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Monday, March 4, 2013

Invasive Plants Not As Invasive in Desert Landscapes

Q. I have a narrow area and the local Vegas nurseries have Privets (L. Japonicum) which have been espaliered and was thinking that might work well. However, I have read on various blogs that birds eat the berries and they get dropped in other areas of the yard/gardens, sprouting up all over. They say it is considered an invasive species in many areas.

Have you found this problem to be true and if so, is there anything that can be done so that the plant will not produce berries? I was also looking for info on the extent to which I would need to prune the privet, it to keep it to appx a 6x10 espalier (it will go in a back upper planting area making access to it not very easy). If you have an educated guess as to whether this would require 1x year or 10x yr, etc., I would appreciate it.

A. I have not found this to be true in desert landscapes where we can control most growth by where water is applied with drip emitters. There are many invasive species in California and Florida that are not invasive in home landscapes in the desert for this reason. However, invasive species can be a problem in persistent or perennial waterways such as the Colorado River basin, washes like the Las Vegas Wash and irrigation ditches. So you do have to be careful with invasive species but in the middle of the desert with no such waterways it is not usually a problem.

They are not terribly fast growers but I think you could have a pretty nice espalier going in about three to four years. Most of the pruning (if I am picturing what you are trying to do correctly) would probably be done with a hedge shears after the main stems have been established and anchored to the trellis. During the establishment period you would want to push stem growth as quickly as possible with deep irrigations and light fertilizer applications about four times a year. Pruning should be done about monthly during establishment and to keep the trellis looking neat and trim.

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