Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Poinsettia Care

Around this time of year I receive many calls about caring for newly purchased poinsettias. This information from the NCSU Department of Horticulture Science should help to answer some of those questions. For additional information, please feel free to contact me.

The poinsettia that you bought or received for Christmas should retain its beauty for many weeks if you take proper care of it. Horticulturists have done an excellent job of breeding new poinsettia varieties with long-lasting qualities. Here is what you should do to extend the beauty of your poinsettias:
Place your poinsettia in the sunniest portion of the room. It needs a minimum of 75 foot candles of natural or artificial light.

Avoid cold drafts from doorways or excess heat from television sets, radiators or heating ducts. Water your plant thoroughly when needed. Make sure a small amount of the water that is applied drips through the drainage holes of the container. If your poinsettia came wrapped with decorative foil, punch a hole in the foil beneath the pot to allow excess water to escape. Place the plant on a saucer to prevent damage to furniture.

To retain the bright color of the bracts, keep your poinsettia at temperatures not exceeding 70 degrees F. The temperatures should not dip below 50 degrees F.

If you are going to try to keep your poinsettia for a couple of months, you should fertilize it with a dilute fertilizer solution. Use a soluble, complete fertilizer, such as 20-10-20, twice each month.

Contrary to frequent reports, the bracts and foliage of poinsettias are not poisonous. So enjoy your poinsettias.

Amaryllis Adds Color to Any Holiday Event

The Bullington Center has chosen and potted beautiful amaryllis with lily-like flowers for you to purchase this Holiday Season.

When used as a potted plant for a special occasion, the amaryllis provides spectacular flower colors and effects. They come in a wide range of flower colors from red, pink and white to combinations of these.

The bulbs for sale at the Bullington Center are red and a nice shade of pink.
When properly handled and cared for properly, an amaryllis bulb may produce flowers for up to 75 years. Good quality bulbs of named varieties may produce up to six flowers on a single stalk.

The bulbs will be for sale at Bullington through December 19th. For more information, call 698-6104.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Bullington Christmas Tree

The Henderson County Master Gardeners have been working hard on creating hand made ornaments for a tree decorating contest at the Asheville Airport. The decorated tree is on display through the end of December. All of the ornaments are made entirely out of natural botanicals from the mountains of North Carolina.

See the picture above for an extraordinary example of their creativity.
The prize money awarded will go to the charity of choice, which is the Bullington Horticulture Learning Center. Please go to www.flyavl.com then click on holiday contest and vote for tree number 11; the most votes wins Peoples Choice - (4th prize).

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Advantages of Real Trees

Did you ever think that by using a live Christmas tree in your house that you were actually helping the environment? Real trees help the environment from the time they are planted until after the holiday season when they can be recycled.
While they are growing, Christmas trees support life by absorbing carbon dioxide and other gases while giving off fresh oxygen. Every acre of Christmas trees planted gives off enough oxygen to meet the needs of 18 people. Today in America there are enough Christmas trees planted that 18 million people a day are supplied with oxygen. Also, the farms that grow Christmas trees stabilize soil, protect water supplies, and provide a refuge for wildlife while creating a nice scenic view. Often, Christmas trees are grown on soil that will not support any other crops. And when one Christmas tree is cut down, one or two are replanted in its place.
Artificial trees are made from oil-based products that use up our natural resources. They are also not recyclable and will remain in land-fills for centuries after disposal.
Real Christmas trees, on the other hand, are recyclable. The branches and trunk are biodegradable and can be made into mulch for the garden. A Christmas tree placed in the back yard will make a nice bird feeder and the birds can also use the trees branches for shelter during the winter winds. Large quantities of trees make effective barriers on beaches to prevent soil erosion. Sunk into ponds, the trees will also make an excellent refuge and feeding area for fish.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Keeping Your Christmas Tree Fresh

Before setting out to purchase your perfect Christmas tree, determine where in the home the tree will be located, the size required, and whether all sides will be displayed. Other characteristics such as tree density, color, and fragrance should also be considered. Next, determine whether a cut tree or one "balled and burlapped" is to be purchased, or if a visit to a "choose and cut " farm is preferred.

Once a tree is purchased, keeping it fresh requires watering on a regular basis and avoiding high temperatures. If the tree is bought several days before it is to be decorated, it should be stored outside in a cool, shaded area. The base should be sawed on a diagonal about one inch above the original cut, and the base placed in a container of water. Sprinkling or misting the tree with water will also help retain freshness, but the tree should not be soaked.

Whether stored or not, before bringing the tree in the house, a square cut should be sawed on the base. The base of the tree should be kept in water throughout entire period that the tree is in use. The water level in the stand should be checked daily. Research has indicated that water additives are not needed and may even result in excessive drying.

The tree should be well supported and placed away from sources of heat. Tree lights should not be left on unless someone is at home, and should be turned off when the family goes to bed. Electrical cords should also be checked for any signs of damage or wear. Trees do not cause fires but will support combustion when dry. Dry trees should be removed before they create a fire hazard.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Natural Christmas Tree Ornaments

Henderson County Master Gardener, Tamsin Allpress, is guiding a ornament making workshop at the Bullington Center on December 5th, 2007. She will help all participants to create beautiful natural ornaments to use in decorating for the Holiday Season. To register for this workshop, call 698-6104 and start collecting berries, leaves, and other plant parts for use. Cost $15.00.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Wreath Clinic

It is once again time for the Master Gardener wreath making workshop. This year the workshop will be held on Friday, December 7th and Saturday, December 8th from 11:00 – 1:00pm. Class size will be limited each day to 35 participants. Because this class is so popular, pre-registration is required by Friday, November 30th. Materials and assorted greenery for one wreath will be provided. You are asked to bring your own gloves, hand pruners, and any additional decorations you may want to use on your wreath. The cost of the workshop is $15 and will be held at the Haywood County Cooperative Extension office at 589 Raccoon Road in Waynesville.

For more information or to register please call 456-3575

Monday, November 5, 2007

Why Leaves Change Color

You may have noticed that leaf color varies every year. Leaf color is most spectacular when the right combination of factors are present. Scientists don't fully understand all of the complicated interactions that cause the best display of leaf color, but they do know that leaf pigments, length of night, the type of tree, genetic variation, and the weather all play a role.

