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Consider planting hollies for a property border
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Question: What are some good trees that will provide a border or buffer along my property lines?

Answer: While you may want to go buy Leyland Cypresses because of their rapid growth, this tree can come with many afflictions. Overuse, disease pressure and improper planting of Leyland's make it a plant whose popularity may be on the way out.

Instead try planting Hollie's ("Nellie R. Stevens") or "Thuja" Aborvitaes as a good alternative. These are best for borders in full sun. If you need to plant a hedge border in a shady location, try tea olives or lusterleaf hollies. In general , with proper cultural conditions, such as watering and fertilizing, these alternative plants will be problem free.

Q: I am seeing a lot of discoloration, burned needles and leaves, dead branch tips and branches on some of my ornamental shrubs. What is going on?

A: In most cases, this winter has caused many types of injury to our plants. Winter burn occurs when there is low soil moisture, strong blowing winds and freezing temperatures. Plants injured by cold temps are more susceptible to disease and drought stress in the warmer months.

It is beneficial to wait until spring to assess the damage. At that time, prune dead twigs and branches back to about an inch from live tissue or to the next healthy branch collar of a live branch. This will help stimulate growth and reduce the chance for any secondary plant diseases that might spread.

The plant will likely drop the damaged leaves and start producing new growth soon.

Once we are past frost, it will be important to fertilize the injured plants and water them well throughout the spring and summer if we come upon drought conditions. If you are not sure you have winter damage on your plants, bring a sample of the plant by the extension office for a more accurate diagnosis.

Q: If I have leftover stored vegetable seeds from last year, will they germinate if I plant them this year?

A: Most vegetable seeds remain viable for three years or more if they are stored properly. If you kept the seeds dry in an airtight container in a cool location (not freezing) this will usually prolong their life. If seeds have been kept a long time, lay them between two moist paper towels and enclose them in a plastic bag. Place the bag in a warm location such as the top of a refrigerator and check for germination in a few days up to two weeks.

Did you know?

The latest color trend in spring flowering bulbs according to the International Bulb Centre are shades of purple and blue found in the many varieties of tulip, hyacinths, crocus, allium and Muscari.

Have you heard of "companion planting"? Companion flower and herb planting is a popular concept for insect disease protection in your vegetable gardens.

Try planting scented French marigolds thickly in a veggie garden.

This will repel nematodes. Plant mint in a container close to the garden and it will repel the dreaded cabbageworm. Sweet basil close to your tomato plants tend to repel aphids, mosquitoes and mites and conveniently controls the tomato hornworms.

Gardening tips for this time of year

Prune hybrid and knockout roses early in the month of March. (Not your climbing roses! Wait until June or July for them.)

Prune back woody ornamentals now, such as Lantana, butterfly bush and chaste trees.

Fertilize fescue lawns now. Apply pre-emergent to lawns to prevent crabgrass in March.

Wanda Cannon is a Master Gardener trained through the Hall County program and also serves as Master Gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the Hall County Extension office. Phone: 770-535-8293.