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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

How to Prune Yellow Bells Tecoma

Q. Just wondering if and when I should prune my Tecoma "Yellow Bells".

Yellow Bells Tecoma stans

A. Yellow Bells or Tecoma stans can be pruned lightly any time of the year but it’s best to reserve heavy pruning cuts to the winter months. It’s difficult to kill this plant by pruning.
Tecoma stans used in desert landscaping at Ethel M's in Henderson Nevada
            If this plant is getting too large for the area given it, you can cut it close to the ground and it will sucker from the base much like oleander and Lantana. It responds to this type of pruning similarly to oleander because of its size.
Oleander winter pruned to remove old growth and renew the shrub to its former youth
            To flower, the parts growing above ground must come back into “balance” with its roots. So, it is likely to grow rapidly without flowering until it reaches the “magic ratio” of shoots to roots when it will start flowering again. This is probably when it reaches about 3 feet in height.
Winter pruning of lantana for renewing growth. Actually it could be cut back more than this and it would be better.
            Yellow bells can be pruned in other ways. If the plant is getting too tall, reduce its height by cutting the tallest branches back to a crotch or the ground.
            If you want it taller and expose the bottom stems or trunks, then reduce the number of trunks or stems to 7 or less, trying to keep an odd number. Cut the smallest stems just below ground and remove side branches from the remaining to about knee height.

Some Palm Fruit is Edible, Many Not Desirable

Q. My palm tree is about 20 years old and this year put out big bunches of berries. It does not seem like a date to me because they are small and round with not much flesh around the seed. Are they edible by humans?  
Palm of reader.

A. It depends on the palm. Many types of date palms have been planted all over Las Vegas and these trees frequently produce a lot of fruit at several times during the year. Date palms cross pollinate easily so there is a lot of variability in fruit quality, color, size and time of year they produce fruit.
Fruiting of Canary Island Date palm, fruits are edible but not desirable.
            All palms I know of in the Mojave Desert produce flowers and fruit when sexually mature.

The fruit ranges from delicious to inedible to toxic depending on the palm. To my knowledge, there are no palms that survive and produce toxic fruit in the Mojave Desert. There are some which produce what I call “inedible” fruit.
Date palm planted in the parking lot of a Dollar General store in Las Vegas.
            There are palms that produce fruit that you can eat but you don’t want to eat them because they taste awful or don’t have much “flesh” such as the Canary Island Palm and the California and Mexican Fan Palms.
This boat tail grackel knows the dates on the ground are sweet and good to eat.
            There are other palms that produce edible fruit in the Mojave Desert such as the Jelly Palm and the Chilean Wine Palm. As far as tree size goes, the Jelly Palm is more desirable as a landscape tree because it is much smaller at maturity than the huge Chilean wine Palm. This palm lays claim to the largest palm in the world!
            Watch the birds. If the birds pick up the fruit from the ground and eat it, it’s probably edible. If birds leave it alone, it probably isn’t.