Where Do Leaves Get Their Autumn Colors?
Tree and plant leaves contain pigments that give them their color. Three pigments are involved in fall color:
· Chlorophyll — gives leaves their green color.
· Carotenoids — provide the yellow, orange, and brown colors
· Anthocyanins — give the red and purple colors.
In contrast to the other two pigments, anthocyanins are produced in the autumn, in response to bright light and excess plant sugars in the leaf cells.
During the growing season, most tree leaves are green because they are full of chlorophyll. Plants use chlorophyll to capture sunlight for photosynthesis, the process that enables them to manufacture their own food. The amount of chlorophyll is so high during the summer that the green color masks all other pigments present in the leaf. As the days grow shorter in the fall, chlorophyll production slows down and eventually stops. The carotenoids and anthocyanins that are present in the leaf then become visible.

Do Different Kinds of Trees Turn Different Colors?
Certain colors of leaves are characteristic of particular species of trees.
· Oaks turn red, brown, or russet;
· Hickories turn golden bronze;
· Dogwood turns purplish red;
· Beech turns light tan;
· Red maple turns brilliant scarlet;
· Sugar maple turns orange-red;
· Black maple turns glowing yellow;
· Sourwood and black tupelo turn crimson;
· Aspen, birch, and yellow-poplar turn golden yellow.

Leaves of some species such as the elms simply shrivel up and fall off, exhibiting little color other than brown. The timing of the color change also varies by species. Sourwood in southern forests can become vividly colorful in late summer while all other species are still green. Oaks put on their colors long after other species have already shed their leaves. These differences in timing among species seem to be genetically inherited. The timing of color change for certain species appears to be consistent regardless of local weather patterns or changes in latitude.

Why Are Some Autumns More Colorful?
Temperature and moisture greatly influence autumn color. Since each of these vary greatly, no two autumns are ever alike. A succession of warm, sunny days and cool, but not freezing nights seems to bring about the most spectacular color displays. Since carotenoids are always present in leaves, yellow and gold colors are fairly constant from year to year. In order for the brilliant scarlet, purple and crimson colors to develop, bright sunlight in the early fall is needed. Bright sunny days increases food production in trees and plants. These sugars are trapped in the leaves spurring the production of anthocyanin pigments, providing the red tints to fall foliage.

The amount of moisture in the soil also affects autumn color. A late spring, or a severe summer drought, can delay the onset of fall color by a few weeks. A warm period during fall lowers the intensity of autumn color. Trees defoliated by insects during the growing season may also show less fall color.

Taken from United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service;
Northeastern Area Fact Sheet SP-01-01

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Burn Ban Reinstated

The North Carolina Division of Forest Resources has stated that due to severe drought conditions in North Carolina, all outdoor open burning has been banned until further notice. Burning permits previously issued are invalid. This statement was posted at 1:00pm on October 15, 2007.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Canker Diseases Follow Drought

Sharpen your pruners to remove dead branches on woody ornamentals due to a two punch combination of drought and fungal pathogens such as Botryosphaeria and Seiridium. The long term effects of this summer’s drought are becoming visible in landscapes throughout the Southeast. Much of this dieback has appeared in the last month. Drought stress has predisposed many of our woody plants to infection by fungal pathogens and in some cases wood boring insects. Rhododendron and Leyland cypress are two common hosts for these diseases, but you may see similar dieback on laurel, viburnum, holly and some juniper species.

Chemical treatments are not effective for the control of most fungal canker diseases. The best preventive strategy is drip irrigation during dry periods. Once dieback has occurred, diseased branches should be pruned out below the canker; below discolored wood in the stems.

Taken from article written by Alan Windham, Ornamental Pest and Disease Update, 9/07
Photo of Seiridium canker on Leyland Cypress, credit to J. Williams-Woodward, UGA

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Unwelcome guests

As the weather begins to cool, I am sure to begin receiving calls regarding Multicolored Asian Beetles. These calls range from people simply looking for suggestions to slow their invasion to those who suggest that they are going to have to sell their homes and move in order to escape! I hope that the information here will help everyone to understand what they can do to discourage this annual guest.

What These Insects Do—And Don't Do
Lady beetles are not structure-damaging pests, unlike insects such as termites and carpenter ants. Lady beetles do not chew or bore holes in walls or eat carpet or furniture. They do not lay their eggs in homes.
Multicolored Asian lady beetles are attracted to lighter colors: whites, grays, yellows. So, light-colored houses, especially on hillsides in forested areas, might serve as “homing beacons.”
Once the lady beetles enter the walls of a building through cracks and crevices, they may or may not proceed to the interior of the building. Most stay in the wall spaces.
During warm days of late winter and early spring, overwintering beetles in a wall space may become active. In their search for an exit, they may enter the home's living areas and become a nuisance. Warmer temperatures or lighting in the living areas may attract these active beetles as they search for an exit.

Prevention and Control
Preventing the lady beetles from entering is the best approach to keeping them from becoming a household nuisance in fall and winter. Caulking exterior cracks and crevices--before the lady beetles seek overwintering sites-- is the best way to keep them out. This will also keep out other unwanted insects such as wasps, and will save homeowners money on energy costs.
Lady beetles that enter wall spaces in the fall may remain there, without entering living areas, until they depart in spring to search for food. But some may become active on warm days in late winter or early spring and move into living areas.
Sweeping and vacuuming are effective methods for removing these lady beetles from living areas.

Blacklight traps.
Blacklight traps work well for catching beetles in some situations and this may be particularly critical for commercial facilities, such as hospitals and some manufacturing plants, where biocontamination is a critical issue. These facilities often use the more expensive industrial style light traps (not the traditional "bug zapper" type of trap). USDA scientists in Georgia developed a trap that uses no insecticide and it catches the beetles alive for future release or disposal. The trap is about 12" x 24" and reportedly can be easily assembled or disassembled in as little as two minutes. CLICK HERE to access the details for building your own blacklight trap. Or shop for a commercial one HERE.

For more information see: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Other/goodpest/note107.html

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Pumpkin Tour

Have you dreamed of the GREAT PUMPKIN or are you interested in that cute little pumpkin or gourd that just makes you feel good when you experience the brilliant colors and crisp cool nights of autumn? The autumn season is finally here after a long HOT summer? If this is the case, here is an opportunity for you. Planted in the scenic setting of the Appalachian mountains, there is about an acre planting with over 30 different varieties of pumpkins and gourds to see and enjoy. Scientists from NC State University, University of Tennessee and University of Georgia will be taking photos, weights (those giant pumpkins present quite the challenge) and notes to find those fruits that might just tickle your fancy and provide some additional revenue options for commercial growers. If you would like to come and see, feel and touch, please join in as we walk through the various pumpkin and gourd types on Friday, October 12, 2 pm at the Mountain Research Station, Waynesville. This is an excellent opportunity for agents and their growers, or the interested consumer. The location of the pumpkins on the Mountain Research Station is off Raccoon Rd across from the Haywood County Extension Center. More detailed directions are given below. For more information, please contact the Mountain Research Station office at 828-456-3943.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


If you are looking for something fun to do this weekend, come by Jackson Park for a full day of fun at FARM CITY DAY. The event takes plant October 6th from 10:00am - 4:00pm. Here are just a few of the events going on inside the park on Saturday.

