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Monday, December 3, 2012

December 1st 2012 Issue

In this months issue:

DON'T FORGET TO GET A COPY OF THE 2013 MINNESOTA GARDENING CALENDAR

Christmas rose (Helleborus niger)

Position your houseplants to avoid winter starvation

Still time for sanitation

Bed bugs and Bombs

2013 Gardening Calendar


DON'T FORGET TO GET A

COPY OF THE 2013

MINNESOTA GARDENING

CALENDAR!





Karl Foord


PEOPLE ARE ALL ABUZZ







Karl Foord


AND A-FLUTTER ABOUT THIS YEAR'S CALENDAR.







Karl Foord


DON'T BE DOWN,







Karl Foord


ITS LIKE A TRIP TO PARADISE.







Karl Foord


BUT TIME IS FLYING







Karl Foord


FLYING







Karl Foord


FLYING








Karl Foord


AND IT WOULD "BE DISAPPOINTING" IF YOU MISSED IT.








Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger)


Robin Trott, University of Minnesota Extension Educator


I know the growing season is officially over when we make our annual trek to the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers conference. This time we travelled to Tacoma, WA, and had the great pleasure of visiting growers in the Skagit Valley, north of Seattle. This year's particular delight was visiting Skagit Gardens and beholding their greenhouses filled with hellebores.





Skagit Gardens


Photo 1: Skagit Gardens Greenhouse of hellebores









Skagit Gardens


Photo 2: Skagit Garden's Greenhouse of hellebores






This alpine plant grows native at high elevations and produces large white flowers that turn a blushy pink as they age. Until recently, these perennial plants (hardiness zone 4-9 depending on species) were the sole domain of rare plant collectors, with prices way beyond the pocket book of average consumers. With the breeding programs developed at Skagit and other wholesale nurseries, a variety of cultivars are available at garden centers nationwide.

Hellebores are anatomically separated into 2 groups, "caulescent" and "acaulescent". Caulescent hellebores are those with above-ground stems (Figure 1). Acaulescent plants are those where the flowers are born on their own stalk with no leaves, and the leaves have their own stalk (Figure 2). Caulescent varieties are popular for use by florists in dramatic arrangements.





M. Talt (GardenGuides.com)


Figure 1: Caulescent Species of Helleborus







M. Talt (GardenGuides.com)


Figure 2: Acaulescent Species of Helleborus





The Christmas rose is the best known and certainly the showiest of the species hellebores (Photo 3).




Skagit Gardens


Photo 3: Christmas rose (Helleborus niger)




Easier to grow than the ever popular "Poinsettia", plant breeders like Skagit are hoping to promote this flower as the new and improved holiday potted plant which can later be transplanted in perennial beds to bring joy year after year.

If you select a hellebore as a holiday accent this year, keep these horticultural tips in mind:

For indoors care, keep your plant in a bright cool location, away from any heat source. (Hellebores will bloom through snow, they like it cold!) Keep the soil moist; don't let the plant dry out! Don't worry if your hellebore gradually yellows, this is natural. If you are concerned, move it to a cooler location. Plant your hellebore outside in partial to full shade as soon as the ground has thawed. Protect your transplant from weather extremes until it has become established.

Once transplanted, mulch your hellebore to keep the soil cool and moist throughout the summer months. Make sure you have selected a site that is protected from desiccating winds. The new breeding of these beauties has made them disease and insect resistant. Once established, they require minimum additional care. Deer don't touch hellebores, which is an added bonus to this delightful flowering plant.

Although each variety holds it blooms for a lengthy period, during which time the flowers turn from pure white to pinkish green, you can increase your bloom time by selecting several different cultivars.

Jacob: the traditional "Christmas Rose" will bloom as soon as the frost begins to leave the ground in the spring. It is a compact plant (9-12"x 13" spread) with pure white slightly fragrant blossoms atop burgundy stems.



Skagit Gardens


Photo 4: 'Jacob' Lenten Rose (Helleborus niger 'HGC Jacob')




Josef Lemper: another Helleborus niger is a taller (15-18"x 21"spread) early bloomer.



Skagit Gardens


Photo 5: Josef Lemper Lenten Rose (Helleborus niger 'HGC Josef Lemper')






'Winter's Bliss': Is a later blooming variety whose large white blossoms fade to deep pink with age. It grows 15-18" with a 24" spread.





