Phoradendron, the scientific name for American mistletoe, aptly translates from the Greek to mean "thief of trees," and with good reason. Although not technically a parasite -- mistletoe can live on its own -- it thrives when burying its roots into the branches of trees and leeching nutrients and moisture from its host. European mistletoe (Viscum album) is weaker than its American counterpart, but the aggressive American mistletoe will often kill its unwitting host.
This stonecrop cultivar grows sprawling mounds of variegated white and green leaves that get tinged in red in the cool weather of spring and fall. It’s part of the SunSparkler series from plant breeder Chris Hansen and is derived from a sedum native to mountains in North America. They like dry soil and full sun. Give them rich soil or too much shade and they’ll become weak, floppy plants. They spread slowly over time, so they’re good for naturalizing an area. Zones 4 to 9.
Problem: Stunted, pale or weak-looking plants. Solution: Before you can treat this problem, you need to figure out exactly what’s causing it. Insects may be attacking your plants, or you may be watering too much, or not fertilizing enough. Check both sides of the leaves, and look along the stems and branches for signs of trouble. Make sure the roots aren't standing in a saucer full of water. Read up on how and when to fertilize your plant, and feed it with a balanced plant food or a specialized plant food, if necessary.
Shrubs and trees planted too close to your house can trap moisture, damage siding when the wind blows, and fill gutters with debris. “I want to be able to walk behind shrubs — they need to be at least three feet from the house and from air conditioning units because they block airflow,” says Steve Gladstone, owner of Stonehollow Fine Home Inspection in Stamford, Conn. “With trees, you don’t want them rubbing against the house at all. If the sun can’t dry your house, you’ll have to repaint more often because mold and pollen will build up.” Prune regularly to keep your house envelope clear.
Climbing vines like ivy, although beautiful, can splinter and rot wood siding and even weaken the mortar between bricks. Prune any existing ivy so that it stays away from windows, gutters and trim. If your heart is set on adding a climbing vine, choose a twining vine that wraps around a trellis or other nearby structure rather than a vine that climbs by tendrils or rootlets that cling to the surface of your house.