Tag Archive | horticulture

Monday Memories 11-20-2017

How to Care for Your Thanksgiving / Christmas Cactus

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The Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) and Christmas cactus  (Schlumbergera bridgesii) are popular winter-flowering houseplants native to South America and come in many colors: red, rose, purple, cream, white, peach and orange. The Schlumbergera species grow as epiphytes (non-parasitic plants that grow upon others) in the rain forests.

To distinguish the difference between a Thanksgiving and a Christmas cacti, look at the shape of the flattened stem segments called phylloclades. On the Thanksgiving cactus, these segments each have saw-toothed serrations or projections along the margins. The stem margins on the Christmas cactus are more rounded and less pronounced.

Since flowering plants sell better than nonflowering, merchants tend to fill their shelves with Thanksgiving cacti.

How to Choose, Care For and Rebloom Your Poinsettia

imageChoosing Your Poinsettia:

  • Choose a plant with dark green foliage. Avoid fallen or damaged leaves as this indicates poor handling, fertilization, lack of water or a root disease problem.
  • Avoid plants with too much green around the bract edges, as this is a sign of insufficient maturity.
  • Be sure to check the underside of the leaves for insects.
  • The colorful flower bracts should be in proportion to the plant and pot size.
  • Little or no pollen should be showing on the actual flowers, the red or green button-like parts in the center of the colorful bracts. This indicates a younger plant.
  • If you are planning on reblooming your plant for next year, examine the branching structure. If the plants are grown single stem (non-branched with several plants per pot), these cultivars do not branch well and will not form attractive plants for a second year.

Prairie Fires – Cleansing the Midwestern Landscape

imageFire has played an instrumental role in affecting many of the prairies in the Midwest.
Historically, tall grass prairies are shaped by one of three types of disturbances;

  • Drought
  • Animal grazing
  • Wildfires

There are many misconceptions that if the prairie (or other natural area) was left alone, it would revert to native. In the absence of disturbance, prairies often revert to either poor quality grasslands or thorn woodlands.

Native American Indians were keen on this information, observing what Mother Nature did naturally to herself to cleanse her skin, fire. They learned that fire removed the thorny brush, which gave access to animals and hunters alike. The open areas were also available to grazing animals and native plants that equal medical supplies and food to the Indians.

Ilex vs. Tar Spot on Maple

imageThere are several fungi in the genus Rhytisma (most commonly Rhytisma acerinum and Rhytisma punctatum) that cause tar spot on maples and sycamores. These fungi commonly survive in over-wintered leaf litter, where they produce spores that lead to leaf infections.

The best defense in keeping tar spot out of your trees is to rake up and destroy all infected leaves in the fall. Leaves should be burned or properly mulched. The fungus can overwinter on fallen leaves and provide a source of inoculum to re-infect the trees for the next growing season.

 

For anyone that might be interested in learning some tips or tricks for making outdoor winter containers – Click the photos below!

         

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Monday Memories 8-7-2017

Ilex vs. Rabbitsimage

Rabbit Deterrents:
•These trees have chicken fencing around them, but it’s right against the bark. It needs to be away (1 foot) from the trunk and at least 6 inches underground, as best as possible.
•There are commercial repellants to use, but need to be reapplied often & don’t generally work according to the experts.
•Spread blood meal, cayenne pepper, manure or dog or human hair around plants.
•Spray plants with a solution of hot pepper sauce and water or vinegar. Reapply the solution after each rain. This solution can be rinsed off of vegetables after harvest and will not affect the taste.
•Use a foul-tasting spray deterrent that contains bitrex. Do not use bitrex sprays on vegetable plants because it will affect the taste of the produce.
•The last solution is a fine rabbit stew. Mmm.