Skagit Gardens


Photo 6: 'Winter's Bliss' Lenten Rose (Helleborus x ericsmithii 'HGC Champion')






Joshua is a 12-15" early blooming variety with a 17" spread. Its slightly fragrant white blooms age to light green. Its foliage is glossy dark green and works well as filler in your springtime arrangements.



Skagit Gardens


Photo 7: Joshua Lenten Rose (Helleborus niger 'HGC Joshua'






Silvermoon: (15-18"x21") has creamy blossoms tinged in pink atop rose colored stems.




Skagit Gardens


Photo 8: 'Silvermoon' Lenten Rose (Helleborus x ericsmithii 'HGC Silvermoon'





This is just a small sampling of varieties that are hardy to USDA Zone 4, and thrive in Minnesota Gardens. Check with your local garden center this spring for varietal availability.




Position your houseplants to avoid winter starvation

Karl Foord - Extension Educator, Horticulture

Light Basics

Note: Measurement of light is a complicated subject. This article can be approached from at least two levels: one level would be to gain an intuitive sense of the graphs, whereas a second level would be a more in-depth approach where individual parameters are explored. For those interested in the latter, references are given at the end of the article.

In Minnesota the number of hours of light essentially doubles between the winter and summer solstices, 8 and 16 hours, respectively. (Figure 1).





M. Pidwirny (PhysicalGeography.net)


Figure 1: Hourly variations in insolation received for a location at 45° North latitude over a 24 hour period.







The low angle of the sun reduces the number of light photons or energy per unit area meaning that the energy received at mid-day on December 21 is less than one third of that received at mid-day on June 21 (Figure 2: Sun declination angle relative to energy received at 41.7 o N latitude).





Apogee Instruments


Figure 2: Season Comparison of Solar Zenith Angles in Logan, Utah 41.7 degrees N Latitude





In fact the total light energy received in December on average is closer to one quarter of that received in June and July (Figure 3: outdoor daily light integral US).




J. Faust


Figure 3: Outdoor Daily Light Integral U.S.




To survive the winter we bring our plants inside and further reduce light reception through the shading effects of the building. Because plants use light to produce needed metabolic compounds such as sugars and starches, this drastic reduction in sunlight means we have the opportunity to starve our plants.

Plant Selection

To have a good experience with houseplants, we need to choose those plants that can tolerate these "lean" conditions. I have two categories of houseplants, plants that stay inside year-round, and plants that winter inside and summer outside. In the first group I have had success with: African violets (Saintpaulia ionantha), Phalaenopsis orchids, cacti, Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum), Schefflera (Schefflera actinophylla), and Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria heterophylla). In the second group I have had success with Meyer lemon (Citrus × meyeri), tropical hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa- sinensis), banana (Musa 'Dwarf Cavendish'), pygmy date palm (Phoenix roebelenii), and cycad (Cycas revoluta). All of these plants have the ability to tolerate lower light conditions.

Match your home micro climates to the plants' needs

The best way to handle this is to understand the light needs of your plants and the amount of light entering your house through various windows. The amount of light energy is greatest from the south > west > east > north. In the winter the sun rises south of due east and sets south of due west. Windows facing directly east and west receive sun coming at an oblique angle to the window, reducing energy received.



Karl Foord


Photo 1: Houseplants in south and west corner window BEFORE





I have placed my African violets (Saintpaulia ionantha), Phalaenopsis orchids, cacti, and Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) in a corner with south and west facing windows. These plants stay here year around and avoid direct summer sun due to plant and building shading effects (photo 1).




Karl Foord


Photo 2: Houseplants in south and west corner window AFTER





To improve the location I washed the windows and re-potted the orchids to improve spacing (photo 2).



Karl Foord


Photo 3: Houseplants in west window BEFORE





The other plants [Meyer lemon (Citrus × meyeri), tropical hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa- sinensis), banana (Musa 'Dwarf Cavendish'), and pygmy date palm (Phoenix roebelenii) have been placed in western facing windows.


Photo 3 shows the decrease in light level from the center of the room to the window, a 36 fold decrease.





Karl Foord


Photo 4: Houseplants in west window AFTER





Photo 4 shows the plants positioned to optimize their light reception.


