Afghan Pines & Mountain Garlands

elegant clarkia or mountain garland  (Clarkia unguiculata)

elegant clarkia or mountain garland (Clarkia unguiculata)

Question: I have an Afghan pine planted in a hole cut out of my deck. It has been there about 10 years, has a circumference of about 70 inches at the base, and is 6 feet from the house. It currently has borers, and I have purchased Acecap capsules which I have to try to insert under the phloem layer (so hard to see, as the bark is 3 inches thick!).
First of all, do you have any tips for inserting the capsules? Do they have to be precisely located, or is it OK if they’re a little deeper?
Secondly, I am concerned about the tree itself because it is lifting the surrounding deck. I’m not sure if it’s going to get much bigger in diameter, and, most important, if the roots are a danger to my house. Please help.
– Harriet Benson,
Lake View Terrace
Answer: As a generic term, borers are larvae (of beetles or moths) that cause damage to plants. Where pine trees are concerned, borers nearly always refer to beetle larvae. In the case of the Afghan pine, the presence of borers is often an indication of incipient decline and early death of the tree.
The Afghan pine (Pinus eldarica) is a stunning desert tree that thrives where it is left alone and never irrigated except for winter rain. It has an appealing pyramidal shape and never needs pruning except when planted near houses or other structures. At one time, this tree was widely planted in irrigated landscapes where it died between 10 and 20 years of age due to infestation of borers, fungi or both.
Acecap capsules are small bullet-sized cartridges, about one inch in length, containing pesticides or fertilizers, that are inserted into trees with trunk diameters of at least three inches, just below the cambium layer, in holes made with a drill.
Here, a short review of a plant’s vascular system is in order: The phloem is a series of vessels beneath the bark that transports sugar manufactured in leaves down to the roots; further inside is the xylem, a system of vessels that transport water and minerals up from the roots to leaves; the cambium is a thin layer of cells between these two types of vessels; cambium differentiates into phloem to the outside (which later becomes bark) and xylem to the inside (which eventually becomes wood). Chemicals contained in Acecap capsules are released into the sap, which moves up the xylem of the plant.
Borers ingesting sap that contains insecticide released from the Acecap will die.
You can find Acecap capsules at local Green Thumb and Armstrong Nurseries and at Hydro-Scape landscape and irrigation supply outlets.
Fertilizer capsules or implants, inserted beneath the bark, can make a major difference where tree growth has stagnated.
Iron implants, for example, can improve the lushness of fruit trees, especially citrus, which frequently lack iron when grown in the alkaline soil of Southern California.
Where pesticides are concerned, however, I would consult with a certified arborist or landscape pest control company prior to initiating treatment. You can find a list of certified arborists in our area at National Pest Control (818-984-3670) is a landscape pest control company located in North Hollywood. Technical information on tree capsule implants is available at www.treecare
While the health of your tree is an issue, I also would be wary of its branches. Afghan pines, which can grow to 80 feet, have brittle wood and their branches could break and land on your roof.
Since your tree is only six feet from the house, I would have it evaluated for pruning on an annual basis.
If its roots are lifting your deck and encroaching on your house, this is another problem since roots can crack foundations. Consider placing a plastic root barrier, available at nurseries and through Internet vendors, between your tree’s roots and your house.
Two members of the evening primrose family, Clarkia and Mexican primrose, are flowering now.
Clarkia is a California native with flowers that appear in pink, crimson, magenta, purple, salmon and white. You plant them from seed in the fall and they will self-sow after that.
Clarkias make long-lasting cut flowers that combine well with self-sowing annual delphinium (Consolida ajacis), appearing in colors that nearly match those of Clarkia, in addition to every shade of lilac and blue.
Farewell to Spring (Clarkia or Godetia amoena) is the most frequently seen Clarkia and grows to around three feet. Mountain garland (Clarkia unguiculata), often double-flowered, has red stems and may reach five feet in height. Mexican primrose is a rapidly growing ground cover with silky pink blooms.
Just when you think it is becoming a weed, after several prolific springs, Mexican primrose suddenly disappears from the garden, leaving you to wonder how and why. It is occasionally used as a companion plant to roses, only to inundate them unless it is regularly pruned back.

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