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Extension > Yard and Garden News > December 2017

Monday, December 18, 2017

Houseplants make great gifts!

Moth orchid
Julie Weisenhorn, Extension Educator

Live plants are great gifts for friends and family, colleagues and the host of your next holiday party. Favorite plants like holiday cacti, amaryllis and poinsettia are great choices. Other plants that make great, easy-to-grow gifts are moth orchids (Phaleanopsis), amaryllis, and succulents.

Here are some tips for selecting a healthy plant for your favorite plant lover:
  • Look for plants with an overall healthy, vigorous appearance: clean foliage, bright green leaves, buds and/ or flowers, upright form, and new growth. Soil should be dark, moist and rich looking. The plant should not be overly wet or sitting in
    Amaryllis
    water which can lead to root rot.
  • Avoid plants with leaf spots, discoloration, or dead leaves as well as signs of insects such as webbing, chewing or honeydew (sticky, shiny areas on leaves). Check the underside of leaves for insect pests in hiding. If any of these are found, choose a different plant.
  • Moth orchids may have air roots protruding from the base of the plant and / or right out of the pot. This is a good sign! Roots should be firm, silvery and have a bright green tip, leaves should be bright green and firm.
  • Amaryllis are grown from tender bulbs that can kept from year to year. Allow soil to dry out before watering and be sure the pot drains well. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Our experts' favorite gardening books for holiday gifts

By Extension Communication Specialist Gail Hudson

December and cold weather arrives quickly in Minnesota (surprise!), and with it comes that perennial question: what gift can I buy the family member or friend with a green thumb? We’ve tapped our gardening experts for their favorite books to read over the winter months. (And please note—we’ve included links to the publishers. You’ll find them for sale in a number of places.)

Courtesy: Princeton University Press
Learn about Bees in Your Backyard
Since the “buzz” in the gardening world these days is all about pollinators, Extension Educator Elaine Evans, whose research concerns wild bee diversity, the rusty-patched bumble bee and bee conservation and is an author in her own right, has this book at the top of her list: The Bees in Your Backyard: A Guide to North America’s Bees, by Joseph S. Wilson.
Elaine says it’s a great introduction to the fascinating world of bees through beautiful photos along with accurate, accessible information.  She says once you learn what you are seeing, you’ll be able to discover the rich diversity of bees, many of which you can find in your own back yard. 

Courtesy: Wicwas Press
Want to help pollinators in your garden next year? Extension Educator and the U’s Bee Squad Associate Program Director Rebecca Masterman recommends this excellent resource: Pollinator Friendly Gardening by Minnesota author Rhonda Fleming Hayes. She says the photographs and text will help you learn about pollinators, which plants support them and what things you can do in the garden to “bee friendly”! 

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