Blacksmith Live Entertainment & Cloggers Food

Antique Farm Equipment Tractor Pull 4-H Activities

Old Timey Demonstrations Games Petting Zoo

Helicopter Rides Wagon Rides Children's Games

Crafter's Corner Sheep Herding Homemade foods

The Master Gardeners are also having a plant sale during FARM CITY DAY located between fields 3 & 4. All plants are reasonably priced and have been donated by Master Gardeners. Swing by between 10:00am and 4:00pm and buy a few great plants.

Monday, October 1, 2007

October Garden Chores

  • Mature lawns can be fertilized early this month if you did not do a September application.
  • You can also overseed bare spots and be sure to mulch newly seeded areas with wheat or barley straw, then keep the area irrigated.
  • Do not prune spring flowering shrubs as their buds have formed for next spring.
  • Do not fertilize shrubs in October or November.
  • Wait until cooler weather moves in to plant spring bulbs and pansies.
  • Think about starting a compost pile if you do not have one. Be sure to throw in plant debris that is not diseased as you clean your gardens for fall.
  • Prepare houseplants to re-enter your home. Check them carefully for insect pests. You may need to bring all tropical plants in on cool nights when the temperature drops below 50 degrees.
  • Clean garden sprayers and lawn equipment not in use.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Burn Ban Lifted

RALEIGH – Recent rains across the state have allowed the N.C. Division of Forest Resources to lift its ban on open burning for all 100 counties in North Carolina.

The statewide ban on open burning, which was implemented Aug. 21, is canceled effective at noon Tuesday Sept. 18th.

Officials with the Division of Forest Resources decided to lift the burning ban because of Friday’s storm that dumped several inches of rain across the state. While recent rainfall and lower temperatures have reduced the fire danger, this small amount of precipitation has not ended drought conditions the state is facing. Residents should be especially careful as meteorological conditions could cause North Carolina to continue having warmer temperatures and below normal rainfall during the upcoming fire season. Officials are warning that if the drought continues, and there is an increase in the number of wildfires, the ban on open burning could be reinstated.

For more information, click here for the full article from NC Department of Forest Resources.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Beech Blight Aphid Boogie

Here is another great photo that was sent into me this week. This aphid is known as the beech blight aphid and it is one of several woolly aphids commonly encountered throughout North Carolina.

The aphids first become apparent in early August and as populations continue to grow they become increasingly noticeable. Very high numbers can be seen on individual branches, sometimes extending onto leaves, with lots of sooty mold built up below. They do not usually cause much damage to overall tree health, but we occasionally see dieback on very heavily infested branches.

However, this aphid does exhibit a curious response to potential predators. When disturbed, the entire colony will raise their "cottony" abdomens, and begin wagging these fluffy derrieres in unison at the aggressor.

See the video below for an example if this "boogie-like" behavior on video from youtube.

Beech Blight Aphid

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tobacco Hornworm Control

Check out this great photo taken by Master Gardener Betty Lockwood of the pupal cocoons of a parasitic wasp on the tobacco hornworm. Other hornworms (Sphingidae) are parasitized by these parasitic insects of the order Hymenoptera.

The adult wasp inserts its eggs beneath the skin of the hornworm larva. The eggs hatch and the young wasps feed on the hornworm until they pupate as shown in the photo. This parasite is an important factor in natural control of hornworms. Pretty cool huh!

See this link for youtube below to watch a few parasitic wasps hatch. Youtube

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Fair Time

The Haywood County Fair begins this month. If you haven’t already picked up a fair brochure you can stop by the Haywood County Extension Center to get one. This has been a difficult year for gardening but I am sure that many of our local gardeners will have quality entries in the horticulture categories. If you plan to enter your flowers and vegetables, be sure to follow the guidelines outlined in the fair brochure. We will once again be offering cash prizes for entries in each category as well for best of show rosettes. Entries should be brought to the fairgrounds on Monday, September 24th between the hours of 9am-7pm. Master Gardeners will be on hand to help you submit your entries. Judging will take place on Tuesday and doors will open to the public at 5pm on that day. Hope to see you at the fair, and Good Luck!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Bullington Fall Programs

The Bullington Center has announced another great fall lineup of classes being offered. You can attend a class on choosing the perfect small landscape tree or learn how to make botanical holiday ornaments. Check out this link below for a full listing of classes offered. Call John Murphy at 698-6104 for more information.

Bullington Fall Classes

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Free Water Conservation Help

Water conservation is everyone’s business, especially as the drought in NC worsens. Through a cooperative effort between the Department of Crop Science and the State Climate Office of North Carolina at NC State University an internet based decision-aide entitled the Turf Irrigation Management System (TIMS) has been developed and is now available to the citizens of North Carolina. This simple to use system can be utilized by anyone from the dedicated turf professional to the homeowner to help make irrigation management decisions.

First, it guides you through your account set-up by asking a few simple questions about the type of grass, soil and irrigation system you have. After set-up, it calculates the amount of irrigation you need and keeps track of when and how much water you actually use. Once you have entered your address, climate information is read from the closest weather station which is part of the NC Climate Retrieval and Observations Network Of the Southeast (CRONOS) and the irrigation needed by your turf is calculated based on recent weather conditions including precipitation and evaporation.

This system will help you practice better water conservation for your lawn, landscape or other turfgrass areas in this critical time for water resources. It is free to the public in NC and can be accessed at the following URL:


The State Climate Office of North Carolina is a public-service center and extension of the UNC system housed at NC State University and the primary source for climate data and expertise in North Carolina. The mission of the State Climate Office is to provide climate related services to the state, local and federal agencies, businesses and citizens of North Carolina.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Construction and Tree Protection

As western North Carolina continues with our rapid growth, we hear of many concerns of how to protect our mature trees during construction. North Carolina Cooperative Extension has developed a new publication to help the homeowner and builder develop a tree protection plan. For more information and to view the publication online, click the link below.
Construction Publication

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Statewide burning ban now in effect

The N.C. Division of Forest Resources has initiated a statewide ban on all open burning and canceled all burning permits effective at noon on August 21st. The ban on open burning will be in effect until further notice. The ban on open burning is necessary because of the dry weather conditions and an increase in fire activity statewide. Currently more than 100 firefighters are battling 130 wildfires in Robeson County alone. Yesterday there were 46 new wildfires affecting more than 370 acres across North Carolina.

