This Siberian elm seedling, growing between sidewalk and a rock wall, already had a taproot longer than the four inches of top growth. It is essential to recognize the seedlings and remove them immediately. -Image: Gwen Steele

Steele: Managing the fallout from fast-growing elm trees

Part of their toughness is due to their drought-proof, deep taproot.

Every year our city’s large population of Siberian/Russian elm trees creates a ‘snowfall’ in late May when mature seeds blow into gardens and every nook and cranny.

These large shade trees are tough and fast-growing, likely the reason so many were planted in earlier days.

Part of their toughness is due to their drought-proof, deep taproot. It enables them to grow in dry, natural landscapes as well as irrigated gardens.

Each tree produces ‘millions’ of flat, dime-sized, off-white seeds which germinate readily.

It’s common to Siberian elms growing in awkward places—inside hedges, in cracks in sidewalks, against the foundation of a house—as well as flower beds. Siberian elms can grow more than five feet a year.

The taproot grows as fast, or faster than the top, making it difficult to dig out even when young. If any root is left in the ground it will re-sprout. A good way to get rid of a larger tree is to girdle it between late spring and mid-summer. This involves removing a section of the outer layer of bark around the circumference of the trunk thus depriving the tree of nutrients. It should cause death in one to two years. Once dead, it can be cut down. Cutting down a live tree does not kill it. It re-grows from the roots.

Other drought-tolerant tree seedlings to watch out for and remove quickly are Tree of Heaven (easily recognized by the stinky smell of leaves and branches when rubbed) and Russian olive. These and the elm are considered invasive.

In our irrigated landscapes, maple seeds germinate well and can grow quickly in the same difficult places the other tree seedlings populate.

If you have squirrels in the neighbourhood, as I now do, you may find walnut, oak or hazelnut seedlings in your garden beds.

Images on the internet are helpful to identify any of these tree seedlings. Dig them out as soon as spotted to avoid future difficult or costly removal.

* * * *

The annual launch of the Make Water Work contest was held at the unH2O Garden last week.

Valley mayors took the pledge to reduce their landscape water use and to enter the competition to see which municipality can get the most (per capita) pledges.

Go to www.makewaterwork.ca/pledge to pledge to reduce water use in your yard and be entered to win one of three $500 prizes.

The City of Kelowna and OXA, are sponsoring ‘Homeowners Irrigation and Landscaping Information Session’, Saturday, May 26 from noon to 4 p.m. at the Kinsmen Field House, 3975 Gordon Drive. RSVP to watersmart@kelowna.ca for this free presentation.

The Kelowna ‘Flower Power’ Garden Tour is Saturday, June 16. Early bird tickets are still available. Check www.flowerpowerylw.ca/ for details.

This year OXA will have an information booth, on the tour, in a xeriscape garden in the Hall Road area.

Gwen Steele is executive-director of the non-profit Okanagan Xeriscape Association. Learn more about Gardening with Nature and plants for the Okanagan on the website at www.okanaganxeriscape.org

Just Posted

Central Okanagan firefighters are battling wildfires across B.C.

Lake Country, Kelowna and Peachland crews are assisting the BC Wildfire Service

Oktopus to headline Music in the Park

The West Kelowna night of music will happen once again this Friday

Long-awaited John Hindle Drive in Kelowna just weeks away from completion

Ministry of Transportation says it plans to have the road open before the start of the school year

Blasting begins at Beachview Drive in West Kelowna

Blasting begins as part of residential development

Updated: RCMP no longer suspect death of Vernon woman is suspicious

West Kelowna RCMP continue to investigate the woman’s sudden death

A first-hand look at hazards facing scooter users

A Salmon Arm reporter tags along on a mobility scooter tour of the city to learn about safety hazards

RCMP to search for body after man drowns in B.C.’s Buntzen Lake

Officers and fire crews responded but the man from the Lower Mainland is believed to have drowned.

Man found not guilty in 2011 drug-related shooting in Shuswap

Judge rules Jeremy Davis couldn’t foresee his companion would kill 24-year-old Nick Larsen.

Police chiefs call for stricter controls on pill presses to fight opioids

Canada’s police chiefs are urging Ottawa to beef up its fight against the opioid scourge by closely vetting people who import pill presses

Hot, dry conditions forces drought rating to highest level on Vancouver Island

The province says Vancouver Island is under Stage 4 drought conditions

Victoria police say explicit calls continue to target women

Over 50 reports of unwanted, sexually explicit calls have come in

Parks Canada has ‘general concept’ in mind for South Okanagan-Similkameen

Minister Catherine McKenna will be providing a further update to representatives in Penticton Friday, August 17

‘It’s like a party in your mouth’

B.C. creator’s Milkshake Burger makes its debut at the PNE

Most Read