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Ask Gerry : Trees and Shrubs : Planting

What is this tree?

, Boston, USA Posted On: November 5, 2017

Can you please tell me what this tree is? Can I harvest the seeds to bring back and plant when I move back to Dublin next year? I want to be sure it’s non-invasive for Ireland too.

This is a species of euonymus or spindle tree. Which species is difficult to say. 

The seeds are best sown fresh and may not do so well aster a year.

But there is a native Irish spindle… Euonymus euopaeus ‘Red Cascade’ being a good garden form. 

Yellowing of foilage on laurel hedge

Posted On: October 14, 2017

Spring-planted Portuguese laurel showing slight yellowing on some plants. Bonemeal was added at time of planting. Can you suggest a cause/remedy or, is it a seasonal thing?

Some yellowing is normal and due to the plants adapting to their new location. Give some tree and shrub fertiliser in spring to give a boost.

Tree too near house?

Posted On: August 21, 2017

A few years ago we planted a cheery blossom tree about 5 foot from house but i have found out these can grow up to 25 feet, so i presume roots will go a lot deeper and spread. So i will uproot and replant but how far should i plant it from house. Or even a septic tank as was maybe going tp plant near the tank BTW tree has not really grown and is 4 foot and has very little buds. We planted two at same time and other one is the same. Any ideas?

Five feet is too close for a cherry, make it more than 5 metres.

Easily moved in November if it is so small, and probably was planted too deep originally. 

Transplanting tree

Posted On: June 3, 2017

I have a question regarding oak. The tree is already five years old and is growing in kind of bad place I wonder can I transplant the tree somewhere else, where it would have enough sun and more room.

A young oak can be moved when the leaves fall in November, lifting it carefully and staking if necessary.

Tree Cuttings

Posted On: May 27, 2017

I am involved in an Afforestation project and we will be growing trees from cuttings. As this is a mass plantation of trees we will need to store the tree cuttings for long periods as they wont be planted immediately after the cutting is taken. Hence,I was wondering what are ideal conditions for their storage so they can still effectively grow?

Not many trees species grow from cuttings. Exceptions are willow, poplar and aspen. These can be rooted directly in the ground where they are to grow and are best inserted when fresh.

If they must be stored,  take the cuttings in late October and keep them bundles of fifty, the ends in the ground in a shady, cool place. They will need to be inserted before end of February or they will make roots where they are. They could be stored under refrigeration at 5Celsius, but are bulky.

Yellowing leaves on Viburnum

, Fanad Posted On: May 5, 2017

I planted a healthy Viburnum Rhytidophyllum 1 month ago and leaves are turning yellow. No frost since planting, acid clay soil. I put plenty of my own compost and appropriate quantity of Blood, Fish & Bone in planting hole and watered well. Mulched with my own compost and watered when needed. Any advice would be greatly welcomed.

Plants are often soft when new from the nursery and can show signs of stress. It is likely to grow away fine if the ground is not wet.


, rathdowney Posted On: April 21, 2017

leaves turning yellow, brown will they die.

If newly planted, in the last few months, they are adjusting to the conditions and will likely recover ….. unless the ground is wet, which can kill them and would affect plants that are longer planted too.

Fungal disease in late March

, Gorey Posted On: April 9, 2017

Last year my garden was full of flowers in good conditions.I had only black spots in Wild Rose, treated with natural products , I washed all roots, new land and planted in the soil. Now, Early April, it seems more plants are like full of earth around stems and leaves , the Lavender in a pot , that was nice and big, is a ruin , also Chrysanthemums and 1 plant of Rosemary.. All was nice and strong full of flowers it seems to be ready to die ..its a fungus ? 1/could be treated before root infection? 2/It is a fungus problem this hot weather year? 3/Are they invasive spores of a single plant?

Lavender does not like a pot.  The rose and other plants may not have suitable soil conditions, possibly too wet.

Roses tend to get fungus disease.  

Is it too late to move this whitebeam

, fermoy Posted On: March 25, 2017

is it to late to move this white beam

Buds are breaking so there is a considerable risk. If possible, wait until November.

