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How can you tell if it's time to unwrap your shrubs?

It's spring, and Susan Richards is back to answer all your gardening questions

Each week, Susan Richards of New North Greenhouses answers your gardening questions. Have questions about your gardening needs? Please email her at

Sharon: When is the best time to unwrap my shrubs?

A: If you haven't already taken burlap and other wraps off your shrubs, do it on the next overcast day. Evergreens are prone to sun scald if unwrapped on a sunny spring day.

Ursula: I have a branch that has cracked due to snow load and is hanging off my Camperdown Elm. Can it be saved?

A: As long as there is still some tissue attached to the main trunk, it's worth a try.

Clean out any debris or loose bark from the area. Get someone to help you put the branch back into position and then wrap the area with panty hose to bind it in place. (Nylon is strong but supple.) If the branch is particularly heavy, you may have to add additional support.

If the branch leafs our and continues to thrive, check the wrapping often to ensure it's not cutting into the bark, causing additional damage.

Mike: As the snow melted I've realized that quite a few of my shrubs have a significant number of broken branches. What should I do?

A: If the shrubs where otherwise healthy last season, it's worth trying to save them.

Prune below the broken sections right above an outward facing bud. Once all damage has been removed, stand back and determine if any more pruning is needed to correct the shrub's shape.

By mid June, if they have failed to thrive, consider replacing the plants.

Karen: I had trouble with insects and disease on my fruit trees last year. I can't remember what I'm supposed to be doing to reduce the problem for this season.

A: Before there is any sign of new growth on your trees, spray a combination of lime sulphur and dormant oil on the entire tree. Choose a mild day, when we aren't supposed to get more rain or subzero night temperatures.

The oil smothers over-wintered insect eggs and the sulphur kills disease spores.