Skip to main content


Showing posts from December, 2018

Help fight new invasive insect in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) issued a news release today to warn about a new invasive insect pest that has been found in Minnesota, the elongate hemlock scale (EHS), Fiorinia externa. It was detected on wreathes and other evergreen decorative items from Home Depot and Menards.

MDA is asking residents that bought evergreen decorations at any retail chain stores to “burn the
items, or bag them and dispose of them in the trash once the items are no longer useful for decoration. The evergreen items should not be composted.” While EHS has only been found in Home Depot and Menards, it is possible that it may be present at other retail chains.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection issued a similar warning earlier this week after finding EHS in several retail chain stores.

This is the first time that this invasive insect pest has been found in Minnesota. While EHS prefers hemlock, it will feed on a variety of evergreens, including spru…

How to make your Christmas Tree last through the holidays & More fun facts!

There it is...your Christmas tree in the living room (hopefully not dropping needles) standing ready and waiting to help your family celebrate the holidays!  But did you know exactly what you were buying? Which trees are native? What tree will retain its needles better? What's the best the way to keep my tree fresh throughout the holidays? Here are some facts about that all important purchase for your family.
What's the most popular tree in MN?  There's not great data to share here. But the University of Minnesota Forestry Club has tracked their sales and they say there are two front runners--Fraser firs and balsam firs, but pines don't make the cut. Fraser firs make up almost half of those trees sold by the club. This tree originally came from the southern Appalachian region of Virginia and North Carolina, but it's also grown in Minnesota in certain situations. Some refer to it as the “southern balsam fir."  It has a bigger trunk and larger branches compared…

Landscape Design Basics Workshop: A great holiday gift!

Class information /registration: Landscape Design Basics

Do you have that really tough gardener to buy for? Someone who seems to have everything, and is

always branching out into new gardening? Do you have a friend or family member who just bought a new house and wants to get their hands dirty this spring by re-doing the landscaping? Or are you that someone and need to drop a few hints that a landscape design workshop would wrap up nicely as a holiday gift?

Landscape Design Basics Workshop is just the ticket to getting started on that new yard and garden project in 2019. Throughout the five classes, students work on their own  entry garden and / or patio or deck garden. Class exercises and lectures revolve around the process of sustainable design, considerations and principles, plant selection, concept plans and concept lines, landscape spaces, implementation, etc. Weekly class critiques provide valuable feedback from instructors and their peers. Exercises help students to practice t…

Houseplant Patrol: A new webpage for managing indoor pests

In these cold wintry days, we turn to tending our indoor gardens. Houseplants are really fun - tropical, usually lush, and their blooms can brighten any home. But there are also pests sometimes lurking in our plants. Because we are growing these plants in unnatural conditions (indoors), there are no natural predators managing pests numbers. That responsibility falls on us as plant owners.

Our new webpage Managing insect pests on indoor plants will provide help to those dealing with houseplant pests. Prevention, detection and options for managing these pesky critters are included. Gift tip: If you are giving a houseplant to someone, print out a copy to include. We hope you find it interesting and helpful.

You can also get answers from Extension to your gardening questions - indoors and out - every Saturday on Smart Garden, 8-9am, on WCCO radio AM 830.

- Julie Weisenhorn, Extension educator

The Challenges of Overwintering Rosemary

Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs and I have tried growing it indoors for several years, most years I have ended up with a dead plant. For a plant that is so easy to grow outdoors, I am still trying to figure out how to successfully overwinter rosemary.

Sunny good light is a given, a must for maintaining herbs indoors through a Minnesota winter. I think the watering is the tough part. I think rosemary does not like to dry out indoors. And like most herbs, it thrives on well drained soil.

And then there is the mildew issue, so easy to get mildew in the winter indoors.   If all else fails, there are our wonderful garden centers, where healthy rosemary is waiting for us, especially colorful and lovely for Christmas gifts.
The Rosemary Challenge Theresa Mieseler, local herb guru and owner of Shady Acres Herb Farm ( in Chaska, MN has this to say about growing rosemary indoors:

Rosemary can be somewhat of a challenge to grow indoors.
1.Most important is that it was grown …

Just in time for the holidays: Poinsettias webpage

If you have a new poinsettia this holiday season, or still have one from last year, you'll want to check our the new Extension webpage on Poinsettias and how to help them re-bloom, and even thrive all year long!

