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How to divide a dogwood, strawberry types, Juneberries and more

Strawberries are well-adapted to our region and can be grown in both gardens and landscapes. Forum News Service file photo 1 / 2
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Q: We are getting ready to transplant our dogwood. Can it also be split so we have two? — Joy Dunn, West Fargo.

A: You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find how many new dogwoods you can produce from your shrub, if yours is typical of most dogwoods.

Some shrubs emerge from the ground with a single, central woody stem from which roots extend downward and branches extend upward. Such shrubs can’t easily be divided.

But other shrubs, like your dogwood, produce a crown that is divided into multiple stems emerging from the ground, each having a portion of roots attached. Such shrub types are easily separated into multiple individual plants. Besides your dogwood, others in the group include alpine currant, some spireas and Annabelle-type hydrangeas.

To divide your dogwood, do so now before it leafs out. For ease of division and to reduce stress on the shrub, prune the tops back, reducing the height by at least half or two-thirds or greater. Such severe cutback is necessary to achieve balance between the branches and the disrupted root system. With a spade, exhume the shrub, digging as much of the root system as possible. Divide by slicing through the crown with the spade or severing with a pruning shears, making certain each division has its own root system and attached branches. Divide into two or more sections and immediately cover the root system with moist material during transit to its new location.

Q: I planted some Juneberries last year at the Devils Lake, N.D., campground, and we won’t be there until June. How do they stand up to rabbits? — Jim R.

A: If rabbits are hungry enough, and if their selection is limited, they’ll graze on almost anything. Most of our yards and landscapes are a smorgasbord of choices, and rabbits certainly do have preferences at the buffet line. Juneberry is among their preferred delicacies, along with crabapple, apple, burning bush euonymus, barberry, roses, alpine currant, aronia, hydrangea, clematis, arborvitae and raspberries.

Whether or not they’ll leave your Juneberries alone depends on whether other plants caught their fancy first. Juneberries, which form a large shrub or shrubby tree, can be pruned back heavily if rabbit damage happens, and new growth will usually sprout from undamaged lower portions.

Q: What are some of the best choices for sweet-tasting, June-bearing strawberries? I haven’t liked the flavors of the everbearing types. — Marlin Galde, Wahpeton, N.D.

A: June-bearing strawberry cultivars produce a heavy crop from mid-June through mid-July. Everbearing types split their production between a crop in late June and a second crop in late summer.

North Dakota State University’s recommended June-bearing cultivars and their comments include AC Wendy (early, large fruit), Annapolis (mild, sweet flavor), Honeoye (vigorous, good flavor) and Glooscap (medium fruit, cap removes easily for processing). University of Minnesota’s list of June-bearing types also includes Annapolis and Honeoye, plus Jewell (heavy producer, excellent flavor) and Cavendish (large berries, good flavor).

Q: Are tree spikes a good fertilizer option for my young spruce trees? — Bob H., Fergus Falls, Minn.

A: Spike-type fertilizers, which are pounded into the soil, do provide nutrition, but there’s a more effective way. Granular fertilizers, such as well-balanced 10-10-10, can be spread evenly over the tree’s root system following label directions. The fertilizer can then be absorbed more equally through the roots instead of the localized spot treatment provided by spike-type fertilizers.

If you have a gardening or lawn care question, email Don Kinzler at ForumGrowingTogether@hotmail.com. All questions will be answered, and those with broad appeal may be published, so please include your name, city and state for appropriate advice.