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Showing posts from December, 2019

Ask Extension: Why does my orange tree have mottled leaves with tiny black spots?

This photo, sent in by a reader from Bloomington, MN, shows the mottled and spotted leaf on an orange tree. Q: I have an Orange Tree which I move indoors for the winter. The leaves are mottled and spotted with tiny black spots on the bottom. I do not see insects or webs.  A:  Hello. I'm glad you've turned to AskExtension! The spots appear to be the work of a sucking type of mite called a spider mite. This is also evidenced by the presence of webbing around the leaves.  If you were to hold a blank, white sheet of paper under the affected leaves and shake the leaves, you would see tiny reddish dots (smaller than a period mark) land on the paper. If they start moving on the paper, they're definitely spider mites.  Spider mites like a dry environment which is what our Minnesota homes are like in the winter. Here is more information about their control should you choose to try to keep and treat your tree. Learn how to control these tiny critters: Managing insects

How to care for your Holiday Plant Gifts (Give them this link,too!)

Poinsettias with a variety of patterns and colors. Giving someone a poinsettia, an amaryllis or maybe a pot planted with paperwhites? Give them the link to this helpful article, too! We've put all the information together for you so your recipient knows just what to do--whether they garden or not! Poinsettia  No question about it--poinsettias symbolize the holidays like no other plant! The beauty of this Euphorbia, which is native to Mexico, is that you can find one to fit almost any decorative scheme!  They range from creamy white to pink to the traditional bright red. While they are most commonly used for decorating during the winter holidays, they are also attractive as green plants throughout the year.  Poinsettias change color in response to shorter winter days.   Are those leaves or petals??? Poinsettia flowers are actually made up of the bracts, which look like petals, and the tiny yellow flowers in the center, called cyathia. The colorful bracts attract insects

Insects and Christmas trees

One of the joys of the holiday season is the pleasant aromatic smells of freshly cut evergreens. As we enjoy the Christmas trees that we bring into our homes, we can also occasionally bring in some unexpected, and uninvited, visitors.  While it is possible to find invasive species (see Check Christmas trees and holiday greenery for pests! ), most insects we see are just Minnesota natives. Any insects or insect relatives on this tree are probably just a nuisance. Photo:  Jeff Hahn, UMN Extension Look for aphids among the ornaments! A common insect people find on Christmas trees is aphids. These soft-bodied, pear-shaped insects laid eggs on trees sometime during late summer and fall. These eggs would normally remain inactive throughout the winter but the warmth of the indoors fools them into thinking spring has arrive so they hatch. They are very small, about 1/16th inch long. They have piercing-sucking mouthparts and feed on plant sap. Fortunately, they do not injur

From the MDA: Check Christmas trees and holiday greenery for pests!

Source:  Plant Pest Insider  by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, December 2019 Your holiday greenery may smell and look beautiful, but keep an eye out for insects and diseases that can be transported on these plants when shipped into Minnesota from other parts of the country. Some of these can become invasive and harmful to our Minnesota trees, forests and landscapes.  While the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) inspects greens and other decorative plant materials, we can all do our part to keep Minnesota landscapes and forests healthy. Do not toss Christmas trees or holiday greenery into your backyard woods or compost pile.  Instead, use a city or county organized tree and greenery pick up service to dispose of these plant materials safely. You can also burn greenery. Be sure to follow your local ordinances about burning. Buy locally grown trees and greens to support our economy, our neighbors and avoid bringing pests into our state. Report any findings to

Smart Gardening: Order Yourself Some Fruit Plants for the Holidays

Photo: Annie Klodd, UMN Extension Winter is a nice time to order fruit plants to be planted next spring. At this point, most gardeners haven't started their spring orders yet, which means that the nurseries are well stocked with many varieties to choose from.  Be a smart gardener and get a head start now! Tip #1: Order from a local Minnesota nursery or plant supplier If possible, it is a good practice to order fruit plants from a local supplier in your area or region. Not only does this help support our local Minnesota horticulture industry, but it also helps minimize the amount of time that your fruit plants are in transit by the shipping company. It can also help ensure that the varieties you purchase are adapted to your region. There are a number of nurseries and agricultural suppliers in Minnesota that allow you to do online orders of high quality fruit plants, including raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, honeyberries, and others. Use the farm di