Conclusion

Recognize the @ 75% decrease in light energy received from summer to winter solstice. Choose plants that tolerate lower light levels and select locations in your house affording plants adequate light. Recognize the dramatic reduction in light energy as you move away from the window.







References

http://www.apogeeinstruments.com/knowledge-base/#quantum

Korczynski, P., J. Logan, and J. Faust. (2002). Mapping monthly distribution of daily light integrals across the contiguous United States. HortTechnology 12 (1) pp. 12-16.

Lopez, R. and A. Torres. (2010). Measuring daily light integral in a greenhouse. Commercial Greenhouse Production. Purdue Department of Horticulture. Bull HO-238-W http://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/HO/HO-238-W.pdf (accessed 12/2/2012)

Pidwirny, M., and S. Jones (2010). Daily and annual cycles of temperature in Chapter 7: Introduction to the atmosphere in PhysicalGeography.net, Fundamentals eBook. http://www.physicalgeography.net/fundamentals/7l.html

Sunmaster (2012). PAR Watts, Lumens, Photons, Lux and Watts. http://www.sunmastergrowlamps.com/PAR_Watts.htm

Still Time for Sanitation

Michelle Grabowski and Jeff Hahn, UMN Extension



M. Grabowski, UMN Extension

Photo 1: Dead daylily leaves with visible dark spots from daylily leaf streak


The ground is cold, trees have dropped their leaves, and perennial and annual flowering plants have died back to the ground. Yet there is still time for a garden clean up that will reduce the number of pathogens and insect pests that survive from this season to the next. Sanitation, the removal of a infected plant material, is one of the basic steps of integrated pest management. It is a chemical free way to reduce pest damage in future growing seasons.

For sanitation to work you must remove the part of the plant that is infected with a pathogen or insect pest completely from the area and destroy it. Disease infected plant material can be burned, buried or composted. Check with local laws about burning plant material. Composting will kill pathogens and insects only if the pile gets hot. If your backyard compost pile is a slow pile of cold rot, consider taking infected material to a municipal compost site. These sites have so much plant residue to work with they manage the pile to heat up so the material breaks down quickly. It is important to realize that it might take a few years of good sanitation to truly get ahead of a fungal or bacterial plant disease. Fungi are known to survive 2-4 years in buried plant debris, bacteria typically can survive 1-2 years.

Here is a list of a few plant problems that would benefit from fall sanitation efforts.



M. Grabowski, UMN Extension

Photo 2: Fallen leaves at the base of this rose shrub should be cleaned up and removed from the garden to prevent overwintering of black spot



Trees and Shrubs
Apple Scab on crabapple or apple trees
Black Spot on rose
Any leaf spot disease like tar spot on maple, anthracnose or linden leaf blotch
Rake up and remove those leaves or they will produce fungal spores to start next years epidemic!

In the Flower Garden
Fungal and bacterial leaf spot diseases on perennials like Botrytis leaf spot on Peony, Daylily leaf streak, Iris leaf spot. Sorry, but sanitation will not help reduce powdery mildew.
Remove plants at ground level. Clean up all stems and fallen leaves. The pathogens survive in any infected plant material.

Four Lined Plant Bug
Iris Borer
These insects lay eggs on plant material late in the growing season. In spring the new insects cause damage on these plants.

In the Vegetable Garden
Septoria Leaf Spot on tomato
Early Blight on Tomato
Bacterial leaf spot on pepper
Remove plants at ground level. Clean up all stems, fallen leaves, and rotten fruit. Infected plant material can be removed from the garden or tilled under.

Squash Bug
Asparagus Beetles
These insects spend the winter as adults under plant debris. By removing plant debris in general the number of overwintering sites for these insects is reduced.


Bug Bombs and Bed Bugs

Jeffrey Hahn, Asst. Extension Entomologist

The resurgence of bed bugs in the U.S. over the last 10 or so years has increased many people's awareness of these biting insects. They have presented residents and pest management professionals a tremendous challenge to detect and eliminate them. A popular tactic used by residents in bed bug control is the application of total release foggers, also known as bug bombs. Many people have turned to these products to help them control their bed bug problems. But are they effective? This question was examined in a research study conducted by Drs. Susan Jones and Joshua Bryant at Ohio State University.



