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Extension > Yard and Garden News > January 2013

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

January 1, 2013 Issue

In this month's issue:

Hellebores Come in Many Colors

Social Media Use in Horticulture, Part 1: Twitter

Watch Out for Stored Product Insects

Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable First Detector Program

Hellebores Come in Many Colors

Robin Trott, University of Minnesota Extension Educator

Lasts month's article highlighted the wonderful Christmas Rose (Helleborus
). Selected varieties within this species have a similarly constructed inflorescence, bloom ivory to clear white fading to rose and green in maturity, and have slightly different bloom times.

If you're looking for an early spring bloom that is colorful, consider hybrid hellebores. Here are a few colored varieties, hardy to zone 4, that you might like to try in you perennial garden.

Jelitto Seed

Photo 1: Double Ladies mix (Helleborus x hybridus 'Double Ladies')

Double Ladies
(H. x hybridus: 15-18" tall, 24" wide) has leathery, semi-evergreen foliage with large double flowers in shades of white, yellow, red, pink and purple (see Photo 1). This early bloomer prefers partial to full shade and is recommended for use as an accent plant, or planted in large drifts in your shade garden.

Jelitto Seed

Photo 2: Picotee Lady (Helleborus x hybridus 'Picotee Lady')

Picotee Lady

(H. x hybridus: 15-18" tall, 24" wide) is also a semi-evergreen plant. Its greenish white flowers have pink/red veining, and each petal is edged a dark red (See Photo 2). Picotee Lady makes a great cut for floral arrangements. Preferring partial - full shade, this hellebore thrives in shade beds and borders, and woodland gardens.

Skagit Gardens

Photo 3: Ivory Prince (Helleborus niger 'Walhelivor')

Ivory Prince
(H. 'Walhelivor':12-18" tall, 24" wide) has blue/green, shrub-like foliage. The abundant ivory blossoms have a pink/chartreuse blush and green veining (See Photo 3). Blooming in very early spring, this plant prefers moist, well-drained soil; water generously for your best bloom. This compact hellebore is divine in containers and in shade borders.

Winter Jewels Series
The Winter Jewels Series has a spectacular display of color. This series is the Orientalis variety (Helleborus x hybridus), also known as Lenten rose. These cultivars have large, nodding blossoms which come in a wide range of colors, and the foliage is deer resistant! Use Winter Jewels to brighten up your shady nooks and add color and texture to your woodland and rock gardens. H. x hybridus generally doesn't bloom the first year, but they are so stunning, that they are worth the wait.

Skagit Gardens

Photo 4: Winter Jewels Cherry Blossom (Helleborus x hybridus 'Cherry Blossom')

WJ Cherry Blossom: (18-22" tall, 24" wide) Dark green foliage highlighted with white blooms speckled with cherry red, and a red starburst center (Photo 4).

Skagit Gardens

Photo 5: Winter Jewels Golden Sunrise (Helleborus x hybridus 'Golden Sunrise')

Skagit Gardens

Photo 6: Winter Jewels Apricot Blush (Helleborus x hybridus 'Apricot Blush')

Skagit Gardens

Photo 7: Winter Jewels Black Diamond (Helleborus x hybridus 'Black Diamond')

Skagit Gardens

Photo 8: Winter Jewels Painted (Helleborus x hybridus 'Painted')

WJ Golden Sunrise: (18-22" tall, 24" wide) Light yellow/green foliage contrasted with flowers in shades of yellow. The petal backs are blush colored, the fronts are red veined with a red starburst center (Photo 5).

WJ Apricot Blush: (20" tall, 24" wide) Blossoms in shades white, blushed with rosy apricot. Medium green foliage (Photo 6).

WJ Black Diamond: (15-18" tall, 22" wide) Purple foliage matures to green. Blooms are nearly black, tinted slate, burgundy and red. These are spectacular paired with bright yellows and greens (Photo 7).

WJ Painted: (18-22" tall, 24" wide) Medium-dark green foliage brightened by white blossoms painted with burgundy (Photo 8).

Plant all Hellebores in humus-rich, well-drained soil, and water regularly. Protect them from harsh winter conditions. Plant in a protected location and cover with mulch once the ground has frozen to avoid winter kill. Remove the dead leaves in the spring.

Hellebores are reliably cold hardy season starters that are good in containers, shade gardens, woodland gardens and rock gardens. They maintain their green foliage late into the season, and are virtually deer resistant. If you are interested in trying these versatile perennials in your shade beds next spring, contact your local nursery or garden center for availability.

Social Media Use in Horticulture, Part 1: Twitter

Sam Bauer, Extension Turfgrass Educator

Sam Bauer

Photo 1: Twitter applications can be downloaded to almost every internet device including: laptops, tablets, and mobile phones

Over the past several years social media applications have drastically changed the way we receive and disseminate information on horticulture related topics. From microblogging applications like Twitter and Facebook, to Wordpress and Google blogs, and professional networking sites such as Linkedin; these applications have quickly demonstrated their educational value in the horticulture industry.

In Part 1 of this Social Media Educational Series we will take a look at Twitter and discuss how it can be a useful educational tool.

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a popular microblogging platform that has taken the world by storm. It allows content to be posted in 140 characters or less in the form of sentences, photos, or links. Twitter users have the opportunity to provide and receive real-time information via short messages known as "tweets".

