29 September 2015

Rose Replant Disease Impacts Apples

Science has been applied to the long-observed phenomenon of rose replant issues.

There is a report by Dr. David Zlesak at http://www.rose.org/ - 
Dr. David Zlesak
"The mysterious ‘rose replant disease’ or ‘rose sickness’ has puzzled rose growers for years. Nothing specific has been identified as the cause of this phenomenon. When new roses are planted where old roses used to be, they may not grow as well as they would if they were planted in soil never planted with roses. Many suspect that key nutrients may be depleted in soils where roses have been grown for a long time, and as a result, the new roses do not get all the nutrition they need. Additionally, where roses have been grown for years without attention to good soil health, the soil’s structure and general physical properties may have declined — due to compaction and reduced organic matter. The soil may not effectively deliver oxygen, nutrition and water to the roots to support the vigorous growth of new roses."
.... "It sounds very promising that crop rotation and careful selection of the right non-rose species as an intercrop can dramatically reduce rose replant issues for commercial nurseries and avoid costly and toxic soil sterilization treatments."
Fascinating .... "After returning from the rose research symposium, I looked closely at areas of my garden in light of rose replant challenges and noticed something very interesting. In 2012, I expanded part of my rose garden, taking several feet of sod out to have enough room for the crop of new rose seedlings. This past summer the nicest looking seedlings typically have been in the part of the bed that was most recently in sod. As I look how I planted my family rows, part of each family is in the new bed and part of each family row extends into the older bed that has had roses growing continually since 2008."
Read the entire article at the link below.
David Zlesak (zlesak[at]rocketmail[dot]com), ‘Advances in Understanding Rose Replant Disease’, Winter 2014.Buckeye Rose Bulletin, Mark Miller (tmille3[at]columbus[dor]rr[dot]com), ed. Buckeye District Rose Society. Reprinted from the Fall 2013 Rose Hybridizer Association Newsletter.
Full article: http://www.rose.org/advances-in-understanding-rose-replant-disease/

27 September 2015

Giant Swallowtail Butterflies - how to attract and grow them

Giant Swallowtail butterfly
Giant Swallowtail butterflies are amazingly large and beautiful but have sort of ugly children. They are intentionally ugly of course, disguising themselves as bird droppings in order to keep from being eaten by said birds.

If you plant it they will come. In order to have these gorgeous animals in your flower beds you have to provide either citrus trees or Rue plants.
Rue shrub planted for
Giant Swallowtails to raise their babies.

Rue is cold hardy here and in our gardens the shrubs live 3 to 5 years before they die to be replaced by the seedlings that surround the mature plants.

At Johnny's Seeds, 200 seed pack is under $4 and if you plant a bunch of them you'll have plenty of shrubs that survive winter to feed next summer's migration of Giant Swallowtail Butterflies.
Giant Swallowtail butterfly caterpillar

Dianne's Seeds offers 100 seeds for $2.25

In previous years, I've noticed Black Swallowtail caterpillars eating Rue leaves when their #1 favorite food was not available for them.

I'll grant you that if you have a formal garden, Rue will look a mess but find a place for it anyway. The butterflies that you'll see will be worth a bit of a mess.

This one layed eggs and moved on the butterfly heaven, giving us a chance to photograph it on both sides. You can see how faded the colors are and how tattered her wings are.

These are my photos from our garden. Click to enlarge. Give me or my blog credit if you use them in any way personal or professional.


24 September 2015

Springfiled MO Botanical Gardens

Springfield MO Botanical Gardens at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park (www.friendsofthegarden.com) is a unique combination of classic garden design, teaching gardens and plenty of features for families with children. 

The land on which Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park was built came from a 1975 federal government surplus land donation to the city. The name Close Memorial Park came in 1998 when the Close family contributed funds to add the park to the County Park system.

The 20-year plan that was developed for the garden includes 45 gardens and features. So far there are 24 for visitors to enjoy.

One of the first features that the volunteers added was Gray/Campbell Farmstead where historic buildings were collected to provide families with a farm experience. Exploration includes an 1865 farmhouse, log kitchen, granary and barn. The Heritage Garden features flowers and vegetables grown in the 1860s.

Ten years later the lovely 7 acre Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Gardens were developed. This traditional strolling garden was designed with the help of Springfield’s Japanese Sister City, Isesaki Japan. They designed and installed part of the garden located by the Moon Bridge and Tea House which are replicas of the Ft. Worth Japanese Garden.