Jeff Hahn

Photo 1: Bug bombs are not effective in controlling bed bugs. One reason is the insecticide does not reach where the bed bugs hide.


They compared three popular bug bombs that are available to residents. The Hot Shot Bedbug and Flea Fogger is specifically labeled for control of bed bugs and was more extensively tested. They also examined the Spectracide Bug Stop Indoor Fogger and Eliminator Indoor Fogger. Although these products are not listed specifically for bed bugs, they are labeled for flying and crawling insects and could be used by Minnesotans in an attempt to eliminate bed bugs.

Jones and Bryant tested these products against five different populations of bed bugs collected from home infestations in Ohio. They also tested these bug bombs against a strain of bed bugs that has been reared exclusively in a laboratory for 39 years. These bed bugs have never been exposed to pesticides and are susceptible to bed bug products. All of these bed bugs were exposed to the Hot Shot Fogger in three scenarios, direct exposure, optional harborage (they could hide under filter paper), and forced harborage (they were covered by a thin fabric covering). The other two foggers were used only in direct exposure and optional harborage experiments (they were unable to complete the Eliminator Fogger and optional harborage trial) against two of the field collected bed bugs as well as the continuously lab reared bed bugs.

All three bug bombs had generally little effect on the 'wild' collected bed bugs in the direct exposure experiment (with one moderate exception). However, most or all of the lab reared bed bugs were killed. Similar results were seen in the optional harborage experiment except that it took longer to kill most or all of the lab reared bed bugs. In the forced harborage trial, all bed bugs, including the susceptible lab reared bed bugs, were minimally affected by the Hot Shot Fogger.

So what does all of this mean? The short answer is that bug bombs are not effective in controlling bed bugs. There are several reasons why this is true. First, the bed bugs that we battle in our homes are generally not affected by the insecticides contained in bug bombs, even if they are directly exposed to them. There has been growing evidence of varying degrees of bed bug resistance (i.e. they are much less vulnerable) to pyrethroid insecticides which is the primary active ingredient of bug bombs. Only bed bugs that have never been exposed to insecticides could be easily killed and then only if they were directly exposed or were exposed before they sought a place to hide. This research project also concluded that bug bombs were ineffective because of short exposure times, the low concentration of insecticides, and the lack of residual activity.

Bug bombs are also not effective because the insecticide does not penetrate to the harborages where bed bugs hide. This is critically important as these biting insects spend most of their time hiding in cracks, tight spaces, behind and under objects, and similar places (up to 80% of them hide in harborages during the day). They are infrequently out in the open for any length of time and even then just a few at a time. For bug bombs to be effective, they need their target insect to be out in the open long enough for the insecticide to reach them. This research also found that even the susceptible populations of bed bugs were largely unaffected when they were in protected sites.

While bug bombs are not the answer, there are a lot of positive steps you can take to help control a bed bug infestation. See the University of Minnesota's Let's Beat the Bed Bug web page. From there you can access a variety of fact sheets and other sources of information as well how to contact the Bed Bug hotline.

The results of this research were published in the Journal of Economic Entomology, 105(3): 957-963 (2012).  A summary of this research was also published in Pest Control Technology in the October 2012 issue.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November 1st Issue

In this months issue:

Lawn care: Last Chores of the season and on the horizon

An Unusual Insect Found in Minnesota: Drywood Termites

Spirea Stunt Phytoplasma Found in Minnesota

Flowering Plant Video Library: Dividing Clumping Grasses


Dividing 'Elijah Blue" Fescue

Dividing 'Avalanche' Feather Reed Grass

Lawn care: Last chores of the season and on the horizon

Sam Bauer, Extension Turfgrass Educator

There's no question that the fall drought has taken a major toll on many of the turfed landscapes in Minnesota. If you failed to maintain turf health through supplemental watering from August to October, you most likely have yet to make a damage assessment of your lawn. During the summer months we talk a lot about letting our lawns go dormant during a drought and waiting for rain to replenish soil moisture. This is nothing new. However, the duration of the fall drought has pushed our lawns to the limit, probably passed the limit in many cases. There are two main concerns: 1) how long can turf stay alive in a dormant state?, 2) will drought stressed turf properly harden off and survive the winter?


