Integrated Pest Management

When planting amaryllis bulbs this winter be sure to check for red sunken spots on the bulb surface. These spots indicate the presence of a fungus called Stagnospora curtisii which can cause leaf scorch. Infected plant tissue turns red, the leaves and stalks may become bent, and in severe cases the stalks dry up without ever producing flowers. A surface sterilization can prevent the infection from moving into leaves and flower stems as they emerge from the bulb. Soak your bulbs in a one percent bleach solution for one hour to contain the infection.

Now that freezing temperatures are upon us, be sure that pesticide containers are in good condition and stored properly. Never store your pesticides in an area that may reach freezing temperatures. If you have pesticides that are old or that you no longer need, call your county government to find out about disposal procedures.

Take advantage of winter downtime to get your gardening tools prepared for spring. Clean and sharpen your hoes for better and easier control of weeds. Sharpen or replace the blades on your pruning implements. Sharper blades give you cleaner cuts, which in the long run will give you healthier plants. This small amount of effort will save you time and energy in the spring.

Want to provide a wonderful service to the trees and woods around you while getting free holiday decorations at the same time? Remove English ivy that is growing up trees and structures. Once English ivy begins to grow upward it matures from the juvenile to the adult state and produces berries. Birds consume the berries and spread the seeds into the woods. Although many people find English ivy attractive, it is very invasive and can choke out native trees and shrubs if it escapes your garden. Not only will you be helping native plants by pruning your ivy, you can also use the foliage to create wonderful holiday decorations.

Give your houseplants a healthy winter treat–give them a shower! Rinsing the leaves thoroughly with tepid water gets rid of accumulated dust that blocks out the weak winter sunlight. It also washes away any mites or other pests that may be using your plant as a home.

Prune your boxwood to prevent the development of Volutella, a fungal disease that causes stem dieback. Remove any branches that are dead or discolored, then cut some of the other small branches back to the main stem. When you’re finished, you should be able to see part of the inner branch structure. This thinning will improve air circulation and sun penetration which helps prevent fungal infection. The trimmings also make a nice addition to your holiday decorations.

If you’re considering a living Christmas tree this year, be sure to plan ahead. Although they may only be six to seven feet high in your home, trees like white pine and Colorado blue spruce can grow to be anywhere from forty to a hundred feet tall. Dig your hole ahead of time so you don’t have to try to dig when the ground is frozen or covered in snow. Make it large enough to accommodate the tree’s root ball and be sure that it’s at least twenty feet away from any other plantings and structures, including telephone and electric wires. Try not to keep your tree inside for more than a week and be sure to keep it cool. Place it near a window and away from any heat sources if possible. Keep the root ball slightly moist and mist the foliage often.

The Earth

Through the years I have found great satisfaction in growing my own vegetables and much enjoyment from growing my own fruit trees. Orchard fruits and nuts not only supply essential nutrition and fiber to a diet but also opportunities for joy and beauty. Growing vegetables can be very productive, but no food-production system is complete without a small orchard.

In one way, an orchard is easier to grow than a vegetable garden. Once planted, fruit and nut trees will produce for years. Some apple trees can still be productive after 50 years. On the negative side, you must wait two to five years before harvesting your first crop of fruits and nuts. So if you are thinking about having fruit trees, don’t delay in planning your orchard and getting those trees in the ground.

No matter where you live, there is a wide variety to choose from. However, some fruits do better in certain geographical locations than others. Apples grow better where winters are cold, while the stone fruits (peaches, apricots, plums) thrive in warmer climates. Pears grow well in a much wider climatic range, and nut trees are easy to grow and can be found in all regions. Citrus fruits and most figs require hot climates or a greenhouse environment.

It’s not easy to make the final selection, since there are so many factors that influence or limit your choice. These include:

Cold Hardiness,
Chill Requirements,
Pollination Requirements,
Disease Resistance,
Humidity Tolerance,
Drought Resistance, and
Dwarfing Rootstocks.

SPACE. The number and varieties of fruit and nut trees you plant is limited by the space you have available. The recommended orchard spacing for each variety is shown on the accompanying chart; however, there are several ways to overcome this limitation.

Incorporate the orchard as part of the landscape, such as a wind screen or property divider.
Espalier the trees against a wall or fence.
Plant dwarf or semi-dwarf trees.
For those who have patios or balconies, grow dwarf trees in containers.
COLD HARDINESS. If you live in a cold climate, choose only varieties that will not be damaged or killed by the lowest temperatures expected in your area. This is especially true for peaches, which cannot survive subzero weather and late spring frosts. Some cold-hardy varieties of fruits include peaches of the Candor, Reliance and Madison varieties; Macintosh apples; and North Star cherries.

CHILL REQUIREMENTS. The converse of cold-hardiness is found in some fruits that will not produce unless they have a minimum number of hours below 45 degrees F during their dormant season.

If you live in an area where the winters are mild and the summers are hot, select varieties that have limited winter chill requirements, such as Desertgold peaches; Kieffer pears; and apples of the Anna, Ein Shemer and Tropical Beauty varieties. Stark Brothers Nurseries (Louisiana, MO 63353) give special attention in their catalog to trees recommended specifically for southern or northern climates.

