Weather Forecast


North Dakota gardener interested in trading plant stock

Q: I am looking for a fast-growing tree to plant in a row this spring that can act as a wind/privacy screen. My soil seems to be all clay below 2 to 3 inches of topsoil. I have found hybrid poplar, austere hybrid and willow hybrid while searching the Web. Would one be better than the others when considering soil and weather conditions or is there another tree that you would recommend? Should fast-growing trees be avoided?

A: Of the three you listed, hybrid poplar is the best bet. Keep in mind that poplars and willows are good for fast growth, but have the disadvantage of contributing a lot of kindling and some firewood to the landscape.

For some people, this is intolerable. Another characteristic of poplars is their tendency to send up root suckers later in life in the most inappropriate places, which also can drive some people nuts. If neither of these characteristics is objectionable to you, then go for the poplar.

For wind screening, a combo of evergreens, usually spruce, and deciduous plantings are used. The evergreens give more wind protection in the winter, while they both work in the summer. Before you make a decision, visit the local nurseries to see what they have to offer.

Keep in mind that what you will be getting from online purchases will be small bare-root seedlings that someone has picked off a conveyor from a line of stock. If this doesn't bother you and you are ready to accept some loss in handling and transplanting, then order more than you need in case some don't establish for you. You always remove any excess that starts overcrowding the setting.

Q: I am wondering why my spider plant hasn't produced any spiderettes. I have had it for seven years and it is doing quite well. I water it every week. The pot that it is in doesn't drain freely. The plant also doesn't want to spread as it should. As far as I know, it never has produced spiderettes and I'm curious to know why it hasn't.

A: It could be that you are taking care of it too well. Withhold water somewhat and don't fertilize the plant. All houseplants should be placed in containers that have excellent drainage.

You might unwittingly be creating anaerobic conditions in the root area. This lowers the energy level of the plant that is needed to produce spiderettes. Your problem could be insufficient light or the wrong kind. Natural light coming through a window is best followed by fluorescent or grow lights.

When spring arrives in your locality and the danger of frost is past, repot the plant in a free-draining container and hang it from a branch under a tree canopy. Adjusting these cultural practices will help get this plant around to reproducing.

Q: I just stumbled upon your Hortiscope Web site looking for information on Bali cherries. I read about a person from Fargo who had North Star cherries that weren't producing well and he wanted some Bali cherries.

I have a small fruit and produce garden about 45 miles from Fargo. This is the third year I've been open to the public, so I still need more of everything, but I have some cherry trees to spare. I think they are North Star. I got them from my mother about 10 years ago. I also would like to find Bali cherries, but at a more reasonable price than I've seen online.

I have royalty raspberries I could swap plant for plant. I would like to find someone who has Caroline or red mammoth. Let me know if you know of someone who would like to do some plant trading. I think your knowledge could help me a lot. People can contact me at The Garden on Highway 35, 29507 Lazy Loop, Underwood, Minn. 56586.

A: I'll be glad to help you in any way that I can. After your note reaches the papers and the Internet, I'm sure someone will be responding to your request.

To contact Ron Smith for answers to your questions, write to Ron Smith, NDSU Department of Plant Sciences, Dept. 7670, Box 6050, Fargo, ND 58108-6050 or e-mail