Sam Bauer

Photo 1: Drought stressed/dormant lawn


How long can turf stay alive in a dormant state?

There are no clear answers to this question and it really depends on many factors, including: turf species, traffic, management practices, and site conditions. We commonly hear that Kentucky bluegrass can survive for up to 2 months under drought dormancy, but there is no definite time frame due to all of the variables. From my experience, as long as the crown of the turf did not completely dry out, it should still be alive. I've been encouraging home owners to utilize the last part of the growing season (October) by watering to bring the lawn out of drought dormancy before winter. If you've done this, you should have a good idea just how bad the damage is.

Will a drought stressed lawn survive the winter?

Probably not, and chances are that it may be dead already if you didn't provide at least some supplemental watering to keep the crown from drying out. Turf species will play a very important role here. Perennial ryegrass will be the least tolerant of drought conditions and cold temperatures. You can check to see if your lawn is alive by taking a small sample indoors. Water it and place it on a window sill. You should see some growth in two weeks time.

Last chores of the season

By now you should have completed your last watering, mowing, and fertilization of the season. If you did not keep up with watering this fall and fear the worst, dormant seeding in mid-November will be a great option. For that I would like to direct you to a couple of links. The first link is a great discussion previously published in the Yard and Garden News by Bob Mugaas, retired Extension Turfgrass Educator. Bob discusses the most important factors for dormant seeding, including: choosing the right seed, seed to soil contact, and post seeding management. The second link is from the Virtual Field Day that we held this fall. In it, Dr. Eric Watkins professor of Turfgrass Breeding and Genetics discusses your turfgrass species options for Minnesota lawns. I encourage you to consider all of the species characteristics when choosing the turf seed for your lawn.

Dormant seeding

Turf species selection:

On the horizon: In search of a more sustainable grass

These are exciting times for sustainable lawn care in Minnesota. A $2.1 million dollar USDA grant was recently awarded to the University of Minnesota's Turfgrass Program for the improvement of fine fescues. Dr. Eric Watkins, a professor at the University of Minnesota, is the principle investigator on this project, which is a collaboration with Rutgers University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Intentions for this research include changing consumer habits, as well as improving the genetics of these low maintenance species. Please follow the links below for more information:

KARE 11:

An Unusual Insect Found in Minnesota: Drywood Termites

Jeffrey Hahn, Asst. Extension Entomologist

Termites are present in Minnesota but they are not common. They are found in southern Minnesota up to about the Twin Cities area and very rarely discovered, if ever, in central and northern Minnesota. Minnesota's native termites are subterranean termites, Reticulitermes spp. They maintain colonies in the ground and attack wood that is contact with the soil. You rarely see the termites themselves because the bulk of them stay inside the colony while those that travel outside of it move about in mud tubes they construct so they can maintain the proper temperature and humidity they need to survive.

That is why the discovery of winged termites in a home in Minneapolis during September was so interesting and unusual. First, when termites swarm, i.e. winged forms leave the nest en masse, they do so in the spring (and this is very rarely seen in Minnesota). Even more interesting was when the termites were examined more closely, they were identified not as the local subterranean termites but as drywood termites. This group of termites is not native to Minnesota but is most commonly found along the costal areas of the southern U.S. from North Carolina to California.



Jeff Hahn

Photo 1: Drywood termite queen

At first, just a single winged termite was found at a window at this home. Shortly after that, about 100 were found behind a couch. In the next couple of weeks, dozens more were found either behind or under the couch. The resident had owned this piece of furniture for 14 years. She had purchased it in Minnesota and never lived outside of the upper Midwest with it. The resident had never received any items mailed from areas where drywood termites are native nor had she ever noticed termites or sawdust in her home before, especially around the couch.

This brought up several excellent questions: where did the termites come from; how long have they been in the couch; and have they spread into other areas of the house? Information about drywood termite biology helped to answer these questions.

Although the couch had never traveled to any drywood termite endemic areas after the homeowner bought it, it undoubtedly was built and/or stored in a warehouse somewhere in the south where these termites are native. It was there that the couch became infested. You wouldn't normally think that insects could infest a piece of furniture for 14 years without their presence being noticed but drywood termite colonies grow very slowly and it isn't unusual for them to take that long before they are mature enough to produce new queens. So it is extremely likely that the termites were in the couch when it was bought and had been in the furniture during that entire time the resident owned it. Because the termites were confined to the couch, they did not spread to other areas in the house.

