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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ALL-AMERICA VEGETABLES– Here’s information for you home vegetable gardeners who are now lining out your gardening plans for this next growing season. The All-America Selections program has just announced the latest additions to its vegetable lineup. And Johnson County Extension horticulture agent Dennis Patton encourages gardeners to give these a look as candidates for planting.
STARTING VEGETABLE TRANSPLANTS – There’s a lot of winter yet to go, but vegetable gardeners can get a start on the next growing season by growing their own transplants. It’s still too early to plant those seeds, but K-State horticulturist Ward Upham says you can be shopping for quality seed and setting up the special lighting required for germinating the transplants.
LIVE CHRISTMAS TREE– For those who elected to celebrate the holiday with a live Christmas tree, to be planted in the home landscape afterward, here’s some advice on succeeding with that. Riley County Extension horticulture agent Gregg Eyestone says allowing that tree to adjust to the outdoor environment before planting is important…as is preparing the planting site beforehand.
PROTECTING ORNAMENTAL TREES– As the cold of winter settles in for the long haul, rabbits, mice and other rodents start looking for additional food sources. And tender young ornamental trees and shrubs are often on their menu. By taking simple measures, Johnson County Extension horticulture agent Dennis Patton says you can protect vulnerable ornamentals from those hungry rodents.
DORMANT LAWN SEEDING– Normally, winter is not an ideal time to plant cool-season lawn grass. However, if you have one or more bare spots in your lawn, dormant seeding now can take care of those once spring green-up begins. And according to K-State horticulturist Ward Upham, spot-seeding is fairly easy to achieve.
HOUSE PLANT CARE– When house plants are brought indoors for the winter, the transition can be a shock to a plant’s system…unless you take a few simple steps. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham talks about helping plants adjust to the change in light exposure and routine indoor plant care.
NEW LANDSCAPE ORNAMENTALS – About this time of year, homeowners start turning their attention to the next growing season, and what’s new in landscape perennial plants. K-State nursery crops specialist Cheryl Boyer stays on top of the latest arrivals at local nurseries. She says there are several ornamentals which will likely do well in this region that have caught her attention.
DORMANT OIL APPLICATIONS– Lawn and garden insect management becomes of much lesser concern as colder weather comes on. There is one thing that homeowners might look into right now…whether or not some of their landscape fruit or ornamental trees are infested with scale. If so, a dormant oil treatment may be worthwhile. K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd covers that and a false alarm that’s getting around about a highly-publicized insect pest.
ATTRACTING BACKYARD BIRDS– The weather is definitely trending colder, and songbirds are looking for a safe haven for the winter. That could be your back yard if you provide well-placed bird feeders and waterers. Geary County Extension agricultural agent Chuck Otte, an accredited ornithologist, offers several guidelines for attracting birds to the home setting this winter.
SPRING-FLOWERING BULBS– If you have spring-flowering bulbs, it’s not too late to plant them. However, the window for planting is starting to narrow. K-State Research and Extension horticulturist Ward Upham says hardy bulbs, especially daffodils, should be planted in October or early November so they have time to root before winter.
FALL LANDSCAPE PRUNING– These comfortable fall days encourage homeowners to get out and take on outdoor projects, like pruning landscape trees and shrubs. Before getting the loppers or pruning saw out, consider the advice from Johnson County Extension horticulture agent Dennis Patton. He says the timing of pruning is important and there are consequences for pruning at the wrong time.
INSECT MIGRATION INDOORS– As the weather is steadily cooling off, landscape insects are taking their seasonal cue, and trying to find sanctuary indoors. K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd talks about some of the more prominent invaders, and what to do about them. He also recommends gardeners clean up around their growing areas to help squelch the return of damaging insects next year.
LATE VEGETABLE HARVEST– The summer vegetable gardening season is at an end…but you still have tomatoes on the vine and peppers on the plant that you don’t want to go to waste. Ahead of that first killing frost, you can go ahead now and harvest those. Through proper handling and storage, K-State horticulturist Ward Upham says those un-ripened tomatoes and peppers can still make for good-quality produce.