Ilex vs. Snails & Slugs

Euchemotrema hubrichtiPreventing damage should start from last year’s observations, if possible. Most likely, if you had them last year in your garden they will be back.
Clear leaf litter from around susceptible plants. Don’t give them a place to hide.
Make a barrier of eggshells, twigs, or ashes around the plants as they don’t like to crawl over rough or sharp material. Copper wire or pipe is also effective, relying on the premise that the copper delivers an electric shock to them.
Provide a halved orange upside down as bait at night, and remove the takers the next morning.
Use a shallow lid buried in the ground and fill with beer or lemonade. Slugs and snails cannot resist a free drink, and will come and drown in the pool.
For smaller plants, make a cloche by cutting the bottom off a plastic bottle, bury slightly, and remove the lid for ventilation.
Encourage frogs and birds to your garden as they can’t resist a meal of escargot!

Ilex VS Lawn Fungus

disease Triangle

Changing your lawn care habits might reduce your risk of fungi problems. A healthy lawn has a really good chance of pulling through a fungal infection, but that is up to you!

  • Water your grass regularly, but don’t water it too much because waterlogged grass invites fungi. Don’t set your irrigation and not monitor it.
  • Dry grass can also makes your lawn more susceptible.
  • A nitrogen-based fertilizer applied annually (in the fall) supplies your grass with the nutrients it needs to flourish.
  • When you mow, don’t remove more than one-third of the length of the blades of grass at a time. A healthy length for grass (from the thatchline) is 3 inches tall.

I’ve noticed many different types of fungus coming out in droves because of our weather this season. Some are fairly rare and hard to treat.

Ilex VS Sycamore Anthracnose (Apiognomonia veneta)

The most common signs of Sycamore Anthracnose are:image

  • *Heavy leaf and twig drop in late spring
  • *A thinning crown
  • *Random, dead leaves in canopy
  • *Distorted limb growth
  • *“Witches’ broom” growth (dense clusters of twigs)
  • *Cool, wet, spring weather will aggravate the spread of this disease.

If the average daily temperature at the time of leaf budding is below 55 °F, anthracnose infections will be severe. If the average daily temperature is 60F or above during this time, disease incidence will be greatly reduced.

 

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Summer Annual Pots

Forgive me, I’m a bit late in posting these. I hope you’ve gotten out already and planted your pots. However, now’s the time for great sales and if you’re not picky and have an open mind, many things will look awesome together.

Be sure your container / pot is very clean to start the season with. A good, stiff brush dipped in a 10% bleach solution will do the trick. This will kill off any of the nasties waiting to infect your flowers. This cleaning should take you through the season also. No need to disinfect after each season change. (Spring/Summer/Fall/Winter)

You don’t need to remember a bunch of annual names. The only thing you need remember for a well-presented display is: Thriller, Filler & Spiller! The Thriller is that one large plant that is generally in the center and taller than the rest. Filler are those mid-range sized plants, often of ‘fatter or fuller’ stature. Spiller is just that, plants that hang over the edge of the pot.

Here’s where your imagination needs to run free through the flowers. In many of the containers below, the photos are of the plants after there has been a bit of growth put on them. You can also get instant height from a trellised plant such as a mandevilla, jasmine or other vine. However, take a look at mine this year on the left. I decided to go with a non-instant gratification pot, so-to-speak. The rear plant is an orange canna that will reach a height of about 3 feet, so just past the window frame. By that time, the ivy and geraniums will gave ‘spillered-out’ and hang to the ground. Annuals grow extremely fast and this pot will look fab in just a couple of weeks. I’ll link a future photo here.

Another tip ~ Flowering can be increased if the plants are kept on the drier side. This takes a bit of skill, as you don’t want them to dry-out, but keep them on the brink of drying. Why?!? Because. Think of it this way. If you’re kept all fat and happy without doing anything, why not just enjoy the hand-outs? (can you say ‘vegetative growth’? Haha!) Just like some of the folks living off us tax-payers, yet they have nicer stuff than me. =-( However, if you need to work for everything you’re getting, you fight to survive and multiplying is surviving in a plants eyes. Thus, more blooms = more seeds. Boom.

 

  

   

I hope these have inspired you! Here’s some from last year… BONUS!!

