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MSU Extension Service

Home Grown is an educational, entertaining, question-answer column seen weekly in "News from the Genesee MSUE Office," a weekly newsletter for Genesee County Master Gardeners. Special thanks to the Genesee, Oakland and Livingston county MSU Extension offices for providing this service.

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This week's HomeGrown

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I have an evergreen that I think is some kind of a five-foot tall skinny juniper. The snow and ice has made it bend over. Do I try to knock the ice off? If I don't, will it be bent forever?

Be careful of attacking sleeping junipers. Well, not really, but now I have your attention. What you do need to be careful of is trying to remove snow and tearing off needles. It's not better if it is naked but upright. If the snow-ice combination doesn't come off easily, wait. It will eventually get warmer. Many evergreens right themselves after being bent. Once the weight is gone, it may come back up. But make a plan if it remains looking like a green croquet wicket. If this evergreen has multiple tops side by side, you may be able to take a piece of soft rope or a strip of cloth and tie them together in a more upright position. The tie should not be excessively tight. The individual tops might be weak, but pulling them together temporarily may give the evergreen enough strength to stand tall. As soon as the branches will stay vertical on their own, remove the tie. Check to see that nothing is rubbed, pinched or damaged with the tie. If this isn't going to fit your problem, consider putting in one really tall stake or metal tee post close to the tree. It needs to be on a side that is opposite of the bending branches. Use the strip of cloth or soft rope to make a loop. Attach the loop to the stake. But make sure that the plant isn't secured tightly. The potential danger with this one is that high winds can slam the branches against the narrow support and damage or break branches. Just remember, spring is just around the corner, although it may be a big corner.

My friend has a great plant called a burro's tail. I want one too and she said I could start one from hers. The problem is that we don't know if we can or how to do it. I really want one that would be related to hers.

This is your lucky day. You can create a whole herd of burros if you want. Burros tail is a succulent that is related to the various sedums that we use as ground cover in our gardens. Burro or donkeys tails are usually displayed as hanging plants because of their many branches that are covered with frosty blue-green leaves. The fat leaves resemble seeds. Hold off on your donkey adventure about a month if you will be starting your plant on the windowsill. The sun will be stronger and the process of growing roots will be quicker. You are going to need some kind of a pot with a drain hole and some soil-less potting mixture. You have two ways of easily going about this. You can remove some of the fat leaves or you can snip the ends off several of the branches. Make sure that your friend agrees so you stay friends. Because these are succulents, if you place a freshly broken or cut end in damp soil, it has a good chance of rotting. Take your cuttings and let them air dry for a couple of days before potting them up. If you are using the leaves, gently snuggle them shallowly into the soil on their sides. Keep the soil just barely damp. In a few weeks or months, a tiny white root will come out of the broken leaf end. It will extend into the soil and very slowly, and a tiny plant will form at the base of the leaf. If using the cut branches, let them dry, too. This process is called callusing. Then shallowly insert the dry ends into damp potting medium. Keep them in a sunny warm place and wait. Succulents do everything very slowly. So be patient, very patient.

Gretchen Voyle, MSU Extension-Livingston County Horticulture
Agent 517/546-3950


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