Questions on: Russian Almond
Ron Smith, Horticulturist, NDSU Extension Service
Q: When is the best time to trim a Russian almond since mine is getting out of hand? I also have a 3-year-old standard pear tree that leafed out nicely this spring, but then the leaves started to droop and eventually dry up. There is also a new shoot coming out of the trunk near the bottom. Should I leave the shoot to grow or wait for the tree to re-leaf? (e-mail reference, Hague, N.D.)
A: I don't think it makes much difference how or when you prune the Russian Almond since this species has a strong tendency to sucker. Prune it any way you wish to keep it under control, or move it to a location where it can grow to natural form and save you the trouble of trying to keep it in bounds.
Concerning the pear tree, it sounds as if a root rot has taken hold. The tree's leafing out is a result of what carbohydrates were stored there the previous fall. The fact that the leaves wilted is because nothing was coming forth from the root system or so little that it could not sustain them. I suggest waiting about 30 days, and if no releafing takes place, consider the tree dead.
About the sucker coming from the base: This may be a renegade shoot coming from a grafted root stock, which may or may not be a pear of desirability. You can let it grow for a while and see what takes place. If it isn't to you liking, then get it out of there.
I have not had good luck with pears in North Dakota. Something always seems to happen to them before I can get anything useful out of them!
Q. At the end of our yard we have woven wire that runs east and west. I would like to plant some shrubs that spread out and don't grow too tall, because we have cattle on the south side of the fence. It is about 150 to 200 feet long. What would be a good thing to plant?
Also, a couple of weeks ago, you named a maple tree that was red in fall. I have lost the name of that tree. (Tappen, N.D.)
A. I would suggest planting Russian almond (Prunus tenella). It is hardy, moderately drought-tolerant and gets about 4 feet tall.
The maple I suggested was likely an Amur maple. It gets about 15 to 25 feet tall. That or the Tatarian maple. Both look about the same with rewarding fall color. Try to get the `Embers' cultivar.
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