It’s July and you can expect warm weather with high humidity which is always keeping homeowners busy. Below are questions asked by friends at local restaurants and at church over the past few weeks about their plants and other issues.
Question: I had these really weird plants with no leaves but big orange pods sticking out of the ground. Do you know these unusual plants?
Answer: These are arum pods (Italian Arum). It was introduced as a ground cover, but some areas now consider it an invasive plant. It mainly grows in wooded places with plenty of water. Wear gloves when handling this plant as all parts of the plant can cause skin irritation. Go to https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/arum-italicum/ for detailed information on this plant.
Question: When I mow my lawn our dogwood limbs always hit me in the face when I try to mow around the tree. I want to prune the tree, but my wife is afraid it will kill it. Would it be okay for me to prune the tree now and not kill it?
Answer: Yes, you can wisely prune tree branches now. The key word is judicious. Removing a small branch or two at this time of year will usually not harm dogwood trees.
Question: What are these white shrubs I see blooming all over the county? Are they some kind of snowball bush?
Answer: The landscape plants you see are probably hydrangea paniculata. There are many cultivars, from small plants to tree types. ‘Limelight’ is a very popular cultivar grown in this region which is now in full bloom. These hydrangeas adapt to sunlight better than older cultivars of hydrangea grandiflora. They are hardy plants that can adapt to dry climatic conditions. Go to the website at https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/all/hydrangea-paniculata/ for more information on this cultivar.
Question: Can I grow ferns as perennials in my landscape? I’ve seen them planted in magazines and wondered if they would live in our climate.
Answer: Yes, there are a large number of commercially available ferns that will grow and survive in our climate. Cinnamon, Autumn, Christmas, Maidenhair and Japanese Painted Ferns are just a few that grow well in our area. They may require some judicious spring pruning to remove dead or old fronds. Landscape type ferns do well in shady locations with large water supplies. Go to https://extensiongardener.ces.ncsu.edu/extgardener-not-so-delicate-ferns-add-versatility-and-texture/ for more detailed information on ferns in the landscape.
Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticultural officer and director of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at email@example.com.