killingerscollection

This is a collection about horticulture.

Enjoy Roses: flowers, thorns, bugs, and all July 28, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Elizabeth Killinger @ 1:00 pm

No doubts about it, roses were hit hard this winter. Whether you had hybrid tea roses or the tough-as-nails shrub roses, they all took a beating. Don’t let your roses suffer any more damage this summer, be on the lookout now and catch these common rose problems.

Japanese Beetles

Japanese Beetles

Japanese beetles are a common pest of roses. They will feed on most anything, but they have a love for roses. These insects are related to the May/June beetle and can be a major pest of roses. The immature form of the beetle is a grub that can do some damage to turfgrass. The adults hungrily devour roses and cause the most feeding damage. The front of this beetle is a dark metallic green and the wing covers are a dark tan or coppery color. The main identifying characteristics for these beetles are five small tufts of white hair along each side of the insect. They feed in clusters during the day on leaves or on the blooms. Adult Japanese beetles can cause the leaves to have a skeletonized appearance, ragged holes, or in some instances, the leaves are completely eaten.

Rose Chafers

Rose Chafers

Rose chafers are another beetle pest of roses. The adult beetles are slender, 1/2 inch long, and are light tan colored. They lack the tufts of hair that the Japanese beetles have. The long burnt-orange legs are the distinguishing characteristic that sets them apart, as they clumsily walk around. The adults feed on the foliage and flowers of roses, while the larvae feed on roots of grasses and alfalfa. Adults may feed together and can cause skeletonized leaves or ragged holes in the flowers.        

There are a few ways that you can control Japanese beetles and rose chafers on roses. If the infestation is light, hand picking is an option. Pick the beetles off in the early morning and drop them in a bucket of soapy water. There are also some deterrents that can be used like neem oil. Several insecticides are labeled for control of these pests with active ingredients like carbaryl, acephate, and chlorpyrifos. Keep in mind that these beetles are mobile and often new beetles take the place of those killed by insecticides. Try to avoid applying the products to the flowers or during times when bees are present because they can harm honeybees.

Black Spot on Roses- photo courtesy IANR Pubs http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/pages/publicationD.jsp?publicationId=674

Black Spot on Roses- photo courtesy IANR Pubs http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/pages/publicationD.jsp?publicationId=674

Some disease names lack imagination. Black spot of roses is one of those. This fungal disease causes the rose leaves to turn yellow then develop black spots, hence the name black spot of roses. The leaves that are affected might fall off, which can affect the appearance of the shrub. It can also reduce plant vigor, cause stunted growth, and increase the chance of winter kill. The fungal spores overwinter on fallen leaves and diseased canes. Rain splash or sprinkler impact easily spreads the spores onto healthy new plant material.    

Prevention is the best method for dealing with black spot. Following good sanitation practices like cleaning up rose beds in the fall will make sure to get rid of any old plant debris that could overwinter spores. Replacing old mulch with new, if black spot was a problem in the past in that location, as well as looking for and selecting rose varieties that are resistant to black spot will help to reduce or eliminate the need for a spray program.

Fungicides are another option for black spot control. For best results, most fungicide applications should be applied preventatively to healthy foliage to keep the leaves from becoming infected. Throughout the growing season, infected leaves should be removed as soon as symptoms begin to appear. On plants with a history of black spot, fungicides can begin to be applied as soon as the foliage begins to emerge in the spring and continued throughout the summer. Read and follow label instructions for application and reapplication recommendations. For best results, a fungicide should be used in combination with good cultural and sanitation practices.

With a keen eye, you can catch these issues before they become a pest in your rose bed.

For more information contact Elizabeth Killinger at elizabeth.killinger@unl.edu, 308-385-5088, on Facebook, Twitter, her blog at http://huskerhort.wordpress.com/, or visit the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension website: hall.unl.edu.

 

Is that a Webworm or a Bagworm? July 14, 2014

Filed under: Insects,Trees — Elizabeth Killinger @ 2:00 pm

Webworms, bagworms, are they the same thing? If not, why does it make a difference whether you have a bagworm or webworms? It can make a big difference which insect you have to control and the damage that they cause. Correct identification is key to know how to control these pests.

