Ginny asks: Will a little Leaf Linden tree grow in our area?
Yes, Tillia cordata will grow in our area, and has many fine attributes. It is a deciduous tree that will reach a height of l8 to 22 feet after l0 years. And as a mature tree under ideal growing conditions, it can reach a height of 70 feet and 50 feet in width. Keep these sizes in mind before planting!
Since it will accept many soil types, and we do have many soil types in our county, it makes a good street tree planted in sunny exposures or in partial shade in a back yard. Its creamy yellow flowers attract pollinators.
There are different forms/ canopy shapes available that will fit in any landscape.
The variety named “Corinthian” is narrow; “Greenspire” is more oval in shape. “Shamrock” is symmetrical. There also is a dwarf, ‘Summer Sprite’, that reaches a mature height of 20 feet and 10 feet in width. “Summer Sprite” is perfect for the smaller landscape and/or patio area.
Evie writes: I saw a lovely floral design at a recent flower show that included large ivy-like plant material with colorful variations of dark and lighter greens on the leaves. I was told the plant was Fatshedera.
What can you tell me about its growth habits, invasiveness, cultural requirements (sun, water), etc.?
any additional information would be appreciated.
Fatshedera x lizei is an evergreen shrub or vine that is a hybrid (“x”) between a Japanese aralia and an English ivy. Its large ivy-like leaves are a stunning dark-green with blotches of yellow-green in the leaf centers. This particular variety is ‘Lemon and Lime’
Fatshedera doesn’t have the ivy growth habit but it can sprawl on the ground or be used as an espaliered vine attached to a strong support.
Tip prune it for fuller growth and if used as a ground sprawler, cut back new vertical growth every 2 to 3 weeks. It can be cut back to the ground and will readily come back looking better than ever.
Cheryl Feurborn, an award-winning floral designer and flower judge, grows Fatshedera in her extensive home garden and reports it is not invasive like English ivy and is an excellent addition to her garden and floral designs.
Barbara K. asks: What is the name of the numerous caterpillars that are crawling under the north facing eaves of my house? They are black with red stripes and little spikes and hairs running along their body. I don’t see any “cases” built at this time.
On closer inspection, the caterpillars are called Mourning Cloak, whose larvae will soon transform into beautiful Mourning Cloak butterflies. You have a creek behind your property that has willows, a perfect habitat for these particular caterpillars. Butterflies will overwinter in woodpiles or in nooks of crannies of buildings, such as the eaves, before laying their clusters of eggs in April when the weather gets warmer. The eggs are laid on the willow host plants, hatch into caterpillars, enjoy feeding and then form a pupa or chrysalis. The chrysalis is brown. Perhaps you will see them hanging from your eaves? (FYI, moth’s pupa are called cocoons.)
Here is their life cycle: Eggs 4 – 14 days, larvae 3 to 4 weeks, chrysalis 7 to 18 days. When the adult butterfly emerges it may live as long as 10 months. The adult is distinctive with its yellow edges and bluish dots along the inside edge of the yellow edges.