Ron Strauss Licensed Arborist and Tree Believer
(631) 864-5514 P.O. Box 792, Commack, NY 11725

Frequently asked questions regarding plants, trees, and gardening.

Frequently asked questions regarding plants, trees, and gardening.

When is the best time to prune trees and shrubs?Every season has an appropriate way to prune all the plants. If you need some work done, contact a certified arborist or other horticultural professional for recommendations.

A few General rules:

Prune evergreen trees (Pines, spruces, Cypresses) and oak trees in winter.

Prune maple and other shade trees in late summer.

Prune flowering shrubs right after they have finished blooming.

Prune perennials in late summer and once again in the fall. Prune ornamental grasses either in the fall or early spring.

Prune bulbs when the leaves have withered.

What are the best plants for quick privacy screening?

The answer depends on factors called “Siting”: whether the site is sunny, shady, partly shady, wet, or dry, windy, or sheltered.

Very few plants can fulfill all these requirements. A few standouts:

Arborvitaes are typically used in all these situations.That’s because there are MANY types of arborvitae. The most common ones are:

The Emerald Green Arborvitae is easily acquired, not very expensive, and will thrive, if properly sited and planted. It is exceptionally beautiful and dense when healthy.

The Green Giant Arborvitae is larger, more vigorous, is more expensive to acquire but has a low maintenance requirement. Exceptionally tall and dense, initially the hedge has a saw-tooth upper edge, until it fills in.

The Leyland Cypress is very fast growing and inexpensive to acquire, but has very high maintenance costs over time and has a short life span ( in tree years).

The Eastern Hemlock is the best and most adaptable to all the conditions above but must receive chemical maintenance annually to control a deadly invasive insect.

What Deer Resistant Evergreen plants are available for planting on Long Island?

Plum Yew/ fastigiate: A small narrow hedging plant, maximum 9’ feet in height by 5’ wide

Plum yew/ prostrate: A slow growing, low spreading needle evergreen.

False Holly/ variegated This is a sharp leaved, colorful plant that can serve as a low hedge up to 5’ tall

False Holly/ Gulftide : This is a sharp-leaved dark green plant that forms a hedge up to 8’ tall

Hellebores compact evergreen low plants that flower from winter through late spring

Franklins Gem Boxwoods: The small leaved evergreen often has a yellow hue and can form a low soft hedge

Deer resistant Flowering perennials/ Not evergreen

Perovskia Russian Sage this slender stemmed plant forms a large cloud of silver leaves with blue or purple flowers.

Nepeta Walker’s Low: This is a low mounding soft stem perennial that attracts butterflies and bees, grey leaves with blue flowers.

Bleeding Hearts This gorgeous delicate plant blooms early and disappears in summer heat.

All ferns, including Christmas fern which is evergreen.

Which plants will producepretty garden color in shady conditions?

I have list of preferred bulbs which are unusually beautiful and give long term color in the garden in shady or part shady conditions: Click on links for representative pictures.

Chiandoxasiciliana Squill low growing blue bulbs emerge early

Crocus vernus Dutch Crocus: Low growing purple bulbs emerge early

Crocosmia Lucifer: A wow factor of 10. Tall slender leaves and a brilliant orange red summer display.

Acidanthera Drooping Gladiola Unique mask- like flower long blooms in summer.
Nectaroscordumsiculum ( Sicilian Honey Garlic )Tall slender bulbs with green and magenta flowers, very special.

Tiger Lily HybridTigrinium “Splendens” :tall bulbs with gracefully nodding Turk’s Cap orange blooms in summer.

Allium aflatunense Purple Sensation Allium: Spectacular tall purple bulbs.

Allium caeruleum- Tall blue bulbs form a soft explosion of color late spring.
Allium Gladiator; Tall purple globes on sturdy stalks 3’ tall.

Fritillaria persica: Stupendous stalk of nodding purple blooms.

Daylily Purple D’oro : Unusual purple on magenta flowers with yellow throats, a rebloomer.

Helleborus spp.Compact evergreen blooming plants in colors ranging from green to white to pink and purple.

Beesiadeltophylla Full to part shade, evenly moist. Reaches 12” x24”

Sweet Flag (Acorus);; Sprays of slender leaves erupt from ground level in yellow, pale gree, or striped varieties.

Coral Bells (Heuchera); Too many colors to name here, do well with morning sun and afternoon shade.

Lady Fern (Athyrium); Delicate but large rosettes of sword shaped leaves

Lungwort (Pulmonaria); A family of low plants with spotted leaves and blue or purple or pink blooms.