Fall webworms or tent caterpillars are an occasional pest. They are sometimes called ‘bagworms,’ but using the correct common name will help clear up confusion. They appear as white webbed nests on the ends of branches in cottonwood, crabapple, walnut, and other trees. The caterpillars hide in the webbed nest during the day and feed on the trees at night. The caterpillars cause little harm to otherwise healthy trees. Tree health is not usually affected until more than 50 percent of the foliage is eaten. If there are enough nests, about one on every branch, the tree could be completely eaten. If you can safely reach the nest, use a broom to break up the bag of webworms. Follow up by spraying with a strong stream of water or an insecticide like permethrin (Eight) or Spinosad (Conserve). The nests can also be pruned out when possible. Trees that have heavy infestations this year won’t necessarily have a similar outbreak next year.   

Bagworms on a juniper.

 

Bagworms are a whole different story from webworms. Bagworms will feed on a wide variety of trees and shrubs, but they mainly prefer evergreens, especially junipers, cedars, and spruce. The reason that they are called bagworms is because they spin their own individual cases or bags around them for protection. As the bagworm grows, so does the bag that contains them. They will add leaf fragments to the outside of the bag for camouflage. The bags look like baseball bat-shaped ornaments hanging from the trees. There is one way to know if your cedar tree has bagworms. If you see little cone shaped things on your cedar tree, more than likely you have bagworms, because cedar trees don’t produce cones.

The earliest sign of bagworm injury on junipers is brown stressed needles at the tips of the branches. If the infestation is severe enough, the tree they are feeding on will have a brown tint to it. Heavy infestations of older bagworms are capable of completely defoliating a tree or shrub. This can cause stress to the plant or even kill it if damage is great enough. This is especially true if they have infested an evergreen which is unable to re-grow new foliage until next year. If you have bagworms on any deciduous plant, ones that lose their leaves every year, they are able to re-grow foliage if needed. Just be sure to pick up the leaves this fall and dispose of them.          

There are several options for controlling bagworms. Insecticidal sprays require thorough coverage to penetrate the canopy and contact the feeding bagworms. It is generally preferable to use ground equipment with higher spray volumes and pressures. Aerial applications may fail to provide thorough enough coverage resulting in less than satisfactory bagworm control. The spray has to completely cover the plant, almost to the point the product is dripping off of it. If the bagworms have made their home on a windbreak, the applicator has to be sure to have enough pressure to get product between the two rows of the windbreak. If this area is missed the bagworms that were hiding out there will move and re-infest the rest of the plant. Hand removal is another option for controlling bagworms. After removing the bags, place them in a bucket of soapy water.

There are several options available for insecticidal control of bagworms. Some of the reduced-risk options include Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), spinosad, or azadirachtin (neem oil) are effective on young larvae and may be needed to be applied repeatedly. Additional insecticidal options include permethrin (Eight), bifenthrin (Talstar), cyfluthrin (Tempo), chlorantraniliprole, carbaryl (Sevin), dimethoate, esfenvalerate, fluvalinate (Mavrik), lambda-cyhalothrin, acephate (Isotox IV), and tebufenozide (Confirm). Depending on the product and size of the insect, secondary applications may be needed.

Be on the lookout now for webworms and bagworms and control them before they make a meal out of your plants.

For more information contact Elizabeth Killinger at elizabeth.killinger@unl.edu, 308-385-5088, on Facebook, Twitter, her blog at http://huskerhort.wordpress.com/, or visit the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension website: hall.unl.edu.

 

Tomatoes vs. Herbicide June 17, 2014

Filed under: Garden — Elizabeth Killinger @ 2:43 pm
Tags: , ,

Tomato with herbicide damageYou say tomato, I say tomato…regardless of your pronunciation, tomatoes are a seasonal favorite in the backyard vegetable garden. Tomatoes have their fair share of seasonal issues and problems. Being observant can help you decide what route is best to take.