By North Carolina law, the ban prohibits all open burning statewide, regardless of whether a permit was issued. Open burning includes burning leaves, branches and other plant material. In all cases, it is illegal to burn trash, lumber, tires, newspapers, plastics or other non-vegetative materials. The ban will be enforced by local law enforcement agents, county fire marshals and the N.C. Division of Forest Resources, an agency within the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The open burning ban means that all burning is prohibited if it is 100 feet or more from an occupied dwelling. An occupied dwelling is a home or residence that someone lives in.

For more information, contact Chris Carlson at (919) 733-2162 ext. 262 or cell (919) 210-5013, or Brian Haines at cell (919) 218-9728. Residents can also contact a county ranger with the Division of Forest Resources or the local county fire marshal's office.

Taken from Asheville Citizen Times - 8-21-2007

Monday, August 20, 2007

A couple of weeks ago, someone brought several small larvae into the Master Gardener plant clinic. I had never seen this particular insect larvae before so I had to do a little research to identify them. As it turns out, they were Soldier Fly larvae. You have probably seen the adults frequenting flowers in the landscape. Adult flies vary in color from black, metallic blue, green or purple, to brightly colored black and yellow patterns. You can tell that they are flies and not wasps because flies have just two wings, unlike wasps that have four wings. When at rest, the wings are folded scissor-like across their abdomens. Soldier fly larvae are harmless to humans and are great decomposers which was great news to the visitor to our plant clinic considering they found them in their compost bin.
Photo Credit:
Soldier fly, Hermetia illucens Linnaeus
(Diptera: Stratiomyidae), larvae.
Photo by G. McIlveen, Jr.

Fall Webworms

A few months ago I posted an article on tent caterpillars. You have probably noticed that we are now experiencing an “invasion” of fall webworms. This pest is different from the tent caterpillar in that they build their nests out on the tips of branches in the fall. These nests will continue to expand to include more and more of the tree as the season advances. Because this pest is active so late in the season, there is little threat to the health of the tree. They can also be easily controlled in the landscape simply by breaking open the nest and destroying the caterpillars inside. This also allows for predation by birds and wasps. For more information see the following website. http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/O&T/trees/note46/note46.html

North Carolina Drought Advisory

Until further notice, the North Carolina Drought Management Advisory Council is strongly urges the implementation of drought response actions, for all Henderson and Haywood County water users located in or dependent on water resources from the areas of the state experiencing the following drought conditions. See map and key to see that Henderson and Haywood Counties are both listed as level D3.
  • (D3) Extreme drought conditions. (Red)
  • (D2) Severe drought conditions. (Tan)
  • (D1) Moderate drought conditions. (Peach)
  • (DO) Impending drought conditions. (Yellow)
Dealing with Extreme Drought (D3) conditions means we should be following these precautions until further notice:
  • All water users are advised to follow the water shortage response guidelines set forth by the Water Use during Drought Rules effective March 19, 2007. Water users without a written plan are advised to follow the applicable default water use reduction standards outlined in Section .0613 of the Rules during extreme drought designations.
  • Stay informed on drought conditions and advisories (www.ncdrought.org).
  • Participate in regional and local coordination for the management of water resources.
  • Reduce socially and economically important water uses to ensure the availability of water for critical needs (e.g. firefighting, health and safety, etc.).
  • Revisit and/or explore, if not already accomplished, alternative water sources and reuse options.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Top Tree Topping Myths

Myth: Topping a tree will reduce storm damage and make the tree easier to care for.
Topped trees can regain their original height in as little as two years. The fast growing, extremely long and loosely attached shoots caused by topping will be more susceptible to breakage and storm damage. Ultimately, a topped tree requires more attention in the future than a properly pruned tree.
Myth: Topping invigorates a tree.
Topping immediately injures a tree and starts it on a downward spiral. Topping wounds expose the tree to decay and invasion from insects and disease. Also, the loss of foliage starves the tree, which weakens the roots, reducing the tree's structural strength. While a tree may survive topping, its life will be significantly reduced.
Myth: Topped trees will add value to your home and property.
Topped trees are ugly and may reduce your property values. Also a topped tree can become hazardous and cause property damage, making it a liability.
Myth: Topping is the best way to keep a tree from getting too big.
A tree's genetics and environment determine how tall it will grow. Topping just shortens the life of the tree and creates long term maintenance problems.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Devil's Dipstick

Many people enjoy feeding birds. They fill their feeders each day and birds showed up for the feast. Their yard provides food and cover for her birds. It’s interesting that we do the same thing for fungi. We mulch our landscape beds with bark mulch. Yet we seem surprised when fungi show up to feed on or live among the remnants of trees. What some view as unnatural is one of the most natural processes in nature. Take a walk in the woods after a rain and you’ll see a plethora of fungi growing on rotten logs and fallen branches. It’s been estimated that there are 400lbs/acre of fungal biomass in some woodland soils.

Most of our wood rotting fungi are basidiomycetes, capable of breaking down cellulose or lignin. Many fungi that we see on mulch are not feeding on wood. Indeed, most of the fungi encountered in mulch are not plant pathogens and are harmless to plants. Some of the more common fungi observed on mulch are slime molds, stinkhorns, bird’s nest fungi, and various higher fungi that produce a fruiting structure called a mushroom or toadstool.

Above is a photo of a stink horn. The fruiting body of this fungus is brightly colored, but you will probably smell it before you see it. One of the more common stink horns is Mutinus elegans, called the elegant stinkhorn or the “Devil’s Dipstick”. The smell of the elegant stink horn has been compared to rotting meat. It’s the smell that attracts insects which aid in spore dispersal.