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Monday Memories 7-25-2016

It’s actually been a pretty weird year for plant pests this year. Many things that were plentiful last year, haven’t been seen, and many things I’ve never seen before are showing up like they’ve been here all the time. This teaches me that you can take nothing for granted in this world. The life span of a human is very short compared to the life span of the earth. Although we may say, “I’ve not seen that since I was knee-high to a grasshopper”, the phenomenon may have been taking place since the dawn of time. Humans tend to think of things in our lifetime, when we really have to broaden our outlook to include many generations.

Ilex vs. Rabbitsimage

Rabbit Deterrents:
•These trees have chicken fencing around them, but it’s right against the bark. It needs to be away (1 foot) from the trunk and at least 6 inches underground, as best as possible.
•There are commercial repellants to use, but need to be reapplied often & don’t generally work according to the experts.
•Spread blood meal, cayenne pepper, manure or dog or human hair around plants.
•Spray plants with a solution of hot pepper sauce and water or vinegar. Reapply the solution after each rain. This solution can be rinsed off of vegetables after harvest and will not affect the taste.
•Use a foul-tasting spray deterrent that contains bitrex. Do not use bitrex sprays on vegetable plants because it will affect the taste of the produce.
•The last solution is a fine rabbit stew. Mmm.

Ilex vs. Snails & Slugs

Euchemotrema hubrichtiPreventing damage should start from last year’s observations, if possible. Most likely, if you had them last year in your garden they will be back.
Clear leaf litter from around susceptible plants. Don’t give them a place to hide.
Make a barrier of eggshells, twigs, or ashes around the plants as they don’t like to crawl over rough or sharp material. Copper wire or pipe is also effective, relying on the premise that the copper delivers an electric shock to them.
Provide a halved orange upside down as bait at night, and remove the takers the next morning.
Use a shallow lid buried in the ground and fill with beer or lemonade. Slugs and snails cannot resist a free drink, and will come and drown in the pool.
For smaller plants, make a cloche by cutting the bottom off a plastic bottle, bury slightly, and remove the lid for ventilation.
Encourage frogs and birds to your garden as they can’t resist a meal of escargot!

Ilex VS Lawn Fungus

disease Triangle

Changing your lawn care habits might reduce your risk of fungi problems. A healthy lawn has a really good chance of pulling through a fungal infection, but that is up to you!

  • Water your grass regularly, but don’t water it too much because waterlogged grass invites fungi. Don’t set your irrigation and not monitor it.
  • Dry grass can also makes your lawn more susceptible.
  • A nitrogen-based fertilizer applied annually (in the fall) supplies your grass with the nutrients it needs to flourish.
  • When you mow, don’t remove more than one-third of the length of the blades of grass at a time. A healthy length for grass (from the thatchline) is 3 inches tall.

I’ve noticed many different types of fungus coming out in droves because of our weather this season. Some are fairly rare and hard to treat. I wish we could get over the ‘Perfect Lawn’ mentality and all just enjoy the clovers and other blooming weeds. =-)

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Monday Memories 6-6-2016

Lots of critters and diseases are coming out to play with our plants. It reminds me of this patty-cake game we played as young-ins…

See, see my playmate,
Come out and play with me
And bring your dollies three
Climb up my apple tree
Holler down my rain barrel
Slide down my cellar door
And we’ll be jolly friends
Forever evermore.
Oh no my playmate
I can’t come play with you
My dollies have the flu
Boo hoo boo hoo
Can’t holler down rain barrels
Or slide down a cellar door
But we’ll be jolly friends
Forever evermore.

Say, say, my playmate
Don’t come and play with me
Don’t bring your dollies three
Cut down my apple tree
Fall off my rainbow,
Into my cellar door
And we’ll be enemies
Forever evermore.

Say, say my enemy.
Come out and fight with me.
And bring your bulldogs three.
Climb up my sticker tree.
Slide down my razor blade.
Into my dungeon door
And we’ll be jolly enemies
Forever evermore.
Say say old enemy
Come out and fight with me
And bring your bb gun
And we’ll have lots of fun
I’ll scratch your eyes out
And make you bleed to death
And we’ll be jolly enemies
Forever evermore.