PLANTING SPRING BULBS– It has become something of an annual landscaping ritual with many homeowners: planting spring-flowering bulbs in the fall. While you can be as creative as you’d like with these bulbs, Riley County Extension horticultural agent Gregg Eyestone says there are a few planting principles than need to be followed if you want to enjoy a colorful flower display in the spring.
ASSORTED FALL INSECTS– Though the variety of insects that attack garden vegetables during the growing season is starting to dwindle now, there are a couple of pests that gardeners need to remain on guard for, according to K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd. He discusses blister beetle and squash bug control, which attack cole crops and vine crops, respectively. And he offers good news about the absence of the oak leaf itch mite this fall.
FALL TREE PLANTING– Summer is quickly giving way to fall. And for homeowners looking to add one or more new trees to their landscape, this is a great time to plant those trees. In fact, research has proven that fall-planted ornamental trees establish themselves quicker than those planted in the spring. K-State ornamental horticulturist Jason Griffin explains the advantages of fall tree planting.
FALL COMPOST USE– If you as a homeowner or gardener have been composting plant material for eventual use, the fall offers a great opportunity to do just that. Specifically, Johnson County Extension horticulture agent Dennis Patton says those who plant or overseed the lawn this fall will find a layer of compost could be beneficial to grass establishment. And that working compost into the garden soil is a good way to ready that area for next year’s production.
FALL LAWN SEEDING– September is here, and with it, the opportunity to seed or overseed a cool-season lawn. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham says it takes dedication at the outset to get a new lawn seeding off to a good start. He covers the pre-and-post-planting management required to succeed with this project.
LATE SUMMER INSECTS– The lawn and garden insect world remains quite active in these latter stages of summer. K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd responds to some of the more common insect questions he’s hearing from homeowners and gardeners. One involves a case of mistaken insect identity, which has some folks unnecessarily concerned.
MASTER GARDENER TRAINING– The Extension Master Gardener program has been thriving in Kansas for many years. This program provides training for lawn and garden enthusiasts who can then serve as informational resources for people in their communities. K-State nursery crops specialist Cheryl Boyer says the next round of Master Gardener preparation is coming up soon, in a series of weekly on-line sessions.
FALL VEGETABLE GARDENING– Conditions are great right now for starting a fall vegetable garden…planting any of several cool-season vegetables like lettuce, radishes, cabbage and broccoli. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham says there are a few special guidelines for getting these plantings off to a good start.
LANDSCAPE BUGS APLENTY– Well into the latter half of summer now, insect activity in home landscapes has not let up. In fact, K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd says several damaging insects appear to be hitting their stride now: green June beetles, Japanese beetles and mimosa webworms.
DUTCH ELM DISEASE– American elms are among the grandest of landscape trees. Many, though, remain vulnerable to Dutch elm disease, which will swiftly kill susceptible elms. The director of the Plant Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at K-State, Judy O’Mara, talks about why it’s important to quickly identify the disease to protect other elms that might be close by.
HORT INSECT UPDATE– A wide assortment of landscape and garden insects tend to hit their stride in mid-summer. This week, K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd reports on three of them: Japanese beetles attacking landscape ornamentals, squash vine borers infesting garden vine crops, and spider mites showing up on all sorts of plant material.
TROUBLE SETTING FRUIT– This is the time of year that gardeners often have trouble with vegetables that are blooming but not setting fruit. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham says there are several possible reasons for this. He discusses the potential problems and the possible solutions.
MID-SUMMER TOMATO CARE– Garden tomatoes ought to be hitting their productive stride soon. There are some common impediments to that productivity, though. Johnson County Extension horticulture agent Dennis Patton discusses how hot weather can diminish tomato fruit set, and what can be done about that. He also takes up mid-summer control of damaging tomato diseases.
