Field Questions: Pine Inquiry, Should Fruit Trees Be Watered, Amaryllis Discussion – InForum

Field Questions: Pine Inquiry, Should Fruit Trees Be Watered, Amaryllis Discussion – InForum

s: I just read your article about identifying evergreen plants. In which category does a pine tree belong, since it has green needles during the summer, but sheds its leaves during the winter? We have a couple in our garden that are doing well. -Gary H.

a: I was wondering if anyone would ask about the pine, so thank you for that. Pine trees are great because they look like evergreen trees, except everything falls off before winter.

Pine trees belong to the same family as pines and firs, and bear cones like their evergreen cousins. But because they shed their needles, pines cannot be called evergreen. Instead, they are in a category called deciduous conifers. Conifer means cone-bearing and deciduous refers to plants that shed their leaves in the fall.

Pines are well adapted to northern landscapes. Its needle-shaped leaves are fresh green in summer, and turn a stunning golden color in fall. Pines have the elegant pyramidal shape of their evergreen cousins ​​and are certainly worthy of increased use.

s: I'm wondering if I should water my fruit trees now since the winter has been dry so far. Would that help since it was mostly below freezing? I've had deaths in the past, and I wonder if lack of water is the cause. — Michael B.

a: We're all used to seeing at least some snow on the ground in late December, which makes us feel like we must do something when the ground is unusually bare.

From your photo, I see that your fruit trees are in your garden, rather than surrounded by bare, exposed soil. Turf grass helps mitigate temperature extremes, unlike soil that has no cover.

Should you water your apple trees? Probably not. Watering can temporarily thaw the soil as the water moves through the ground. Thawing, followed by refreezing, can damage the roots of an apple tree or lawn. For example, winter killing of grass is common if water from a sump pump discharges onto frozen grass.

Watering trees or other plants in the winter when the ground is frozen, or partially frozen, may do more harm than good. We hope all goes well for your fruit trees. It's a good reminder to water our trees before the soil freezes, in case fall moisture is lacking.

s: Can you settle the debate? My neighbor and I disagree about the right time to cut off the tall flower stalk of an amaryllis once the flowers have faded. Should the stem be cut immediately after flowering or left? – Brenda C.

a: If you search the question online, you will get different answers, even from reliable sources. The point everyone agrees on is that the flowers themselves should be cut when they fade to prevent seed pod formation, which saps energy from the plant.

I prefer to leave the long stem intact until it yellows naturally, which is also a recommendation from the University of Minnesota. The green stem contains chlorophyll, just like the leaves, and it continues to nourish the bulb through photosynthesis until the stem turns yellow and wilts.

Future flowering on amaryllis depends on photosynthesis to store energy within the bulb in the form of a flower bud. Leaves are the main driver, but the green stem also contributes to fading.

Thus, the University of Minnesota and I will side with those who voted to keep the stem as long as possible, then cut it right above the bulb when it fully yellows. Thanks for the interesting and important question.

If you have a gardening or lawn care question, email Don Kinzler, NDSU Extension-Cass County, at

. Broad appeal questions may be posted, so please include your name, city, and state for appropriate advice.

Don Kinzler

Don Kinzler, a lifelong gardener, is a horticulturist at North Dakota State University Cass County Extension. Readers can reach him at

    (tags for translation)amaryllis

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