No blossom on Aesculus ‘Briotti’

, fermoy Posted On: March 3, 2017

I have a pink horse chestnut tree planted 3 years now which leaves up ok but wont produce blossom. it has plenty of light and good soil. Have you any suggestions please. The same applies for my laburnum and my wisteria. I’m not doing too well with my non colourful plants!

All are good plants and all are still young, too immature to flower, but will do so eventually when they have made some size, which is their focus now.

Replanting camellia

, Dublin Posted On: March 2, 2017

I have a camillia in a pot for about 4 years and nothing much has happened. The odd flower here and there. I am thinking of replanting out of the pot and into the garden. Good idea or not?

Camellias need a lot of attention to watering and feeding to do well in a pot, but can be planted into the open ground. Being in Dublin, the soil is limy and you will have to dig in several buckets of leaf mound or similar and apply a mulch of same every couple of years to reduce the lime to neutral.

Beech hedge query

, Ovens Posted On: January 30, 2017

I’m trying to identify the “critters” in the pics. I discovered them when replacing some beech hedge plants. There are 40 plants in the hedge that was planted bareroot in march 2016, each plant was about 5ft in height when planted, so reasonably mature. I had to replace 10 of them, which i did January 2017. The 10 replaced were not all in the same place, although a few were next to each other.I’m wondering what the critters are and if they could be a problem and were a factor in the plants dying, of course the plants could have died as a result of how I planted them. If they are a problem how should I treat them?See also pic of one of the dead plants,there are white specs on the roots, first I thought it was just residue of blood, fish and bone but that was applied during last summer and would’ve surely dissolved?I was only able to attach one pic

The ground might be  a bit heavy for beech and the layer of bark keeps it wet.

Large beech plants often have some losses.

The animal is a centipede, which eats insects/small slugs etc and does not attack plants.

White spots on roots is a decay fungus, most likely.

Can contorted hazel be grown from cuttings?

, Galway Posted On: October 11, 2016

There’s a lovely specimen in a neglected garden nearby and I would like to grow from it in my own garden. What’s the best way to get results?

It does not grow well from cuttings and is usually grafted but a low branch could be layered by pinning it to the ground, or it could be air-layered in spring by slightly wounding the branch and wrapping it around with some moist compost and moss mixed, held in place within a plastic bag passed down over the shoot, and tied below and above the wound.

Leave this untouched until new roots can be seen, and then sever the new plant and pot it up for a year or two before planting out.

taking cuttings from hedge to replant

Posted On: September 7, 2016

I have a dividing hedge in my front garden that i hope to restore to its fully glory. I am not sure what type it is? see attached photo. all but 3 bushes were killed off a few years ago during the freeze. can i take cuttings off some of the surviving ones and replant? if so how do i do that? how do i re-root the cuttings, do i need to treat them somehow?

It looks like myrtle which is prone ot frost damage.

It can be raised from cuttings taken in late summer and rooted in a small heated propagator.

replanting off shoots

Posted On: September 6, 2016

I am not sure of the tree name – see attached photo. the main tree died a few years ago during the last freeze so i cut the trunk, however it produced several offshoots which appear to be independent of each other? my question is can I dig up these individually and replant them or do they share a root? if i could dig up, how do i replant – can i put them straight intio the ground or so i need to treat them somehow first?

It is possible to lift offsets of cordyline and re-plant them if they have roots of their own.

Repotting an olive tree

, Dublin Posted On: August 23, 2016

I have an olive tree (c.6 ft) in a pot (c. 2ft diameter) for around 5 years. Want to know when is the best time to re-plant it as the roots are appearing and it has never really grown very much and what size pot should I aim for.

A big a pot as you like and pot up now, as olive trees have a summer dormancy period.

All Rhododendrons Dying

, castleisland Posted On: August 5, 2016

I cannot seem to grow Rhododendron. I set the Rhodo’s in Brown Gold. Dug a deep hole and filled it with brown Gold. However even a large Rhode is now starting to turn black – this will spread and kill the entire plant. A smaller Rhode is already ravished and died as per pictures. Thanks Gerry. If you have any solutions. I live on the side of south facing hill. Open to elements. I thought Rhodo’s were hardy.

