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.
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MANAGING ASPARAGUS BEDS– Asparagus is one of the very first things harvested from the home vegetable garden. While established asparagus beds are generally easy to maintain, they do need some attention before those first spears are cut. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham offers tips for early-spring asparagus management, including fertilization and weed control.
HOME LAWN WINTERKILL– It was a fairly harsh winter in this region. And that has homeowners wondering if their lawn grasses were adversely affected by the extended cold and wet conditions. K-State turfgrass specialist Jared Hoyle says while the likelihood of outright turfgrass winterkill is relatively low, some limited damage may have occurred.
PLANTING GARDEN RHUBARB– Despite the slow, weather-impeded start to the vegetable gardening season, home growers still have plenty of time to establish a rhubarb planting. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham says rhubarb transplants are managed a bit differently compared to other popular vegetables.
GARDEN SOIL TESTING– It’s not needed every year, but if it hasn’t been done for a while, gardeners would be wise to sample the nutrient content of their soils. Johnson County Extension horticultural agent Dennis Patton says the steps to conducting a soil test are fairly simple, and can tell gardeners a lot about soil fertility management for the upcoming growing season.
TOP TOMATO VARIETIES – Tomato-planting time is still a couple of months away. Even so, there’s a reason for home gardeners to start thinking about the varieties they would like to grow this year. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham shares examples of tomato lines that rated very highly in K-State’s annual tomato evaluation trials on the basis of both yield and fruit size.
PRESERVING CUT FLOWERS– Now that Valentine’s Day has come and gone, how long can those roses or other cut flowers and flowering plants given for the occasion be preserved? That depends on several factors, according to Riley County Extension horticulture agent Gregg Eyestone.
DAMAGED TREE PRUNING– Heavy, wet snow and ice have exacted a toll on numerous landscape and fruit trees this winter. Johnson County Extension horticultural agent Dennis Patton says the sooner these damaged trees are cleaned up the better. He covers how to properly prune winter damaged trees.
ON-LINE PLANT MARKETING– A new avenue for marketing horticultural plant material is emerging: plant sales through major on-line retailers. It’s a development that K-State horticultural marketing specialist Cheryl Boyer has taken keen interest in, and in fact is researching.
ALL-AMERICAN VEGETABLES– As vegetable gardeners scan the winter catalogs for new things to plant this spring, K-State horticulturist Ward Upham says they should consider several varieties that have just been named All-American Selections for this year. These earn their high ranking based on productivity and adaptability to a wide range of growing conditions.
PRUNING LANDSCAPE ORNAMENTALS– As winter grudgingly affords us a few decent days outdoors, homeowners can go ahead and conduct whatever pruning is necessary on certain landscape trees and shrubs. K-State forester Charlie Barden offers general guidelines on making pruning decisions, including what plant material to prune now and what should be left for later in the year.
STARTING VEGETABLE TRANSPLANTS – Home vegetable gardeners who are wanting to get a jump on the growing season can soon start those early-season transplants from seed. It’s an approach that K-State horticulturist Ward Upham fully endorses. However, following the recommended steps to starting plants from seed is a must.
FIREWOOD HEAT VALUE– Nothing beats the warmth of a fireplace or wood stove to take the edge out a cold winter day or night. Knowing the heat value of different types of wood will make the experience that much better. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham explains why some firewood burns hotter and longer, and goes over the actual heat output ratings of the different tree species.
PROTECTING WOODY ORNAMENTALS– The brunt of winter is still ahead, and during the harsher weather, rabbits and other rodents are searching for nutrition. Often, they find it in the bark and tissue of young landscape trees and shrubs. And that feeding can do permanent damage. Riley County Extension horticultural agent Gregg Eyestone talks about protecting those woody ornamentals from feeding.
ATTRACTING BACKYARD BIRDS– Winter is here, and what better way to add life to a frozen backyard setting than to put out songbird feeders. Bird feeding is something the whole family can participate in and enjoy, says Geary County Extension agent Chuck Otte, a trained ornithologist who has produced a series of Extension fact sheets on backyard bird feeding. He shares some of the basics on bird seed selection and feeder placement.
WINTERIZING LAWN AND GARDEN EQUIPMENT – On one of these winter days where it’s too unpleasant to work outdoors, homeowners and gardeners might instead turn their attention to their lawn and garden power equipment and hand tools. Readying them for the next growing season is a good project to take on right now, according to K-State horticulturist Ward Upham. He walks through the steps to winterizing mowers, tillers, hoes, rakes and other common equipment.
MORE INDOOR BUGS– As the colder weather will likely be around for a while, several landscape insect species are setting up shop inside homes and outbuildings. By and large, these are nothing more than a nuisance, according to K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd. Homeowners can take simple steps to dispense with these pests…including those who hitchhiked indoors on potted plants as they were brought in for the winter.
COLD WEATHER AND ROSES– Winter came early over most of Kansas, with unusually cold temperatures in early November. That may have caught landscape roses unprepared, according to Johnson County Extension horticultural agent Dennis Patton. He talks about that possibility, and the simple steps to winterizing grafted roses.