POLLINATION. Some fruit trees require two or more compatible varieties nearby for adequate cross-pollination. Sometimes, even though a tree blooms profusely, it will not set fruit unless the proper pollinating variety is in bloom nearby. Nursery catalogs will provide specific pollination requirements so that you can choose two varieties of the same fruit with overlapping bloom time.

DISEASE RESISTANCE. Some varieties are more susceptible to blight, fungus diseases and mildew than others. A little research to identify resistant varieties can pay off in better crops with less spraying. Some nurseries also will certify that their stock is virus free, an important plus.

If you are considering planting a pear tree, it is important to look for varieties that are resistance to fire blight, a disease that is devastating the pear orchards in this country.

HUMIDITY TOLERANCE AND DROUGHT RESISTANCE. Orchards in humid climates of the South and Southeast generally have more severe problems of viral, bacterial and fungus diseases; therefore, any tree with humidity tolerance is a better choice for those areas. Likewise, orchardists of the West and Southwest, where there is little seasonal rainfall, should look for drought resistant varieties.

DWARFING ROOTSTOCKS. The development of dwarf and semi-dwarf apple trees is significant enough to warrant special mention, for it is revolutionizing the apple growing industry. Handmade grafts join top sections of one variety with the rootstock of another, resulting in a highly productive yet smaller tree. Smaller trees can be planted closer together, resulting in more trees and apples per acre than from standard size trees.

Dwarf and semi-dwarf apple trees are a must for the home orchards, since they not only save space, but also eliminate the need for large ladders and special equipment for pruning, spraying, and picking. In addition, they bear fruit earlier. Study the available rootstock varieties closely since some have better disease and drought resistance, as well as other attributes, than others.

It’s entertaining and educational to browse through books and catalogs to put together your orchard selections. While catalogs are useful in learning about the variety that is available, sometimes problems with labeling, orders, or delivery can arise in mail order purchasing. Once I ordered peaches and got nectarines instead. I found this mistake three years after planting when the trees started to bear fruit.

Other resources can be found by asking your neighbors and the county agricultural agent to advise you on varieties that have produced well in your area. Local nurseries also can provide recommendations for your area’s best producers.

If you like to experiment and want to try varieties that aren’t even in the catalogs yet, then write for information from these organizations:

New York State Fruit Testing Cooperative Association, Inc. (Geneva, NY 14456).
California Rare Fruit Growers (California State University, Fullerton, CA 92634).
The Home Orchard Society (2511 Southwest Miles St., Portland, OR 97219).
The North American Fruit Explorers (PO Box 711, St. Louis, MO 63188).
The wonderful thing about planting an orchard is that you can look forward to years of not only eating and enjoying the fruits but the joy and beauty of seeing the new buds and blossoms appear during the spring.

FRUITS Tree height (in feet) Bears fruit after planting Suggested spacing (in feet) Average yield for 10-year-old tree

Dwarf (M-9) 10-12 2-3 years 6 x 10 2-3 bushels
Dwarf (M-26) 14 2-3 years 8 x 10 3-4 bushels
Semi-dwarf (M-7) 20 3 years 12 x 20 10-12 bushels
Standard 35-45 5-8 years 20 x 30 25 or more bushels
Apricot 20 2-3 years 15 x 25 3-6 bushels
Sour 20-25 2-3 years 15 x 25 20 quarts or more
Sweet 25-30 4-5 years 18 x 25 50 quarts or more
Peach & Nectarine 20-24 2-3 years 15 x 25 3-5 bushels
Semi-dwarf 20 2-3 years 10 x 18 5-10 bushes
Standard 25-35 3-5 years 18 x 25 15 or more bushels
Plum 20-24 2-3 years 15 x 25 3-6 bushels
Almond 10-15 2-3 years 15 x 15
Black Walnut 50 3-5 years 35 x 35
Butternut 50 3-5 years 35 x 35
Chestnut 40 3-5 years 30 x 30
English Walnut 40 3-5 years 35 x 35
Filbert 18 3-5 years 15 x 15
Hickory 40 5-10 years 30 x 30
Pecan 50-70 5-10 years 40 x 40

1999 Perennial Plant of the Year

Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ has been selected by the Perennial Plant Association as the 1999 Perennial Plant of the Year. Acclaimed internationally as one of the most popular perennials for the past fifty years, its bright golden-yellow flowers shine in gardens worldwide. In 1937 Heinrich Hagemann observed a glorious stand of Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii at Gebrueder Schuetz’s nursery in the Czech Republic. Recognizing the superiority over other commonly-grown Rudbeckia species, Hagemann convinced his employer Karl Foerster of Potsdam, Germany to propagate his discovery. World War 11 interfered with the planned debut of the plant and it was not until 1949 that the triumphant success of Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii renamed ‘Goldsturm’ began. ‘ Goldsturm ‘ translates to English as “gold storm.” Heinrich Hagemann, although retired, maintains an active interest in his company, the world-renowned Hagemann Staudenkulturen.

