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Showing posts from January, 2010

Planning the 2010 Garden with Minnesota Gardening Information

Karen Jeannette, Horticulture Research Fellow & Yard and Garden Editor


For many gardeners, the gardening season starts as soon as garden catalogs arrive and seed packets are back on the shelves of garden centers and nurseries. At this time of year, it's tempting to choose the flower varieties that most quickly jump off the page of gardening catalogs with the newest improved colors, or to select vegetables packets with photographs of the most succulent varieties you've ever seen. While sometimes those varieties are in fact winners, Minnesota growing conditions can challenge the best of the best nationally rated varieties, not to mention those that are just the best photographed.
Finding a stunning specimen or exceptional deal on a plant is always a thrill.  However, when trying to get the best value from your plants in 2010, don't forget that finding the right plant for its growing conditions can create much value through benefits such as improved growth, insect and dis…

The Fingerprint of a Virus

Michelle Grabowski, University of Minnesota Extension Educator
Cyclamen are popular plants to brighten the home during the winter months. Flowers come in multiple shades of pink, red, lavender and white. When the blooms are spent cyclamen have interesting white patterns on their leaves, varying from an almost complete white horseshoe to regularly spaced white blotches depending on the cultivar. These leaf patterns are normal for cyclamen and make them an interesting foliage plant.

Patterns that indicate a problem Gardeners should beware, however, of leaf patterns that occur on some leaves but not others. The natural white color patterns on cyclamen leaves should be fairly consistent on all of the plant's leaves. If you are noticing unusual color patterns on some leaves but not others, this may be a symptom of a common viral infection.

Cyclamen are one of many hosts to the plant virus Impatiens Necrotic Spot Virus (INSV). This virus was first discovered on impatiens plants showing …

That Is One Big Caterpillar

Jeffrey Hahn, Asst. Extension Entomologist


In early December, a Minneapolis garden center found a large caterpillar. Initially, they said it was found amongst some cut flowers the store received from California. They submitted the caterpillar to the Entomology Department. This caterpillar, measuring three inches long, was light green on the lower half of its body and a reddish orange striped pattern on top. After a quick check of the references, it was determined to be a ficus sphinx, (sometime called fig sphinx), Pachylia ficus.
Like the name suggests, the preferred food of this caterpillar is different species of Ficus plants. It has also been reported feeding on mangos. But don't expect to find this insect on the Ficus in your home or office. A ficus sphinx is a tropical and subtropical insect that is found in northern South America, including Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Central America, the West Indies, and occasionally ranging into Florida, southern Arizona and Texas. O…

University of Minnesota 2009 Annual Flower Trials

Karen Jeannette, Horticulture Research Fellow & Yard and Garden News Editor

Each year researchers and scientists from the University of Minnesota, Department of Horticultural Science grow, display, and trial hundreds of annual flowers at several Minnesota locations, then report how well these annual varieties perform for that season. 

For Minnesota gardeners and industry professionals, the yearly University of Minnesota Annual Flower Trial sheds some light on how certain annual flower varieties will perform under different Minnesota conditions, and which ones are top selections for Minnesota overall.  St. Paul, Morris, and Grand Rapids, Minnesota were home to the 2009 display and trial gardens, as in past years.  These locations differ in their hardiness zones, heat zones, and growing days (see the section Top 10 Performing Annuals for 2009 by Site for details).  2009 Annual Flower Trial winners had to perform well despite cooler than average conditions through much of the summer …

January 2010 Garden Calendar

Contributors: Karen Jeannette, Research Fellow and Yard and Garden News Editor, Michelle Grabowski, Extension Educator, and excerpts from the 2010 Minnesota Gardening Calendar.
January Tips HouseplantsPay special attention to your houseplants to keep them looking healthy
this winter. Sun is weaker and days are shorter, so move plants to
brighter windows if possible. Combat low indoor humidity by grouping
plants together, checking their soil frequently and watering thoroughly
with room temperature water whenever the soil feels dry a little below
the surface. Wipe stems and leaf surfaces (upper and lower) with a
soft wet rag to remove dust and allow maximum light penetration.  Find more information in the Gardening Information houseplants section. -- This is a 2010 Minnesota Gardening Calendar Tip. The low humidity of most MN houses means that many fungal
and bacterial leaf spots and blights do not thrive on houseplants during the
winter months. Root rots however can be a problem for overwatere…