Q. What are some shrubs that we could use as a hedge on a property line that includes both sun and shade? We also have deer to contend with.

A. The first plant that comes to mind is Sandankwa viburnum. It is evergreen and has a white bloom right now. Sandankwa does well in sun or shade and the deer do not eat it. One limitation may be that it only grows to 7 feet tall. Standard yaupon holly can also be considered. It eventually grows to 20 feet tall but is highly prunable to any height, width or shape that you want. Deer not eat standard yaupon. 

Q. How are you reacting to the claim that all that is required to protect trees from oak wilt is to improve their growing conditions and use one of several identified organic treatments? The advocates say that they have evidence of success.

A. It would be wonderful if that were true, but so far, I have not seen the evidence that supposedly exists. To accept such claims would require that the testing be conducted, and results presented in a reviewable form that clearly describes the conditions that existed during the test. Our oak trees are too valuable to gamble on their survival by accepting someone’s unproven claims. 

Q. Tulips are so beautiful. I didn’t think they could be grown here in Central Texas but the other day I saw some blooming in a landscape we drove by. What is the story?

A. Tulips require a cold period to align their chemistry for growth. Our winter weather is not cold enough to provide the hours of cold required, but it can be provided if you put the bulbs in a refrigerator for six weeks. Usually the bulbs are placed in the vegetable drawer about Nov. 1 to be retrieved and planted on Jan. 1. The length of the bloom period is influenced by how quickly the spring gets hot. They are also vulnerable to wind and deer. 

Q. The spinach, chard and lettuce has been great this winter. How long can we expect it to stay mild tasting and productive? 

A. If the weather stays as cool as it has been since mid-November, the vegetables could stay productive, crisp and tasty through April. Keep harvesting the greens leaf by leaf as you need them. 

Q. When is the recommended time to fertilize our lawns? What type of fertilizer should we use for best results? 

A. It is recommended that the lawn be fertilized after “real” grass (not weeds) has been mowed twice, usually around May 1. By that time the roots have developed enough to utilize the nutrients made available from the fertilizer. 

Calvin Finch is a retired horticulture agent in Bexar County. He writes for and works with a number of area media outlets.

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