Weeds are nothing more than a plant out of place. Other people may have more choice words for these pests, but we all try to control them the best that we can. In the vegetable garden weeds seem to grow twice as fast as in the neighbor’s yard. There are several methods that you can use to help control the pesky weeds before they become a major problem. The simplest method that requires the least amount of equipment is hand pulling. This works best on the weeds before they reach full maturity. To make it easier on you, water the area before you try to pull up the weeds. The mud makes pulling easier and allows you to get a bigger portion of the root with each tug. Solarization of the garden is another non-chemical method you can try. Place clear plastic over the area where the weeds are an issue and secure the edges. Allow the weeds to ‘bake’ under the plastic for 45 days in the peak of the summer season, which means you miss out on this years’ gardening season.

Herbicides are another option for controlling weeds. Preemergence herbicides work best to help control pesky annual weeds. These herbicides will also keep garden seeds from sprouting and shouldn’t be used in areas where plants are direct seeded in the garden. Preemergence herbicides are best if they are used in areas that will be transplanted into, the plants have already sprouted and the herbicide won’t affect the transplants. If grasses in the garden are an issue, a product specifically designed to control grass, like Over-The-Top, or glyphosate product, like Round-Up, can help. Apply the products only to the weeds themselves, not the garden plants. Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide and will damage whatever plant material it is applied to. Be sure to read and follow all label instructions prior to applying the herbicides. Make sure they are labeled for use on the weeds that you have and that they are labeled for use in the garden.

photo 4Use caution when using certain types of herbicides around the garden. Some broadleaf weed herbicides such as 2,4-D are volatile, especially during hot weather, and may drift across the yard or even from adjacent yards in concentrations sufficient to cause injury. If possible, avoid applying this herbicide for weed control during summer months to escape injury to non-target plants. Tomatoes are one of the more sensitive plants to 2,4-D injury. Herbicide drift on tomatoes appears as leaves that are cupped, thickened, distorted or leathery, and which develop an uncharacteristic fan shape. The youngest foliage is often the most sensitive to the drift and will show the symptoms before the older foliage. If herbicide is suspected, inspect other plants in the area. Herbicide injury will typically be found on more than one type of plant. Other herbicide-sensitive plants include potato, pepper, grape and redbud and they will also show twisting or distortion. Whether or not long term injury will occur is difficult to evaluate. There is no way to know how much herbicide the plant received. We cannot recommend that affected produce from vegetables is safe to eat if it was exposed to herbicide drift. This is especially true for those vegetables that were on the plant at the time of the exposure.

With a little bit of caution now you really can have it all. You can control weeds in the garden, have your tomatoes and eat them too.

For more information contact Elizabeth Killinger at elizabeth.killinger@unl.edu, 308-385-5088, on Facebook, Twitter, her blog at http://huskerhort.wordpress.com/, or visit the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension website: hall.unl.edu.

 

Fruit Trees for Nebraska May 19, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Elizabeth Killinger @ 8:00 am
Redhaven peach- photo courtesy extension.missouri.edu

Redhaven peach- photo courtesy extension.missouri.edu

Spring is in the air. The apples are blooming, bees are buzzing, and the threat of frost has passed. There is nothing better than the spring blooms on an apple and eating a piece of fruit fresh off your own tree in the fall. There are few rules to keep in mind when selecting fruit trees for your landscape.

The words location, location, location have never been more important than with the site for your fruit trees. The performance of the fruit tree all depends on how well their growing requirements are meant. Fruit trees require full sun, at least 8 hours a day. They also require enough space between the trees so shading isn’t an issue. Low lying areas, or frost pockets, should be avoided. These areas can allow cool air to settle, and increase the risk of frost or cold damage. South facing slopes with some earlier blooming fruit trees, like apricot, should also be avoided. These slopes warm up faster in the spring, which could mean an earlier bloom that is susceptible to frost damage.

The use of the crop is another factor to consider. On average a dwarf apple tree can produce 50 to 150 pounds of fruit and tart cherries can produce 40-120 pounds. The use of the crop, whether it’s fresh, cooking, canning, or freezing, will make a difference in the amount of fruit you can utilize before it goes bad. Start small, you can always plant more trees later.