Fortunately for the homeowner, the only necessary control was to remove the couch from her home. It was taken away by a local pest management company, heat treated to kill the termites, and then properly disposed of. All's well that ends well.

Spirea Stunt Phytoplasma Found in Minnesota

Michelle Grabowski, UMN Extension Educator


M. Grabowski, UMN Extension


Photo 1: Spirea with a few witches brooms from spirea stunt phytoplasma



University of Minnesota researchers Dr. Ben Lockhart and Dimitre Mollov have identified a new disease of spirea in Minnesota. Spireas are common landscape shrubs grown for their delicate foliage and summer flowers. The new disease, known as spirea stunt, causes plants to produce abnormally small leaves, that may be discolored yellow to reddish purple. Small discolored leaves grow only on clumps of weak branches known as witches' brooms. As a result, infected plants have one to many pom-pom like clumps of leaves and branches. The whole plant may be stunted and many infected plants do not survive the winter.

Spirea stunt disease is caused by a phytoplasma, a tiny bacteria that lives within the vascular system of infected plants. Dr. Lockhart determined that the phytoplasma infecting spirea in Minnesota belongs to the X-disease group and is related to similar pathogens that cause witches' brooms and stunting in blueberry, prunus and other shrubs. Little is known about the spirea stunt phytoplasma at this point. It is likely that this pathogen is transferred from plant to plant by leafhoppers or through plant propagation.

Once a plant is infected with spirea stunt phytoplasma, the pathogen spreads throughout the entire plant. There is no way to cure infected plants. Gardeners should remove shrubs infected with the spirea stunt phytoplasma as soon as possible.

Flowering Plant Video Library - Dividing Clumping Grasses

Karl Foord - Extension Educator, Horticulture

Click on the link to see the video with host Dr. Mary Meyer, Professor of Horticulture

Flowering Plant Video Library Dividing Dwarf Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca 'Elijah Blue'




Karl Foord

Photo 1: Dividing Elijah Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca 'Elijah Blue')



Karl Foord

Photo 2: Dividing Elijah Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca 'Elijah Blue')



Karl Foord

Photo 3: Dividing Elijah Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca 'Elijah Blue')



Karl Foord

Photo 4: Dividing Variegated Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis acutiflora 'Avalanche')



Karl Foord

Photo 5: Dividing Variegated Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis acutiflora 'Avalanche')



Karl Foord

Photo 6: Dividing Variegated Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis acutiflora 'Avalanche')

Flowering Plant Video Library Dividing Variegated Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis acutiflora 'Avalanche')


Monday, October 1, 2012

October 1, 2012 Issue

In this months issue:

Yard and Garden News Readers Survey 2012


Rethinking Late-Fall Nitrogen Fertility for Home Lawns


Boxelder Bugs Are on the Move

Plant Now for Dazzle next Spring


Plant Some Early Spring Flowering Bulbs


Striped Squill (Puschkinia scilloides var. libanotica)

Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)

Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica)

Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa luciliae)

Checkered Lily (Fritillaria meleagris)

Species Tulips (Tulipa tarda)

Garden Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis)

Grape Hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum)



Plant Some Mid and Late Spring Flowering Bulbs


Triumph Tulip (Tulipa 'Gavota')

Daffodils (Narcissus)

Ornamental Onions (Allium spp.)


Fall Lawn Care Update: What's Different this Year?


Flowering Plant Video Library - Some Early Fall Flowering Plants I

Fireworks Goldenrod (Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks')

Rozanne Geranium (Geranium 'Rozanne')

Lesser Calamint (Calamintha nepeta)


Flowering Plant Video Library - Some Early Fall Flowering Plants II

Giant Amaranth (Amaranthus cruentus)

Savannah Ruby Grass (Melinis nerviglumis 'Savannah')

Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)

Lesser Calamint (Calamintha nepeta)

Little Titch Catmint (Nepeta racemosa 'Little Titch')



Yard and Garden News Readers' Survey 2012

Greetings Yard and Garden News Reader:

In order for us to bring you the gardening news you want, we need to know your opinions, your interests, and your thoughts on the newsletter.