BUGS IN THE HOUSE– With the weather steadily turning colder, landscape insects are seeking shelter indoors. Most of them are just a nuisance, and can be dealt with without the use of an insecticide. This week, K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd talks about the invaders he’s hearing about the most this fall: Asian lady beetles and spiders.
WINTERIZING THE LAWN– The weather is steadily cooling off, but there’s still time for homeowners to apply their final lawn care inputs of the year…namely, herbicides and fertilizer. According to K-State turfgrass horticulturist Jared Hoyle, one can get the jump on such weeds as henbit and chickweed with a fall treatment. He talks about that, and about proper pre-winter fertilizer rates for cool-season lawns.
WINTERIZING LANDSCAPE THINGS– Although winter is not quite yet on the doorstep, it soon will be. And homeowners can start squaring a few things away in the landscape, in advance of the cold weather. For instance, it’s about time to dig and store summer-flowering bulbs for the winter, according to K-State horticulturist Ward Upham. He also discusses winterizing lawn and garden watering systems.
FALL LANDSCAPE PROJECTS– Though home landscape management slows down considerably this time of the year, several tasks can still be taken on. One of those is planting spring-flowering bulbs. Johnson County Extension horticulture agent Dennis Patton goes over the basics of starting those bulbs off right. He also comments on why timing the pruning of ornamental trees and shrubs in the fall is very important.
COMPOSTING ORGANIC MATERIALS– Fall is here, and with it an abundance of fallen leaves and other organic material from home landscapes and gardens. That material has great value as compost when it’s processed right. This week, Riley County Extension horticultural agent Gregg Eyestone walks through the basic steps for starting and maintaining a compost pile for future use in gardens and landscapes.
LATE TOMATO AND PEPPER HARVEST– Thanks to favorable late-summer conditions, tomato and pepper plants remain highly productive in most vegetable gardens right now. The quality of that late-season produce can be quite good, if the tomatoes and peppers are harvested and stored properly. This week, K-State horticulturist Ward Upham walks through the steps to accomplishing that.
MUMS AND PANSIES– Fall has arrived, and so have a couple of traditional garden center and nursery selections. Cheryl Boyer, a Kansas State University associate professor of horticulture, discusses fall mums and pansies.
EXPANDING BEYOND NATIVE PLANTS– Fall is an excellent time for planting trees and shrubs in the home landscape. Cheryl Boyer, a Kansas State University associate professor of horticulture, discusses why it’s such a popular planting time, and explains that while native plants can be a good choice, there’s no reason to limit yourself.
LATE-SEASON LANDSCAPE INSECTS– At this point of the growing season, several beneficial insect species are active in home landscapes. K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd identifies a couple of those which are quite prominent right now…primarily encouraging homeowners to leave these species be, for they are causing no harm whatsoever to landscape plantings, or anything else.
DIVIDING DAYLILIES AND PEONIES– The month of September is an excellent time to divide and re-plant daylilies and peonies. The recommended dividing process differs from one to the other, as explained by K-State horticulturist Ward Upham. He also talks about re-establishing newly-divided daylily and peony clumps in the flower bed or border ahead of the colder weather to come.
ASSORTED LANDSCAPE BUGS– Summer is gradually giving way to fall. Even so, several insects remain active in home landscapes. The fortunate thing is that homeowners don’t really need to react to those at this stage of the year, according to K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd. He talks about fall webworms in trees, scale on euonymus, and previews a new K-State publication on pesticides and bees.
WATERING DRY TREES– The extended drought over a large part of Kansas stressed many landscape woody ornamentals. And though recent rains took some of the edge off of that stress, some trees and shrubs still need special attention with supplemental watering well into the fall. Johnson County Extension horticultural agent Dennis Patton identifies species which should be monitored and prioritized for routine watering.
PREPPING FOR LAWN RENOVATION– This summer’s heat and drought exacted a pretty big toll on fescue lawns in Kansas. Some were pushed past the point of no return, meaning they will need to be renovated this fall. K-State turfgrass specialist Jared Hoyle. says there are a few preparatory steps a homeowner can take right now, leading up to re-seeding or overseeding a fescue lawn.
HARVESTING APPLES AND PEARS– Home orchard managers in Kansas generally have good luck growing apples and pears in our sometimes-fickle conditions. The quality of the harvest rests in large part on picking these fruit at just the right time. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham offers some basic guidelines on determining apple and pear ripeness.
LAWN AND GARDEN INSECT UPDATE– Easing into the latter part of the summer now, an assortment of insects are out in full force in lawns and gardens right now. Some call for control measures, others are creating only cosmetic damage. K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd revisits the concerns over Japanese beetles, elm leaf beetles and squash bugs, and adds a new pest to the list: lacebugs.
FALL VEGETABLE GARDENING– If you can look past the mid-summer heat, now is an excellent time to plant a fall vegetable garden. Under good management, cool-season vegetable crops can often exceed spring-planted vegetables in quality and flavor, according to Riley County Extension horticultural agent Gregg Eyestone.
BEETLES AT WORK– Lawns and gardens around Kansas are being besieged by an assortment of beetles that are creating various forms of damage…namely, Japanese beetles on ornamentals and vegetable gardens, green June beetles on fruit crops, and elm leaf beetles on elm trees. K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd talks about controlling these problems while also being careful not to harm bee populations in the process.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.