The Meditative Garden has been expanded and there is food available for feeding the Koi. Other features that we found interesting was the collection of evergreens, water garden and bonsai area.
The garden was named for friend of the garden, Yuriko Mizumoto Scott. Scott was born in Japan and came to live in the Ozarks as a war bride in 1951. Mizumoto Gardens was the site of the 20th annual Japanese Fall Festival.

Missouri Master Gardeners have developed a demonstration garden that not only has a collection of plants for shade and sun, but herb gardens, vegetable plots and educational signage to teach visitors about insects and diseases as well as the best plants for the area. These gardens are so well-tended that walking through them makes vegetable growing look easy.

When we visited this summer the Wildflower Garden was in full bloom. The design is carefree, giving you a sense that the plants simply sprung up in place. Of course, the garden was planted with carefully selected MO native perennial plants as well as wildflowers that re-seed from year to year.
The Butterfly Garden and the Dr. Bill Roston Butterfly House feature native butterflies in an environment planted with nectar and as host plants for caterpillars.

For anyone interested in improving a landscape, the Native Shrub Garden is a must-see. The 75 native shrubs are clearly identified so you can stroll along the paths, take photographs and jot down the names of native shrubs whose size and shape would fit into your garden.

Our method for visiting botanical gardens is to use the camera to record plant signs, as well as taking notes on paper. Each plant of interest is recorded in the same sequence: first we take a photo of the plant sign (Latin and common name plus growing details).Then, the next photos are of the plant, its flowers or unique leaves.

The Hosta Garden displays over 300 varieties with paths for strolling through the beds. The beds are planted and maintained by the Greater Ozarks Hosta Society. It has been designated a National Display Garden of the American Hosta Society.

Other gardens worth visiting include the flowering shrub collection, daylilies, lilies, ornamental grasses, peonies, roses, redbuds, tall prairie grasses, viburnums, etc.

Visitors who enjoy walking, can stroll the miles of trails. If walking is difficult, a free tram runs on the weekend from April through October, picking visitors up at the parking lot and looping around the gardens, attractions, picnic areas and playgrounds.

21 September 2015

Crapemyrtle Scale and Fall Webworms

There's a new disease/insect in town and its name is Crapemyrtle Scale.

Here's a link to the OSU alert document http://entoplp.okstate.edu/pddl/pddl/2015/PA14-39.pdf

Excerpts -
Crepe myrtle bark scale
TX Agrilife photo
A new scale pest has been found infesting crapemyrtles in ornamental landscapes throughout Oklahoma. Crapemyrtle scale (aka crapemyrtle bark scale, CMS), Eriococcus lagerstroemiae, was first observed in the U.S. in 2004 by a landscape company in Richardson, Texas. This exotic scale pest likely originated from Asia, where it feeds on crapemyrtles and pomegranate. It has been spreading throughout Texas and other southern states, eventually reaching Ardmore, OK by 2012. Crapemyrtle scale is now found in eight counties in Oklahoma: Bryan, Canadian, Carter, Comanche, Marshall, Oklahoma, Payne, and Tulsa
Crepemyrtle scale
Photo - Louisana Blooms

Identification, Host Preference, and Life Cycle Crapemyrtle scale is closely related to azalea bark scale, which does not feed on crapemyrtles. Adult females are white to gray and felt like. They can be found encrusting twigs and trunks of crapemyrtles, and they exude a pink “blood-like” liquid when crushed. Initial detections are usually made by homeowners who notice the presence of black sooty mold on their crapemyrtles. This often leads to the initial diagnosis as crapemyrtle aphid, another sucking pest of crapemyrtles that is prevalent in some areas of the southern U.S. However, the appearance of white scale bodies on bark and the pink liquid associated with crushed scales is diagnostic of CMS. Under magnification, adult females are pink and measure about 2 mm (approximately 0.8 inches) long, and pink eggs and crawlers may be present.

If you see these symptoms, go directly to the link above and read. To fix the problem, scrub them off with mild dish soap. If you can't manage them that way, use horticultural oil.

webworm - moth caterpillar
In the same document, fall webworms are addressed and I know you have those! There is an epidemic of them this year.
webworm - moth caterpillar
The moth mother of
fall webworms

19 September 2015

Wine Cup is Callirhoe involucrata (Malvaceae)

Wine Cup is native to TX, OK and KS but grows in many other states surrounding us.

The photo on the right is one we took this summer at Missouri Wildflower Nursery. I wrote an article about the nursery and bought a pack of seeds to plant in our gardens. I've had mixed success but do not have a dedicated bed for them like they do.

Winecup is a low growing, sprawling, groundcover that has gorgeous flowers that close each evening.

They flower generously in the late spring and then disappear during the heat of the summer months. 

Most advice says they prefer full sun but you can see from their planting, part shade can also work.