The survey takes between 10 and 15 minutes to complete.

Would you be so kind as to complete the survey by October 15.

The link below will take you to the survey.

Yard and Garden News Survey 2012

We thank you in advance for your time and thoughts!

Karl Foord, editor


Rethinking Late-Fall Nitrogen Fertility for Home Lawns

Sam Bauer, Extension Turfgrass Educator

With rising economic and environmental concerns regarding the efficient use of fertilizers in urban settings, it becomes important to understand the role that late-fall fertilization plays in our lawn care program. Long-standing recommendations for late-fall nitrogen fertility involved the use of quick release nitrogen sources (urea, ammonium sulfate, others) to be applied after the last mowing of the year. The theory was that the nitrogen would be absorbed by the turfgrass roots prior to winter, but would not be utilized for growth until the following spring. While this theory seems reasonable, and generally results in a healthier lawn, the predictability of quick release nitrogen applications at this time is low.


Sam Bauer

Photo 1: U of MN grounds manager Jonathan Spitzer applies a 50/50 blend of quick release and slow release nitrogen sources to the St. Paul campus turf in late-September.


Collaborative research between the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin-Madison has demonstrated that turfgrass absorption of nitrogen reduces as temperatures cool later into the fall. We refer to this as a reduction in turfgrass nitrogen use efficiency (TNUE). In climates that are conducive to a reduction in TNUE, as in the case with slow growth associated with late-fall temperatures, fertilizer applications have a greater potential to move off-site. This off-site loss is particularly concerning due to environmental and economic implications.

Consider the fact that the costs of producing nitrogen fertilizers have more than tripled in the last decade due to the rising price of fossil fuels used for nitrogen fertilizer production. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency has placed a 10 ppm nitrate standard on drink water. These are the driving factors for refining the late-fall nitrogen fertilizer recommendations, as we can no longer afford to make nitrogen fertilizer applications that have a high potential to move off-site.

The new recommendations can be summarized as follows:

- Make final nitrogen fertility applications no later than mid-October
- Combine quick release and slow release nitrogen sources when applying more than 0.5 pounds of nitrogen per 1000 square feet
- Only apply fertilizer to actively growing lawns, because TNUE reduces when growth is low

Phosphorus and potassium applications should always be based on soil test results. Soil testing information and submission forms can be found at the University of Minnesota Soil Testing Laboratory website:

For more detailed information regarding the use of home lawn fertilizers follow these links to a three part discussion from retired Extension Turfgrass Educator Bob Mugaas.

Understanding and Using Home Lawn Fertilizers- Part 1: The Basics


Understanding and Using Home Lawn Fertilizers- Part 2: Nitrogen


Understanding and Using Home Lawn Fertilizers- Part 3: Phosphorus and Potassium

Boxelder Bugs Are on the Move

Jeffrey Hahn, Asst. Extension Entomologist

It has been a long summer but fall is finally catching up with us. Fall is also the time when nuisance insects fly to buildings and other structures to look for places to spend the winter. One insect to be on the watch for is the boxelder bug Although these orange and black insects are around every year, they have been particularly numerous this summer. The weather has a lot to do with that as years of hot, dry summers are very favorable for their development and we often experience much larger populations of them then.


Jeff Hahn

Photo 1: A nemesis, the boxelder bug, is present in large numbers this year.

Right now a lot of people are finding large numbers of boxelder bugs on the sides of their homes. Being on the outside of structures is not necessarily bad if boxelder bugs would just stay there but eventually many of these insects will get inside these buildings. There are not any practical home remedies for dissuading boxelder bugs from landing on homes, although people have tried solutions such as throwing boiling water on them and trying to kill them with fly swatters. While people may not like all of the boxelder bugs on the outside, people should aim at preventing these insects from getting into their homes.

Control is two fold. First, seal as many spaces and openings as possible that may allow boxelder bugs into your home. Concentrate around widows and doors, roof lines, where utility lines enter buildings, and where horizontal and vertical surfaces meet. Second, supplement this with a residual insecticide application, especially around areas where boxelder bugs are most likely to gain access. This is something homeowners can try themselves; common active ingredients that could be used would include permethrin and beta-cyfluthrin (make sure products are labeled for the outside of homes). Or they can contact an experienced pest management service to make this application for them.

