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Q. As with most folks, we lost branches off trees, due to the ice storm. Is there anything we are supposed to apply to the area where the branch broke off to help the tree heal? — John Habermann

A. Do not treat the wounds with any paint or sealant. Research shows moisture is trapped under the sealant, leading to increased rot and decay. Cleanly cut off the broken limbs and let the plant form callus tissue over the wound. Really large wounds may never completely callus over. However, the tree does seal off the interior of the wound with natural chemicals to try to compartmentalize the decay and prevent it from spreading through the tree.

Small broken limbs can be removed easily with pruning shears or a pole-lopper. If the branch has not split away from the trunk, remove the broken part back to the next major branch. Do not leave long branch stubs. Stubs will rot back to the adjacent branch and are a point of entry for insects and diseases.

Large limbs should be removed using the three-cut procedure to avoid stripping the healthy bark from the trunk. The first cut is made on the underneath side of the limb about, 18 inches out from the trunk. The cut should be almost halfway through the branch, or until it starts to bind the saw. The next cut should be made on top of the branch, about 1 to 2 inches toward the end of the branch from the last cut. Cut all the way through until the branch is removed. The last cut removes the remaining branch from the trunk. The cut should be made from the top of the branch just outside the branch collar. The collar is the ridge where the branch attaches to the trunk or another major branch. Don’t cut the collar itself. For more information, see http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/latewinterpruning.html.

Q. We have an English walnut tree, approximately 30-40 years old. It produces nuts most years. How can we start some babies from this tree? — Flo Tallman

A. English (also called Persian) walnuts are usually grafted named cultivars, not seedlings. Seedling trees do not always possess the qualities of the parent tree and often take longer to begin bearing nuts. Quality from these trees is not predictable.

Grafted or cloned trees are started on two- to three-year rootstocks. Scion wood for the grafts is taken from other trees and has the characteristics of the parent tree and earlier production. One of the problems with English walnuts is the male flowers (catkins) begin development long before the female nutlet flowers and are often killed by late spring frosts. The Colby and Hansen varieties are typically recommended for our area. They are self-fruitful and do not require cross-pollination.

If you’re still interested in pursuing propagating your trees from seed, collect the nuts in the fall and place them in moist sand for the winter months to prevent their drying out. Sow them in well-drained, light, loamy soil in the spring. Protect them from pests by covering them with wire netting. It is beneficial if the seeds are sown in their permanent location because they are stunted by transplanting. If they must be transplanted, lift the seedlings at the end of the growing season, and carefully replant them in their permanent location.
For more information, contact the Purdue Extension office in your county or the Indiana Nut Growers’ Association at http://www.nutgrowers.org.

Q. We are moving in the spring, and I would like to move a climbing clematis that we have had for 30 years. How can I move it successfully in order that I may replant it in a new location? — Max Fordyce

A. In the spring, dig up as much of the root ball as possible. Place it in a pot so the soil remains in contact with the roots. Cut the top growth back to 18 inches or so. Keep the roots moist until you transplant it into its new home. Since clematis do most of their growth in the first half of the growing season, get it back into the ground as soon as possible. Make sure to water it regularly during the first summer after transplanting. Although clematis are usually rather drought resistant, it will require some pampering that first year.

Q. How do you propagate Cypress trees? I’m not exactly sure what kind of Cypress trees they are, but they grow in Christmas tree form and drop round seed balls in the fall. We have tried to plant these with no avail. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks for your time.

A. Unfortunately, many plants bear the common name Cypress. There are baldcypress (Taxodium distichum), Leyland cypress (x Cupressocyparis leylandii), many true Cypresses (Cupressus species) and falsecypress (Chamaecyparis species). None are hardy here except Taxodium, and all bear cones, not round seed balls. You can probably identify your plant by looking for it in the “Manual of Woody Landscape Plants” by Michael A. Dirr. This book also gives propagation information. Check your local library for a copy.

You could also bring in a sample of the plant to the Purdue Extension office in your county to see if and educator can identify it. The Extension staff can also send the sample or good digital images to the Purdue Pest and Plant Diagnostic Lab ($11 fee). See http://www.ppdl.purdue.edu/ppdl/SampleSubmission.html for more information.


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