Oh little enemy,
I cannot fight with you,
My mommy said not too
Boo hoo hoo hoo
I can’t scratch your eyes out
And make you bleed to death
But we’ll be jolly enemies
Forever evermore.

Ilex vs Rose Sawfly

imageLarvae can be effectively controlled with a neem oil product or an insecticidal soap. Spray only the leaves (both sides), in the morning as neem oil can possibility hurt pollinators (More research needs to go into that). The strategy is to find larvae while they are still small and before damage becomes severe, like our roses! There is no need for control after the larvae have finished eating and left the plants, give or take mid-July.

Ilex VS Gooseberry Sawfly – Nematus ribesii

Many of the same family insects have the same timing.

This is the gooseberry sawfly that had attacked my gooseberry for two years a few years back. The last two years, they haven’t been found. Awesome sauce!!

Just for the record, using dish soap is not acceptable for a cheap substitute for horticultural soap. Now-a-days, the dish soap is not soap anymore, detergent is the main ingredient and modern soap lacks the fatty acids that are helpful in killing (smothering) the insect.

Ilex vs The Asparagus Beetle

wpid-20130611_174006.jpg

These little guys are my bane.  I use IPM (Integrated pest management), meaning that I hunt and squish bugs! I can’t say that I am pesticide free, but most issues can be taken care of without chemicals. IMO no chemical action is need for these beetles. But, if you must, I’ve sprayed neem oil on the eggs after harvesting time, which is sometime late June (soon). There are normally 2 cycles of insects here, but there could be more.

The easiest way to catch these buggers is to have a cup of water ready. As you move towards them, they move to the other side of the stalk (quite funny to watch!) Put the cup under them & wave your hand near them. Their instinct is to drop to the ground, but instead, the cup of water will catch them. The larva and eggs aren’t as easy to remove. It’s the same method I use for typing… Hunt & peck.

 

Ilex VS Oak WiltImage

Oak wilt is a disease caused by the fungus Ceratocystis fagacearum, that is either spread by beetles of the nitidulid family (commonly known as sap bugs), or by root grafts. The disease clogs the vascular system of the tree causing wilting.

This disease kills red oaks including; red, black, pin, and scarlet varieties. White oaks including; white, bur, and swamp white oaks tend to pull through, although it takes many injectable fungicide treatments and a lot of care must be given.

How to Attract Butterflies!

My mom called them "Flutter-by's".Click he link for a list of larval plants for many butterflies!
Amelanchier spp. – Serviceberry

  • Bruce Spanworm
  • Blindy Sphinx (small)
  • Striped Hairstreak
  • Amorpha canescens
  • Black-spotted Prominent
  • Dog Face
  • Asimina triloba
  • Zebra Swallowtail

Ilex VS. Dutch Elm Disease dutch elm disease

During the early summer is when effected trees are the easiest to identify. Leaves on the upper branches will curl and turn a gray-green or yellow and finally, crunchy brown. This symptom is called “flagging”, although a flag alone is not complete assurance that the tree has DED. Another symptom is brown streaks in the sapwood beneath the bark of affected branches, which is the blocked xylem. However, only laboratory isolation and identification can positively confirm that the tree has DED. Check with your local extension or State University, usually they will perform this test for a nominal fee. Most arborists find these two symptoms are enough evidence to treat or remove an elm.

Ilex VS Euonymus Scale

escaleEuonymus scale (Unaspis euonymi) is a pest that is around all year, especially on groundcover euonymus. Treatment should be done when the crawlers emerge, which is around the early part of June, although it may be a bit later this year. Male adult scales are white, and females are dark brown and are shaped like an oyster shell. Euonymus scale overwinters as a mated (pregnant) female on the plant stems. Eggs develop beneath the scale and hatch during late spring.

 

©Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

A Day in the Life of Me… Annual Day!

