Blog

  1. Dwarf Bush Honeysuckle

    A classic smaller suckering shrub lives in sun or shade, tolerates moist or wets soils, and even exhibits salt tolerance.  No insects or disease seem to affect this versatile little shrub.  But let’s talk about the real beauty of this bronzy leaved little gem – the perfect shrub for holding soil on steep embankments many times used in place of grass to mow – brilliant!  How about protecting your shoreline along a river or lakefront property too?   Pictured you see we used it in a parking lot where it gets virtually no care at all.

    This past spring, we just mowed this shrub off right down to the nubs.  Look how graciously it responded with beautiful with fresh new stems coming from the roots.  Incredible foliage and such an effortless way to maintain your Diervilla plants. 

    Now, picture this plant in many colors.  There are some interesting new selections of this native selected for new summer foliage color. Kodiak Red, Kodiak Black, Kodiak Orange, plus a variegated one called Cool Splash.  They all respond much the same way except for the Cool Splash which like to remain more as individual plants and do not colonize like the others will.  

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  2. Japanese Beetle Season Has Begun

    Do Japanese Beetles exist in your area?  Did they just move into your area?

    It seems that when Japanese Beetles first move into an area, they have a voracious appetite.  The brown beetles have an iridescent green sheen and commonly found feeding on the newest growth of plants they like.  The eat the tissue between the veins in the leaves leaving the leaves looking like brown lace.

    The also eat the flowers of some plants like roses.  Here you can see one in the lower left-hand corner feeding on the rose flowers.  

    What can you do to get rid of them?

    Depending upon where you live, the beetles are first noticed late June or early July.  Probably the easiest and most environmental way is to physically remove the bugs from the plants keeping in mind that they continue to hatch for 6-8 weeks.  Pick off the plants and put them in a bucket of water with healthy squirt of dish soap to drown them. 

    Insecticides can be used and be careful to read the label for use on the plant you will be treating.  You can also use insecticidal soap or neem based insecticides to help control them. 

    Some plants like roses that are huge magnets for Japanese Beetles, a systemic insecticide can be used.  The beetles live for only about 60 days.  Then they lay eggs in your lawn areas and they love watered lawns best. 

    The life cycle does allow for destroying the grubs in watered lawns and large expanses of turf areas like golf courses and watered parks.  Japanese Beetles love watered turf areas best as the grubs feed on the roots of grasses.  Birds, voles, and skunks will tear up your lawn areas to get at the grubs in the roots of your lawn. 

    Treating the grubs in the grass areas eliminates the beetles from hatching and causing damage to some trees & shrubs and roses.  Typically, most grubs are best treated from now until late September, but timing of treatments is very important and you should contact your local ag extension office to see when that is in your particular area.  

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  3. Lungwort for Your Shade Garden

    Strange name, incredible plant. 

    Lungwort is a cool plant that emerges early in spring and immediately sends up fuzzy leaves and flower stalks follow soon thereafter.  Flowers are born on short stems just above the foliage with fine textured flowers that are typically blue and or pink in color and last for about a month.

    When the flowers are done, the entire plant begins to transform itself from a small flowering plant into a bold and beautiful foliage plant.  New leaves begin to emerge that are larger and more robust. 

    It is always a great idea to remove the old flower stems right down to the ground and allow the incredible foliage that take over to really punch up your shade garden.

    Early spring, and long-lasting pink and blue flowers give way to a drought tolerant and eye-catching foliage plant great mixed with ferns and Hosta plants. 

    A much cleaner look after the old flower stems are removed and you allow the foliage to shine!

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  4. Salvia Deadheading Will Reward You!

    Perennial Salvia are unbeatable when it comes to color, that is for sure.  Most of the selections are in the blue and purple range and put on a show like few other plants can. 

    Salvia are tough old plants tolerating drought and have few if any problems.  Really, the only drawback to perennial Salvia is when the first round of blooms is finishing, they can look a bit unkempt.

    The remarkable thing to know is that most selections will blow you away with another round of bloom if you take literally a minute to deadhead the old blooms after round one. 

    As soon as your purple spikes have finished blooming, the plants sometime open up and look a bit rangy.  Just a few snips with your pruners and in a brief period, just a couple of weeks and you will be looking at a whole new show.

    Remember that Salvia flowers are great cut flowers and as you cut the fresh new blooms, you will encourage fresh flowers at the cut soon thereafter.

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  5. Handle Wild Parsnip With Care

    A plant commonly found throughout the northern United States and southern Canada.  Have you seen Wild Parsnip growing along roadways at this time of the year in your area?

    Wild Parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) is flowering now.  From a distance, it might resemble dill plants growing wild. 

    It also resembles Queen Anne’s Lace (which is white flowered as shown below) but otherwise very similar and in the same family.  Here is a picture showing both plants flowering and growing together along the roadside.