MORE HORTICULTURAL BUGS– Summer is here in full force, and with it, the usual collection of insects that try to work over our landscapes and gardens. This week, K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd talks about three such pests, and what can be done about them: fall webworm in select landscape trees, squash bugs in garden cucurbit crops, and grasshoppers, well, everywhere.
LAWN GRUBS AND NUTSEDGE– There are two common pest problems in home lawns that homeowners can take measure against at this stage of the summer…white grubs and nutsedge. Being selective about the grubicide and herbicide one uses, respectively, is important. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham offers recommendations on mid-summer control of these pests.
POTATO AND ONION HARVEST– Harvest time is drawing near for a couple of the more popular garden vegetables…potatoes and onions. Knowing when to dig up the finished product is important to its final quality…as is the post-harvest handling of same. Riley County Extension horticulture agent Gregg Eyestone offers his recommendations on optimizing your potato or onion harvest.
MORE LANDSCAPE INSECTS– It’s been a banner year for insect activity in home landscapes. K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd reports on several pests that homeowners may notice, including aphids on assorted hardwood trees, and insect-inflicted gall damage to tree leaves. He also gives homeowners the go-ahead to treat landscape evergreens for bagworms.
TWO TREE ILLS– Homeowners with either sycamore or ash trees in their home landscapes may be taken aback by the sudden loss of leaves from those trees in recent weeks. There’s no need for panic, or action. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham says this is the result of two pest issues…a disease on sycamore, and an insect on ash. In both cases, the trees will almost invariably bounce back just fine.
BUGS IN THE LANDSCAPE– A number of insects are already working on landscape trees. And K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd wants homeowners to be aware of a couple of them: the eastern tent caterpillar, which is causing damage to assorted hardwood trees, and the European elm flea beetle, which is a lesser-known pest. He talks about whether control of either is warranted.
CEDAR RUST DISEASE– Those vivid orange galls that show up on cedar trees in the spring quickly catch one’s attention. Those are actually a pathogen called cedar apple rust…and they can serve as the source for rust infestations on landscape trees other than cedars. K-State plant pathologist Judy O’Mara talks about the nature of cedar rust, and steps homeowners can take to protect their trees.
PRUNING DAMAGED TREES– Spring storms can take a substantial toll on landscape trees. If high winds have led to broken limbs, those need to be pruned out…and depending on the magnitude of that damage, that may or may not be a project a homeowner would want to take on. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham discusses properly pruning storm-damaged trees.
MID-SPRING LANDSCAPE INSECTS– As the weather is steadily warming up, insect activity in gardens and landscapes is picking up. K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd is keeping track of the most prominent insects out there so far. He discusses three landscape insects: scale on pine trees, praying mantis, and lilac ash borers, and what, if anything, homeowners should do about them.
CONTAINER VEGETABLE GARDENING– With so many people remaining at home because of COVID-19, interest in growing vegetables in containers is on the rise. Johnson County Extension horticultural agent Dennis Patton says he's receiving a ton of questions about how to succeed with container gardening.
PINE TREE DISEASES– Understandably, homeowners become worried when the needles on their landscape pines start turning yellow. They often fear that pine wilt disease has set in. However, there are two other less-severe pine disease that cause that yellowing, and those can be controlled with the proper treatment. K-State plant pathologist Judy O’Mara discusses pine tip blight and Dothistroma needle blight.
LAWN WEED CONTROL– The weeds are popping up in home lawns, especially the usual suspects like henbit, chickweed and dandelions. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham covers the strategies for controlling these weeds, pointing out that the most effective control for the winter annuals starts with a fall treatment. However, now is the best time to implement crabgrass control.
SUPPORTING GARDEN CENTERS– The disruptions caused by COVID-19 shouldn't dissuade homeowners from engaging in their normal gardening activities. Extension state leader in horticulture at Kansas State University, Cheryl Boyer, says that outdoor gardening is a perfect way to ease the stress from the current situation. And local garden centers are going out of their way to accommodate home gardeners and their needs.
