Fruit Tree Selection & Pruning Mexican Sage

Question:

I live on a hillside and wish to plant a Plum and Peach tree. I am a bit confused on what variety is best to plant and I also have a height restriction problem. Would dwarf trees be an option? 

Answer:

  • Dwarf fruit trees are definitely an option.
  • A standard fruit tree grows twenty to twenty-five feet high.  Any fruit tree that grows shorter is classified as a dwarf tree.  A semi-dwarf fruit tree grows twelve to eighteen feet tall but for many yards it ís too big. There are genetic dwarf peaches, growing six to eight feet tall.
  • So, the real question is how dwarf is dwarf to avoid the height restriction problem?
  • You can also control the height of a tree by pruning.  This is best done with new or young trees. You would develop the lower branches, the ones near the ground as the scaffolding branches. You’ll never be able to walk under these trees but you will be able to reduce the height by several feet.
    • I donít believe that this should be a concern since your trees are to be planted on a hill.  Another benefit is that the harvesting of the fruit is easier since itís closer to the ground. As far as which variety to plant, you have many excellent varieties to select from. 
  • Now is a good time to select varieties as the new shipment of fruit trees are arriving at your favorite garden center. The nursery professional is a good resource for which variety to plant in your location.
  • Also keep in mind that there is no difference between the fruit harvested off a dwarf or standard fruit tree of the same name. You first need to establish the height parameters and then select the varieties.  

Question:

I'm wondering how to prune or shape the six to seven foot high Mexican Sage plants in my front yard.  They are about five years old and in varying sizes, heights and widths. I'd like to maintain them year round as they provide a colorful, feeding environment for Hummingbirds.

Answer:

  • Mexican Sage produces all of its new growth from the base of the plant. You will see little branching off the existing stems.
  • You control the width by pruning off the unwanted side growth at the ground. There is not much you can do to even off the plants heights.  Mexican Sage blooms on the terminal end of each shoot. If you where to prune these, you would remove the flowers before they open, you also defeat your purpose of having a food source for the Hummingbirds.
  • You can prune the plants now; however, Iíd wait until mid February when the days are longer and warmer. You must live in a mild winter area for them to stay evergreen. 
  • Most of the Mexican Sage in the Bay Area turns brown with the winter cold.  In either case, they are pruned at the same time. To encourage the new growth, I would feed your plants in late March with an organic All Puporse fertilizer.