There are very few days I love to come to work. However, any of the four, seasonal flower days are worth showing up for and annual flower day tops the list. Even though I generally have to unload these trucks, the aroma and sight of these beauties makes it all worth it.
My summer annual container post will be hot off the ISP’s very soon. However, if you can’t wait, here are some past Summer Annual Container posts from 20132014 and 2015.

For now, let’s just relax and enjoy the purdy fluers!

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Begonias, impatiens and coleus… Oh my!

Three women unloaded four trucks. We all skipped our exercise class for the week.


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Ilex VS Aphids on Basil

I follow a really cute fellow called Mongo. He is an adorable yellow lab with a veracious appetite which usually gets him in trouble. If you need a great laugh, be sure to catch the Howl-o-ween post about how Mongo got into the Halloween candy. You’re in for a treat…

When Mongo’s Dad isn’t cleaning up after Mongo, he likes to grow basil. Unfortunately, his basil got a case of aphids. =-O

Aphids on basil

Mongo’s Dad’s Basil

Unlike white fly, which tends to like to hang-out on the underside of leaves, aphids like to enjoy the topsides.

Aphids are  tiny-tiny (1/16″ – 1/8″) semi-transparent green, (or other colored) insects that suck the sap from leaves, stems and flowers. Aphids mainly feed on tender new growth, causing the leaves to appear puckered or twisted. They multiply rapidly and can destroy a plant quickly, however the good news is that they are very fragile.

Aphids have been called the mice of the insect world, because they multiply so quickly and provide food for so many creatures. These guys are usually not a problem when they are outdoors. In a well balanced environment, there are enough predators out there to keep their numbers down. Other creatures want aphid poop, better known as honeydew. Ants have been know to ‘farm’ aphids and harvest the honeydew. Pretty darn crazy sounding, until you seen it.

When your basil is indoors, it doesn’t have the Lady Bird Brigade protecting its leaves. It has to rely on you for support. Aphids are pretty easy to take out, just a jet of water can wipe out a good majority. Having the plant soaked every once-in-awhile is no problem. I would also toss up a yellow sticky card to trap any white fly that may come by.

If this doesn’t work, then I would step-up to Horticulture soap* or Neem oil, in that order. I just think sometimes Neem can change the taste of leaf veggies. This is just my opinion.

Thanks again for the post material Mongo’s Dad!

*Just for the record, using dish soap is not acceptable for a cheap substitute for horticultural soap. Now-a-days, the dish soap is not soap anymore, detergent is the main ingredient and modern soap lacks the fatty acids that are helpful in killing the insect. All you will do is dry out your plant!

Ilex Farrell

Cloudless Sulphur ~ Phoebis sennae

Its genus name is derived from Phoebe the sister of Apollo, a god of Greek and Roman mythology.

Upper surface of male is lemon yellow with no markings. Female is yellow or white; outer edges of both wings with irregular black borders; upper forewing with dark spot in cell. Lower surface of hindwing of both sexes with 2 pink-edged silver spots. So, hello, my little lady!!

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 Caterpillar Hosts: Cassia species in the pea family (Fabaceae).

Adult Food: Nectar from many different flowers that have long tubes including cordia, trumpet flower, bougainvilla, cardinal flower, hibiscus, lantana, and wild morning glory.

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 © Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Red Spotted Purple ~ Limenitis Arthemis

The Red-spotted Purple is a common butterfly in the Eastern part of North America. This species tends to like to mix it up with the White Admiral and sometimes they hybridize. The offspring can have characteristics anywhere between the two subspecies. The Red-spotted Purple attempts to mimic the poisonous Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) in hopes not to be eaten.

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Larvae Hosts: They tend to like white flowered trees and shrubs like; wild cherry (Prunus), birch (Betula), poplar (Populus), cottonwood (Populus), oaks (Quercus), hawthorn (Crataegus), deerberry (Vaccinium stamineum), willows (Salix), basswood (Tilia), and serviceberry (Amelanchier).

Adult Food: Sap flows, rotting fruit, carrion, dung, and occasionally nectar from small white flowers including spiraea, privet, and viburnum. They also enjoy aphid honeydew and can frequently be found drinking from mud puddles.

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© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl