Ivy can be tenacious, even after pruning

The tendrils that attach English ivy to a surface can hold enough moisture to keep the vine alive for a while. (Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
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The tendrils that attach English ivy to a surface can hold enough moisture to keep the vine alive for a while. (Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Walter Reeves

Credit: Walter Reeves

Q: How is it possible for ivy to keep growing in a tree after it has been cut off from its roots? Paul Renick, email

A: First, look carefully at the trunk where you clipped the vine. Make sure there are no untouched vines hiding in bark cracks. Ivy can get moisture from the rootlike tendrils that attach it to a tree trunk. If there are lots of the rootlets, the ivy could maintain itself for weeks from the moisture there. But eventually an ivy vine that is severed from its roots will surely dry up and die. It may take months, but it will inevitably happen.

Q: My apple trees are blooming. Will this have any repercussions on next year’s crop? Mike Childers, email

A: Premature blooming usually happens after there have been weather inconsistencies between spring and fall. In other words, wet-dry-wet-dry or cold-warm-cold-warm. The developing flower buds on the tree get out of sync. Some are ready to open after good weather in fall, and some still need chilling before opening properly in spring. Since comparatively few flowers open in fall and since you’ll be thinning the fruit that appears in spring, the effect on your harvest is minimal.

Q: We planted a red maple 20 years ago. In the fall, it always turned a gorgeous red. But for the last five years, it has not turned red. The leaves just turn brown and fall off. Is there something we can do to bring the color back? Richard Ziober, east Cobb

A: Leaf color depends on the weather, particularly the interplay between night temperatures, day temperatures, rainfall, and the tree’s health. Remember, the red color comes after the leaf stops making green chlorophyll so the red anthocyanin pigments in the leaves can be seen. If fall temperatures are too warm, then red leaf color is inhibited. Dry weather mutes the color. Additionally, a sudden cold snap will reduce red fall foliage. I don’t think you can do anything specifically except watering during a drought.

Q: I have a large olive tree. One limb partially blocks a path. Is this a safe time of year to remove it? Leslie Swain, email

A: My rule of thumb is you can take off 25% of a tree’s foliage during the growing season and not hurt the plant. So by this rule, pruning would be OK. But I have another rule of thumb that says midfall is not the best of times to prune a tree or shrub. It can affect the plant’s winter-readiness, especially if there’s enough time for post-pruning sprouting to occur. I suggest you practice your limbo moves and wait until December to prune.

Email Walter at georgiagardener@yahoo.com. Listen to his gardening comments at 6:35 a.m. on “Green and Growing with Ashley Frasca” Saturday mornings on 95.5 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, or join his Facebook Page at bit.ly/georgiagardener, for his latest tips.