EXTENSION HORT SERVICES– K-State Research and Extension is in a mode of limited operation because of the coronavirus situation, however home gardeners can still benefit from the informational services that it provides as another growing season gets underway. That’s the message this week from the Extension state leader in horticulture at K-State, Cheryl Boyer.
EARLY LANDSCAPE BUGS– They’re not here in droves yet, but early-spring landscape insects will likely make their first moves in the next couple of weeks. Among the main offenders are tree borers and tent caterpillars. K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd looks at what homeowners can expect, and what can be done about these early pests.
PLANTING SEED POTATOES– Often seen as the “starting gun” for another vegetable gardening season, potato planting time is here. Riley County Extension horticultural agent Gregg Eyestone offers several suggestions on getting garden potatoes off to a productive start, including seed piece preparation and placement in the soil and creating a growing environment for those new tubers.
LANDSCAPE TREE PLANTING– Homeowners with intentions on planting a landscape tree this spring should be gearing up for that now. While tree planting is a relatively straightforward procedure, attention to detail is still called for. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham discusses readying the tree’s root ball for planting as well as digging, and then backfilling, the planting hole appropriately.
EARLY LAWN CARE– Signs of spring are starting to show up. And homeowners with cool-season lawns can start thinking in terms of early spring lawn management. K-State turfgrass horticulturist Jared Hoyle goes over several things to consider, including lawn aeration for healthier grass, early broadleaf weed control, and fertilization as the grass greens up.
GARDEN SOIL TESTING– Signs of spring’s arrival are starting to turn up. Ahead of this next growing season, homeowners and gardeners might want to check the soil nutrient levels in their lawns and gardens. That can be done via a soil test, with samples sent to Kansas State University’s soil testing laboratory for analysis. Johnson County Extension horticultural agent Dennis Patton discusses that process.
FRUIT TREE PRUNING– Before spring budding begins, home fruit gardeners would be wise to inspect their fruit trees for pruning needs. This is a great time to conduct corrective pruning, according to K-State horticulturist Ward Upham…provided the recommendations on how to go about it are followed.
DOWNSIZING HOUSE PLANTS– What can you do with a favorite houseplant that's become overgrown? Well, there’s a technique for downsizing that plant without harming its appearance or future growth. It’s called air-layering, and Riley County Extension horticultural agent Gregg Eyestone explains how to do it.
LANDSCAPE MAKEOVER PLANNING– Homeowners: when was the last time you took a good, hard look at your home landscape and where it could stand improvement? Johnson County Extension horticultural agent Dennis Patton says now is an ideal time to assess your landscape, and plan for a plant material makeover where needed.
MORE NEW VEGETABLES– Once again, the All-America Selection program has trotted out its lineup of new garden plants to try. Last week, the new tomato types were in the spotlight. This week, three more All-America Selection winners earn a closer look from K-State horticulturist Ward Upham: a cucumber, a watermelon, and a pumpkin…all of which are well adapted to Kansas gardening conditions.
ALL-AMERICAN TOMATOES– The All-America Selections program has just come out with its list of All-American vegetable and ornamental plant selections for this year. Among them are seven tomato varieties that will be available to gardeners for the first time in the new growing season. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham reviews those varieties and their appealing attributes.
PLANTING FOR POLLINATORS– Winter is a great time to plan out the next season of ornamental gardening. A K-State ornamental horticulturist offers this suggestion: look into adding plant material that will attract bees and other pollinators to the home landscape. Cheryl Boyer says there’s been quite a bit of research lately on the kinds of plants that appeal to pollinators. She talks about what’s been discovered.
VEGETABLE GARDEN PLANNING– During one of these colder winter days, vegetable gardeners can make the most of their time by planning ahead for next year’s gardening. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham encourages gardeners to map out the garden plots for planting, take an inventory of holdover seed and test it for viability, and place orders for new seed.