After the perfect location is selected and the number of trees is decided; cultivar selection is the most important task. Fruit tree cultivars should be selected based upon their vigor, productivity, climate adaptability, fruit quality, disease resistance, and personal preferences. All fruits are susceptible to insect pests and disease organisms. Some cultivars of apples and peaches are productive only under the careful use of a regular spray program of a combination fungicide and insecticide product. Spraying at specific times throughout the growing season may be needed because many pests attack different fruits multiple times. If ‘grocery store’ quality fruit is your goal, be prepared to apply the fruit tree sprays routinely throughout the growing season to protect the fruit on those susceptible cultivars from pests. If less-than-perfect fruits are okay or resistant cultivars are selected, the spray schedule could be omitted.

Apples are commonly infected by cedar apple rust and apple scab. There are several options to preventing cedar apple rust in apples. One option is to remove all cedar trees within a 2 mile radius of the tree. Fungicide applications can also be applied to the cedars, apples, or both routinely when the fungal fruiting bodies are present. The last option, and the easiest when planting new trees, is to select a cultivar of apple that is resistant to those diseases. Some cultivars that are both apple scab and cedar apple rust resistant include Liberty and Enterprise.

Peaches in Nebraska are a fruit that everyone wants to grow. The sad part is that peaches are not long lived in Nebraska. In a commercial setting a peach tree will live, on average, 8 years. They also take a couple of years to become productive and are susceptible to peach tree borer, oozing bacterial canker, and late spring frost damage. If you decide to try a peach, Redhaven, Reliance, and Madison are the most commonly planted cultivars.

Fruit trees can be grown successfully in Nebraska. Proper site and cultivar selection are just a few important considerations to keep in mind when picking out fruit trees for your landscape.

For more information contact Elizabeth Killinger at elizabeth.killinger@unl.edu, 308-385-5088, on Facebook, Twitter, her blog at http://huskerhort.wordpress.com/, or visit the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension website: hall.unl.edu.

 

Ants vs Termites May 11, 2014

Filed under: Insects — Elizabeth Killinger @ 8:00 am
Tags: , , ,

 

Spring is officially here. Trees are blooming, grass is greening up, and the insects are beginning to swarm. Ants will begin swarming…or wait are they termites? Knowing the difference between these insects can make a difference in whether you let them be or if you should be concerned.

Positive identification of the pest is crucial in knowing if control measures need to be taken. Both ants and termites can swarm outdoors in the spring; don’t automatically think when you see a swarm of insects that you have termites on your hands. There are a few distinguishing characteristics to help you quickly identify a swarm of ants from a swarm of termites. Ants have two pairs of wings. The front wing is slightly longer than the rear wing. When you look closely at the antenna, they will have ‘elbows’. Another characteristic to look for is the waist. Ants have a pinched waist between their second and third body segments. . Swarming ants can have wings to help them move the colony from place to place. Once they get to a location that they find suitable, they clip their wings off and look like ‘normal’ ants again.

Termites have a slightly different appearance. Termites also have two sets of wings, but both wings in the set are the same length and of equal size. The antenna of the termite is also slightly different than that of an ant. The antenna of a termite is straight, as opposed to elbowed like that of an ant. The waist of the termite is also different. Termites have a broad waist between their second and third body segments.

After properly identifying the pest, you can then select the control method. There are about a dozen ant species associated with homes in Nebraska. In the spring, ants often find their way into homes before food is available outdoors. Once an ant finds a suitable food source, it alerts all of its friends. It might make you feel good to kill the one scout ant, but there will be others. To get a good control of the ant population, you have to control the colony. There are three methods that you can use to control the colony. You can find the colony yourself and treat it. This approach may not be as easy as it sounds, especially if the colony is in the wall or under a concrete slab. Baits are another approach to treating for ants. Most of the ready-to-use baits work well on the sweet-loving ants, but some prefer protein. If the sweet-baits aren’t being eaten or don’t seem to be working, try a protein based bait. The last approach is to contact a licensed pest control company. They are able to apply a perimeter spray to help control the ants.