They like soil that drains well and can even enjoy sandy or gravelly soil for that reason. Try in rock gardens, at the edge borders, as the spiller in wooden barrels, hanging baskets, and for meadow plantings.

Pruning the trailers when summer hits will help encourage fall flowering.

Fine Gardening adds that they are cold hardy in zones 4,5,6.  

The flowers provide nectar for beneficial insects and butterflies. One butterfly, the Gray Hairstreak, raises its caterpillars on the leaves of Wine Cup.

Check out Missouri Botanical Garden article about butterfly gardening here. That photo is Wine Cups blooming at the same time as tropical milkweed. Unlikely timing but maybe they made it happen!

14 September 2015

Kong Coleus in the shade garden

Coleus Kong Lime Sprite
In January, I started coleus seeds in the heated garden shed and the row of plants that resulted are in the photo below.  This particular plant was a new introduction from Ball Seed for 2015.

The seed germination rate was good and there were a few dozen plants to put out April 15th. About a fourth of the plants didn't survive the big world of record rain, wind storms, insect infestations and my failure to water as frequently as I should have.
However! I'm happy with the remaining rows of plants and will start soon taking cuttings of them to grown out in the shed over the winter got next summer. They should be larger and have better roots next year.

Here's a link to my January seed starting information. I had read that growing coleus from seed was easy and I now agree with that writer.

Give it a try. You'll be glad you did.

Update 11.03.15 All those Kong Coleus plants have been potted into containers so they can spend the winter inside our heated, full-spectrum lighted garden shed and replanted next spring. 

10 September 2015

September is a Busy Month for Gardeners!

September is a busy month for gardeners. Here is a checklist of things to do.

Avoid spraying plants where
butterfly caterpillars are
Walk around the garden with pruners and insecticidal soap in hand. Check for insects and diseases, taking care of things as you see them.

Watch for butterfly caterpillars and avoid spraying insecticide on plants where they are feeding.

Collect seeds of butterfly weed, zinnias, vining black-eyed Susan, marigold, morning glory, 4-O’Clocks, peppers, tomatoes, coriander, basil, coreopsis, Rudbeckias, sunflowers, rue, etc.

Harvest herbs to dry, freeze and make into products.

Pick fall fruit in the evening to avoid insects such as wasps.

Identify perennials to divide when the weather cools, including: Daylilies, Asiatic lilies, peony, tall garden phlox, iris, lily of the valley, dahlias, ornamental grass, etc.

Take stem cuttings of tender plants that you want to put out again next year. This list includes coleus, lavender, rhododendron, azalea, sedum, verbena, grapes, etc.

You can take root cuttings now, plant in containers, and put out next spring. Try Sumac, St. John’s-wort, trumpet vine, blackberry, mock orange, snowball bush and figs.

Deadhead roses. Prune climbing, rambling and weeping roses. Do not fertilize but watch for insects and hand pick small infestations. This is also a good time to take cuttings of your favorite roses to increase your holdings next spring.

Divide Iris corms, check for diseases, prune the tops to 3 inches, allow the corms to sun-dry a few days, and re-plant.

Start collecting pots of  tender perennials you want to overwinter. Stand the containers in water to force out the insects that are nesting in the bottom holes. Prune lightly and spray with insecticidal soap to get them ready to move inside.

Prune dead and diseased twigs, branches on trees, shrubs and woody perennials. Leave standing, the tall but spent native flowers such as Joe Pye Weed, butterfly bush, coneflowers, etc.  Butterflies spend the winter in their shelter as mature insects, caterpillars and chrysalis.

Leave seed-heads on most of the native flowers so small birds can use them as winter food.

Collect flower heads for drying (yarrow, strawflower, cockscomb, etc.)

Begin to clean out and divide pond plants.

Sow rye grass and fescue seed over Bermuda to maintain winter color. Fertilize lawn areas with a high-nitrogen product.

Trees and shrubs that look stressed can be given a half dose of fertilizer.

Cool weather vegetables should be in the ground now or very soon. These include chard, kale, peas, turnips, mustard, spinach, beets, carrots, lettuce, broccoli, potato sets, onions and radish.

Continue to water seedlings despite the cooler nights. Consider mulching between rows to help the 
soil retain moisture and encourage earth worms to work the soil for you.

To restore bare spots in the vegetable and herb garden, sow seeds of clover, rye, buckwheat or cow peas as winter cover crops. Just clear the area, rake and plant. Keep moist until the seedlings emerge.

Rake aside the used mulch and leaves for the compost pile or along the back fence and re-apply mulch at least 6 inches away from tree trunks and shrub branches.