DORMANT LAWN SEEDING– During one of the few pleasant days winter typically offers, homeowners can actually conduct a little lawn care…by seeding bare spots in the cool-season lawn. K-State turfgrass specialist Jared Hoyl says this dormant seeding approach can be successful. He explains how to do it.
HOUSE PLANT CARE– House plants can look a little ragged during their indoor winter stay -- often the result of insufficient light, which is normal during these shorter day lengths. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham says that needs to be factored in when caring for house plants until they can be moved outdoors in the spring.
WINTERIZING LAWN AND GARDEN STUFF– Fall is steadily giving way to winter. This is an excellent time to winterize lawn and garden equipment and store it away for the winter. And now that those potted plants have been moved indoors for the season, Johnson County Extension horticultural agent Dennis Patton says they deserve a little attention as well.
BASIC POINSETTIA CARE– Widely considered a staple of Christmas season decor, poinsettias, are showy plants that are reasonably easy keepers. However, they still deserve attention every so often during their holiday run. Riley County Extension horticulture agent Gregg Eyestone covers the basics of poinsettia care, which generally apply to all other house plants.
GROWING AMARYLLIS BULBS– Flowering amaryllis can be a great complement to the traditional poinsettias as holiday potted plants in the indoor setting. Now is the time to pot amaryllis bulbs and start them on their way to sprouting and blooming. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham goes through the steps to promoting those huge amaryllis blooms.
USING FALLEN LEAVES– Very soon, all the landscape deciduous trees will lose their leaves. While most homeowners look at those leaves as a clean-up chore, Johnson County Extension horticultural agent Dennis Patton looks at them as an opportunity. He talks about mulch-mowing those leaves to create an organic resource for either the lawn or garden…and about utilizing fallen leaves in beneficial ways.
FINAL INSECT PRECAUTIONS– Insect activity in around home landscapes has wound down for the season. Even so, what insects remain are still looking for a warm place to overwinter. K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd reminds homeowners about sealing up their houses and outbuildings to keep bugs out. He also talks about protecting fruit trees from winter insect damage with dormant oil treatments.
FALL LANDSCAPE INSECTS– Despite the recent and widespread freezing temperatures, a number of insects remain active in home landscape settings. Some, like Asian lady beetles, are attempting to move indoors for the winter, while others, like green June bug larvae, may look imposing as they move about. This week, K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd discusses those and other pests, and what, if anything, homeowners should do about them.
NEW LAWN MANAGEMENT– Once a homeowner successfully seeds a new cool-season lawn like fescue in the early fall, the management doesn’t stop there. To give that new grass the best opportunity to get off to a healthy start, K-State turfgrass horticulturist Jared Hoyle says post-seeding fertilization and weed control need to be considered.
FALL ORNAMENTAL PRUNING– Once fall weather turns colder for good, there’s a great temptation for homeowners to prune landscape trees and shrubs…their thinking being that those plants have gone dormant, and no harm can be done. Quite the contrary, according to K-State horticulturist Ward Upham. He says considerable damage to woody ornamentals can occur if we get too carried away with fall pruning.
FINAL VEGETABLE HARVEST– Fall weather conditions have checked in, bringing a close to warm-season garden vegetable production. Those tomato and pepper plants are all but done for the season, so what production remains can be harvested and stored now. Riley County Extension horticulture agent Gregg Eyestone talks about doing that very thing.
FALL TREE PLANTING– For most durable landscape tree species, fall planting is a great alternative to spring planting. And now is the time to prepare the planting site and get that new tree into the ground, so that it can be well established before winter sets in. Johnson County Extension horticultural agent Dennis Patton offers the basic guidelines to planting new landscape trees over the next several weeks.
PLANTING SPRING BULBS– Summer is slowly but surely giving way to fall. And these next few weeks are an excellent time to plant spring-flowering bulbs in the home landscape. As with any landscaping project, site preparation and planting technique make a huge difference in the bulb display that will result next spring. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham goes over the proven bulb-planting procedure.
