Rose Defense can be used to combat aphids and scale. Spinosad, a bacteria based insecticide, will work on thrips, aphids and caterpillars. Both of these sprays will not harm birds. The spots on the leaves may indicate thrips damage if they are small and black. Another problem may be that the Princess flower was damaged during the cold weather. Cold damage would be loss of leaves, twig dieback and yellowing. It would be best to take a sample into the Sloat nearest you for a better diagnosis.

.........................................................

Growing fruit trees in the Outer Sunset
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

We just bought a place in outer Sunset, pretty good size yard faces West but gets good amount of sun. What kind of fruit trees (would love apple, pear, orange and plum) can we plant and when should we plant them? I don't want them to grow too tall, so dwarf tree? What kind of veggies would do good in this neighborhood? Is it too late to plant this year?

- Yuki in San Francisco

   
A: Dear Yuki,

You can have all the trees that you desire. If you want a European pear such as Bartlett, they are best planted in, well, pairs. The Asian pear 21st Century is self fertile as are the Santa Rosa Plum and apple varieties Fuji, Granny Smith, Yellow Delicious and Gala. Meyer Lemons do very well too. Choose the UD (Ultra Dwarf) form that grows to 6'- 8' tall. These can be planted any time of year but the best availability is late winter. Citrus can be planted now. The best orange for you is Trovita, Valencia or Lane Late Navel. Choose a dwarf variety (it must say dwarf next to the variety name).

It is a bit late now for tomatoes, peppers and melons but in the next couple weeks will be the time to start cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels' sprouts. You can grow any of the greens (lettuce, chard, spinach, kale) year round. You can still get beans and squash in the ground too.


Rescuing lime tree in distress

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

My dwarf lime tree has been losing leaves (now almost bare) and its branches are turning brown...I know they are supposed to be green. I've had the tree for 4 years now and I water and fertilize regularly. Please help.

- Danny in San Francisco

A: Dear Danny,

We had colder than normal temperatures this winter in San Francisco. There was even a period of overnight temperatures below 30 degrees. I suspect that your lime tree is showing the extent of its cold damage. The extent of the damage shows up once the temperatures warm up and the season changes. You will probably lose many of the smaller branches. Everything that has died should turn brown by the month's end. At this time, prune back to healthy wood to stimulate regrowth. Since all the leaves have fallen, do not continue to water regularly or feed. Feeding a distressed plant does more harm than good. You also do not want the soil to stay constantly wet.

.........................................................

Planting apples & nectarines

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I have a large sloped yard and would like to plant more fruit trees. I am fond of Fuji apples and nectarines. My yard is wet in winter and damp through early spring. Sunlight is plentiful in summer and fall. Any chance these fruits will grow here?

- Dave in South San Francisco

A: Dear Dave,

You will have more success with the Fuji apple. The nectarine requires more winter chilling than you may get in South San Francisco. Should you want to try, I recommend the Independence variety. The wet winter soil is not an issue as it dries out at the appropriate time.

.........................................................

Princess Tree needs help

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

Help. My Princess tree is doing very poorly. It is on my terrace with an easterly and southern exposure. The leaves, what are left of them are curled, yellow or spotted. Small birds have been landing on the branches and pecking at them. I have tried various organic sprays to no avail and at the same time need to be mindful of hummingbirds.

- Judith in San Francisco

A: Dear Judith,

It sounds like a couple things are going on. First, the birds on the branches are obviously finding some insect pest to eat, possibly scale or thrips. What have you been spraying the plant for? Insects? Fungus? The Greenlight Rose Defense can be used to combat aphids and scale. Spinosad, a bacteria based insecticide, will work on thrips, aphids and caterpillars. Both of these sprays will not harm birds. The spots on the leaves may indicate thrips damage if they are small and black. Another problem may be that the Princess flower was damaged during the cold weather. Cold damage would be loss of leaves, twig dieback and yellowing. It would be best to take a sample into the Sloat nearest you for a better diagnosis.

.........................................................

Planting a Japanese maple near the coast. Bad idea??
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I just saw a picture of a Japanese Maple Tree Orangeola Weeping Dissectum and fell in love with it. I live at Linda Mar in Pacifica, 1 mile east from the beach. I would like to put it in a large pot on my west facing deck. Is this a good idea? Thank you.

- Juanita in Pacifica

   
A: Dear Juanita,

Japanese Maples are notorious for burning anywhere near the coast. Western exposure to salt-laden ocean breezes will most likely result in an under-performing, brown-leafed disappointment. Take a look around the neighborhood to see if any are growing. If so, and they look O.K., you might try one as long as you can simulate the exposure (east, north-east, etc.).


Rescuing lime tree in distress

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

My dwarf lime tree has been losing leaves (now almost bare) and its branches are turning brown...I know they are supposed to be green. I've had the tree for 4 years now and I water and fertilize regularly. Please help.

- Danny in San Francisco

A: Dear Danny,

We had colder than normal temperatures this winter in San Francisco. There was even a period of overnight temperatures below 30 degrees. I suspect that your lime tree is showing the extent of its cold damage. The extent of the damage shows up once the temperatures warm up and the season changes. You will probably lose many of the smaller branches. Everything that has died should turn brown by the month's end. At this time, prune back to healthy wood to stimulate regrowth. Since all the leaves have fallen, do not continue to water regularly or feed. Feeding a distressed plant does more harm than good. You also do not want the soil to stay constantly wet.

.........................................................

Planting apples & nectarines

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I have a large sloped yard and would like to plant more fruit trees. I am fond of Fuji apples and nectarines. My yard is wet in winter and damp through early spring. Sunlight is plentiful in summer and fall. Any chance these fruits will grow here?

- Dave in South San Francisco

A: Dear Dave,

You will have more success with the Fuji apple. The nectarine requires more winter chilling than you may get in South San Francisco. Should you want to try, I recommend the Independence variety. The wet winter soil is not an issue as it dries out at the appropriate time.

.........................................................

Princess Tree needs help

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

Help. My Princess tree is doing very poorly. It is on my terrace with an easterly and southern exposure. The leaves, what are left of them are curled, yellow or spotted. Small birds have been landing on the branches and pecking at them. I have tried various organic sprays to no avail and at the same time need to be mindful of hummingbirds.

- Judith in San Francisco

A: Dear Judith,

It sounds like a couple things are going on. First, the birds on the branches are obviously finding some insect pest to eat, possibly scale or thrips. What have you been spraying the plant for? Insects? Fungus? The Greenlight Rose Defense can be used to combat aphids and scale. Spinosad, a bacteria based insecticide, will work on thrips, aphids and caterpillars. Both of these sprays will not harm birds. The spots on the leaves may indicate thrips damage if they are small and black. Another problem may be that the Princess flower was damaged during the cold weather. Cold damage would be loss of leaves, twig dieback and yellowing. It would be best to take a sample into the Sloat nearest you for a better diagnosis.

.........................................................

Keeping critters away from an apple tree
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I have a beautiful Fuji apple tree in my backyard, planted alongside a fence. Although I get lots of apples every year, I've never tasted even one because some critter beats me to it. I live downslope from Mt. Davidson, so I suspect that it's either a raccoon or rats that access the backyard along the fence line that runs almost directly to the hill. Will the Critter Ridder product you've mentioned before take care of the problem? Other suggestions?

- Patricia in San Francisco

   
A: Dear Patricia,

The Critter Ridder can not be sprayed on edible crops. It can be sprayed on the fence line. You might consider putting bird netting over the tree when the apples begin to ripen. Animals are leery of getting tangled up in mesh materials. Raccoons have a tendency to snap branches as they feed in fruit trees. If the apples are just chewed away, it's rats. You may also want to consider baiting or trapping for rats now.


