Dividing Calla Lilies & A Mystery Tree

Question:

 We have several Calla Lilies in our yard that are about four feet tall and doing wonderfully. Is it necessary to divide Calla Lillies annually?

Answer:

  • The typical Calla Lily, found in many of the more established gardens, has a pure white flower with a perturbing yellow structure in the center. However, yellow and multi-colored varieties are also available. 
  • They are used as a landscape plant or grown indoors in a bright window. They should be protected from the heat of the day sun and when the temperatures soar into the nineties.
  • Calla Lilies are divided during the winter months whenever it's necessary, so there is no set timetable. The clumps are dug up and segmented into smaller sections, and replanted.
  • They'll overwinter nicely in our soil because the ground doesn't freeze, but the cold temperatures damage the foliage. They're not heavy feeders, so an annual feeding in the spring with All Purpose Plant Food should be sufficient; however, you should more often feed those in containers. 

Question:

I have a weed that suddenly becomes a tree in less than two years. They sprout initially as long, skinny, single stalks with leaves that resemble camellia leaves. If I pull them up quickly, they are easily uprooted, but a few that were about four feet high were just too hard to pull, and one is now over twenty feet high. I probably pull four sprouts a week from other places in my yard. I'm concerned now that these things will get so tall they will just blow over and die one day. Any idea what they are? Is it possible to prune them into submission, so they stay where they are right now?

Answer:

  • The mystery weed/tree is probably a type of Privet, either Ligustrum lucidum or japonica, and closely related to a Texas or Wax Leaf Privet shrub.
  • Ligustrum's are planted as a medium growing, evergreen landscape tree or hedge in the Bay Area. They have clusters of white flowers that turn into a bluish/blackberry. The berries are the source of the problem as they produce the new seedlings or the sprouts you refer to. Birds and squirrels transport them from yard to yard, and they're a nuisance in the countless number of yards in the Bay Area, including mine.
  • The good news is that they can be kept trim, sheared, or pruned at any height. I used one that is about twelve feet tall to shade a Camellia from the hot afternoon sun. This became an issue when my neighbor removed a tree. The Privet was about six feet tall when I discovered it emerging from the canopy of the Camellia.
  • Unfortunately, more seedlings germinate than I could possibly ever use, so I'm removing them when I can. It would be best if you were diligent in pulling up the seedlings while they are small; otherwise, you'll have to prune them. I wouldn't be concerned that they could fall over, but it's not a common occurrence or very likely. I just cut the larger one down and control the size in that manner.