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This week in your Massachusetts garden & landscape

Week of December 11, 2017
  • Some plants contain allergenic or irritant compounds and can produce skin irritation or rash after contact.  Mild dermatitis can occur after contact with boxwoods (Buxus spp.) or chrysanthemums.  Poinsettias are not poisonous; however, if you have a sensitivity to latex, contact with poinsettias can result in a skin rash.
  • Daylilies are edible.  You can eat the flower buds, raw and cooked, and add the opened blooms to salads.  The tubers, which look like baby fingerling potatoes, can be eaten either raw or cooked.  They have a crisp texture paired with a nutty sweetness that is delicious pan fried or roasted until tender.  For culinary purposes, stick to H. fulva rather than daylily cultivars; and please note – the Lilium species are toxic.
  • Shadblow Serviceberry (Amelanchier Canadensis (L.) Medic.) is a large shrub or small tree.  Fruits are a readily available food source for mourning doves, both hairy and downy woodpeckers, blue jays, tufted titmouse, American robin and the eastern bluebird.
  • Prune English Ivy as needed to keep the vine within bounds.  Do any major pruning in the spring and then follow up throughout the season.  Severely cut down English ivy used as a ground cover every few years to prevent a mat of old stems from building up.  As English ivy matures, its growth habit changes.  It becomes a bush rather than a vine, has unlobed leaves and bears flowers followed by berries.  You can prevent this from happening by pruning it severely.
  • When shopping for a houseplant, keep these tips in mind when choosing one.  The plant should have fresh, green tip growth and its older leaves should be shiny and clean.  If it is a flowering plant, look for unopened buds to be present.  The pot or container it is in should be clean with a soft, nicely moist soil surface.
  • Blueberries tend to bear very heavily if left completely unpruned.  You can clean them up by removing the oldest shoots (those that are 3-4 years old) in the winter, thinning out the worst tangles among the twigs and cutting out dead wood.  If berries are very small one year, thin the following winter.  If the berries are very large, skip the thinning.

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