Photo and Article taken from "Ornamental Pest and Disease Update - July 2007". Written by Alan Windham, UT Extension.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Turf Time

Now is the time to begin planning for planting or renovating your cool season lawns. Seeding of cool season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, and fine fescue should be done around August 15 to September 1. If using tall fescue cultivars use about 6 pounds per thousand square feet. Apply a starter-type fertilizer such as 0-10-20 at the time of seeding. Keep the seedbed moist with light, frequent sprinklings several times a day to ensure good germination. For further details on planting a new lawn or renovating and existing lawn contact your local county extension agent or see Carolina Lawns at the following websiet: http://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/pubs/extension/CarolinaLawnsAccessible.pdf

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Spiders Indoors

Heavy rains may force some ground nesting spiders to "high ground", which may bring them onto the foundation and siding as well as indoors. Debris that remains on the ground for an extended time may attract insects and other small arthropods that are suitable prey for spiders. You may also run into spider webs strung across gaps in vegetation. Although many spiders can bite, the majority of them are harmless and their venom has little, if any, effect on people (unless a person is hypersensitive). Black widow spiders are found in many areas of North Carolina, but actual encounters with people are relatively rare. Recluse spiders have been found in *some* areas of the state but they are an extreme rarity. Mechanical control (vacuuming corners and under/behind furniture, swatting the spider with a rolled-up magazine or newspaper, etc.) should be more than adequate for the random spider that shows up indoors.Applying pesticides indoors for spiders probably isn't necessary, but if it is your preference then you can use any common household insecticide, concentrating your efforts on baseboards, corners and under furniture where where spiders often hide. Some suggested pesticides can be found in the NC Agricultural Chemicals Manual . You can reduce the likelihood of an accidental spider bite by wearing gloves whenever handling debris or articles that have been undisturbed for some time either indoors and outdoors. Click here for more information on spiders.

For more informstion on spiders take a look at the following website: www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Urban/spiders.htm

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

August Garden Chores

  • Mow tall fescue lawns to 2 ½ to 3 inch height. Research has shown that mowing to the proper height will help control weeds.
  • Begin treating for Japanese beetle grubs in August to reduce next year’s pest levels.
  • Allow grass clippings to fall on the ground, they add nutrients to the soil.
  • Do NOT prune spring flowering shrubs such as azaleas and rhododendrons now, their buds have formed for next spring.
  • Do NOT fertilize shrubs in August, September, October or November.
  • Root prune any large shrubs that will be transplanted in November. See enclosed article about root pruning for more information.
  • Continue to spray tomatoes with fungicide to prevent blight diseases.
  • Remember to water tender vegetable plants through these dry months with a minimum of 1 inch of water per week.
  • Consider taking your soil samples now, there turn around for results is only about 1 week.
  • This is perfect for timing fall lime applications.
  • Most garden chores are best done in the early morning or early evening when the heat index is lower.

Monday, July 23, 2007


Millipedes are common occasional pests that sometimes invade buildings, particularly when the weather turns hot and dry. While millipedes sometimes enter in large numbers, they do not bite, sting, or transmit diseases, nor do they infest food, clothing or dry, structurally sound wood. Millipedes vary in both color and size. The most common species that invades buildings is the" garden millipede", which is brownish-black in color and about one inch long. Although millipedes are often called "thousandleggers", they actually have far fewer legs, but each body segment has two pairs of very short legs. When disturbed, millipedes often curl up into a "C" shape and remain motionless. They crawl slowly and protect themselves by secreting cyanide-like compound that has an unpleasant odor . Some people confuse millipedes with centipedes, which look somewhat similar. Centipedes have only one pair of legs per body segment and the legs are usually longer than those on millipedes. Centipedes also tend to move about more quickly than millipedes.

Pesticides are typically a short-term solution to a long-term problem. Emphasis should be placed first on reducing conditions and access points favorable to millipede invasions:

Minimize Moisture, Remove Debris - The most effective, long-term measure for reducing entry of millipedes (and many other pests) is to reduce excess moisture and hiding places, especially near the foundation.

Seal Pest Entry Points – Seal cracks and openings in the outside foundation wall, and around the sills of doors and basement windows. Install door sweeps on all exterior entry doors, and apply caulk along the bottom outside edge and sides of door thresholds. Seal expansion joints where outdoor patios, sunrooms and sidewalks abut the foundation. Expansion joints and gaps should also be sealed along the bottom of basement walls on the interior to reduce entry of pests and moisture from outdoors.

Chemical control - Application of insecticides along baseboards and other interior living areas of the home do not really stop millipede invasions. Once indoors, millipedes end up in kitchens, living rooms, etc. and soon die from a lack of moisture. Remove them with a vacuum cleaner or broom.

For additional information about millipedes see: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Urban/millipedes.htm

Master Your Garden Lecture Series

Henderson County Extension Master Gardeners are offering a series of lectures to the public. There will be a small fee of $5.00 per participant for each program to support future educational efforts by the Master Gardeners. All lectures will be held on Mondays in August, September, and October at 3:30pm in the classroom at the Bullington Center.

Fall 2007 Schedule

August 6th - Success with Lawns – Ernie Grose

August 20th – Selecting Ornamental Grasses – Mike Covell

September 17thWinter Garden Preparation to Build your

Compost Pile – Jane Davis

October 1stBeauty from Bulbs - Pierre Hart

October 15th - Planting for Winter Interest – Alan Mizeras

To register for these or other upcoming Mastering Your Garden Lectures, call the Extension office at 697-4891. Keep checking our website http://henderson.ces.ncsu.edu/ for more information on upcoming lectures or click here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bullington Center Plant Camp - July 23-27

The Bullington Center in Hendersonville is taking applications for a fun and educational week exploring the amazing world of plants. Each fun filled day will be loaded with crafts and activities occurring on the beautiful Bullington Center grounds. Plant Camp is aimed for rising 5th, 6th, and 7th graders and is limited to 15 campers. Activities will occur from 9:00am - 3:00pm with childcare available from 3:00pm - 5:00pm for an additional charge. Contact the Coordinator John Murphy at 698-6104 for more information. Sign up now... space is limited.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Green June Beetles

Green June Beetles Have Arrived

I saw my first green June beetle this past week while working out in my yard. This means that I am sure to start getting calls over the next few weeks. This article from North Carolina Pest News should help to answer many of your questions concerning this annual visitor to your gardens.

I have to believe that laying in wait are millions of green June beetles. The next decent rain event should set off an emergence and buzzing across the landscape and pastures. These beetles are metallic green and four times the size of Japanese beetles.

Despite the buzzing around turf and pasture, green June beetles do little harm to plants and no harm to people. They can be handled without fear. Though there are possible control measures available for turf (later in the season), I have rarely ever seen this justified in residential turf. Grubs are sometimes a problem in pastures and heavy manure-applied fields. Adults are sometimes a problem in fruit trees and vines. Adult populations should start to decline after two weeks and they should be gone after three to four weeks. Patience is the best recommendation.