FALL LAWN SEEDING (part 2)– Once a homeowner seeds a new fescue lawn, or overseeds an existing lawn, the project is hardly over. There are three critical steps yet to follow: fertilization, weed control and watering. K-State turfgrass specialist Jared Hoyle returns to cover those important inputs that are necessary for success when planting fescue or other cool-season grass in the fall.
FALL LAWN SEEDING (part 1)– Summer is grudgingly giving way to fall. That means it’s time to seed, or overseed, fescue and other cool-season lawns. Successfully planting a lawn sets the tone for that lawn’s long-term health and well-being. In the first of a two-part visit, K-State turfgrass specialist Jared Hoyle talks about preparing the planting site, seeding rates and seeding method.
APPLE AND PEAR PICKING– Home-grown apple and pear picking time is here, or nearly here. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham says determining ripeness differs between these two fruits. He discusses the guidelines for harvesting apples and pears, noting that one should be allowed to ripen on the tree, and the other should not.
LANDSCAPE BAGWORM ONSLAUGHT– K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd says he’s never seen anything like it…the explosion of bagworms, not only on landscape evergreens, but on other landscape ornamental plants as well. He talks about what can, and can’t, be done to control bagworms at this stage of the season and the potential plant damage that can be expected if homeowners wait until next spring to take action.
FALL LAWN RENOVATION– The heat of summer will soon give way to cooler early fall temperatures…the perfect conditions for renovating a tall fescue lawn. Homeowners can start planning for that project right now, and K-State turfgrass specialist Jared Hoyle talks about the initial steps to overseeding fescue or completely starting over.
LATE SUMMER PRUNING– Homeowners: have you tired of having your hat knocked off by that low-hanging branch while you’re mowing? Or are your landscape shrubs growing into your walkway or other places you’d rather it not be? A light late-summer pruning might be in order. Riley County Extension horticultural agent Gregg Eyestone covers the recommended pruning techniques.
CURRENT TOMATO PLANTS– Garden tomato plants should be hitting their productive stride right now. And right in step, Johnson County Extension horticultural agent Dennis Patton says various pest problems are making their presence known on tomato plants and fruit.
LANDSCAPE BEETLE ACTIVITY– Two kinds of large green beetles can routinely found in home landscapes right now. One is harmless to landscape plants…the other is quite the opposite. That’s why it’s important for homeowners to accurately identify these before taking any sort of control action. K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd talks about distinguishing between the Japanese beetle and the green June beetle.
GARDEN FRUIT ISSUES– The “dog days” of summer are here…hot days and warm nights. That combination often hinders fruit production on garden tomatoes. However, K-State horticulturist Ward Upham urges growers to remain patient because once the extreme heat moves out, tomatoes should start setting fruit again. He also talks about slow fruit set on cucumbers and other vine crops.
LAWN AND GARDEN BUGS– Insect activity in home landscapes and gardens is at its mid-summer norm. And in many cases, responding with control measures would be warranted. K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd talks about three such pests and what can be done about them: Japanese beetles on roses and other ornamentals, green June beetles on fruit crops and squash bugs in vegetable gardens.
WARM-SEASON LAWN CARE– By their very nature, warm-season lawn grasses are better equipped to endure the heat of summer. Even so, they do require some care. K-State turfgrass specialist Jared Hoyle says that includes in-season fertilization of zoysia, bermudagrass and buffalograss.
HARVESTING GARDEN POTATOES– For most home gardeners, their potato crop got out of the gate slowly this year, because of the wet spring weather. But now, those potatoes should be nearly harvest-ready. Johnson County Extension horticultural agent Dennis Patton offers guidelines on when to dig those potatoes and how to properly store them for long-term enjoyment.
