October 2016-November 2016
In This Issue
Master Gardener Training Coming in 2017Master Gardener Training Coming in 2017
University of Illinois Extension Adams, Brown, Hancock, Pike & Schuyler Counties will be offering MasterGardener volunteer training beginning in January of 2017. This volunteer training program helpsprepare those interested in gardening and horticulture to work on approved volunteer projects in theirlocal communities. Master Gardener volunteer projects and activities are focused on helping to educateothers about plants and gardening. Anyone interested in applying to be a Master Gardener is encouragedto contact Kari Houle, Extension Educator Horticulture, firstname.lastname@example.org or Jeremy Reynolds, ANRProgram Coordinator, email@example.com or call 217-223-8380 for more information or an applicationpacket or go online to our website and download the application materials. The $175 training fee coversthe cost of the training plus the Master Gardener Manual.
Master Gardener Training Schedule
January 24 Botany (AM)/Orientation (PM) Martha Smith - Webinar Adams County Office
January 31 Annuals & Perennials Martha Smith Hancock County Office
February 7 Soils Duane Friend Pike County Office
February 14 Turf Chris Enroth Hancock County Office
February 21 Entomology Kelly Allsup Schuyler County Office
February 28 Woody Ornamentals Kari Houle Adams County Office
March 7 Landscape Design/Ornamental Chris Enroth/Kari Houle Hancock County Office
March 14 Snow Day OR Wildlife/Organics Shiley & Mason - Webinar Schuyler County Office
March 21 Disease & Diagnostics Diane Plewa Pike County Office
March 28 Fruits Elizabeth Wahle - Webinar Schuyler County Office
April 4 Vegetables Kari Houle Brown County YMCA
April 11 IPM/MG Volunteering Kari Houle/Jeremy Reynolds Adams County Office
Digging and Storing CannasDigging and Storing Cannas
by Nancy Kreith
Now is the time to devise a plan for digging and storing cannas, says University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Nancy Kreith.
"To successfully overwinter cannas indoors, the bulbs should be dug up after the first light frost has killed the top of the plant," she explains. "Although technically they are not bulbs, but rhizomes, cannas need to be treated as tender bulbs and must be dug up to survive the winter. Some gardeners have reported success with cannas overwintering in the ground in micro-climates or against south facing walls due to the radiant heat from the building."
Kreith says the most important thing to do when digging up rhizomes, tubers, or any tender bulb is to be careful not to wound these fleshy underground structures. "Wounds and bruises serve as entry points for diseases, which can cause rotting and loss in storage. This is true for any tropical plant with fleshy underground structures, such as elephant ears and caladiums."
Kreith suggests following these simple steps to properly overwinter cannas indoors.
Start by cutting back the foliage to 4 to 6 inches above ground in order to see the base of the plant. Dig several inches away from the base of the plant, avoiding the underground structures. Carefully loosen the soil using a spade shovel. Remove the large clump of multiple structures from below the soil level. Separate the clumps and remove most of the soil by hand, and wrap each individual structure in newspaper. Finally, layer them in a crate or large tote with the lid off. This is how they will remain stored until the following spring.
Be sure to monitor the bulbs every month for rotting pieces and pests. If found, remove infected pieces right away, Kreith recommends.
"Often times these structures multiply underground during the growing season," Kreith explains. "Even though you may have only planted three to five bulbs the past summer, you could have well over that number by the fall. As the structures multiply, plan to incorporate cannas into more parts of your landscape or share them with friends and neighbors.
"As you read through the literature available, other sources will have varied recommendations for storing methods," Kreith adds. "Some horticulturalists have been successful in overwintering cannas in an unheated garage or shed. Some tend to allow bulbs to cure and dry out for one to three days before storing. Others recommend removing all of the soil once dried and storing in peat moss or sawdust. I prefer to recycle newspaper. It acts as an aid in the curing process. The newspaper serves as a barrier that protects the structures from excess moisture. The main take-home point is to keep bulbs cool, dry, and out of freezing temperatures."
To get a head start on the growing season, help bulbs emerge while indoors, Kreith says. Once the following spring comes around (about 4 to 6 weeks before the last average frost date) cannas can be planted in containers of professional potting mix. Unwrap the structures and plant them with the pointed side facing up. When using a large container (12 inches in diameter or more) multiple bulbs can be planted in the same pot. Finally, place them in a sunny window or under artificial lighting and treat them as houseplants. The cannas can be planted outside after the danger of frost has passed.
Kreith has been successful at storing container-grown cannas by bringing in the whole container and storing them in a dark hallway closet. To do this, simply cut back the foliage after a light frost and place the container indoors. Let them remain dormant until the next spring and then put them in a sunny location. "Amazingly, as they receive more sunlight, signs of leaf growth will begin," she says. "Over the past two years, my cannas have multiplied in the container and leave little to no room for planting other flowers. This container is now devoted solely to cannas, but over time, these structures will need to be divided and thinned out."