I was never a fan of poinsettias. They were too holiday-specific for me. In the past, I thought having a poinsettia after Christmas was like never taking down the wreath on your door. I always  thought poinsettias looked pretty dull and color-less after the bracts dropped (the bracts form the  "petals" on the plant, but actually modified leaves).

However, researching and writing this new webpage has renewed my interest in poinsettias and I am looking forward to bringing one (or maybe more) home with me this weekend.

Take a look at the new webpage. I hope it brings
you tidings of great joy - and a healthy poinsettia.

Author: Julie Weisenhorn, Extension Educator - Horticulture

Meet a new invasive tick: the Asian longhorned tick

An advantage of winter and its cold weather is there are certain pests for which we do not have to worry about until spring. At the top of this list is ticks. However, to remind us that trouble is never far off, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued a news release, to warn of a rapidly increasing threat from a new invasive tick, the Asian longhorned tick, Haemaphysalis longicornis.
A serious pest Originally from China, Korea, Japan, and other areas of east Asia, the Asian longhorned tick is a serious pest because it can vector many different diseases to not only people but also to pets, livestock, and wild animals.

Asian longhorned ticks can also reproduce without mating, a real time saver, allowing them to produce particularly large numbers of offspring, up to 2,000 eggs at a time.

This invasive tick has since spread to New Zealand and Australia where it is a significant pest on cattle. There are times when Asian longhorned ticks have become so a…

Gift Idea: Good Books for Minnesota Gardeners

Nothing like a cold day in January in Minnesota when you don't have to go anywhere, so you can sit by the fire with a good book! Give your favorite gardener this pleasure this holiday season with one of our Extension Educators' favorite books!

You'll find books by local authors and information about peonies, orchids, native plants and more like zero-waste gardening. Many of these topics are written specifically written for the Minnesota gardener.

Please note, the links are to the publishers' sites but you can find these book at many sources online.

Happy giving and happy reading!

Peonies The Best Varieties for Your Garden by David Michener and Carol Adelman, Timber Press 2017 Do you love to grow peonies or know someone who does? David Michener is the University Services Curation and Manager at Matthaei Botanical Gardens at the University of Michigan, where he manages an award-winning Peony Collection.  Carol Adelman owns a peony farm in Oregon....trusted information fr…

Amaryllis provide a dramatic show (and fun to grow!)

Ah. Amaryllis - a favorite plant to give, get and grow around the holiday season! A member of the Lily family, its enormous colorful flowers give us a sense of the tropics during these cold winter days. Amaryllis are fun for anyone to grow - I've given them to everyone from 4 to 90 year-olds, bosses and colleagues, family and neighbors. They are inexpensive, beautiful and dramatic additions to any home.

But how do you take care of them after they bloom? And why can it be hard to get them to bloom again? Every year people ask us these questions, and while we can't ask the plants, we do have an excellent webpage for all the amaryllis owners out there:  Growing and caring for amaryllis.

If you are giving amaryllis this year, I suggest printing a copy to present along with the plant or emailing them the link to the recipient for future reference. They'll have everything they need to keep their amaryllis healthy from year to year.

Enjoy the holiday season - it's a great ti…

Podcast: Busting Horticultural Myths with Linda Chalker-Scott

As gardeners, we always want to find effective, sustainable solutions to our plant problems. Browsing the internet, gardeners will find many claims about the benefits of numerous plant health remedies. Sometimes, these methods are accompanied by words such as "alternative" and "natural." But how do we know which methods are backed up by science, and which are not?

A new episode of the UMN Extension horticulture podcast "What's Killing My Kale?" approaches this topic, using epsom salts and compost tea as examples. Extension Educators Annie Klodd and Natalie Hoidal interviewed Linda Chalker-Scott, host of the Informed Gardener podcast and Horticultural Myths blog.

In the interview, Chalker-Scott lays out ways that gardeners can determine whether online claims about natural products are accurate, effective, and appropriate for their gardens.

Linda Chalker-Scott is an Extension Educator at Washington State University and manages the Horticultural Myths b…