Why Join Twitter?

It seems like every day there is some new form of social media popping up and it can be difficult to decide which applications to spend our precious time on, especially if we're not sure that the application will be around for any length of time. Twitter is an application that is here to stay, and there are several reasons for this. First of all, consider actually saving time by using Twitter. Following twitter news feeds, weather information, or even this blog allows you the ability to receive information at your fingertips, when you want it. For example, The New York Times Twitter account (@nytimes) is followed by almost 7 million people and tweets the latest news information as it breaks. Missing the nightly news might no longer seem like such a big deal.

NYTimes tweet access

Secondly, most educational institutions are using twitter to provide immediate information on current topics. You can follow this Yard and Garden Blog (@UMNgardeninfo) to receive the latest news on horticulture topics from the University of Minnesota Extension. Also, our Turfgrass Science Program (@urbanturfmn) twitter account will keep you up to date with topics related to turfgrass management and home lawn care. Here are a couple tweet examples from @urbanturfmn this past growing season:

turf tweet 1

turf tweet 2

turf tweet 3

Finally, twitter is fun and entertaining. Those of you reluctant to give it a try would most likely enjoy the information, ease of use, and interaction once you get started. Whether you're hearing what your favorite celebrity has to say or following your local sports team, twitter will open up a new world of entertainment for you. Let's get started.

Getting Started With Twitter

1) Create an account and username at , 2) Follow people that are interesting to you (twitter will provide a list of suggested people to follow based on your email contacts), 3) Build followers by tweeting (i.e. posting) interesting content, 4) Link twitter to your other social media sites. That's it. Once you get more involved you will find benefit from applications like "Twitterfeed" and "Tweetdeck", which allow for automatic tweeting and scheduling of tweets. We will discuss these applications in future posts. Below is a link to a twitter tutorial that will help you get started:

Twitter tutorial

The Challenge

This is the first part of an ongoing series looking at social media use in horticulture. It will be a learning process for all of us, as I am not a social media guru by any means, although I have really come to enjoy using technology for education, and I think you will too. Consider this fun and rewarding challenge:

Interactive Task:

1) Signup for a twitter account ( or use your existing account
2) Follow @UMNgardeninfo and @urbanturfmn
3) Send us a mention with the hashtag #y&gnews, as in "@urbanturfmn I enjoy the Yard and Garden Blog #y&gnews" or "@UMNgardeninfo great January articles #y&gnews"
4) Upon receipt of your tweet you will be entered into a drawing for a free one year family and friends membership to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (, which includes admission to more than 270 botanical gardens, arboreta and conservatories nationwide.

Stay tuned for next month's post on social media use in horticulture, and please provide your feedback by completing the following quick survey.

Watch Out For Stored Product Insects

Jeffrey Hahn, Asst. Extension Entomologist

The most common insects people are seeing in their homes now are those that are associated with stored food. The most common species are Indianmeal moths, drugstore beetles, flour beetles, sawtoothed grain beetles, and cigarette beetles. Collectively, they feed on a wide variety of dried food material including, but not limited to, flour, cake and pancake mixes, pasta, and other grain-based products, rice, nuts, spices, dried fruit, and chocolate. They will also attack dry pet food and bird seed.

Jeff Hahn

Photo 1: Cigarette beetles, a common type of stored product insect.

Once you confirm the insects you are seeing are stored product pests, it is important to find the source of the infestation. Removal of the source is ultimately the best control of these insects. Sometimes finding the food source is easy; you open up a bag of flour or some other food package and there they are. However, in other instances, they are not so easily found and you need to make a thorough search to find them. Check all open food packages in your cupboards and other sites where food is stored. Don't forget basements, garages, and other places where dry pet food and bird seed may be stored.

Once you find an infested source, the best action is to throw it away. Keep in mind that there can be more than one infestation source so don't stop once you found one; be sure to check out all places where food is stored. Also store susceptible food, especially if they are not used quickly, in insect-proof containers with tight lids or in the refrigerator. Once all infested food is removed and they can't infest any new food, the insects will eventually go away on their own. Insecticides are not effective, especially if food sources are available to the insects.

For more information see Insect Pests of Stored Food.

Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable First Detector Program

Jeffrey Hahn

Photo 1: Attendees examining pest damage at a previous First Detector workshop. A new First Detector workshop is being offered to discuss invasive pests of fruits and vegetables.

The Minnesota Fruit and Vegetable First Detector Program is a new joint program between the University of Minnesota Extension and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to increase awareness and detection of invasive diseases and insect pests of fruits and vegetables. There are two ways that you can be involved.

  1. Attend a workshop about invasive pests that threaten Minnesota fruit and vegetables. Learn how to identify invasive pests and distinguish them from common look a likes. Find out the proper steps to take if you suspect you have found and invasive pest.

  2. Become a first detector volunteer. Act as a local resource to help state officials respond to calls made to the Arrest a Pest Hotline. First Detectors are volunteers trained to help citizens diagnose and report possible infestations of invasive species to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. First Detectors are a part of the National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN) First Detector Program which promotes the early detection of invasive plant pathogens, arthropods, nematodes and weeds.
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