Rescuing lime tree in distress

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

My dwarf lime tree has been losing leaves (now almost bare) and its branches are turning brown...I know they are supposed to be green. I've had the tree for 4 years now and I water and fertilize regularly. Please help.

- Danny in San Francisco

A: Dear Danny,

We had colder than normal temperatures this winter in San Francisco. There was even a period of overnight temperatures below 30 degrees. I suspect that your lime tree is showing the extent of its cold damage. The extent of the damage shows up once the temperatures warm up and the season changes. You will probably lose many of the smaller branches. Everything that has died should turn brown by the month's end. At this time, prune back to healthy wood to stimulate regrowth. Since all the leaves have fallen, do not continue to water regularly or feed. Feeding a distressed plant does more harm than good. You also do not want the soil to stay constantly wet.

.........................................................

Planting apples & nectarines

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I have a large sloped yard and would like to plant more fruit trees. I am fond of Fuji apples and nectarines. My yard is wet in winter and damp through early spring. Sunlight is plentiful in summer and fall. Any chance these fruits will grow here?

- Dave in South San Francisco

A: Dear Dave,

You will have more success with the Fuji apple. The nectarine requires more winter chilling than you may get in South San Francisco. Should you want to try, I recommend the Independence variety. The wet winter soil is not an issue as it dries out at the appropriate time.

.........................................................

Princess Tree needs help

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

Help. My Princess tree is doing very poorly. It is on my terrace with an easterly and southern exposure. The leaves, what are left of them are curled, yellow or spotted. Small birds have been landing on the branches and pecking at them. I have tried various organic sprays to no avail and at the same time need to be mindful of hummingbirds.

- Judith in San Francisco

A: Dear Judith,

It sounds like a couple things are going on. First, the birds on the branches are obviously finding some insect pest to eat, possibly scale or thrips. What have you been spraying the plant for? Insects? Fungus? The Greenlight Rose Defense can be used to combat aphids and scale. Spinosad, a bacteria based insecticide, will work on thrips, aphids and caterpillars. Both of these sprays will not harm birds. The spots on the leaves may indicate thrips damage if they are small and black. Another problem may be that the Princess flower was damaged during the cold weather. Cold damage would be loss of leaves, twig dieback and yellowing. It would be best to take a sample into the Sloat nearest you for a better diagnosis.

.........................................................

New leaves curling prematurely on fruit tree
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

Hi, I have a nectarine/peach tree in my backyard, and the new young leaves are prematurely curling and have "blister like" formations on the leaves. I also notice a trail of ants going up and down the trunk of the tree. Is this a fungus? Bug? or something else that is causing this? Please let me know what I can do to combat this.

- Chris in San Francisco

   
A: Dear Chris,

You have a fungus known as peach leaf curl. It also affects nectarines. You can spray your tree now with EB Stone Copper spray (a concentrate) or the Bonide Copper Spray (Ready to use). The important ingredient is copper sulphate. This will arrest the spread but affected leaves will still fall prematurely. The best way to prevent it,is to start a spray program in the fall when the leaves fall. Spray again in December and again when buds swell in the spring. If your neighbors have peaches or nectarines, maybe you all can spray at once. The spores can be carried with the wind down the street and over the fence. As for the ants, I suspect they are farming insects, either scale (seen as dark, hard lumps on smaller twigs) or aphids (probably green curled up inside leaves). These insects can be killed by spraying with Bonide All Seasons Oil. The convenience to you is that the copper spray and the oil spray can be mixed and sprayed at the same time. Do not spray when temperatures will exceed 75 degrees. You can also deter the ants by applying a sticky barrier at the base of the tree such as Tanglefoot. Apply a 4"-5" high band around the trunk to literally stop them in their tracks.


Rescuing lime tree in distress

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

My dwarf lime tree has been losing leaves (now almost bare) and its branches are turning brown...I know they are supposed to be green. I've had the tree for 4 years now and I water and fertilize regularly. Please help.

- Danny in San Francisco

A: Dear Danny,

We had colder than normal temperatures this winter in San Francisco. There was even a period of overnight temperatures below 30 degrees. I suspect that your lime tree is showing the extent of its cold damage. The extent of the damage shows up once the temperatures warm up and the season changes. You will probably lose many of the smaller branches. Everything that has died should turn brown by the month's end. At this time, prune back to healthy wood to stimulate regrowth. Since all the leaves have fallen, do not continue to water regularly or feed. Feeding a distressed plant does more harm than good. You also do not want the soil to stay constantly wet.

.........................................................

Planting apples & nectarines

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I have a large sloped yard and would like to plant more fruit trees. I am fond of Fuji apples and nectarines. My yard is wet in winter and damp through early spring. Sunlight is plentiful in summer and fall. Any chance these fruits will grow here?

- Dave in South San Francisco

A: Dear Dave,

You will have more success with the Fuji apple. The nectarine requires more winter chilling than you may get in South San Francisco. Should you want to try, I recommend the Independence variety. The wet winter soil is not an issue as it dries out at the appropriate time.

.........................................................

Princess Tree needs help

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

Help. My Princess tree is doing very poorly. It is on my terrace with an easterly and southern exposure. The leaves, what are left of them are curled, yellow or spotted. Small birds have been landing on the branches and pecking at them. I have tried various organic sprays to no avail and at the same time need to be mindful of hummingbirds.

- Judith in San Francisco

A: Dear Judith,

It sounds like a couple things are going on. First, the birds on the branches are obviously finding some insect pest to eat, possibly scale or thrips. What have you been spraying the plant for? Insects? Fungus? The Greenlight Rose Defense can be used to combat aphids and scale. Spinosad, a bacteria based insecticide, will work on thrips, aphids and caterpillars. Both of these sprays will not harm birds. The spots on the leaves may indicate thrips damage if they are small and black. Another problem may be that the Princess flower was damaged during the cold weather. Cold damage would be loss of leaves, twig dieback and yellowing. It would be best to take a sample into the Sloat nearest you for a better diagnosis.

.........................................................

Hundreds of slugs on my lemon tree. help!
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

We are overrun with snails. Our beloved Meyer lemon tree is INFESTED with about 200 snails. They're everywhere and they are quickly devouring the tree. We have a dog and a small child who spend a lot of time in the backyard, so snail bait is not an option. Any suggestions? We've tried the beer in the pie dish route, and that didn't work. I would hate to cut away all the affected branches, as there basically wouldn't be any tree left. We don't want to use poison, as we would like to use the lemons. Many thanks.

- Amy

   
A: Dear Amy,

There is a safe, non toxic bait available for snails! It is called Sluggo and has been listed by OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute). It is composed of iron phosphate that occurs naturally in the soil. This compound is highly attractive to slugs and snails. They ingest the pellets and this causes them to stop feeding on your plants (or anything else). They become less mobile and crawl away to die. Dead snails are not toxic to birds or other wildlife. Uneaten pellets decompose and go back into the soil. The bait is not toxic to pets, children or other wildlife. The iron phosphate will not make your lemons toxic, they will more likely feed your tree.


Rescuing lime tree in distress

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

My dwarf lime tree has been losing leaves (now almost bare) and its branches are turning brown...I know they are supposed to be green. I've had the tree for 4 years now and I water and fertilize regularly. Please help.

- Danny in San Francisco

A: Dear Danny,

We had colder than normal temperatures this winter in San Francisco. There was even a period of overnight temperatures below 30 degrees. I suspect that your lime tree is showing the extent of its cold damage. The extent of the damage shows up once the temperatures warm up and the season changes. You will probably lose many of the smaller branches. Everything that has died should turn brown by the month's end. At this time, prune back to healthy wood to stimulate regrowth. Since all the leaves have fallen, do not continue to water regularly or feed. Feeding a distressed plant does more harm than good. You also do not want the soil to stay constantly wet.