Termite control is a different story. A swarm of termites on the ground near the house doesn’t automatically mean you have a termite infestation, but it doesn’t hurt to have the home checked by a professional. The products that are on the market for termites should be applied by a licensed pest control operator.

I am sure you never thought you would have to look at the waist of an insect for proper identification, but you will be glad you did in the long run.

For more information contact Elizabeth Killinger at elizabeth.killinger@unl.edu, 308-385-5088, on Facebook, Twitter, her blog at http://huskerhort.wordpress.com/, or visit the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension website: hall.unl.edu.

 

Spring Spruce Problems May 6, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Elizabeth Killinger @ 4:19 pm

 

Have you noticed lately that your spruce has white-tipped or brown needles? Rachel Allison, western forest health assistant with the Nebraska Forest Service noticed this when traveling in western Nebraska as well as in the trees near her office in North Platte. She explained that understanding where spruce trees prefer to live tells us a little about the cause of this problem.

The commonly planted spruces – Colorado, White, Engelmann & Norway – typically grow on north and east facing mountain slopes, usually at high elevations where snow

A client's spruce tree

A client’s spruce tree

stays around for several months of the year. These high elevations make the trees cold tolerant, but the cold, moist conditions are very different from the hot, dry sites where many spruce are planted in landscapes and communities. Spruce prefer good, deep soil and growing among other trees that can protect them from hot, dry winds.

People often believe that spruce will do well in a xeriscape or low water landscape. But since spruce are adapted to a moist environment, the trees are often stressed from the dry conditions and competition with turf and other plants. In addition, spruce trees growing in low elevations with low humidity and high temperatures lose water through their needles faster than the water can be replaced by the roots. The stress caused by this lack of water in the needles often causes the needles to have a brown or purple cast, particularly during the summer when combined with the sun and heat. Right now, Allison notes, “the same situation happens in the winter, this time the lack of soil moisture leads to the white-tipped or brown needles. Both of these conditions are the trees’ way of showing us they need water.”

In addition, when spruce, or any plants for that matter, are planted in landscapes outside of their normal habitat or range, they can become additionally affected by poor site conditions, improper planting (usually planting too deeply), environmental problems, and insect and disease attack. Environmental causes are typically the biggest problems and commonly come from transplant shock, mounding mulch around the trunk, under or over watering, winter desiccation, frost damage, hail damage, salt toxicity, herbicide damage and nutrient deficiency.

Often a pest or an easily seen problem is pointed to as the cause of a tree’s poor condition, but the main long-term underlying problem is missed–that the tree is not suited to its environment. In order to help the tree adapt, we need to provide an environment that is more suitable for it. This includes planting the tree properly and at the proper depth, using a flat area of mulch in a wide ring around the tree that is not mounded up on the trunk, and watering properly. For spruce, watering is the most critical.

Trees compared to turf have root systems that spread deeper, typically down to 24 inches; and the best way to water is to do it less frequently but for longer durations. The amount of soil with good available moisture can be determined by pushing a long screw driver or slim metal rod into the soil until it stops when dry soil is reached. Allison has found that the depth to dry soil in a yard typically ranges from 1 to 6 inches, and rarely up to 8 inches, but none of these are adequate. The target for good available moisture is within the top 12 to 18 inches of soil. Watering to provide the deep soaking needed to accomplish this should be carried out once a week during hot summer months (July, August) and less frequently in the cooler months. As Allison explained, “all trees would really rather be watered once or twice a month with a good long rainfall, but when that doesn’t happen, we need to provide the necessary water ourselves.”

Trees typically do not get the water they need from an automatic irrigation system, because the system is set up to manage and care for the lawn, not the trees. The watering cycle is short and frequent, providing shallow moisture for turf, but not deep enough for trees. The amount of water needed by trees in your lawn and how long it takes to provide it depends on your soil type; usually with more water needed for sandy soils and less for clay soils. It is important to periodically check the level of moisture in your soil near the dripline of your trees.

