Birds don’t feel the heat from pepper-flavored suet

South TEXAS GARDENER

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Q. We have taken your advice and feed the birds with pepper-flavored suet to attract the insect-eating birds but to discourage the squirrels and rats. I still don’t understand why it works!

A. In simplest terms, it works because birds do not have lips or other contact points that would be burnt by the pepper flavoring. The birds are unaffected by the peppery flavored suet.

Q. Our viburnum forming a barrier between our yard and the neighbors was frozen back by the February 2021 freeze. It is alive and slowly sending up shoots. What is your advice? Will the viburnum recover in a reasonable time, or should we replace it?

A. Viburnum sandankwa will eventually fill its old role probably next year, unless we experience another exceptional freeze. One option is to replace the viburnum with dwarf or standard Burford holly or another holly, which won’t be as vulnerable to freeze damage as viburnum. Unfortunately, the holly is more vulnerable to damage from deer feeding.

Q. You talk about transplanting naturalized larkspur and blue curl from the germination point to a more suitable location so they do not compete with snapdragons, stocks, and petunias in the flower garden. It was my understanding that the larkspur and blue curl do not transplant easily?

A. I have heard that said too, but it is incorrect. Both of the wildflowers mentioned are wonderful nectar sources for butterflies and other pollinators and they are easy to transplant.

Q. Should we wait to prune our peach trees until we get a chance to spray them with dormant oil?

A. I think it is easier to get good coverage of scale infested stems and trunks if you have removed the pruned parts, but it works both ways. Because applying the horticultural or dormant oil must be done when temperatures are scheduled to be above 45 degrees, it is probably better overall to get that task completed first, when the opportunity presents itself.

Q. Which is the fastest-growing of the recommended shade trees?

A. It sometimes depends on soil and other conditions, but in my experience Texas red oak, Mexican white oak, and Mexican sycamore seem to be the fastest-growing of our normal list of recommended species.

Calvin Finch is a retired Texas A&M horticulturist. Hear him on “Gardening South Texas” on KLUP 930 AM radio Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 2 p.m. Or, email him at reader@wcn-online.com.