    Wild Parsnip is a biennial producing a rosette of foliage the first year, and the next year it bolts and gets up to four feet or so when it flowers.  If you were to cut the plants, the sap is toxic and it becomes very irritating in the presence of sunlight and can cause severe blistering of your skin.  Please be very careful if you are in the presence of these plants.  Soon after they bloom, they melt away in the landscape leaving lots of seeds for next year.  

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  6. Best in Show in Your Yard?

    It is kind of interesting how each growing season can affect your annuals and perennials as well as your trees and shrubs.  Weather can affect plants greatly from year to year.  New cultivars are released yearly so until you grow them yourself you will not know how they perform until you try them.   

    Usually by early July you know which plants you will want to use again.

    Annuals are great plants to add color to any landscape or in your containers.  Some annuals need to have the dead flowers cut off to have them continue making new flowers.  Some annuals are sterile and will not make seed and will keep making flowers without deadheading.  Some annuals get mildew or insect problems and others are powerful bloomers with little additional help.  

    Annuals grown in Denver CO will perform differently than they do in Mobile AL.  Catalogs won’t show that, but you can be your own best source for what does well in your yard with your climate.

    For today’s tip, we are suggesting you make a note of the best-looking annuals you have used in your yard so far, this year and shared then with us so we can see what is performing best in what region.  Look at your neighbors, and what was planted in your local commercial plantings too. 

    Some of our favorites here in the Midwest are Dragon Wing and Big Whopper Begonias, SunPatiens, Angelonias, some of the new Coleus selections for sun or shade, and Calibrachoa.  What do you like?

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  7. For Iron Chlorosis

    In some areas, the soil pH is higher than in others.  Soil pH can change from state to state, but also within the same county and even in the same neighborhood. 

    If you love growing Blueberries, Azaleas and Rhododendrons, and maybe rubrum type Maples, or Pin Oak and they grow slowly with more yellow colored leaves, your site may have too high of soil pH.  It would be best to have the soil pH tested so that you know that is the problem.

    Usually the chlorosis is exhibited in the leaf color being yellowing especially in between the veins on the leaves (interveinal chlorosis).  The veins are sometimes darker green then the rest of the leaves. 

    Elemental soil Sulphur might be a simple and inexpensive approach.

    Here is what our friend from the university suggested using:

    encap® fast acting sulfur (49% sulfur, granular, sold in 2.5-pound bags).  It is applied by sprinkling on the soil surface at a rate of 2.5 pounds per 400-500 square feet.  I suggest application in early fall each year for at least 2-3 years or longer until remission of symptoms.

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  8. What's Going on With my Arborvitae?

    An odd way to prune an Arborvitae unless you are a deer.  Here is a classic example of deer browsing on one of their favorite foods.  The eat off the fresh new foliage on the part of the plant they can easily reach, and continue to eat as new growth is formed. 

    If you are not into hunting, what are some options? 

    Fencing the plant itself in this case might be a simple option in this case since the Pyramidal Arborvitae stays quite narrow on its own so a small amount of fencing around the base of the plant up five feet or so would eliminate the browsing and the plant would be allowed to grow naturally. 

    Another option would be to apply a spray deterrent or repellent of some type.  Deer repellents are basically something that tastes terrible to the deer once sprayed on the foliage without harming the plant.  The deer spray will need to be re-applied every couple of weeks or when the rains wash it off.  It is reasonable priced and economical to save your plant from deer browsing.

    Another option is to plant plants that deer do not prefer.  Deer preferences change from one area to another so talk to your local landscape companies or talk with local gardeners to find out what works in your neck of the woods. 

    An alternate option for most arborvitae that deer may not eat would be Green Giant or Spring Grove which are a different species that deer do not prefer.  Or perhaps you can select an upright Juniper like an Eastern Redcedar that you might have better luck with.

    One other note in areas with high deep pressure when you plant new plants, deer will many times sample that new plant as it was just place before them.  Always be sure to always use a deer repellent on all new plants the very first night so that deer won’t have to damage your plant to find out they do not like that plant.

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  9. Late Summer Lawn Grass

    Typically, bluegrass lawns will enjoy the cooler temperatures and more plentiful rainfall at this time of the year.  NOW is the best time to eliminate dandelions and other broadleaved weeds (use weed and feed or spot treat with your favorite approach) while the weeds are actively growing.  It also eliminates weeds for next spring too.

    Lawn fertilizer is very welcome at this time of the year, and will help to beef up your turf and get it looking great.  Whether you use chemical or organic fertilizers, if you only use fertilizer one time per year...this is that time!

    Eliminate your weeds, feed your grass, and fill in those bare spots.  Now is the time for new lawn seeding also.

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  10. Maple Tree Galls

    Every year we get a few calls regarding maple leaves that have red, green, or black bumps on the foliage. The small raised bumps caused by a tiny mite that feeds on the underside of the leaf causing this tiny Gall to form on the top of the leaf surface. They are most commonly seen on Silver Maple, Red Maple, and sometimes the hybrids like Autumn Blaze Maples.  Although it is a bit strange looking tiny galls do not really harm or affect the tree in any way. No treatment is really necessary, and the leaves are still making food which is their job, so really no cause for concern.

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