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K-State Research and Extension News


Plantorama is a weekly five-minute interview with horticultural specialists at Kansas State University, covering timely topics in: home lawn care; vegetable, fruit and flower gardening; landscape design and ornamental plant care;  indoor plant care; and horticultural pest control.

Send comments, questions or requests for copies of past programs to ksrenews@ksu.edu.

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SUMMER LAWN PROBLEMS– Each summer brings its own assortment of challenges to home lawns. K-State turfgrass specialist Jared Hoyle addresses a couple of common problems he’s been hearing about:  infestations of a grassy weed called yellow nutsedge and brown patch disease.

 Hoyle 07-13

WATERING LANDSCAPE TREES– It’s already been a tough summer for landscape trees and shrubs.  Long stretches of hotter-than-normal weather and lack of rainfall has caused considerable stress. As a result, watering may be called for. However, K-State horticulturist Ward Upham says there’s a right way and a wrong way to do that.

Upham 07-06

LAWN HEALTH ISSUES– Warm-season lawns typically thrive in the summer.  However, K-State plant health specialist Megan Kennelly is getting samples from Kansas homeowners that indicate otherwise. In these cases, she says it’s more about environmental stress than plant disease problems.

Kennelly 06-29 

AN ARRAY OF INSECTS– Lawn and garden insect issues are seasonally abundant right now. Horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd offers a quick-hitting look at several of the more common pests and how to contend with them. The lineup includes grasshoppers, cabbage loopers and Colorado potato beetles, as well as continued attention to the bagworm problem on landscape ornamentals.

 Cloyd 06-22

BAGWORMS AND SPIDER MITES– Insects are out in full force in home landscapes and gardens. K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd says bagworms on landscape evergreens, and spider mites on woody ornamentals and garden vegetables deserve some extra attention right now.

Cloyd 06-15

MULCH AND FERTILIZE TOMATOES– Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable for home gardeners, not only in Kansas but just about everywhere. K-State Research and Extension horticulturist Ward Upham says now is a good time to mulch tomatoes and give them a boost by applying a nitrogen fertilizer.

Upham 06-08

INJURY TO LANDSCAPE PLANTS– The crazy weather Kansas has experienced over the last six months may be responsible for some problems in the home landscape. Johnson County Extension horticulture agent Dennis Patton says winter overkill and spray drift from applying herbicides is now starting to show up.


WARM-SEASON LAWNS– Now that the weather has warmed up, warm-season turfgrass like zoysia and buffalograss is growing vigorously. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham says nitrogen is the main nutrient need for these grasses. He covers application rates and how many times to fertilize during the summer.

Upham 05-25

ASSORTED PLANT BUGS– K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd says it’s time to treat landscape evergreens for bagworms. He also addresses several insect concerns in home vegetable gardens, including bean leaf beetles, squash bugs and spider mites…and what to do to keep them from damaging vegetable plants.

Cloyd 05-18

TICKS AND ANTS– Summer-like weather has descended upon us…and with it, a proliferation of insect concerns in home yards: most notably, ticks and ants.  K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd talks about protecting one’s self from tick bites, and about preventing ants from migrating from the landscape into the home.

Cloyd 05-11

TRANSPLANTING GARDEN VEGETABLES– Now that warmer spring weather is finally here, home gardeners can safely plant tomato, pepper and other warm-loving vegetable transplants. Riley County Extension horticultural agent Gregg Eyestone says following a few simple steps gets those transplants off to a good start, which is essential to productivity.

Eyestone 05-04 

SPRING LANDSCAPE INSECTS– Now that true spring weather is taking over, various insects are now asserting themselves in landscape trees and shrubs. K-State horticultural insect specialist Raymond Cloyd addresses two of the primary caterpillar problems that are showing up now: the European pine saw fly and the ash/lilac borer.

 Cloyd 04-27

LANDSCAPE PLANT DESICCATION– The weather this past winter and now into spring has hardly been kind to landscape woody ornamental plants.  Johnson County Extension horticultural agent Dennis Patton offers advice on helping landscape trees and shrubs recover from these adverse conditions.

Patton 04-20

VEGETABLES AND COLD WEATHER– It’s been an extremely slow start to the spring.  And that has home gardeners asking K-State horticulturist Ward Upham if their early-planted vegetables will come through the cold weather in good shape. 

Upham 04-13 

CRABGRASS PREVENTER TREATMENTS– Countless homeowners combat crabgrass in their lawns every year. Now is the time to get the jump on this weed by applying a crabgrass preventer. However, the window of opportunity will be closing soon. K-State turfgrass horticulturist Jared Hoyle discusses the timing of crabgrass herbicide applications, and the products most likely to get the job done.

