Q: I thought a beautiful Norfolk Island pine to use as a Christmas tree, but now it has lost the lower branches. What could have caused it and is there any hope they can be restored?

A: Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria heterophylla - it used to be Araucaria excelsa) was discovered in the South Pacific by Captain Cook on his trip around the world. In its native habitat it grows to be 200 feet tall. It requires intermediate temperatures, 50 to 70 degrees F, fairly rich soil, very good light but no direct sunlight, and the soil should not be allowed to dry out.

Inadequate light or root injury doe to poor drainage, over-watering or underwatering would cause it to lose its lower branches, which can never be replaced.

Water the plant until water comes out at the bottom, wait 20 minutes for excess water to drain and empty the saucer. It is a problem if there is no.

Inadequate light or root injury due to poor drainage, over-watering or underwatering would cause it to lose its lower branches, which can never be replaced.

Water the plant until water comes out at the bottom, wait 20 minutes for excess water to drain and empty the saucer. It is a problem if there is no drainage hole: Unless all the soil is moistened, the roots get none because they are at the extremes; if too much water is applied, it accumulates in the bottom of the container and the roots die from lack of oxygen.

Q: Can I get maple syrup from my red and silver maple tree?

A: Yes. All maple species, including boxelder, produce sap from which syrup can be made. But the sugar maple yields the largest amount of syrup per gallon of sap. It usually takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup.

Wait until daytime temperatures do not go below 40 degrees and night temperatures are around 25 degrees. Bore a 7/16 inch hole, slanted upward, about four feet above ground level, and insert a plastic or metal tube.The depth of the hole should be about three inches.

Maple syrup is achieved by boiling down the sap in an evaporator at a temperature of seven degrees above the boiling point of water.

Q: I have a Calamondin miniature orange tree that is continuously blooming and bearing fruit. Can I start new trees from the seeds?

A: The Calamondin, Citrus mitis (from the Phillipines), is easy to start from seed taken from the fruit. The same is true of grapefruit, lemons, tangerines or oranges bought in grocery stores.

Do not let the seeds dry out. If you cannot plant them soon after they are removed from the fruit, moisten and keep them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Soak the seeds in lukewarm water for a day before planting. The seeds usually germinate in about 30 days but sometimes take longer. Plant in a soil mixture that contains about half sphagnum peat and half potting soil. Cover the seeds with about one-half inch of the mixture. A soil temperature of 70 to 80 is best.

Keep the seedlings out of hot sun until they grow slightly.

The Calamondin grown from seed usually bloom and bear fruit in three or four years. Sometimes it takes longer. Grapefruit, orange and tangerine trees are not likely to bloom in the home; but there are dwarf lemons that will produce fruit in the home.

Six or eight small tangerine, lemon or grapefruit plants in a small pot could provide a very nice arrangement.

Q: I am a balcony gardener, lemon or grapefruit plants in a small pot could provide a very nice government.

Q: I am a balcony gardener, and I'd like to grow strawberries in tubs on my patio. Can you provide some guidelines?

A: Use only spring-bearing varieties because everbearing kinds do not provide qualtiy fruit except in the North. Do not let the plants bear fruit until the second year they are planted (pinch off the blossoms). This is to permit the plants to become large and vigorous before starting to bear. Flower buds on June bearers are initiated in the fall in the axils of leaves. The more leaves there are in the fall the more flower cluster there will be.

A plant with 50 leaves may provide more than a quart of strawberries while one with two leaves will produce only three or four berries of below-average quality.

To grow a healthy, vigorous plant, full sun is desirable. Buy certified plants that are disease-resistant. Plants should be spaced nine inches apart. Cut off runners as they develop; they would only compete with the mother plant and restrain its development.

Water regularly. No plant is more sensitive to dry soil than strawberries. Dry weather at harvest time can reduce yeilds 50 per cent or more.

Fertilize sparingly. Vigorously plants with drak green leaves probably need no fertilizer.

Protect the plants from aphids and spider mites.