Dwarf mistletoe: Fun to kiss under, but deadly to northern MN Trees

Drawing courtesy: Washington Post A sprig of Mistletoe has been fraught with meaning for thousands of years, becoming wildly popular during Victorian times. As author Washington Irving wrote about the plant in 1820:  “the mistletoe, with its white berries, hung up, to the imminent peril of all the pretty housemaids.” Mistletoe, a symbol of fertility, life, friendship and love, typically dangles from doorways during Christmas time, inspiring plenty of smooching!  The dark side of Mistletoe But as Utah State University Forest Pathologist and Professor Fred Baker points out , at least in our state, Eastern spruce dwarf mistletoe plays a much more sinister role. It is actually a disease that kills trees quickly, with most trees dying within 20 years. Stand of black spruce trees infested with dwarf mistletoe. The plant creates "witches brooms" in the branches. Photo: Brian Anderson Deadly to northern Minnesota trees... Many stands of black spruce in northern Minnes

Ask Extension: What to do about heavy snow on new juniper shrubs?

Q: We acquired seven junipers 6’ tall this summer. They seem healthy but the snow is weighing down the branches on several of them. Can I wrap them with plastic snow fencing? We started with burlap but it's cumbersome and we need a lot of it. A:   You'll want to prevent your junipers from getting damaged by the weight of the snow. Just gently shake the branches and that gives a temporary reprieve. Wrapping your junipers with snow fencing would also prevent damage and, in fact, may be a better measure than merely shaking the branches. It will also protect from sun scald, too, but burlap is better and is primarily used for this purpose. Wrap your shrubs with 2-3 layers of fencing to reduce  the drying effects of winter winds. If your junipers are in a north or north east location, the possibility of winter burn is reduced. More Resources Protecting Trees and Shrubs in Winter From the University of Wisconsin Extension: Winter Burn Got a gardening question? Just As

Buying your Christmas tree? How to make it last, and more!

Balsam fir Photo: Gail Hudson, UMN Extension Your goal is to pick out the perfect Christmas tree for your holiday celebration. But do you know exactly what you're 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's an encore presentation of a Y&G News article we ran last year (with a few updates) to bring you 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 in 2018, the University of Minnesota Forestry Club 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

Our Annual List! Holiday Gift Ideas for Gardeners

Photo: We know the've got someone who loves gardening on your holiday gift list, but you think they might have everything they need.  Not so, my friend!   The possibilities are almost endless!  This is the Y&G News Annual Gardening Gift Idea List with contributions from UMN Extension Educators who are going to tell you about some of their favorite gardening gifts.  We'll start with an "easy peasy" one... something ALL gardeners love! Gift Idea #1: Gloves, gloves, gloves! Author: Mary H. Meyer, Extension Horticulturist & Professor Can a gardener ever have too many garden gloves? No! I go through several pairs of garden gloves a season….usually a waterproof style with latex covering the palm and fingers, like Gardena. However these inexpensive gloves wear out, often with a hole in the finger or getting quite Foxgloves Gardening gloves. Photo: dirty inside since the gloves are short and dirt can com

Supporting local producers over the holidays

Photo: Scott Streuble While winter has fully set in, did you know...there are still many ways to use local foods in your holiday meals.   What produce is available during a MN Winter? Thanks to root cellars and high tunnels, you can continue to find local carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic, kohlrabi, beets, and even kale and lettuce! Locally raised eggs and meat are also available year-round.  There are many benefits to eating local foods , including improved freshness, reduced transportation miles, and supporting your local economy.  Why buy local now? The National Farmers Union reports that for an 11 pound turkey, which sells for an average retail cost of $16.39, the farmer will receive only $0.66. Buying locally and directly from farmers allows farmers to retain a greater share. Where to find local food A few places to find local foods in the winter include:  Look for winter farmers markets - Minnesota Grown maintains an excellent intera

An Unusual Holiday Plant: The Meyer Lemon Tree

Meyer Lemon tree Meyer lemons are fun to grow indoors and usually ripen in the winter in Minnesota. These lemons have a mandarin orange in the background as a parent and are a milder or sweeter form of lemon.  What to expect as it ripens The color changes from dark green to light green then yellow and finally a light orange or egg yolk color when fully ripe. The fruits become slightly softer on the outside as they ripen.  The ripening can occur over several weeks. If fully ripe, they will fall from the tree, but usually by that time, the fruits are quite soft and perhaps overripe. Look for this form of lemon in the grocery store and you will see the fully ripe color. Unripened fruits are edible but will not be as sweet as fully ripe Meyer lemons.  An unusual Holiday gift Want to give an unusual Christmas gift to your gardening friends? Meyer lemons can be purchased at local garden centers and make a fun gift.  They require full sun and regular watering and fertilizer, but