Hoyle 04-06

EARLY INSECT CONCERNS– The dry winter and early spring has made many landscape woody ornamentals vulnerable to attacks from wood-boring insects, including the lilac ash borer. Deeply watering those trees and shrubs now will help them fend off these pests, according to K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd. 

Cloyd 03-30 

EARLY LAWN CARE – With spring officially here, homeowners should start paying attention to the condition of their cool-season lawns…especially in view of the dry conditions in the region. K-State turfgrass horticulturist Jared Hoyle says early-season watering of fescue and other cool-season turfgrass is especially important this year, along with fertility management.

Hoyle 03-23

ASPARAGUS BED ESTABLISHMENT– As garden vegetables go, asparagus is vastly overrated, according to K-State horticulturist Ward Upham. This crop needs to be in place for one year before it can be harvested, so now is the time to establish an asparagus bed. He covers the steps to succeeding with new asparagus production.

Upham 03-16 

PRODUCING COMMERCIAL PRODUCE (part 2)– Taking on commercial fruit or vegetable production to complement field crop production is a significant commitment. However, if done right, it can pay off. In the second of a two-part series, K-State horticulturist Cary Rivard (rih-VARD) discusses some of the equipment and facility investments that may be required for a farmer to succeed in growing and marketing produce.

Rivard 03-09

PRODUCING COMMERCIAL PRODUCE (part 1)– With the economic returns to crop production faltering, farmers might give thought to raising fruits or vegetables commercially to supplement their incomes.  That’s an idea being promoted by K-State fruit and vegetable production specialist Cary Rivard.  In the first of a two-part series, he talks about the demand for local produce that is making this option more feasible, and some of the crops to consider.

Rivard 03-02 

GARDEN SOIL TESTING– Before the gardening season arrives, home gardeners might consider having a soil test to determine nutrient content…especially if they haven’t done one for a number of years.  Local Extension offices can provide advice on soil sampling and will submit those samples to Kansas State University for analysis. Johnson County Extension horticultural agent Dennis Patton explains what a soil test will—and won’t—tell a gardener about their soil productivity.

Patton 02-23

FRUIT TREE PRUNING– Those with fruit trees should consider using one of the warmer late-winter days to prune their trees for improved fruit productivity. This should be a standard practice every year. Riley County Extension horticulture agent Gregg Eyestone says how aggressively fruit trees should be pruned varies by tree type.

Eyestone 02-16

SPOT OVERSEEDING A LAWN– There’s very little along the lines of lawn management that can be done this time of the year…with one exception. Modest-sized bare spots in cool-season lawns can be overseeded. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham covers the three ways a homeowner can successfully accomplish this.

Upham 02-09

ORNAMENTAL FLOWER SELECTION– A gardener could quickly become overwhelmed with the explosion of annual ornamental flowers on the market. To help gardeners select the flower cultivars best-suited to Kansas growing conditions, K-State conducts the Prairie Star flower evaluation program.  K-State nursery crops specialist Cheryl Boyer talks about how to access the list of recommended flowers from this past year’s field trials around the state.            

Boyer 02-02

TREE-GRASS COMPETITION STUDY– It’s long been understood that turfgrass growth around the base of a newly-planted tree can slow the growth and development of that tree.  A recent study set out to quantify that impact. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham reports on the findings of that research, which looked at multiple kinds of grass competition and the value of mulching.

Upham 01-26

VEGETABLE GARDEN PLANNING– K-State horticulturists have released the updated list of preferred vegetable varieties for Kansas growing conditions. Johnson County Extension horticultural agent Dennis Patton discusses that list and offers tips for vegetable garden planning.

Patton 01-19

EARLY VEGETABLE TRANSPLANTS – Though spring vegetable gardening is at least a couple of months away, home gardeners can get a jump on their gardening by starting certain vegetable transplants indoors, now through February.  Among the first of these transplant starts would be onions. Riley County Extension horticultural agent Gregg Eyestone goes over the steps to successfully starting and raising these transplants.

Eyestone 01-12

FORCING PAPER-WHITE BULBS – During these persistently drab, cold days of winter, flower gardening enthusiasts can still enjoy home-grown flowers indoors. A certain kind of daffodil known as the paper-white bulb can be forced inside, and will grow into a showy flower that will likely last for the balance of the winter.  K-State horticulturist Ward Upham talks about how to make that happen.

Upham 01-05