Rhododendrons mostly need acid soil mixed with some peat.

The plant may have dried out ... remove all weeds and grass, water heavily a couple of times and mulch with pine needles or leaf mould in spring.

unknown seedling

, Monasterevin Posted On: July 24, 2016

Last Spring I sowed a lot of seeds. The labels got mixed up on some & it ended up I was unsure what I planted. Most I managed to get sorted out, but this one is unique – no other seed like this germinated and I don’t know what it is. I have it in a large tub with some morning glory seedlings. It is about 17 inches tall now. Can you tell what it is?

 It is a self-sown birch seedling.


, Derry Posted On: June 21, 2016

What plants can I take cuttings of for propagating in June or July ?

June is a bit early but many shrubs and shruby flowers, such as penstemon, can be taken in July, especially deciduous kinds... potentilla, hydrangea, hypericum, weigela, philadelphus and others.

Building a wall close to mature trees

, blackrock Posted On: May 24, 2016

How far to keep away from mature trees building a wall?

A wall, presumably a garden wall, can be lifted by tree roots that push out of the ground as they expand.

Equally, digging a wall foundation can damage a mature tree if dug too close, say within 5 metres, depending on the tree, location, soil, after-care etc. Closer and the damage increases, potentially.

It is best to keep the tree and the wall as far apart as possible. Too close and one or other, or both, can be damaged.

Looking for native irish oak

, Roscommon Posted On: May 1, 2016

I am living in Roscommon and looking to plant a couple of native oak trees. The soil is slightly alkaline. Would oak grow in this soil and if so are there any stockists near me. My local suppliers tend to stock English oak when they have oak in stock.

The so-called English oak is also native to Ireland and there is very little difference with the so-called Irish oak, which is native to all of Europe.
The species inter-breed readily and both will grow on limy soil. Try Ardcarne Garden Centre. 

Cherry blossom

, Athlone Posted On: April 29, 2016

My cherry blossom tree is planted now about 9yrs and it’s not growing. Flowers very briefly with about a diameter of 2inch’s since the day I planted it.

It could be planted too deeply, or in wet soil, or poor soil, or have competition from grass. Address any of these that apply and see what happens.

Riverbank site

, Listowel Posted On: February 24, 2016

We are lucky to be moving to a beautiful riverbank site shortly. I would like to plant a weeping willow/s at the waters edge. It is a stoney riverbank which floods regularly. How do I go about this, will the tree disappear with the first flood?Also I would love to set wildflowers on the sloping riverbank from the house. At present it is covered with grass, which is mowed/strimmed regularly during the growing season. Much of this ground is river stone, so I don’t think rotavating is an option. What is the best way to introduce native wildflowers to this spot? I would really appreciate your expert advice on my first world problems!

The best weeping willow, which gets least attack by willow canker, is Salix babylonica, but it can be hard to find.
Otherwise, plant a bit away from the streamside, a willow still works well 5 or even 10 metres from the bank. 
Do not plant more than one or two willows as it is a feature tree, and you don't want a lot of features. 

Topiary tree horse

, Navan Posted On: February 5, 2016

We have a topiary tree with inner frame in the shape of a horse. It’s probably about 10 years old now. Is it possible to remove it from current location and replant, sell on or donate?

At ten years old, it is well established and would be tricky to lift and move successfully due to inevitable damage to the root system.
But if it is essential to do so, lift it carefully in March and make sure it is watered regularly until it is growing well again. 
Or you could dig around the roots to acclimatize the plants to root loss and lift it a year later. 

moving fig tree

Posted On: October 30, 2015

I have a fig tree growing in a polytunnel for 3 years. Lots of fruit but tree is now too big. I’d like to move it outside but don’t want to kill it.

Fig is a hardy deciduous tree and can be moved when the leaves have fallen, doing as little damage to the roots as possible.