Question and Answer February 2011

Neil answers readers’ questions here each month. He has only a couple of ground rules.

Each question must be accompanied by a photo, so readers can see what is being discussed. If you don’t have a photo, Neil invites you to call his radio programs.
Questions need to be of wide reader interest. Plant ID questions normally are not.

Click here to send Neil your question and photo. Remember, please, to list your city. Thanks!

Question: Is it unusual for an aloe to bloom? They’re really pretty. I just hadn’t experienced it before. T.R., Dallas.

Answer: Most people are only familiar with Aloe vera, the "medicine plant." Even it blooms when it’s grown single-plant (as opposed to clumps). Aloe blooms are usually very showy, with the spikes ranging from 3 inches to 18 inches in length, depending on the variety. Some aloes grow very tall, to 10 to 30 feet at maturity. They’re fascinating plants, and a few species can even survive mild freezes. They require full morning sun and perfect drainage, whether they’re in pots or out in the ground in South Texas. Most aloes flower in January and February. They’re from South Africa, where that’s the beginning of their summer.

Question: I have a clump red oak with three trunks. It seems to be separating. Is this something about which I should be concerned? How can I address it? No name given. Baylor County.

Answer: First and foremost, at some point before long, get a certified arborist involved in this clump’s life. My bet would be that you should just leave it alone. The wood of the trunks is quite tolerant of the moisture that may occasionally be trapped in the crotch. It’s normal for branches or trunks to lean away from one another. Probably your only concern would be whether the trunks need to be cabled to one another, to add support to the entire clump. The arborist would know that.

As you can see, we didn’t get a lot of questions with photos this month. It could be your chance to get some help. See above to send Neil your question and photo, then watch here for his reply.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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