.........................................................

Planting apples & nectarines

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I have a large sloped yard and would like to plant more fruit trees. I am fond of Fuji apples and nectarines. My yard is wet in winter and damp through early spring. Sunlight is plentiful in summer and fall. Any chance these fruits will grow here?

- Dave in South San Francisco

A: Dear Dave,

You will have more success with the Fuji apple. The nectarine requires more winter chilling than you may get in South San Francisco. Should you want to try, I recommend the Independence variety. The wet winter soil is not an issue as it dries out at the appropriate time.

.........................................................

Princess Tree needs help

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

Help. My Princess tree is doing very poorly. It is on my terrace with an easterly and southern exposure. The leaves, what are left of them are curled, yellow or spotted. Small birds have been landing on the branches and pecking at them. I have tried various organic sprays to no avail and at the same time need to be mindful of hummingbirds.

- Judith in San Francisco

A: Dear Judith,

It sounds like a couple things are going on. First, the birds on the branches are obviously finding some insect pest to eat, possibly scale or thrips. What have you been spraying the plant for? Insects? Fungus? The Greenlight Rose Defense can be used to combat aphids and scale. Spinosad, a bacteria based insecticide, will work on thrips, aphids and caterpillars. Both of these sprays will not harm birds. The spots on the leaves may indicate thrips damage if they are small and black. Another problem may be that the Princess flower was damaged during the cold weather. Cold damage would be loss of leaves, twig dieback and yellowing. It would be best to take a sample into the Sloat nearest you for a better diagnosis.

.........................................................

Apple tree recommendation for Potrero Hill
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I would like to plant an apple tree in my sunny back yard on the north face of Potrero Hill. My friend in Seattle particularly likes Elstar and Honecrisp both grafted on a single rootstock. I would like a tree no more than ten feet tall and apples that will pollinate one another. what rootstock do you recommend and do you have a recommendation regarding these or comparable apples varieties for Potrero Hill? thank you very kindly for your answer.

- Sharon in San Francisco

   
A: Dear Sharon,

The varieties Honecrisp and Elstar are not suited for our climate. The apple varieties that do best in San Francisco are Fuji and Yellow Delicious if you want something that is considered self fertile. Gala does well here but needs a pollinator. Of course, when 2 trees are planted, the pollination rate is that much better. We have Fuji on a UD (ultra dwarf) rootstock. The resultant tree will get no higher than 6". We also have semi dwarf but these will get 12' to 15' tall unless pruned back. Because space is a premium, we also carry espaliered apple trees with 6 varieties (3 tiers, 1 variety per left or right arm): Fuji, Gala, Jonathon, Red Macintosh, Braeburn, and Gravenstein.


Rescuing lime tree in distress

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

My dwarf lime tree has been losing leaves (now almost bare) and its branches are turning brown...I know they are supposed to be green. I've had the tree for 4 years now and I water and fertilize regularly. Please help.

- Danny in San Francisco

A: Dear Danny,

We had colder than normal temperatures this winter in San Francisco. There was even a period of overnight temperatures below 30 degrees. I suspect that your lime tree is showing the extent of its cold damage. The extent of the damage shows up once the temperatures warm up and the season changes. You will probably lose many of the smaller branches. Everything that has died should turn brown by the month's end. At this time, prune back to healthy wood to stimulate regrowth. Since all the leaves have fallen, do not continue to water regularly or feed. Feeding a distressed plant does more harm than good. You also do not want the soil to stay constantly wet.

.........................................................

Planting apples & nectarines

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I have a large sloped yard and would like to plant more fruit trees. I am fond of Fuji apples and nectarines. My yard is wet in winter and damp through early spring. Sunlight is plentiful in summer and fall. Any chance these fruits will grow here?

- Dave in South San Francisco

A: Dear Dave,

You will have more success with the Fuji apple. The nectarine requires more winter chilling than you may get in South San Francisco. Should you want to try, I recommend the Independence variety. The wet winter soil is not an issue as it dries out at the appropriate time.

.........................................................

Princess Tree needs help

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

Help. My Princess tree is doing very poorly. It is on my terrace with an easterly and southern exposure. The leaves, what are left of them are curled, yellow or spotted. Small birds have been landing on the branches and pecking at them. I have tried various organic sprays to no avail and at the same time need to be mindful of hummingbirds.

- Judith in San Francisco

A: Dear Judith,

It sounds like a couple things are going on. First, the birds on the branches are obviously finding some insect pest to eat, possibly scale or thrips. What have you been spraying the plant for? Insects? Fungus? The Greenlight Rose Defense can be used to combat aphids and scale. Spinosad, a bacteria based insecticide, will work on thrips, aphids and caterpillars. Both of these sprays will not harm birds. The spots on the leaves may indicate thrips damage if they are small and black. Another problem may be that the Princess flower was damaged during the cold weather. Cold damage would be loss of leaves, twig dieback and yellowing. It would be best to take a sample into the Sloat nearest you for a better diagnosis.

.........................................................

Planting and care of fruit trees
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

We purchased a home within the last year and we would like to plant fruit trees. We have a fairly large backyard with sun for about 3/4's of the day and a medium sized front yard with full sun. My biggest question is that we get lots of wind late spring through early summer. Where is the best placement for the fruit trees and how can we best protect the blooms from the high winds? Thanks so much,

- Michelle in San Rafael

   
A: Dear Michelle,

Fruit trees do best with full sun. It sounds like your yards have optimum light. As for the wind, they are not as detrimental to the blossoms as you may think. Pollen at least is blown from one flower to another if not many bees are out working. Rain during flowering is far worse as the bees do not come out and the flower is pelted to the ground. You will want to stake the trees when you plant them. Orient the stakes in the direction of the prevailing winds. Position the tree so that the bud graft (the crook at the bottom) is positioned away from afternoon sun. The worst wind can do is dry out the foliage. A water stressed tree is more likely to shed young fruit so water new fruit trees deeply at least twice a month during windy times.


Rescuing lime tree in distress

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

My dwarf lime tree has been losing leaves (now almost bare) and its branches are turning brown...I know they are supposed to be green. I've had the tree for 4 years now and I water and fertilize regularly. Please help.

- Danny in San Francisco

A: Dear Danny,

We had colder than normal temperatures this winter in San Francisco. There was even a period of overnight temperatures below 30 degrees. I suspect that your lime tree is showing the extent of its cold damage. The extent of the damage shows up once the temperatures warm up and the season changes. You will probably lose many of the smaller branches. Everything that has died should turn brown by the month's end. At this time, prune back to healthy wood to stimulate regrowth. Since all the leaves have fallen, do not continue to water regularly or feed. Feeding a distressed plant does more harm than good. You also do not want the soil to stay constantly wet.

.........................................................

Planting apples & nectarines

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I have a large sloped yard and would like to plant more fruit trees. I am fond of Fuji apples and nectarines. My yard is wet in winter and damp through early spring. Sunlight is plentiful in summer and fall. Any chance these fruits will grow here?

- Dave in South San Francisco

A: Dear Dave,

You will have more success with the Fuji apple. The nectarine requires more winter chilling than you may get in South San Francisco. Should you want to try, I recommend the Independence variety. The wet winter soil is not an issue as it dries out at the appropriate time.

.........................................................

Princess Tree needs help

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

Help. My Princess tree is doing very poorly. It is on my terrace with an easterly and southern exposure. The leaves, what are left of them are curled, yellow or spotted. Small birds have been landing on the branches and pecking at them. I have tried various organic sprays to no avail and at the same time need to be mindful of hummingbirds.

