Persimmon trees will flower eventually

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Q: I have three 3-year-old persimmon trees, but they have never had any persimmons. Is this normal or should they be bearing? — Ronnie Heard, email

A: Trees that are 3 or 4 years old are still establishing a vigorous root system. Your trees are more interested in growing limbs and roots than in flowering in spring and making fruit right now. In May, keep an eye on the branch ends. Male persimmon trees will produce a slender, urn-shaped flower. Female trees make a fat, squatty flower. If you have both sexes, you'll have fruit.

Q: I purchased some seeds earlier this year, placed them in a freezer bag and placed the bag in the freezer. I plan to purchase more seeds to continue my seed bank. Can the frozen seeds be removed from the freezer into a storage system outside a freezer? — Zina Adams, email

A: Storing seed successfully is not complicated, but it depends on two things: a constant cold temperature and very low humidity. If your seeds were completely dry originally, you can move them from the freezer gradually to a cool spot without deterioration. If you suspect they were not completely dry, it's possible the move will result in moisture being absorbed into the seed germ and they will refuse to sprout. I recommend storing dried seed in a baby food jar in which you've placed a tablespoon of dry silica gel powder. They are safe then in either the back part of your freezer or refrigerator or in the back of a cool closet.

Q: Our older cluster home has a large Japanese maple just outside the front door. Its roots have damaged a drainage pipe. Would a landscaper want to remove the tree for transplanting? — Martha Addison, Northlake

A: It all depends on the form of the tree and the species. Lyle Collins ( says if the tree was growing next to a wall so that one side is bare, it has little worth to a professional. If it's a common Japanese maple that can be easily bought at a nursery, a landscaper would not want to expend the effort to dig your plant when they could buy a healthy one, loaded onto their truck at the nursery. If you are convinced your maple is outstanding, take several pictures of the plant from all sides and send them to local landscapers (

Q: After last year's cold weather our azaleas really took a beating. They have come back, but I don't want to stress them again this year. Would it be a good idea to cover them with burlap? — Pat Kisatsky, Woodstock

A: If the shrubs are healthy going into winter, they should withstand normal winter cold just fine. Consider covering them if temperatures drop into the low teens or if it is very windy and cold. Burlap is too heavy for a plant covering, particularly if rain or snow is expected. Instead, lay in a supply of spun-bonded polyester that's sold as "frost cloth."