For more information on green June beetles, see the following web sites:

Ornamental and Turf Insect Information Note No. 67

Forages and Pastures Insect Note No. 02

Shade Trees Oozing Slime .... Yuck

Over the past several growing seasons, there have been more inquiries about the foul-smelling and unsightly seepage of sap from the trunk of shade trees that is commonly called slime flux or wet wood. It occurs in apple, birch, elm, hemlock, maple, mulberry, oak, poplar and willow. In North Carolina slime flux is very common in large, mature, landscape oaks, tulip poplar and elms. This disease is not normally a serious problem if the tree is otherwise healthy.

Slime flux is caused when bacteria infects the wood causing it to become discolored or appear water soaked (wet wood). Gas (carbon dioxide) is produced by fermentation by bacteria. The gas produces pressure in the wood. This pressure forces sap from the trunk through cracks in branch crotch unions, pruning wounds, lawn mower wounds, other injuries and occasionally unwounded bark. This oozing of sap is termed fluxing. The flux is colorless to tan at first but darkens up exposure to the air. As fluxing continues, large areas of the bark become soaked. Many different microorganisms grow in the flux producing a foul or alcoholic smell. Various types of insects are attracted to the slime flux.

There is no curative or preventive measures for slime flux except to maintain trees in a general good state of vigor and minimize wounds and injuries. More damage can be done to the tree in attempting to cure slime flux than the flux will do alone.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Using Japanese Beetle Traps

Japanese beetles are out in full force in Western North Carolina, many homeowners continue to deal with damage to their lawns and a few ornamental plants in the landscape.

Here are a few tips to successfully controlling this pesky insect. Carbaryl (Sevin), malathion, imidacloprid (Merit) are good choices. Many of the newer lawn and garden multi-insect products are also effective. Pyrethroid containing chemicals are slightly more persistant. Spinosad and Neem based products give a little protection. Roses or shrubs may also be protected by covering with light netting. Handpicking adults from plants is an almost hourly battle. Homemade concoctions and blended beetle cocktail repellants are mildly effective, and may need reapplication every one or two days.

Japanese beetle traps may catch up to 75% of the beetles that approach them. Traps may lower beetle populations from 30% (1 trap per acre) up to 39% (10 traps per acre) if placed throughout a neighborhood. The trapped beetles must be emptied from the traps every one to two days to prevent them from rotting and releasing ammonia which is repellant to other Japanese beetles.

Traps are commercially available. Homemade traps are also effective in catching beetles if baited with phenylethyl proportionate plus eugenol lure available at garden centers and hardware stores. The traps are much more effective in attracting Japanese beetles than in trapping them. Consequently, traps should be placed as far away from the plants to be protected as possible. If traps are used, place far away from susceptible plants. Traps, alone, are not likely to give satisfactory protection to plants being eaten by adult Japanese beetles and pesticides may be required, anyway.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Wilting Squash Plants?

Could be the Squash Vine Borer!

Damage first appears as a sudden wilting of a long runner or an entire plant. Closer examination reveals masses of coarse, greenish-yellow excrement which the borer has pushed out from the stem. Splitting the stem cap may reveal a thick, white, wrinkled, brown-headed caterpillar up to 1 inch long and almost 1/4 inch thick.

If only a few vines are present, keep a close check on them. Should any wilting occur, check the base of plants for signs of excrement and borer damage. If there is evidence of borer activity, remove the borer by slitting the vine with a sharp knife and removing the larva. Then cover the injured area with moist soil. Some gardeners put a shovelful of soil at one or more locations along each vine. This is to encourage the plant to develop a supplementary root system and thus overcome squash vine borer attacks at the base.

Once borers have gained entrance into stems, little control is possible; hence, early detection is critical. Excrement should be watched for around the bases of plants, and when first noticed, insecticide sprays should begin. Success of any insecticidal treatment depends on early and repeated treatment. Apply the spray to the stems near the base of the plant and repeat weekly during egg laying periods (early June and early August). Since the insect passes the winter in the ground, squash should not follow squash. Land should be disked in the fall to expose the cocoons and then plowed deeply the following spring. Vines should always be destroyed following harvest to prevent late caterpillars from completing their development.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Slugs in the Landscape

Slugs account for a large number of calls to the Master Gardener plant clinic each year. So far this year, we have not received many calls but with the recent rains I anticipate slug calls to pick up. This recent article from North Carolina Pest News may be helpful when dealing with control of these slimy garden pests.

“Slug-ing It Out”

Slugs can be a problem in greenhouses and some gardens. Adult slugs are soft, slimy, slender animals more closely related to clams and octopi than insects. Slugs have stalked eyes and two small feelers. Some species grow to three or more inches long. They use rasping mouthparts to scrape away vegetable material. This may leave ragged shaped holes in leaves of tender plants. Slugs are active at night and during cloudy, warm weather. During bright warm days, slugs usually hide under boards, stones, debris or tunnel into the soil.

Slug populations can be reduced by keeping raw composting materials away from the garden, "trapping" and destroying slugs under rocks or boards, or destroying them at night. Be careful not to over mulch where the mulch never dries. There are a few chemicals listed for slug treatment, but read the label carefully to determine if they are suitable in your garden or around pets. A saucer of beer is often suggested as a trap, but most experts feel that beer is better used as intended.

For more information on slugs and snails, see Ornamental and Turf Insect Note No. 22 at http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/O&T/flowers/note22/note22.html.

Stephen B. Bambara, Extension Entomologist

Friday, June 8, 2007

Tick and Tick-borne Diseases

Every year we receive numerous calls regarding ticks. I received this information from Mike Waldvogel and Charles Apperson, Extension Entomologist from North Carolina State University. I hope this will answer many of your questions. If you have additional questions please give us a call.

It's summer... it's hot..... it's North Carolina. That means ticks are
abundant in many areas and there is an equally abundant concern
about tick-borne illnesses. In North Carolina, we had more than 466
confirmed cases of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and at least 14
confirmed cases of Lyme Disease (these statistics include Jan-Oct
of 2006).