- Judith in San Francisco

A: Dear Judith,

It sounds like a couple things are going on. First, the birds on the branches are obviously finding some insect pest to eat, possibly scale or thrips. What have you been spraying the plant for? Insects? Fungus? The Greenlight Rose Defense can be used to combat aphids and scale. Spinosad, a bacteria based insecticide, will work on thrips, aphids and caterpillars. Both of these sprays will not harm birds. The spots on the leaves may indicate thrips damage if they are small and black. Another problem may be that the Princess flower was damaged during the cold weather. Cold damage would be loss of leaves, twig dieback and yellowing. It would be best to take a sample into the Sloat nearest you for a better diagnosis.

.........................................................

Caring for fruit trees
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

We have a mature apple tree and a peach and plum tree that are about 2-3 years old. Last year all the trees got diseased. The apple with powdery mildew and the peach and plum with peach tree curl. What can we spray the trees with to protect them and how much should we prune ? Also when should we be spraying them? The trees are mostly bare right now. Thanks.

- Mala in San Francisco

   
A: Dear Mala,

Fruit trees are normally sprayed 3-4 times from late fall through early spring. The first spray is when the leaves have dropped, second in December/January, third NOW in early February and then again at bud swell. Use a copper spray such as EB Stone Copper Fungicide or Lily Kop-r-Spray. This will control peach leaf curl, shot hole fungus and powdery mildew. Your plum tree probably had leaf curl due to an aphid infestation. The small, black aphids attack newly emerging foliage and wrap the leaves and cause the leaves to wrap around them thus protecting them from sprays. The plum should be sprayed after flowering with Greenlight Rose Defense or Neem Oil which works to deter aphids in the first place. When pruning, remove branches that grow towards the center of the tree, crossing, or branches that are too close together. The aim is to open the middle of the tree to light and improve air circulation. Plums require heavy pruning as they produce a volume of shoots and sprouts each year. Cut out vertical growing shoots and cut others by 1/2. Peaches fruit on new one year wood so require heavier pruning. Remove 2/3 of the previous years growth by a combination of removing 1-2 of every 3 branches and heading back the rest. It is difficult to adequately explain pruning through writing. We do have some Pruning seminars scheduled this month. You can find them on our website, www.sloatgardens.com.

Fruit Tree Pruning – Feb. 27 at San Rafael Sat. 10:00 am, Feb. 28 Mill Valley Miller Ave Sun 10:00 am
Pruning 101– Feb 17 at Sloat Blvd. Wed 5:30 pm and Feb 21 at Pierce St. Sun. 10:00 am.


Rescuing lime tree in distress

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

My dwarf lime tree has been losing leaves (now almost bare) and its branches are turning brown...I know they are supposed to be green. I've had the tree for 4 years now and I water and fertilize regularly. Please help.

- Danny in San Francisco

A: Dear Danny,

We had colder than normal temperatures this winter in San Francisco. There was even a period of overnight temperatures below 30 degrees. I suspect that your lime tree is showing the extent of its cold damage. The extent of the damage shows up once the temperatures warm up and the season changes. You will probably lose many of the smaller branches. Everything that has died should turn brown by the month's end. At this time, prune back to healthy wood to stimulate regrowth. Since all the leaves have fallen, do not continue to water regularly or feed. Feeding a distressed plant does more harm than good. You also do not want the soil to stay constantly wet.

.........................................................

Planting apples & nectarines

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I have a large sloped yard and would like to plant more fruit trees. I am fond of Fuji apples and nectarines. My yard is wet in winter and damp through early spring. Sunlight is plentiful in summer and fall. Any chance these fruits will grow here?

- Dave in South San Francisco

A: Dear Dave,

You will have more success with the Fuji apple. The nectarine requires more winter chilling than you may get in South San Francisco. Should you want to try, I recommend the Independence variety. The wet winter soil is not an issue as it dries out at the appropriate time.

.........................................................

Princess Tree needs help

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

Help. My Princess tree is doing very poorly. It is on my terrace with an easterly and southern exposure. The leaves, what are left of them are curled, yellow or spotted. Small birds have been landing on the branches and pecking at them. I have tried various organic sprays to no avail and at the same time need to be mindful of hummingbirds.

- Judith in San Francisco

A: Dear Judith,

It sounds like a couple things are going on. First, the birds on the branches are obviously finding some insect pest to eat, possibly scale or thrips. What have you been spraying the plant for? Insects? Fungus? The Greenlight Rose Defense can be used to combat aphids and scale. Spinosad, a bacteria based insecticide, will work on thrips, aphids and caterpillars. Both of these sprays will not harm birds. The spots on the leaves may indicate thrips damage if they are small and black. Another problem may be that the Princess flower was damaged during the cold weather. Cold damage would be loss of leaves, twig dieback and yellowing. It would be best to take a sample into the Sloat nearest you for a better diagnosis.

.........................................................

Will birch trees grow in the Sunset?
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

We are redoing our front garden and need to remove our lawn and all of the bushes. We live in the sunset and want to know if birch trees would do well in that area or if you have any other recommendation for trees, plants or flowers that do well in a neighborhood in the Sunset off of Sloat Blvd. Thanks!

- Michelle in San Francisco

   
A: Dear Michelle,

Birch trees may have a difficult time with the winds and salt air that you have there. If you like the habit of birch, Melaleuca quinquenervia (Cajeput) will give you a similar look. Other trees to consider are Arbutus Marina, Eucalyptus ficifolia and Schinus molle.

There are a number of plants and shrubs that will do well in your location, I suggest either contacting our design department at 415-388-3754 or visiting the store by the zoo and having one of our associates show you around.


Rescuing lime tree in distress

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

My dwarf lime tree has been losing leaves (now almost bare) and its branches are turning brown...I know they are supposed to be green. I've had the tree for 4 years now and I water and fertilize regularly. Please help.

- Danny in San Francisco

A: Dear Danny,

We had colder than normal temperatures this winter in San Francisco. There was even a period of overnight temperatures below 30 degrees. I suspect that your lime tree is showing the extent of its cold damage. The extent of the damage shows up once the temperatures warm up and the season changes. You will probably lose many of the smaller branches. Everything that has died should turn brown by the month's end. At this time, prune back to healthy wood to stimulate regrowth. Since all the leaves have fallen, do not continue to water regularly or feed. Feeding a distressed plant does more harm than good. You also do not want the soil to stay constantly wet.

.........................................................

Planting apples & nectarines

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I have a large sloped yard and would like to plant more fruit trees. I am fond of Fuji apples and nectarines. My yard is wet in winter and damp through early spring. Sunlight is plentiful in summer and fall. Any chance these fruits will grow here?

- Dave in South San Francisco

A: Dear Dave,

You will have more success with the Fuji apple. The nectarine requires more winter chilling than you may get in South San Francisco. Should you want to try, I recommend the Independence variety. The wet winter soil is not an issue as it dries out at the appropriate time.

.........................................................

Princess Tree needs help

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

Help. My Princess tree is doing very poorly. It is on my terrace with an easterly and southern exposure. The leaves, what are left of them are curled, yellow or spotted. Small birds have been landing on the branches and pecking at them. I have tried various organic sprays to no avail and at the same time need to be mindful of hummingbirds.

- Judith in San Francisco

A: Dear Judith,

It sounds like a couple things are going on. First, the birds on the branches are obviously finding some insect pest to eat, possibly scale or thrips. What have you been spraying the plant for? Insects? Fungus? The Greenlight Rose Defense can be used to combat aphids and scale. Spinosad, a bacteria based insecticide, will work on thrips, aphids and caterpillars. Both of these sprays will not harm birds. The spots on the leaves may indicate thrips damage if they are small and black. Another problem may be that the Princess flower was damaged during the cold weather. Cold damage would be loss of leaves, twig dieback and yellowing. It would be best to take a sample into the Sloat nearest you for a better diagnosis.

.........................................................