A member of the Asteraceae (Compositae) family, orange coneflower or black-eyed Susan has a native range from New Jersey west to Illinois. ‘Goldsturm’ orange coneflower is significant in its compact habit and 1/2-inch golden-yellow petals which encircle a nearly black cone of disk flowers. The leaves are coarse, dark green lanceolate to ovate, 3-6 inches long; stem leaves are smaller, almost bract-like. The “gold storm” blankets the tops of I 8-30-inch tall plants from mid-July to October. Plant width is 24 inches.

This excellent composite can be propagated by seed, division, or stem cuttings. Height and color uniformity can vary in plants grown from seed compared to asexually propagated plants. Germination guidelines prescribe moist chilling for 3-4 weeks at 32-35oF followed by 72oF germination temperature. Research at The Ohio State University reported an optimal germination temperature for untreated seeds to be 82oF to 88oF. Seedlings are transplanted 28-38 days after sowing. Clump division is done in early spring or fall with spring preferred. Stem cuttings are taken as the stem tissue begins to harden.

‘Goldsturm’ is a long-blooming, low maintenance, long-lived perennial for full sun to partial shade. It tolerates clay soils and mild droughts, but grows best in well-drained, consistently moist soil. ‘Goldsturm’ orange coneflower performs as well in the high heat and humidity of South Carolina as it does in the -35oF winters of Alberta. Plant bare-root or container-grown plants anytime during the growing season, 18 inches apart. When establishing a new planting, mulch to retain moisture. ‘Goldsturm’ has few pest or disease problems.

Landscape Uses
Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ works exceptionally well in commercial landscapes because of its durability and dramatic visual impact. Stiff stems eliminate any need for staking. Rhizomes spread the semi-evergreen basal leaves thickly enough to shade out weeds making it an effective non-invasive ground cover. Planted in bold drifts, the shimmering golden-yellow flowers command attention to the early fall garden. Its native North American roots make ‘Goldsturm’ a natural for meadow gar-dens providing nectar for butterflies and seeds for overwintering birds. As a mid-border perennial, ‘Goldsturm’ adds a brilliant splash in late summer when combined with the subtle hues of pale blue Perovskia atriplicifolia or Caryopteris x clandonensis and soft green Pennisetum alopecuroides. In winter the black stems and seedheads add contrast and texture against the muted tans of ornamental grasses. Prolific flowering, low maintenance requirements, and proven reliability has earned Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ distinction as an award-winning perennial.

Integrated Pest Management

It takes your houseplants a little while to adjust to being inside. Don’t worry if the foliage becomes lighter in color or some of the leaves drop. Your plants are just trying to get used to less light and lower humidity. Avoid fertilizing and water less frequently during this adjustment period.

It’s never too early to start planning next year’s garden. Take a walk around and note which plants did well during this summer’s drought and which ones suffered. A landscape is a constantly evolving thing and you shouldn’t be afraid to pull up something that didn’t do well and fill the space with a drought and pest resistant replacement. If plants that you value look dead, wait until spring to remove them. It is especially hard to tell if deciduous trees and shrubs are dead; failure to leaf out next spring is the only true test.

Now is a good time to plant new trees and shrubs. If the plant comes out of a pot be sure to break up the roots and remove any that are circling the root ball, since they will girdle the trunk as the plant matures. Remove any wrappings and twine from balled and burlapped trees. If the rootball cracks or threatens to fall apart, cut away as much of the burlap and rope as you can after the tree is in the hole. Be careful not to plant too deeply. Scrape away the top dirt and plant so that the flare of roots is just visible at the soil line. If your soil drains poorly plant a couple of inches higher to compensate. Apply two to three inches of mulch and remember to keep the mulch at least six inches away from the trunk of the tree. Mulching too close to the trunk encourages the growth of decay organisms and rodents that damage the tree’s protective bark. Be sure to keep the ground around your new planting moist, watering once a week if rainfall is scarce until the ground freezes.

Once all the leaves have fallen it’s time to prune your deciduous and evergreen trees. Remove any suckers and thin out the canopy. This will help improve air circulation and sunlight penetration to lower branches. Take out all diseased and dead branches. Check the tree’s form and remove any branches that are rubbing on others. Lower branches that are failing because of lack of light should also be removed.

Large groups of Asian ladybird beetles are beginning to congregate on the sides of houses, garages, and sheds. They especially like white houses and warm, sunny days. Their appearance varies from pale yellowish-brown to bright orange-red and they may have no spots or up to twenty spots. Like other ladybird beetles these are beneficial and you should avoid destroying them even though hundreds or thousands may congregate. Be sure to caulk your doors and windows and screen attic and exhaust vents. If they can’t find a way in they will move on. If they do make it inside put a new bag in your vacuum and suck them up. Store the bag in your unheated garage or shed until mid-April, then release them into your yard. They will appreciate the winter shelter and you will appreciate their spring appetite as they feed on your garden pests.

Now is the time to check your lilacs for lilac borers. Look for dead branches and small holes near the base of the stems or in the branch crotches. Cut off any dead or infested branches. If necessary you can cut the entire plant down to the ground. Next season it will produce vigorous new growth and the lilac borers will be eliminated since they only attack mature branches one inch or more in diameter.