Dallas soil a good home for dawn redwoods

Question: I would really love to plant dawn redwoods on my property. I have two acres but have heard conflicting reports of their success in the Texas heat.

What is your opinion of dawn redwood vs. bald cypress and pond cypress?

Have you heard of anyone trying to plant coastal redwoods around Dallas? I want to experiment with a few.

V.T., Lucas

Answer: The dawn redwoods (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) on Page 198 of Howard Garrett's Texas Trees are in a back yard in Highland Park. I took that photo more than 10 years ago, so you can imagine how big the trees are now. Other huge specimens in North Dallas are doing well, too. In fact, they are growing in black and white soils and have none of the yellowing, browning and chlorosis that commonly spoil the late-summer appearance of some bald cypresses.

Plant away. You will love them.

I have no experience with coastal redwoods.

Question: I need to find out how far back I should cut my banana plants. It is their first winter in my yard. Should I cover them? They are about 8 feet tall, and I planted them in April.

N.F., Dallas

Answer: Bananas, elephant ears, hoja santa and other large-leaf perennials should be cut back, leaving a 2- to 3-inch stump. Cover the stump with shredded native tree mulch.

Unless the roots stay too wet during the winter from frequent rains or poor drainage, the plants should come back next spring.

Some gardeners put a piece of old carpet over the stump and then mulch on top of that if they are concerned about moisture rotting the crowns of the plants.

Question: My daughter and her husband live on a very windy hill in Springtown, north of Weatherford. Their 20-acre property doesn't have a lot of trees. My concern is that it is too windy for trees to grow there. What kind of tree would be best to plant there, and when?

M.O., Dallas

Answer: The best trees for a windy site include the following Texas natives: cedar elm, Eastern red cedar, Texas ash and live oak. Small trees include yaupon holly, lacy oak and Texas madrone.

Question: We just bought a house that has three big trees in the front yard that just lost their leaves. The trees have a lot of mistletoe in them. I know it is not good for the trees. How do I get rid of it?

M.A., Crowley

Answer: There are no organic or chemical sprays that are effective in controlling mistletoe. On the other hand, it can be controlled by other methods.

Mistletoe infests trees that are weak. Weakness in the immune systems of trees results from several factors. Some varieties have genetic problems. Hackberries, for example, almost always have a lot of mistletoe. Other trees such as elms and oaks get mistletoe infestation and other parasites because of stress caused by improper planting, too much or too little water, too much or the wrong kind of fertilizer, soil compaction, soil contamination or the use of chemical pesticides. Here's the plan: Prune the mistletoe out of the tree. Remove infested limbs completely if it can be done without ruining the shape of the tree. Carefully notch into large limbs that can't be removed to cut away the mistletoe.

I used to say that this is the only place I recommend the use of pruning paint. That was a dumb recommendation. Pruning paint and toxic wound dressings should never be used. At the most, slather a little of my "tree trunk goop" onto the pruning wound. Find the recipe via


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