Hosta (Plantain Lily); Herbaceous and ubiquitous vigorous plants which range in size from chihuahua to mastiff and colored from plain green to ba-Lazing yellow, blue, red and whatever else you can imah-Gine, dahling.

Bleeding Heart (Dicentra); Delicate, beautiful so short a season, wait til next year. A MUST HAVE.

Snakeroot (Cimicifuga): Red leaves reach upwards for the light; cast pale pink flower stalks.

What interesting ground covers will grow in shady areas in Long Island?

Acorus gramineus “Licorice”low green grassy type forms dense clumps.

Carex apalachica taller, green and airy type of clump adaptable to any area.

Dwarf Mondo Grasscompact red leaf grassy plant

Epimedium sulfureum:low growing heart shaped leaves produce cute yellow flowers.

What Plants are toxic to dogs? WOW so many, we must take care.

Partial list below, link to ASPCA website follows:

  • Aconitum
  • Amaryllis bulbs
  • Asparagus fern
  • Azalea
  • Bluebells
  • Cyclamen
  • Daffodil bulbs
  • Day lilies
  • Delphiniums
  • Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis)
  • Foxgloves
  • Hemlock
  • Hyacinth
  • Hydrangea
  • Ivy
  • Laburnum
  • Lily of the valley
  • Lupins
  • Morning glory
  • Nightshade
  • Oleander
  • Rhododendron
  • Rhubarb leaves
  • Sweet pea
  • Tulip bulbs
  • Umbrella plant
  • Wisteria
  • Yew

If your dog chews or eats any of these, seek veterinary help immediately.

What is a good planting combination for compact gardens?

Quercus ‘Green Pillar a tall and narrow deciduous tree

Distyllium Blue Cascade, evergreen shrubs that fill in and create a loose hedge replaces cherry laurels.

Tiarella Eco Running Tapestry A low growing ground cover with white flowers.

Abelia Rose Creek very compact green shiny leaves and intense pink blooms on a medium sized, mostly evergreen shrub.
Abelia Golden Fleece yellow leaves and pink flowers on a smaller shrub.
Abelia Hopely very small good for shade
Callicarpa Americana bigger leaves and fruits purple: Amazing purple berries in fall.
CalycanthusHartledge Winea largish shrub that can be used as a very small tree, produces nice red flowers in summer.

I have big property and want to fillit with color, what trees should I plant?

For open spaces we recommend Planting of Colorful trees, follow links to view pictures, an.

Crape Myrtles numerous varieties 8-10’ typical size planted Small – medium trees

Seven Sons Flower 5-6’ typical size planted Medium sized tree blooms twice

Koelreuteriapaniculata 7-8’ typical size planted Medium tree with yellow flowers

Clrerodendronthomsonae “Ronnie tree”4-5’ typical size planted Small tree with rose colored flowers

Physocarpus on a Standard 3-4’ typical size planted Large red cascading with white flowers

Ruby Styrax or Pink Chimes Styrax 5-6’ typical size planted Purple leaves and white flowers

Smoke Bush Gold type 3-4’ typical size planted Very large shrub with yellow leaves and white flowers

Acer japonica “ Butterflies” 3-4’ typical size planted : Silver, Green and pink leaves

Tricolor Beech 6-7’ typical size planted A slow growing purple and green leaf Beech with white mottling.

What plants will grow in heavy wet soils?

Wet Zone perennial planning list: These plants bloom and are very attractive in the summer time.

Goatsbeard( Aruncucdioucious)

Chellonelyoni“ Hot Lips”

Ligularia “ Britt Marie Carwford”

Flat Creeping Jenny

Clethra Summersweet Tall shrub

Magnolia Little Gem Tall Shrub

Rogersia aeculifolia Tall perennial

Goatsbeard( Aruncusdioucious) Tall Perennial

Chellonelyoni“ Hot Lips” medium height pernnial

Ligularia “ Britt Marie Carwford” Medium height perennial

Flats Creeping Jennyvery low ground cover.

Which plants are attractive to butterflies and bees?

Ealy season bloomers before the dandelions

Snowdrops ( Galanthus spp.. )

Crocus spp..

WnterButtercup (Eranthusspp = Aconite)

Chiondoxaspp Glory of the Snow

Siberian squill Scilla siberica

Species tulips

Anemono spp. ( anemonaes)

Muscari spp.. (Grape hyacinths)

Checkered lilies Fritillaria meleagris


Late Spring bulbs

Allium spp( Flowering Garlic)

Dutch Iris( Iris x hollandica)

Wood Hyacinth ( Hyacynthoideshispanica)