Use acidic mulches for azaleas, evergreens, rhododendrons, gardenias, hydrangeas, creeping phlox, lily of the valley, heather, alyssum, Japanese maples, laurels, hollies, magnolias, blueberries, strawberries, and other acid-loving plants. Pecan shells, shredded cypress, pine needles and pine bark all help maintain acidity.

Container grown perennials need to be mulched to protect their roots from drying and freezing so if you have trees and shrubs in containers, remove the old mulch and put two inches of fresh on the top, avoiding the plants’ trunks and lower branches.

Next spring begins now with picking up or ordering fall planted flower bulbs and garlic.

07 September 2015

Sedum - Cold Hardy Beauty for Your Garden

Sedum Autumn Joy reaching for the sun
A few years ago I read a book about gardening as we age. The author said that she had converted a formerly high maintenance flower bed to 100% Sedum Autumn Joy. 


Because it is beautiful three seasons of the year, attracts butterflies and skippers to the garden and in our climate it tolerates part shade. 

Sedum frosty morn
What's not to like?

Sedum frosty morn is also beautiful when it deigns to appreciate where I've planted it. Last year it tried to monopolize one bed so I divided it and put it around in other locations that seemed compatible. No, not actually, as it turned out. Now I'm very happy that I left this one piece where it originally was and will promise never to move it again.

Sedum tetractinum
Sedum tetractinum is a wonder plant under our oak and Osage orange trees. I know if I were a better plant mother it would look and spread even better but without water and fertilizer it does a beautiful job of holding the soil and covering up bare ground.

Sedum Lemon Coral is a relatively new introduction in the cold hardy sedum family. And, I love it's bright, cheerful lime-green coloring and mounding habit.  

The plant in between the Lemon Coral Sedum is some relative of portulaca that I can't quite place. I came to have some because we were walking down a sidewalk after lunch and it was hanging all over the place from a large planter. I brought a stem end home and now put it out every summer.
Sedum Lemon Coral with Autumn Joy

Sedum Autumn Joy - mid season

 When Autumn Joy flowers first emerge they are very light colors. Then as the summer progresses they begin to turn pink.

When the fall temperatures come down they become a dusty mid to dark pink color that is gorgeous.
Sedum Autumn Joy - early season
These are all cold hardy in our zone 7 without winter protection.

I'm sure there are many more but these have proven to be so reliable that I haven't ventured further.

Do you know of others?
Autumn Joy - late season

02 September 2015

Monarch Butterflies and Milkweed

Monarch butterfly caterpillar
By now everyone who reads about gardens, gardening, nature and the environment is planting milkweed and that's a good thing.

Aphids on milkweed
Milkweed brings lots of new friends to our gardens. Here are the ones on our milkweed. First, there is no milkweed without aphids.

I leave them on the plants for their predators to eat and parasitize. Wasps and Lady Beetles and their larvae are ones we most
commonly think of as their predators.
Pirate bugs and Syrphid Fly larvae also eat aphids
Ladybug on milkweed

Then there's the Milkweed Tussock Moth caterpillar, Euchaetes egle, that eats milkweed leaves. Cute as they are, they are eating Monarch caterpillars' food and I wish they wouldn't.

Tussock Moth Caterpillar

This year we have swamp milkweed, tropical milkweed and balloon milkweed in the garden for Monarch caterpillars. The balloon milkweed is the number one favorite with swamp milkweed coming in second. The tropical milkweed is being largely ignored.

That outcome is fine with me since the other two are infinitely easier to grow in our climate and soil.
Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle

The milkweed flower and leaf eaters include Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle. They spend the winter in Mullein leaves (must be cozy in a nest of those fuzzy leaves) and emerge when there is food available.

Milkweed Bug
Milkweed bugs, on the other hand will show up in several sizes and markings though they are all red and black. What's tricky about these guys is that they suck the juice out of milkweed seeds.

So they are only a serious pest to you and the plant if you want a lot of seeds for next year.

European brown mantis
Then, there are these guys who eat aphids: European mantis or mantids. Well, and they eat a lot of
other stuff, too. Hummingbirds, mice, snakes - all on their menu. Yum.

And, well, they will eat the Monarch butterflies when they come to the milkweed to lay eggs, too. But, they also eat their own small mantis cousins so what can you say?

Monarch butterfly eggs on milkweed leaf
Despite all this activity on one plant this morning, I found more tiny caterpillars and more eggs proving that the other insects aren't getting them all.

You may have to click on the images to see them large enough for your eyes. Feel free to look.

If you use my images, though, please credit me. Thanks.

Update two days later - 6 more eggs laid today.