Frost damage in lime tree
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I have a 5 year old lime tree that has been frost damaged. Is there anything I can do to save the tree?

- Pete in Novato

   
A: Dear Pete,

Of the citrus, limes are the least tolerant of cold weather. They are notorious for defoliating. After our cold snap, I imagine that your tree looks forlorn but do not lose hope for its recovery. You will not know the extent of cold damage until March. It may be that some of the branch tips and twigs have been killed but the rest of the tree should still be quite alive. If you scrape off the bark and see green beneath, it is alive. Wait to prune or feed until late March. New leaves should resprout in April. If the tree is in a container or planted where it will not receive rain, water periodically through the winter to keep the soil from completely drying out. If there is a chance we will have another freeze, cover the tree with burlap, a sheet or frost blanket to prevent further injury.

Rescuing lime tree in distress

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

My dwarf lime tree has been losing leaves (now almost bare) and its branches are turning brown...I know they are supposed to be green. I've had the tree for 4 years now and I water and fertilize regularly. Please help.

- Danny in San Francisco

A: Dear Danny,

We had colder than normal temperatures this winter in San Francisco. There was even a period of overnight temperatures below 30 degrees. I suspect that your lime tree is showing the extent of its cold damage. The extent of the damage shows up once the temperatures warm up and the season changes. You will probably lose many of the smaller branches. Everything that has died should turn brown by the month's end. At this time, prune back to healthy wood to stimulate regrowth. Since all the leaves have fallen, do not continue to water regularly or feed. Feeding a distressed plant does more harm than good. You also do not want the soil to stay constantly wet.

.........................................................

Planting apples & nectarines

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I have a large sloped yard and would like to plant more fruit trees. I am fond of Fuji apples and nectarines. My yard is wet in winter and damp through early spring. Sunlight is plentiful in summer and fall. Any chance these fruits will grow here?

- Dave in South San Francisco

A: Dear Dave,

You will have more success with the Fuji apple. The nectarine requires more winter chilling than you may get in South San Francisco. Should you want to try, I recommend the Independence variety. The wet winter soil is not an issue as it dries out at the appropriate time.

.........................................................

Princess Tree needs help

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

Help. My Princess tree is doing very poorly. It is on my terrace with an easterly and southern exposure. The leaves, what are left of them are curled, yellow or spotted. Small birds have been landing on the branches and pecking at them. I have tried various organic sprays to no avail and at the same time need to be mindful of hummingbirds.

- Judith in San Francisco

A: Dear Judith,

It sounds like a couple things are going on. First, the birds on the branches are obviously finding some insect pest to eat, possibly scale or thrips. What have you been spraying the plant for? Insects? Fungus? The Greenlight Rose Defense can be used to combat aphids and scale. Spinosad, a bacteria based insecticide, will work on thrips, aphids and caterpillars. Both of these sprays will not harm birds. The spots on the leaves may indicate thrips damage if they are small and black. Another problem may be that the Princess flower was damaged during the cold weather. Cold damage would be loss of leaves, twig dieback and yellowing. It would be best to take a sample into the Sloat nearest you for a better diagnosis.

.........................................................

Ideal trees for small San Francisco garden spaces
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

Like most San Franciscans, my garden space is small and close to the house. I'm looking for a tree that will not exceed 15 feet or so, and can tolerate drought as well as the wind and fog in the city. Any suggestions?

- Jennifer in San Francisco
   
A: Dear Jennifer,

The Arbutus Marina and the Olive (fruitless or otherwise) are 2 trees that satisfy your requirements. There are also shrubs that have been trained as a "standard". That is they have a single trunk and a head. A standard form of Oleander, Dodonaea (Hopseed), and Pittosporum tenuifolium will also fill the bill.

Rescuing lime tree in distress

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

My dwarf lime tree has been losing leaves (now almost bare) and its branches are turning brown...I know they are supposed to be green. I've had the tree for 4 years now and I water and fertilize regularly. Please help.

- Danny in San Francisco

A: Dear Danny,

We had colder than normal temperatures this winter in San Francisco. There was even a period of overnight temperatures below 30 degrees. I suspect that your lime tree is showing the extent of its cold damage. The extent of the damage shows up once the temperatures warm up and the season changes. You will probably lose many of the smaller branches. Everything that has died should turn brown by the month's end. At this time, prune back to healthy wood to stimulate regrowth. Since all the leaves have fallen, do not continue to water regularly or feed. Feeding a distressed plant does more harm than good. You also do not want the soil to stay constantly wet.

.........................................................

Planting apples & nectarines

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I have a large sloped yard and would like to plant more fruit trees. I am fond of Fuji apples and nectarines. My yard is wet in winter and damp through early spring. Sunlight is plentiful in summer and fall. Any chance these fruits will grow here?

- Dave in South San Francisco

A: Dear Dave,

You will have more success with the Fuji apple. The nectarine requires more winter chilling than you may get in South San Francisco. Should you want to try, I recommend the Independence variety. The wet winter soil is not an issue as it dries out at the appropriate time.

.........................................................

Princess Tree needs help

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

Help. My Princess tree is doing very poorly. It is on my terrace with an easterly and southern exposure. The leaves, what are left of them are curled, yellow or spotted. Small birds have been landing on the branches and pecking at them. I have tried various organic sprays to no avail and at the same time need to be mindful of hummingbirds.

- Judith in San Francisco

A: Dear Judith,

It sounds like a couple things are going on. First, the birds on the branches are obviously finding some insect pest to eat, possibly scale or thrips. What have you been spraying the plant for? Insects? Fungus? The Greenlight Rose Defense can be used to combat aphids and scale. Spinosad, a bacteria based insecticide, will work on thrips, aphids and caterpillars. Both of these sprays will not harm birds. The spots on the leaves may indicate thrips damage if they are small and black. Another problem may be that the Princess flower was damaged during the cold weather. Cold damage would be loss of leaves, twig dieback and yellowing. It would be best to take a sample into the Sloat nearest you for a better diagnosis.

.........................................................

Over watering a fig tree
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I have a figtree (ficus) that I bought as an indoor plant, it was doing well but now the leaves are dropping off, & turning black /brown in various parts. Please help, I love the tree.

Many thanks,
- Lois in San Francisco

   
A: Dear Lois,

It sounds like over watering damage. The first signs of over watering are white/clear secretions from the two glands at the bottom of the leaf next to the middle vein. The next step is odema. The cells overfill, rupture, and the resulting dead tissue turns brown/black followed by leaf abscission. Though evergreen, Ficus still will go into periods of reduced growth, mostly in the fall and winter as the hours of daylight dwindle. They will require less water during these times of year.

When watering your Ficus, be sure to water thoroughly. Add enough water so that the container drains (this also keeps mineral salts from building up in the soil). Remove any water standing in the saucer after about 15 minutes. You do not want your tree to sit in standing water. Allow the soil to become fairly dry before watering again (this means soil is dry 2" below the surface.) Depending on the size of the tree, this can be once a week or every other week, even longer in the winter months if the room it is kept in is cool.

You may want to fertilize with a mild food such as Maxsea 16-16-16, but only use it half strength during the winter. Be patient as I have seen Ficus almost completely defoliated come back strong and healthy.


Rescuing lime tree in distress

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

My dwarf lime tree has been losing leaves (now almost bare) and its branches are turning brown...I know they are supposed to be green. I've had the tree for 4 years now and I water and fertilize regularly. Please help.

- Danny in San Francisco

A: Dear Danny,

We had colder than normal temperatures this winter in San Francisco. There was even a period of overnight temperatures below 30 degrees. I suspect that your lime tree is showing the extent of its cold damage. The extent of the damage shows up once the temperatures warm up and the season changes. You will probably lose many of the smaller branches. Everything that has died should turn brown by the month's end. At this time, prune back to healthy wood to stimulate regrowth. Since all the leaves have fallen, do not continue to water regularly or feed. Feeding a distressed plant does more harm than good. You also do not want the soil to stay constantly wet.

.........................................................

Planting apples & nectarines

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I have a large sloped yard and would like to plant more fruit trees. I am fond of Fuji apples and nectarines. My yard is wet in winter and damp through early spring. Sunlight is plentiful in summer and fall. Any chance these fruits will grow here?

- Dave in South San Francisco

A: Dear Dave,

You will have more success with the Fuji apple. The nectarine requires more winter chilling than you may get in South San Francisco. Should you want to try, I recommend the Independence variety. The wet winter soil is not an issue as it dries out at the appropriate time.

.........................................................

Princess Tree needs help

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

Help. My Princess tree is doing very poorly. It is on my terrace with an easterly and southern exposure. The leaves, what are left of them are curled, yellow or spotted. Small birds have been landing on the branches and pecking at them. I have tried various organic sprays to no avail and at the same time need to be mindful of hummingbirds.

- Judith in San Francisco

A: Dear Judith,

It sounds like a couple things are going on. First, the birds on the branches are obviously finding some insect pest to eat, possibly scale or thrips. What have you been spraying the plant for? Insects? Fungus? The Greenlight Rose Defense can be used to combat aphids and scale. Spinosad, a bacteria based insecticide, will work on thrips, aphids and caterpillars. Both of these sprays will not harm birds. The spots on the leaves may indicate thrips damage if they are small and black. Another problem may be that the Princess flower was damaged during the cold weather. Cold damage would be loss of leaves, twig dieback and yellowing. It would be best to take a sample into the Sloat nearest you for a better diagnosis.

.........................................................

Christmas Tree alternatives
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I want to have a green Christmas this year and am looking for an alternative to the cut or plastic Christmas tree. Do you have any suggestions? Ideally I would like a potted bush/tree that I can leave outdoors all year and then bring in for the holidays.

- Marisol in San Jose

   
A: Dear Marisol,

Sloat carries a line of plants to be used as living Christmas trees. The most common type is the Alberta Spruce. It grows as a narrow cone. We also carry some smaller Spruce in 2 gallon and 5 gallon cans. You can choose from Blue Spruce or Norway spruce. These plants grow slowly, can stay in a container and will not lose their shape over the years. Pines are also available but they are hard to maintain year after year in a container. These you would want to plant outside. Rosemary and Ivy trained as cone shapes are also available. We have also seen people using Ficus benjamina trees for Christmas!

Rescuing lime tree in distress

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

My dwarf lime tree has been losing leaves (now almost bare) and its branches are turning brown...I know they are supposed to be green. I've had the tree for 4 years now and I water and fertilize regularly. Please help.

- Danny in San Francisco

A: Dear Danny,

We had colder than normal temperatures this winter in San Francisco. There was even a period of overnight temperatures below 30 degrees. I suspect that your lime tree is showing the extent of its cold damage. The extent of the damage shows up once the temperatures warm up and the season changes. You will probably lose many of the smaller branches. Everything that has died should turn brown by the month's end. At this time, prune back to healthy wood to stimulate regrowth. Since all the leaves have fallen, do not continue to water regularly or feed. Feeding a distressed plant does more harm than good. You also do not want the soil to stay constantly wet.

.........................................................

Planting apples & nectarines

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I have a large sloped yard and would like to plant more fruit trees. I am fond of Fuji apples and nectarines. My yard is wet in winter and damp through early spring. Sunlight is plentiful in summer and fall. Any chance these fruits will grow here?

- Dave in South San Francisco

A: Dear Dave,

You will have more success with the Fuji apple. The nectarine requires more winter chilling than you may get in South San Francisco. Should you want to try, I recommend the Independence variety. The wet winter soil is not an issue as it dries out at the appropriate time.

.........................................................

Princess Tree needs help

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

Help. My Princess tree is doing very poorly. It is on my terrace with an easterly and southern exposure. The leaves, what are left of them are curled, yellow or spotted. Small birds have been landing on the branches and pecking at them. I have tried various organic sprays to no avail and at the same time need to be mindful of hummingbirds.

- Judith in San Francisco

A: Dear Judith,

It sounds like a couple things are going on. First, the birds on the branches are obviously finding some insect pest to eat, possibly scale or thrips. What have you been spraying the plant for? Insects? Fungus? The Greenlight Rose Defense can be used to combat aphids and scale. Spinosad, a bacteria based insecticide, will work on thrips, aphids and caterpillars. Both of these sprays will not harm birds. The spots on the leaves may indicate thrips damage if they are small and black. Another problem may be that the Princess flower was damaged during the cold weather. Cold damage would be loss of leaves, twig dieback and yellowing. It would be best to take a sample into the Sloat nearest you for a better diagnosis.

.........................................................

When is the best time to spray apricot trees with dormant spray?
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

When should I spray my apricot tree with dormant spray? It really produced in 2008 but we had only 8 apricots in 2009.

- Barbara in San Rafael
   
A: Dear Barbara,

What affects Apricot production is weather and a phenomenon called alternate bearing. Late winter and spring rains destroy the early flowers of apricots. The rains also prevent the bees from coming out to pollinate. Alternate bearing provides another whammy, for some reason some fruits produce a bumper crop one year and then produce a mere handful of fruits the following year. I am betting that 2010 will be a good year for you (if we have sunshine while your tree is in flower!). The time to begin dormant spraying the apricot is now, in late October/early November, again in December and once again in late January. DO NOT use a sulfur spray such as "Lime Sulphur" on apricots. Use a copper spray instead (Kop R Spray, EB Stone Copper spray).

Rescuing lime tree in distress

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

My dwarf lime tree has been losing leaves (now almost bare) and its branches are turning brown...I know they are supposed to be green. I've had the tree for 4 years now and I water and fertilize regularly. Please help.

- Danny in San Francisco

A: Dear Danny,

We had colder than normal temperatures this winter in San Francisco. There was even a period of overnight temperatures below 30 degrees. I suspect that your lime tree is showing the extent of its cold damage. The extent of the damage shows up once the temperatures warm up and the season changes. You will probably lose many of the smaller branches. Everything that has died should turn brown by the month's end. At this time, prune back to healthy wood to stimulate regrowth. Since all the leaves have fallen, do not continue to water regularly or feed. Feeding a distressed plant does more harm than good. You also do not want the soil to stay constantly wet.

.........................................................

Planting apples & nectarines

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I have a large sloped yard and would like to plant more fruit trees. I am fond of Fuji apples and nectarines. My yard is wet in winter and damp through early spring. Sunlight is plentiful in summer and fall. Any chance these fruits will grow here?

- Dave in South San Francisco

A: Dear Dave,

You will have more success with the Fuji apple. The nectarine requires more winter chilling than you may get in South San Francisco. Should you want to try, I recommend the Independence variety. The wet winter soil is not an issue as it dries out at the appropriate time.

.........................................................

Princess Tree needs help

Q: Dear Garden Guru,

Help. My Princess tree is doing very poorly. It is on my terrace with an easterly and southern exposure. The leaves, what are left of them are curled, yellow or spotted. Small birds have been landing on the branches and pecking at them. I have tried various organic sprays to no avail and at the same time need to be mindful of hummingbirds.

- Judith in San Francisco

A: Dear Judith,

It sounds like a couple things are going on. First, the birds on the branches are obviously finding some insect pest to eat, possibly scale or thrips. What have you been spraying the plant for? Insects? Fungus? The Greenlight Rose Defense can be used to combat aphids and scale. Spinosad, a bacteria based insecticide, will work on thrips, aphids and caterpillars. Both of these sprays will not harm birds. The spots on the leaves may indicate thrips damage if they are small and black. Another problem may be that the Princess flower was damaged during the cold weather. Cold damage would be loss of leaves, twig dieback and yellowing. It would be best to take a sample into the Sloat nearest you for a better diagnosis.

.........................................................

Fruit tree myths
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

Myth or truth? Some people say NOT to eat first year fruit off the tree. Or is it just that the first year fruit will not be as good and delicious? Or should the first year fruit just be left on the tree until it falls off? I noticed the instructions for the blueberry plants that I just bought ...it notes to pick the flowers off the first year in order to have better berries by the second year. Question is really about fruits like apples, plums, and pears in their first bearing year. Thanks...

- Jane in San Francisco
   
A: Dear Jane,

A little bit of both. Myth is that the first year fruits would not be as delicious. Truth is that if a young bearing tree does not have to use energy to produce and ripen its fruits, it will grow that much stronger and fully develop its young body. It is difficult not to allow the first fruits from developing just as it is difficult for us to thin the fruits on a tree. Thinning fruits gives you bigger and more evenly ripened mature fruit. We as home gardeners want every fruit to mature. This can be bad if branches are heavily laden. Too much fruit will break limbs. And you know what, the blueberries in 2g cans are not first year plants. You can let them flower and fruit.
 
Growing lilacs in containers
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I would like to plant a lilac tree in a container in the front of my home. Facing NW. Which lilac? How big a container? Planting medium? Or am I just dreaming.

- Linda in Daly City
   
A: Dear Linda,

There may not be enough sun with that exposure to allow the lilac to bloom well. Should you decide to try, a Korean lilac such as Miss Kim will be the most successful. The container you plant in should be a minimum of 4" wider than the size you buy. You will want soil that drains readily. Sloat Potting soil will do the job.
 
Fruit tree myths
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

Myth or truth? Some people say NOT to eat first year fruit off the tree. Or is it just that the first year fruit will not be as good and delicious? Or should the first year fruit just be left on the tree until it falls off? I noticed the instructions for the blueberry plants that I just bought ...it notes to pick the flowers off the first year in order to have better berries by the second year. Question is really about fruits like apples, plums, and pears in their first bearing year. Thanks...

- Jane in San Francisco
   
A: Dear Jane,

A little bit of both. Myth is that the first year fruits would not be as delicious. Truth is that if a young bearing tree does not have to use energy to produce and ripen its fruits, it will grow that much stronger and fully develop its young body. It is difficult not to allow the first fruits from developing just as it is difficult for us to thin the fruits on a tree. Thinning fruits gives you bigger and more evenly ripened mature fruit. We as home gardeners want every fruit to mature. This can be bad if branches are heavily laden. Too much fruit will break limbs. And you know what, the blueberries in 2g cans are not first year plants. You can let them flower and fruit.
 
Deer resistant trees
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I am looking for a tree to plant in my front yard that is deer resistant yet Japonesque in feeling. It will be near a Japanese maple. Is there a cherry blossom like tree that you could recommend? Ideally it would be great if it doesn't grow more than 10 to 15 feet tall. Thank you!

- Natalie in Larkspur
   
A: Dear Natalie,

Unfortunately, the deer will nibble on young flowering cherry and plum. Have you considered a Magnolia soulangiana (Saucer Magnolia)? They are quite dramatic in flower. Other small trees that would fit your theme are Laburnum 'Vossi' (Golden Chain tree), and Cercis occidentalis (Western Redbud). You might even consider a Southern indica Azalea patio tree. If you decide on the flowering cherry, Snow Fountain or Pendula are best. You will need to protect the trunks by caging them with chicken wire.
 
Fruit tree questions answered
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I live in SF - Richmond district near Park Presidio Blvd. What kind of fruit tree would you recommend for this area other than apple and pear which I already have?

Also, I have Winter Nellie pear, D'Anjou pear and Red Delicious apple trees in Richmond district of SF. When and what should I spray the trees. 2008 I had caterpillars on the pear trees eating up all the leaves and would like to avoid them, if possible.

- Jane in San Francisco
   
A: Dear Jane,

If you want another type of deciduous fruit tree consider a Santa Rosa or Beauty plum. Apricots can also be considered if your yard is really warm and sunny. Of course, all types of Citrus will also do well for you : Trovita orange, lemons, limes and Mandarins.

You can spray the trees now and again in mid February with Kop R Spray to prevent diseases such as powdery mildew and scab. To treat for caterpillar, wait until 3/4 petal fall (when 3/4 of the flower petals have dropped off the tree). By then, the young leaves will be pushing. Spray with BT caterpillar killer at monthly intervals or after heavy spring rain. This is a harmless spray to non target insects such as bees and other wildlife.
 
Blood orange tree doesn't produce fruit
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I have a blood orange tree in a container. The first 2 years the tree produced fruit. Last year, the tree had healthy leaf growth but no flowers at all. What do you think the problem could be?

- Barbara in Kentfield
   
A: Dear Barbara ,

The Blood Orange does not respond well to great fluctuations in humidity. Flowers do not set well when the air is very dry. They dry up too quickly and die before being pollinated. I suspect that last year's extremely dry weather was the cause. Other sensitive citrus such as Mandarin and Meyer lemon had the same trouble. Your tree should be getting ready to flower again this spring. Thankfully, we have had some rain and water evaporating from the soil will increase the humidity around your tree. When it is hot and dry in the spring, you may want to hose the plant down in the mornings to prevent flower loss.
 
Using bamboo as a yard screen
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I want to grow bamboo in my backyard to prevent my neighbor from looking into my yard. Can you suggest a type that will only grow about 10 ft high and where i may be able to purchase it. Thanks,

- Renee in San Francisco
   
A: Dear Renee,

The Bambusa variety 'Golden Goddess' will fulfill your needs. Not only does not get much taller than 10', it also is a clumping type bamboo. The clumping types do not aggressively spread through the garden. There are currently none at our stores in San Francisco, but we do have them in Marin at our Novato store. We can transfer them to the store of your choice or they would be happy to place an order for you.
 
Fruit tree selection and care
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I live in SF - Richmond district near Park Presidio Blvd. What kind of fruit tree would you recommend for this area other than apple and pear which I already have?
Also, I have Winter Nellie pear, D'Anjou pear and Red Delicious apple trees in Richmond district of SF. When and what should I spray the trees. 2008 I had caterpillars on the pear trees eating up all the leaves and would like to avoid them, if possible.

- Jane in San Francisco
   
A: Dear Jane,

If you want another type of deciduous fruit tree consider a Santa Rosa or Beauty plum. Apricots can also be considered if your yard is really warm and sunny. Of course, all types of Citrus will also do well for you : Trovita orange, lemons, limes and Mandarins. You can spray the trees now and again in mid February with Kop R Spray to prevent diseases such as powdery mildew and scab. To treat for caterpillar, wait until 3/4 petal fall (when 3/4 of the flower petals have dropped off the tree). By then, the young leaves will be pushing. Spray with BT caterpillar killer at monthly intervals or after heavy spring rain. This is a harmless spray to non target insects such as bees and other wildlife.
 
Leaning Cypress Trees
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

Help! With this latest wind and rain one of my 20 Italian Cypress has leaned over so far and I am unsure how to restake it. Should it be dug up and restaked or can I just pull it back upright?

- Valerie in San Mateo
   
A: Dear Valerie,

I'm not sure if you are asking about a 20 foot tall cypress or 20 individual cypress trees.  Assuming it is one tall tree, the best avenue would be to try and straighten the tree up while the ground is still soft. The tree will be difficult to dig up as a tree that size will have a substantial root mass.  Two 6-8 foot stakes driven into the ground on the wind side of the tree should be sufficient to stabilize it.  Use a galvanized, braided wire to attach the tree to the stakes.  A short piece of hose or rubber tubing will protect the trunk of the tree from the wire.  Be sure to attempt to pull the tree upright by applying pressure low on the trunk.  If you push or pull too high, you run the risk of breaking the trunk.  If you feel this process is beyond your capabilities, I would highly recommend that you contact a garden professional or tree specialist.
 
