Garden Q&A: On wolf spiders and trimming holly bushes
By Ellen Nibali
Oct 24, 2019 | 7:00 AM
I saw this big spider in my garden. I was taught, “If you want to live and thrive, let a spider go alive.” Will it come in the house? I have my limits.
Wolf spiders are ground dwellers that live and hunt in lawns, grass and leaf litter, possibly near foundations, in basements and under porches.
A fun spooky activity is to “headlight” wolf spiders in your lawn. Their eyes reflect light. At night, hold a bright flashlight about head level and shine it over your lawn. You may be surprised at how many tiny red or green eyes reflect back at you!
The fine hairs on their legs detect air movement by potential prey or predators. They can spin silk, but don’t make a web. Instead they construct burrows in the ground and use silk to line them and for creating egg sacs. But a really unique sight is a mama spider carrying all her newly hatched spiderlings on her back.
These spiders are part of a healthy ecosystem, but won’t survive indoors. Escort a stray visitor outside.
How much can I trim my holly bushes now? When is best time to do it? When I cut off new growth, it seems to just regrow and require more trimming! Frustrating!
Pruning always stimulates growth. Ideally, we select a plant that grows to the space allotted. When a plant’s nature is to be bigger than their space allows, you will have to continually prune to keep it in bounds.
Spring, just before new growth begins, is the best time to prune. You can remove up to a third of the plant at a time. Sometimes such an extensive pruning will last longer simply because it takes longer for the shrub to grow back.
Early fall pruning, on the other hand, since it stimulates growth, can result in new growth that doesn’t have enough time to harden before harsh winter temperatures hit — and this can kill tips. Thus substantial fall pruning is not recommended.
University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information at extension.umd.edu/hgic. Click “Ask Maryland’s Gardening Experts” to send questions and photos.