What we also know is that there are no magic fixes to tick problems
but there are measures (both chemical and non-chemical) that people
can use to reduce tick infestations around their property and to
protect themselves and their family:

First - pets that spend all or part of their time outdoors need to be
protected for their own safety and also so that they don't serve as a
local reservoir for ticks. There are already enough *potential* sources
out there with deer, rodents, other wild mammals including feral cats
and dogs, plus ground-nesting birds. You can treat kennels/pens and
other other yard areas but please exercise extreme caution about
allowing the animals (or your kids) into treated areas before the surfaces
dry (or before any time interval specified on the pesticide label). As dry
as conditions have been lately throughout much of the state, coverage
becomes even more important. In these situations, outdoor treatments
are probably best done using a garden hose sprayer. Consult the
Ag. Chemicals Manual AND your veterinarian for information about
products suitable for area and specific pet treatments:

Second - habitat modification:
Ticks will be more abundant in areas frequented by wild animals.
These areas are typically overgrown and weedy or covered with leaf
litter and particularly during those hot summer months - they're often
well-shaded places where the animal rests. Try to keep the ground
cover in these areas trimmed back as much as possible. Keep
leaf litter and other debris out from under and around picnic tables.

Third - personal protection:
- Whenever possible, avoid likely tick-inhabited areas (i.e., those tall
weedy areas we mentioned previously)
- Apply repellents to your clothing, particularly shoes, socks and
pants. If you're wearing shorts you can also spray your ankles
and calves. Be careful about using (or overusing) repellents on small
children. We have information about repellents at:
- If you wear long pants while working or hiking outdoors (not many
people hike indoors), tuck the pants' legs into your socks.
If you're the type of person who worries about looking like a dork,
stop worrying you probably do look like one regardless of whether
you tuck in your pants legs. Besides, you may start a new fashion
- Inspection - when your kids come inside from playing outdoors
check them over carefully for ticks (it works for chimpanzees!)
Likewise, if you've spent time working in your garden or taking a hike,
spend some additional valuable time checking yourself thoroughly for
any hitchhiking ticks. You can also have someone else check you
over carefully in which case you might also want to open a bottle of
a nice 2004 Cabernet and play that Barry White CD.

Fourth - If you find a tick on yourself, your children or your pets:
- Remove the tick carefully by grasping it firmly with tweezers or with
a tissue (not with your bare fingers). Pull until it dislodges. This is
generally considered to be the best method ot tick removal as opposed
to using lit matches, oil (motor or mineral), detergent or some other
chemical to try to dislodge the tick.
- Wash the bite area with soap and water and then apply an antiseptic
such as alcohol.
- Record the date of the tick bite on a calendar. Then, watch for any
symptoms within the next 10-14 days and contact your doctor if
Tick-borne disease symptoms are described in our online publication:
Test your tick??
One of the questions frequently asked is whether there are labs that
can test ticks for the pathogens that cause Lyme Disease, Rocky
Mountain Spotted Fever, Erhlichiosis, etc.

The following webpage at the Rhode Island Dept. of Health lists *private*
labs that will perform fee-based tests for the *Lyme Disease* pathogen only.
There is at least one lab that will perform tests for several tick-borne
disease pathogens: http://www.igenex.com/ticktest.pdf
We're not saying these are the only labs performing these tests. These
are simply labs that we've found information about. Also, we are not
endorsing the services provided by any of these companies or others
that may provide tick testing services.

Anyone interested in this information must read the specific instructions
given by the labs about the testing procedures. Some of the labs may
perform tests only on particular tick species which goes back to the
basic point of why identifying the tick is important.
Now... all of that said, there are some important facts to consider
before you rush to spend $60-$100 for these tick tests.
Note the disclaimer posted at the bottom of RI website. It's important
to bear in mind that the results of these tests are NOT a diagnosis of
tick-borne illness in the person who *may* have been bitten by the
suspect tick. In other words, just because the tick tests positive for a
pathogen or even multiple organisms, it does not mean that they
transmitted the organisms while feeding (assuming that the tick had
indeed fed before it was discovered). Typically, pathogen transmission
requires 6-36 hours of feeding by the tick (depending on tick species
and the particular pathogen). The results of such tests may alert the
person's doctor to specific tick-borne diseases, the symptoms to
watch for and the potential health risks to that patient. In some cases,
this may be helpful by reducing unnecessary prescription of preventive
antibiotic treatments. BUT, we need to emphasize that common sense
and the tick-prevention steps outlined above are far more important of
as priorities than relying on some analytical test to determine if a tick
might be carrying disease organisms.
You can find additional information about ticks and tick-borne diseases
at the following sites (which also have additional links):


Monday, June 4, 2007

June Garden Reminders


  • Mow tall fescue lawns to 2 ½ to 3 inch height. Research has shown that mowing to the proper height will help control weeds.
  • Do not fertilize tall fescue and bluegrass lawns again until September. Excess nitrogen can lead to brown patch disease in lawns.
  • Allow grass clippings to fall on the ground, they add nutrients to the soil.


  • Prune trees and shrubs that were damaged from the freeze now. Remove dead tissue and prune into healthy tissue. (waiting a little longer is fine with Japanese Maples or you can remove wood you are sure is dead)
  • Prune spring flowering shrubs after all blooms have faded.


  • Remember to sidedress your tomatoes with 10-10-10 after 4 to 6 weeks in the ground.
  • Remember to water tender vegetable plants through these dry months with a minimum of 1 inch of water per week.
  • Think about using potted annuals or perennials for an added touch of color and variety in the landscape.
  • Be sure to deadhead annuals to promote more flowers through the summer.
  • Use mosquito dunks in birdbaths or anywhere you have still water in the landscape.

Slime Mold - "Dog Vomit"

Each year we know that with the summer comes a vast array of slime molds (also known as dog-vomit fungi) appearing in mulch. They appear in several sizes and colors with no definite shape.
I have watched those in my mulched landscape beds change on a daily basis from a bright yellow netting, to a tan powder, to a dark brown dried blob.
Slime molds get their nutrients from dead organic matter, such as mulch. Although slime molds may occasionally grow on plants such as turf, they do not harm plants.
Slime molds will eventually disappear on their own. If you want to speed this process, rake the mulch to promote air drying.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Become a Water Wise Gardener

This spring has started out extremly dry across WNC. Our lawns are beginning to look and sound crispy as we walk across them. You may be wondering if you should be watering your garden, and if so, how much should you apply? My advice is to follow these tips below. Remember that if you do begin to water, you should continue to water until the dry period is over.