Fruit Tree Planting in Winter
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I would like to plant fruit trees this winter but I live very close to the ocean, with lots of summer fog. Which fruit trees would you recommend for my microclimate?

- Melissa in San Francisco
   
A: Dear Melissa,

For your foggy, coastal conditions consider Santa Rosa plum, Meyer Lemon, Persimmon, Asian Pear 21st Century, and Apricot.

For something more exotic, the Pineapple guava, Feijoa sellowiana, will work. You could also consider Blueberries!  Many of these will be available in January at or by special order later in the season.
 
Dwarf Citrus Trees
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

We have a dwarf citrus tree that I planted last winter. It is green and growing nicely. It has flowered several times, but when the fruit begins to form, it gets to the size of a ladybug and then turns black. What is happening?

- Kim in San Rafael
   
A: Dear Kim,

It is normal for citrus,especially young ones, to shed small fruits. The plants always seem to set more fruit than the trees have energy to provide for. Sometimes, as much as 3/4 of the fruits will abort! Usually, the fruit will fall when still green, or it will get yellowish first.

The fact that your small fruits are turning black first indicates that you are either over watering or they are getting infected with a bacterial disease. The bacterial disease would develop in a situation where the tree was getting overhead sprinkling. It also could spread to the leaves, but you say the leaves look great. I suspect the watering more but to be sure, you may want to spray your tree with EB Stone Copper Soap. This is an organic spray that kills and prevents fungal or bacterial diseases.

I hope this helps get you started on controlling the issue. As always, feel free to visit any of our Sloat locations for more expert advice.
 
Holly Trees
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

Hello! I have a quick question re: Holly. For 59 years my family's holly tree has produced red berries in December. For the last 2 years it has produced berries in September. Do you have any information to why this is happening? is it climate change? Thanks for your help! Our Christmas just isn't the same without grandma's holly over the fire place!!

- Kelley in Larkspur
   
A: Dear Kelley,

The berries of English Holly do naturally start to ripen in September on the sunniest side of the shrub and are completely ripe by late October. The berries should still look fresh and ripe in December for the holidays. As you haven't used the berries now for 2 years, I am assuming that they don't look good anymore, have shriveled or blackened by December. Beyond climatic change, which does seem to exist as we have seen fall symptoms in our surroundings in early August for the last few years, it could be that the holly is receiving more sun. Has a tree or screen been removed?

We also have had very hot or dry summers the last 2 years. Is the holly being watered regularly in hot dry weather? Lack of adequate moisture can cause berries to shrivel. Plants in full sun can sunburn (Blacken) when temperatures soar. I suggest you keep your plant irrigated to keep the berries looking fresh, once the temperatures cool, those berries should last.

I hope this helps. As always feel free to visit any of our Sloat locations for more expert advice!
 
Japanese Maple Care
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

What is the best way to care for a newly planted Bloodgood Japanese Maple? The leaves on mine are curling and becoming brown - is it getting too much sun? I'm in a foggier part of SF. Thank you.

- Maria in San Francisco
   
A: Dear Maria,

Japanese Maples need protection in San Francisco.  They are quite susceptible to wind and salt burn.  They prefer to be planted on an eastern exposure that receives some morning sun and protection from the wind.  If you are within a few blocks of the ocean, you can expect salt burn on Japanese Maples regardless of the exposure or protection.

I would recommend that you bring a sample of a few leaves into one of our stores just to ensure that the damage you describe is from wind or salt.  There are other ailments that they can get.
 
Outdoor potted trees
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

We need two large outdoor potted trees in the front of our north-facing building on Russian Hill. We want to replace the privets that are there now. What is a good choice? Do you pot large plants and deliver same to SF addresses? Thank you.

- Ann in San Francisco
   
A: Dear Ann,

You can consider any of the following trees for containers in the city. Please note that exposure is a vital key to any tree's success. A north facing building can offer many different types of light, dependent on surrounding structures. Please verify the amount of direct sun the area gets when you are speaking with one of our team members at the store. Availability will vary from week-to-week and most likely, we will need to place a special order. The store can fill you in on transplanting and delivery fees (dependent on size of pot and distance of delivery). All of these trees are proven winners in San Francisco:

  • Brugmansia
  • Lemon tree
  • Laurus nobilis
  • Japanese maple
  • Dodonea viscosa
  • Osmanthus fragrans
  • Arbutus unedo
  • Leptospermum
  • Thuja
 
Buying a Meyer lemon tree
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

Hi, I would like to buy a Meyer lemon tree in October as a gift, do you think they will be available. -Much Thanks

- Dana in San Francisco
   
A: Dear Dana,

Yes, our stores will continue to stock Meyer Lemon trees throughout the Fall (Subject to availability). We sell quite a few during the entire Holiday Season, so we maintain our supply year-round. The only potential for not having them is some type of crop failure from our local suppliers.

Feel free to call ahead to your local store just to be sure. And, as always, if they are out of stock you can certainly place a "special order" for one.
 
Tree Watering
Q: Dear Garden Guru,

I have a 2 year-old Stella cherry tree and a 3 year-old Santa Rosa plum tree. I just installed drip watering, had been just soaking with a hose, pretty irregularly. Surprised they have survived me. How many gallons per soaking (and how often) should I be giving them in each of the four seasons here in Novato?

- David in Novato
   
A: Dear Katie,

Trees are remarkably forgiving things. Your trees will not need irrigation in winter once the rains start and will not need to be irrigated until the weather warms up. The first irrigation in spring is about 2 weeks after the last rain once the tree has blossomed and "woken up". At this point, the 2 year old will need about 2 gallons/day and the 3 year old will need 4 gallons per day. Once mature, the plum will need 6-12 gallons/day depending on the time of year and the cherry will want 20-45 gallons per day! The higher gallonage reflect its needs in the hot summer months, the smaller is for spring and fall. Because our soil is so very clayey in Novato, it will hold more moisture for a longer period of time. If you were to irrigate everyday, there is a chance you could over water. I would recommend you water with drip every 3rd day. For instance on the 2 year old, if you use 2, 1 gal emitters and water for 1 1/2 hours, the tree gets 3 gallons every 3rd day. If the trees seem to wilt or "loose their shine", you can water more often (for less time) or use more emitters per tree.
 
Fall Foliage in the Bay Area
Q:

Dear Guru,

Being from upstate New York, I really miss the fall colors. I recently traveled to Portland and noticed some trees there were alive with fall foliage. Can I grow such trees and enjoy the same bright colors every fall here in S.F.? And, if so, what are the bright yellow, red, reddish pink and orange trees I see. Also, what vine grows up the trees and turns red each fall?

- Lee in San Francisco

   
A:

Dear Lee,

San Francisco has a very mild climate and the degree of temperature fluctuation from night to day is very small. All those brightly colored trees require a change in weather (colder than what we have) to start the coloring process (along with a bunch of other factors that affect their biochemistry). Those multi-hued trees you see are Chinese Pistache and they require the least amount of chill to get going. Ornamental Pear and Liquidamber are two other trees for you to consider. Our customer service team members can help find them for you at any Sloat location.

The vine you mention is Boston Ivy. There are two types available Partheocissus tricuspidata (3 lobed leaves-the classic) and Parthenocissus quinquefolia (5 lobed leaves). Both will change color in San Francisco, albeit later than the surrounding counties.

I hope this helps you find some fall colors.

Plant, Water, GrowPlant, Water, Grow