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The Magic Garden
When Holly goes lightly
Morton White

My one acre is visited by dogs. I also want to block a view . Is there a plant that can do both, keep out the dogs and block a view to 12 feet? How about holly?
Glynn, Eclectic, AL


English holly is the dark green holly that is popular at Christmas. It has dark red berries and very sharp spines on its leaves. American holly is a lot lighter in color but has provide the same growth pattern. New plants should be trimmed the first few years to keep a wide base. I. aquifolium has many varieties including white margined and gold mottled. Blue Princess has a blue cast. They are many other hybrids that will be hardy and have great color though out the year and grow to 15 feet.

My rhododendron leaves and some holly are turning yellow since the onset of winter. I replaced a few larger rhodys with four this year. This past summer I had fertilized them twice. They looked good in the summer. I did not see any sign of insects. What cold be the problem?
Dern, Lewisberg, WV

Your winter has been very mild this year like so much of the US. Unfortunately, pathogens that would ordinarily be killed by frosts, have survived in many areas. Twig blight and wilt are common maladies of rhododendron and holly. Snap a branch off and see if there is any black streaks inside the branch. Twig blight is treatable with plenty of well rotted mulch and well drained soil. If you see brown streaks inside the bark, you plant has wilt. This causal fungus can be treated with Bordeaux Mix spray. The soil should be covered with the powder. Remove all infected branches. If you are not successful with irradiation of the wilt within a year, you will have to remove all infected plants to keep the disease from spreading.

How do I use Aloe from my Aloe vera plant?
Katie, Marquette, MI


Simply snap off a leaf and rub the leave onto a cut or rash. Older and thicker leaves will have more jell in each leave. Succulents store fluid inside their leaves and require less water except, when they are in bloom.

My Christmas Cactus bloomed a second time this winter. Is this unusual? Kincaid, IL

It is not unusual for Zygote Cactus to bloom all winter. If you can have the plant in an area that has cool temps at night around 45 to 50 degrees, the buds will continue to form all winter long. You can start the process outdoors in October by leaving the plant outdoors every day unless you expect a frost. The best spot indoors is a bedroom that has the heat down , if you have electric blankets.

You can listen to Mort's podcasts 24/7 on themagicgarden.com. The live program on Saturday can also be heard on the website from 8:06 to 10 AM ET.


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