Q: We have a wall covered in creeping fig. How can we protect it from freezing this winter? Sondra Cundiff, email
A: Ask at your local nursery if they sell frost cloth. This is a lightweight polyester fabric used to drape over tender plants in winter. If you are handy, you could install hooks at the top of your wall so that the fabric could be hung down the wall when severe cold approaches. You’ll need to devise some way to tuck the fabric edges close to the wall on all four sides. Personally, I wouldn’t do anything until temperatures are predicted to fall to 15 degrees or below.
Q: My fig bush was so heavy with figs they pulled the limbs almost to the ground. Can they be propped back up? Walt Brown, email
A: One of the ways that edible fig plants (as well as other species of fig) compete for sunshine is to allow their horizontal limbs to touch the soil and make new roots, expanding their territory. So your fig is behaving naturally. To answer your question directly, it is fine to prop up the limbs. It would be great if you could fold a plastic grocery bag several times to make a pad to go between the prop and the limb, thus preventing pressure damage to the bark.
Q: I was at a nursery and mentioned to a staffer that one of my roses looked like it had rose rosette disease. He asked if I was sure it wasn’t witch’s broom. It’s important to know because treatment for the two conditions is different. Ellen Peterson, Suwanee
A: Witch’s broom and the abnormal growth caused by the rose rosette virus appear similar but they are not the same. Witch’s broom is usually found on conifers. It is characterized by a mass of twigs originating from the same point on a branch. On roses, the only thing similar would be when a rose has accidentally been sprayed with glyphosate, not a virus infection. This herbicide injury is characterized by tiny yellow leaves clustered in balls up and down the stem. As you know, rose rosette disease has several simultaneous symptoms: multiple shoots, excess thorniness, deep red foliage, and malformed flowers. Keep a close eye on your suspect rose. If more rose rosette symptoms develop, remove it completely.
Q: I have inherited a yard with 30-foot-high redtips that tower over the driveway. I would like to prune them back so they grow into a short bush. What is the best way to do this? Jeremy Cranberry, Atlanta
A: Generally speaking, if you have a healthy redtip photinia shrub it will survive severe pruning. However, yours are so old that there may not be many dormant buds still available growing low on the stump, which means resprouting could be weak. Even if they do regrow, you will constantly have to prune to keep them at the lower height. It will initially be a lot of work, but I recommend you dig out the redtip shrubs and replace with an evergreen like loropetalum or camellia, which have mature sizes more in line with what you want.
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Listen to Walter Reeves Saturday mornings on News 95.5 FM and AM750 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, follow him on Twitter @walterreeves, on Pinterest, or join his Facebook Fan Page at bit.ly/georgiagardener for more garden tips.