TROUBLESHOOTING TOMATOES– With the arrival of summer heat, garden tomatoes ought to start taking off soon. With that, Riley County Extension horticultural agent Gregg Eyestone, says gardeners may see signs of tomato plant stress, in the form of leaf curl and various leaf diseases. He talks about what, if anything, should be done to curb these conditions.
INSECT PEST PROTECTION– The abundant moisture this spring has created a thriving environment for a variety of insect pests. K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd offers advice on protecting ourselves from ticks, mosquitoes and chiggers. He also explains how to best detect and control slugs.
GARDEN FERTILIZER SIDEDRESSING– As the growing season swings into full gear, home vegetable and flower gardeners might want to consider fertilizing their crops once more. This is called “sidedressing” and the procedure differs with the various plants. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham explains why fertilizer sidedressing is important to garden productivity, and covers some of the general guidelines for doing so.
LAWN INSECT UPDATE– The recent wet weather has done nothing to deter several irritating insects from thriving in home lawns. K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd provides an update on three prime examples: ants migrating from lawns into dwellings, bagworms now active on landscape evergreens, and ticks building up in huge numbers and attaching to people and pets.
OVERSOAKED LAWN MANAGEMENT– Home lawns have been soaked to the point of oversaturation. Even if it’s not outright flooding, K-State turfgrass specialist Jared Hoyle says these conditions can be detrimental to that lawn grass, so a little extra care in lawn management may be in order.
ORNAMENTAL TREE STRESS– With the abundance of moisture in the region this spring, landscape ornamental trees should be doing just fine. However, that may not be the case. K-State horticulturist Ward Upham has been seeing heavy seed production on trees and he's advising homeowners to monitor the condition of those trees very closely into and through the summer.
CONTAINER GROWN VEGETABLES– Since garden soils in much of the region remain soaked by the persistent rainfall, home gardeners might consider planting tomato and pepper transplants in containers instead. Done correctly, container-grown vegetables can be highly productive. Johnson County Extension horticulture agent Dennis Patton offers basic guidelines for establishing tomatoes and peppers in containers.
MORE HORT INSECTS– The insect activity in home lawns and gardens is really accelerating, according to K-State horticultural entomologist Raymond Cloyd. Elm leaf beetles on landscape trees, ants and termites around the foundation of homes, and cucumber beetles in vegetable gardens are particularly active. Cloyd talks about what, if any, damage they can inflict, and what to do about them.
LANDSCAPE ORNAMENTAL PESTS– An array of insects are now escalating their activity on landscape ornamental trees and shrubs. K-State horticultural insect specialist Raymond Cloyd says homeowners should act now to control the pine saw fly and the lilac ash borer, while they can wait until later this spring to treat bagworms.
LAWN WEED CONTROL– With spring weather finally here for good, homeowners should start ramping up their lawn weed control programs. K-State turfgrass specialist Jared Hoyle says to start by attacking broadleaf weed issues like dandelions that survived last fall and assorted other weed problems. He also recommends putting down a pre-emergence control product against summer lawn weeds.
ORNAMENTAL PEAR ISSUES– Ornamental pear trees, such as the Bradford pear, can be found regularly in home landscapes. Those trees are not intended to bear fruit. However, K-State horticulturist Ward Upham says in recent years, because of the proliferation of ornamental pear cultivars, some trees are now setting fruit, which then becomes an issue when that fruit drops to the ground.
EARLY LAWN AND GARDEN INSECTS– This past winter was cold and wet for an extended time…giving rise to the notion that lawn and garden insects may have struggled to survive those conditions. K-State horticultural insect specialist says the winter likely did little to reduce the likelihood of insect activity in this new growing season. Raymond Cloyd talks more about that, and about the first insects homeowners and gardeners will likely see in the next couple of weeks.
STARTING VEGETABLE TRANSPLANTS– It’s not too late for home gardeners to start their own warm-season vegetable transplants from seed. K-State vegetable production specialist Cary Rivard walks through the basic steps to successfully seeding and growing sturdy transplants with a promising yield potential.
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.