If reducing the cost of water is a goal, you can actually apply less water and still maintain soil moisture at good levels by providing a level, mulched area around your trees out to the dripline of the tree. When mulch covers the soil, it helps to retain the moisture that would otherwise be pulled out by drying winds or from nearby grass.

The best advice when using automatic irrigation systems is to separate your landscape into different zones depending on different watering needs. Place spruce and other plants that need deep watering together. Water them deeply and no more than once or twice per week. Avoid daily, shallow watering that can cause problems by leaving deeper soil areas still dry.

For more information contact Elizabeth Killinger at elizabeth.killinger@unl.edu, 308-385-5088, on Facebook, Twitter, her blog at http://huskerhort.wordpress.com/, or visit the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension website: hall.unl.edu.

 

Variety, cultivar, hybrid, heirloom… what do all of these terms mean? April 7, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Elizabeth Killinger @ 8:00 am

Decisions, decisions. Red or yellow? Determinate or indeterminate tomatoes? Hybrids, varieties, or heirloom plants? The answer you get depends on what you want to do with the plant.

There are many choices when it comes to what you put into your garden. The vegetables you select for the garden are there because you or someone in the family likes them, but they should have specific characteristics that make it valuable to have them there in the first place. You should look beyond the bottom dollar price and make your decisions based upon several characteristics.

Variety, cultivar, hybrid, heirloom… what do all of these terms mean? The terms variety and cultivar are often mistakenly used interchangeably. Variety is a naturally occurring variation of individual plants within a species. The distinguishing characteristics are reproducible in offspring. One common example is the thornless honeylocust, Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermus. It is a naturally occurring thornless honeylocust. Cultivar comes from the term ‘cultivated variety.’ These plants are selected through specific hybridization, plant selection, or mutation, to achieve specific characteristics or traits. An example of a cultivar is Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ or Husker Red penstemon. ‘Husker Red’ was a particular selection of penstemon that was picked for its red foliage and white blooms. Hybrids are crosses between two species or distinct parent lines and can be developed from a series of crosses between parents. Seeds saved from hybrids usually don’t ‘come true from seed’ meaning seeds saved and planted from hybrids won’t yield the exact same fruit as the year before. One of my favorite tomatoes, ‘Sungold,’ is an example of a hybrid. These plants were specifically bred for their size, color, crack and disease resistance. Lastly there are the heirlooms. These plants are varieties that are the result of natural selection that has been in cultivation for 50 years or more.   Seeds saved from heirloom varieties will ‘come true from seed’ and you will have the same plant as the previous year. One of the more popular heirloom tomatoes is the Brandywine. Often these plants may have the best flavor, but they often lack the disease resistance that the hybrids offer.

Why do hybrids often cost more than varieties? The major reason for the price difference between hybrids and standard varieties all comes down to time. The higher price is related to the amount of time that it takes to produce new hybrids. The carefully selected parent plants must be cross-pollinated by hand to produce offspring with the desirable characteristics. Then the seeds from those crosses have to be grown out and the plants have to then be evaluated to ensure that the resulting plants have the right combination of characteristics. The breeder then has to produce enough seeds to sell to meet the demand. Open-pollinated varieties are planted in a field and then Mother Nature does the work moving the pollen around. The fruits are then harvested and the seeds are collected.

Your expectations of the plants can help you decide which type of plant to select. Gardeners who want to harvest seeds from this years’ garden to plant next year, might want to stick with open pollinated varieties or heirlooms. Hybrids offer improved disease resistance and are more adapted to environmental stresses. If you buy fresh seed every year and you want the most productive, least problem prone garden, hybrids are probably the way to go.

With a little background information, hopefully your decisions just got a little easier.

For more information contact Elizabeth Killinger at elizabeth.killinger@unl.edu, 308-385-5088308-385-5088, on Facebook, Twitter, her blog at http://huskerhort.wordpress.com/, or visit the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension website: hall.unl.edu.

 

 
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