The Q&A Archives: Ilex, Salix, Sambucus

Question: Hello NG Staff! After reading all these years of your articles, I'm starting to feel that I know you a little bit. What a tremendous lot of work you do for the magazine and for us subscribers. Thank you. I was about to let my subscription run out this year because I felt so overwhelmed with information, what good would more do, anyway. Instead of dropping though, I began forming a database, summarizing articles, mentioning key words. So far I've worked back from the Feb 97 issue back to Feb94. I actually got to use it for this letter today. In the Dec 94 issue, Mr. MacCaskey wrote an article about hollies. I think what I need to solve part of my problem is Ilex verticillata. We get extremely cold here, and I won't plant anything anymore that isn't hardy to zone 4. Just seven miles down the road, we used to be able to keep some things going that were hardy to zone 5, but lately, in our new home... Here's the situation. I put a shrub border around the perimeter of my yard. Right where I'd like to hide the neighbor's peeling, sagging garage from my kitchen view, there's a bit of a low spot. In 1993 and in 1995, water would actually stand there for a day or so after repeated heavy rains. It doesn't help anything, either, that my neighbor insists on running his sump pump hose to that spot, rather than the street, unless I go out and offer to help him to move it. The Meadowlark forsythia there lost a branch two years ago, but is doing fine now. The Nanking bush cherry and Sambucus racemosa (Plumosa Aurea) have continually had a branch grow quickly up, but an older one dies. So I suppose they have a disease and need to be destroyed. Would the Ilex work there? I also am considering Salix gracilistyla 'melanostachys' and Salix vitellina (syn. S. alba "Britzensis"). Along this line of question, is it possible the Sambucus would do well

Answer: Hi there. It sounds like you need to "chat" with your neighbor about that sump pump line running to the low area. After that situation is rememdied, try the Ilex and Salix plants in that area. Yes, the Sambucus would like a drier location. The driedzones on the leaf margins of your dieffenbachia could be due to too much water. Try cutting back a bit, or repotting the plant if it hasn't been repotted in a few years.

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