Q: We have Palatka hollies that are 35 feet tall. We would like to cut them back and keep them about 10 feet tall. Could we successfully maintain them at a lower height? When should they be trimmed? Janet Collins, DeKalb County
A: It will take lots of work to accomplish this. The hollies will need to be pruned at least twice EVERY year, in winter and in summer. ‘East Palatka’ holly is a hybrid between our native Dahoon holly and American holly. Both hollies are trees: They prefer to grow in an upright form, not a bush. So when a Palatka holly is pruned, its parents’ genetics take over and the resulting sprouts head for the sky. Unless you like climbing ladders, both now and in the future, I recommend you remove the hollies or learn to live with them.
Q: I recently was given my neighbor’s big peony plants and had to transplant them immediately. I have kept them watered and have umbrellas covering them but they are quite wilty. Should I cut the stems down to take water-gathering pressure off the tubers? Mary Cozart, DeKalb County
A: I could make an argument either way. Removing leaves will diminish the amount of water the roots need. But leaves absorb energy that the roots need for daily sustenance. In the end, your instincts will give an answer. Remove a few leaves and see if the others perk up.
Walter’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Listen to his 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.