Water-wise tips for gardeners and homeowners:
  • Utilize highly-efficient watering systems such as soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems. These allow water to go directly to the plant roots and not be lost through evaporation. These methods also encourage plants to develop strong root systems by thoroughly soaking into the soil.
  • Water efficiently. Monitor soil conditions to determine how often you should water. A standard recommendation is to apply one inch of water every 7-10 days.
  • If you have a sprinkler system, check it thoroughly for leaks that can result in water loss. Sprinkler systems can be outfitted with rain sensor devices to prevent them from coming on when they are not needed. Some sprinkler systems can be retrofitted to include drip irrigation for plant beds.
  • Set sprinkler systems to appropriate setting of no more than one inch of water a week for most landscapes and gardens.
  • Water plants in the evening or early morning when less evaporation occurs. However, morning watering will prevent most plant diseases.
  • Mow grass to the most appropriate height for the weather conditions. Leaving grass slightly higher in drier weather allows the soil to retain more moisture. It is also important to keep mower blades sharp especially during drier periods.
  • Utilize mulch and compost in plant beds to help retain moisture. Mulch can also help reduce weeds, which will compete with plants for moisture.
  • Collect rain in rain barrels to use for watering as a supplement during dry periods.
For more information on garden irrigation, see this publication.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Pesticide Disposal Collection Day Scheduled

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services along with North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service are sponsoring a Pesticide Disposal Collection Day on Wednesday, June 6. This event will be held at the Haywood County Extension Center located at 589 Raccoon Road in Waynesville. Technicians will be on hand from 10am-2pm to assist you with pesticide disposal. We can collect any pesticides (insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, etc.) that are in original containers and are clearly labeled. There is no charge to the public for this service; however, we cannot accept products with unknown identities, products that are unlabeled, or products not in pesticide containers. Materials of unknown identity, paints, or other hazardous waste will not be accepted. For more information or questions about this event, please call 828-456-3575.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Haywood County Bee Meeting Scheduled

Here is an opportunity to learn more about bees and beekeeping in Haywood County. Bill Skelton, Haywood County Extension Director, has planned this meeting and opened it to the public. Please read the following announcement for details.

The Haywood County Extension Center of the NC Cooperative Extension Service is hosting a beekeepers meeting on Tuesday, May 22, at 7:00PM at the Extension Center at 589 Raccoon Road. Our speaker for this meeting is Chris Mathis. Following is a brief description of the program he will provide for us.

Mid-May is a critical time for beekeeping in the mountains. Hive manipulations for strength, swarm control strategies and preventing starvation compete for the attention of every beekeeper. Combine these challenges with the mystery of disappearing colonies and a questionable tulip poplar bloom and the unease really sets in. Local beekeeper and beekeeping educator Chris Mathis will talk about these and other “Spring Challenges” at the Haywood Extension Center on Tuesday, May 22 at 7:00 pm. Chris will use his many “inside-the-hive” photos to demonstrate various beekeeping principles and to demonstrate some proven spring hive management strategies. He’ll also discuss some of the latest findings about the mysterious disappearance of our honey bees across the country. All are invited.

Chris is the president of The Spicewood Farm, a beekeeping and specialty gift business headquartered in Asheville, with bee yards in Yancey, Jackson, Buncombe and Rutherford counties. He is a frequent speaker and instructor on a variety of beekeeping topics and issues.

This promises to be an exciting group to be part of and I invite you to come and to bring a friend interested in Bees as well.

See you the 22nd!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Haywood County Garden Tour set for June 9th

The 4th Annual Haywood County Garden Tour is now less than a month away. This tour is sponsored by North Carolina Cooperative Extension and the Haywood County Extension Master Gardeners.
The six gardens in this year's tour run the gamut from whimsical to dramatic. Included are the gardens of a professional landscaper and a local architect. Water features, sculptures and garden rooms will provide new ideas for both the beginner and the seasoned gardener.

Bring your cameras and notebooks and spend the day with Extension Master Gardener volunteers and the garden owners. These gardens will add to your knowledge of gardening in Western North Carolina and inspire you to take on your own garden plans.

The date for this year's tour is set for June 9, from 9am-4pm, rain or shine. Tickets are $10 per person with children 12 and under free.

For more information or to purchase a ticket, please contact the Haywood County Extension Center at 828-456-3575.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

May Garden Reminders

  • Mow tall fescue lawns to 2 ½ to 3 inch height.Research has shown that mowing to the proper height will help control weeds.
  • Do not fertilize tall fescue and bluegrass lawns again until September.Excess nitrogen can lead to brown patch disease in lawns.
  • Remove foliage from spring blooming bulbs that were injured in the hard freeze we had on Easter weekend.
  • Prune trees and shrubs that were damaged from the freeze now. Remove dead tissue and prune into healthy tissue.
  • Most plants will recover from freeze damage; however leaves may now be as full and healthy as they might have been before the freeze.


  • Do not plant tomato and pepper seedlings until May 15th.
  • Be sure to harden off seedlings for at least a week if they were started inside.
  • Keep the weeds pulled, before they have a chance to flower and go to seed again. Otherwise, you will be fighting newly germinated weed seed for the next several years.
  • Think about using potted annuals or perennials for an added touch of color and variety in the landscape.
  • Be sure to deadhead annuals to promote more flowers through the summer.

Euonymus Scale

Earlier this week I had someone bring in a sample of Euonymus Scale. I am sure that there are others who have the same problem. I hope this article from North Carolina Insect Notes will help provide you with the information you need to control this pest.

Euonymus scale is a common and sometimes very damaging armored scale pest of euonymus and a few other ornamental plants. It is found throughout North Carolina wherever euonymus, pachysandra and celastrus grow. Yellow spots first appear on the leaves. Leaves and stems may become encrusted with the scales to such an extent that whole branches or the entire plant may die.

This scale usually has two or three generations per year. The females lay eggs under their protective shell, and the tiny crawlers hatch and emerge from the mother's armor in April, May and June, which means they are active any time now. They crawl along the leaves and stems before inserting their microscopic, threadlike mouthparts and settling down to grow and secrete the armor. Another brood hatches in late summer, and a partial third brood may appear even later so that all stages of development are present during most of the year. Although this scale is small, infestations are often plainly visible particularly with dense populations in which males usually greatly outnumber female scales. We usually recommend the use of oil for euonymus scale suppression as these pesticides should also control spider mites and other pests of euonymus as well. Commercial operations have additional choices such as Safari. In severe and recurring cases, consider removing the plant from the landscape. Choose another plant or one less susceptible. Ornamental and Turf Insect Information Note No. 15 on the euonymus scale gives some information about its control and links to plant alternatives. It is available on the web at: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/O&T/shrubs/note15/note15.html.