Not only is it important to take action now to keep boxelder bugs out of your home this fall but a lot of these insects can also become nuisances later during days of mild winter temperatures. Once they get inside, they seek out wall voids, attics and other nooks and crannies in which to hibernate. It is important for boxelder bugs to find a place that is unheated and will remain cold during winter. As long as they are in such place, they will remain dormant.



Jeff Hahn

Photo 2: Boxelder bugs looking for overwintering sites on a home.

However, as temperatures warm up the sites where boxelder bugs are hiding, they will wake up, 'thinking' spring has arrived. They will move towards the warmth and will end up being trapped indoors. Boxelder bugs typically aggregate in clusters; insects on the outer part of these clusters will become active first. This results in boxelder bugs emerging at different times. When boxelder bugs appear in the middle of the winter, it appears that they have been reproducing indoors, however what people are seeing are adults that entered their homes the previous fall. (Note: Boxelder bugs are occasionally observed laying eggs indoors. However, either immature boxelder bugs don't hatch from them or if they do the young bugs do not have food and do not live long. They certainly are not able to mature into adult bugs.)

The boxelder bugs that get inside your home can definitely be annoying; in fact the more there are the more bothersome they usually are. Fortunately, boxelder bugs are harmless to people. They may occasionally stain surfaces but are otherwise not damaging to property. Once they are in your home, you have few options to deal with them. The easiest solution is physical removal, such as with a vacuum cleaner. This may not always be helpful when boxelder bugs are really numerous, but that is still the best control. This is why the more you can prevent from entering your home during fall, the fewer you will deal with later.

Plant NOW for Dazzle next Spring

Karl Foord - Extension Educator, Horticulture

I always have mixed feelings about fall. I know plants, animals, and insects have cycles, but it is depressing to see the hummingbirds leave, the plants die or go dormant, and the insects die or hibernate. In the spirit of acceptance of such things I would choose to focus on the spring when many things "come back" to life. One of the great joys of spring is watching the spring flowering bulbs pop through the ground and bring color to a bleak landscape. To enjoy this one must act now and plant. To appreciate the joys to come I have collected the Flowering Plant Video Library entries featuring spring flowering bulbs and organized them by flowering time somewhat following Chart 1. which also appears in the yard and garden brief: Spring Flowering Bulbs.



Y&G Brief

Chart 1: Spring Flowering Bulbs Planting Chart

General Recommendations:

1. Plant in odd numbered groups or mass plantings.
2. Plant where they can be seen from a favorite window in the house.
3. Planting depth and spacing depends on the individual bulb. Generally bulbs are planted 2.5 times their diameter. In light sandy soils plant 1 - 2 inches deeper and in heavy clay soils 1 - 2 inches more shallow.
4. Protect bulbs from hungry critters

See articles below for specific bulbs.

Plant Some Early Spring Flowering Bulbs

Karl Foord - Extension Educator, Horticulture

Click on the link to see the video with host Dr. Mary Meyer, Professor of Horticulture




Karl Foord

Photo 1: Striped Squill (Puschkinia scilloides var. libanotica)

Striped Squill (Puschkinia scilloides var. libanotica)





Karl Foord

Photo 2: Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)

Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)





Karl Foord

Photo 3: Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica)

Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica)





Karl Foord

Photo 4: Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa luciliae)

Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa luciliae)





Karl Foord

Photo 5: Checkered Lily (Fritillaria meleagris)

Checkered Lily (Fritillaria meleagris)





Karl Foord

Photo 6: Species Tulips (Tulipa tarda)

Species Tulips (Tulipa tarda)





Karl Foord

Photo 7: Garden Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis)

Garden Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis)





Karl Foord

Photo 8: Grape Hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum)

Grape Hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum)

Plant Some Mid and Late Spring Flowering Bulbs

Karl Foord - Extension Educator, Horticulture

Click on the link to see the video with host Dr. Mary Meyer, Professor of Horticulture







Karl Foord

Photo 1: Triumph Tulip (Tulipa 'Gavota')

Triumph Tulip (Tulipa 'Gavota')







Karl Foord

Photo 2: Daffodils(Narcissus spp.)

Daffodils (Narcissus)







Karl Foord

Photo 3: Ornamental Onions (Allium spp.)

Ornamental Onions (Allium spp.)




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