Kreith says cannas are an easy-care tropical plant that provides beautiful foliage and long-lasting blooms. Repeated blooms are encouraged by deadheading spent flowers. "This versatile plant comes in a variety of leaf colors and can range from 1 foot to more than 6 feet tall. For the greatest foliage color and fullest blooms, place cannas in full sun with plenty of water and healthy soil."
Clone Your PlantsClone Your Plants
by Rhonda J. Ferree
Do you have an annual flower in your garden this year that you especially like and definitely want to use again next summer? You might be able to clone it using vegetative propagation methods.
I have a coleus plant that I particularly like in my patio containers. Each fall I take a few cuttings from the plants and grow them in my kitchen windowsill for use next spring.
If you are an avid gardener, you probably noticed that some plant tags indicate that the plant is patented and thus can't be propagated. This is true of many of the newer types of coleus. In other words, you can't propagate the patented plant by cuttings or division to sell.
To get started, you'll need containers, a sterile cutting tool, soil, and a makeshift greenhouse. The container could be anything. I often use disposable cups. Use a good, sterile rooting media that is pre-moistened. I suggest purchasing a premixed potting soil. For best results, create a "greenhouse" for the new plants to grow in until they are well established. I typically use ziplock bags or the little plastic zipper bags that curtains come in. Place your new plant starts in indirect light, opening the bag slightly to provide ventilation without losing humidity inside the bag.
Division is the easiest way to propagate houseplants that form clumps, such as ferns, mother-in-law's tongue, African violets, spider plants, philodendron, pothos, and more. Simply knock the plant out of its pots and pull the sections apart with your hands. Tough roots sometimes must be cut apart with a kitchen knife. Repot the divisions immediately, add water, and watch your "new" plants grow.
Cuttings are very simple and can be done a number of ways. Stem cuttings are taken from the ends of branches. Simply remove 3 or 4 inches of the terminal or end growth just below a node (leaf joint). Some common plants that can be started this way are coleus, geranium, ivy, begonia, and many of the philodendrons. Simply insert the node of a stem into loose potting soil, water, and watch it grow.
Consider hosting a plant cloning party this fall. Cloning plants is fun and a great way to share plants among family and friends.
Manage Pests on Your Favorite TreesManage Pests on Your Favorite Trees
by Kelly Allsup
University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Kelly Allsup cautions to watch out for insect pests on favorite landscape trees this late summer and fall. "If you don't take necessary management actions at the appropriate time, the battle against them may be hard to win," she says.
Allsup provides the following information:
Tree pests like fall webworm and oystershell scale have some control management practices that can be implemented in late summer and fall.
Fall webworm (Hyphantria cunea) attacks a large number of tree species but especially hickory, ash, birch, walnut, crabapple, apple, elm, maple, oak, and pecan.
There are two generations of the fall webworm in the southern portion of Illinois. The first generation emerges in late June or July and again in August and September. In the northern portion of Illinois, only one generation emerges in August and September. As far as the overall health of the tree, only the first generation is of concern.
Pale green and yellow caterpillars with thick white hair tufts begin to hatch. They feed for several weeks in tents on the tips of the branches. They can skeletonize leaves and even defoliate trees. After six weeks of feeding, they fall to the ground or find a nice crevice in the bark to pupate.
The adults, which are a pristine white moth (with or without black dots) emerge again in August to lay white egg masses on the bottom sides of leaves. Sometimes she lays them on branches or the trunk and they look like dark brown oval knobs. At this time, the most efficient method is to prune out webs of caterpillars, scout for, and remove egg masses.
The Pest Management for the Home Landscape says Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki (Btk), among other pesticides, can be applied when caterpillars are young and tents are new for the best efficacy. This bacterial pesticide must be ingested to be effective, so open up the tents and spray on leaves inside.
Or, just let nature take its course. According to Michigan State University Extension, there are over 50 species of wasps that parasitize the eggs or caterpillar and over 30 percent of predators will devour these late-season threats.Oystershell scale (Lepidosaphes ulmi) begins to emerge and attack a large species of trees in early May, especially lilac, ash, privet, beech, and viburnum.
Yellow crawlers emerge to feed causing yellowing, stunted foliage, and branch die back. A second generation of this pest can be controlled when Queen Anne's lace is blooming in August with an insecticidal soap or a summer spray of petroleum oil. Spraying the crawler stage of this pest is best because they have not yet developed the waxy coating that prevents penetration insecticide. Heavily infested branches can be pruned out as the eggs will overwinter under the dead female's waxy covering.
Scale are also great attractors of the beneficial insects. If lady beetles and other predators are present, a spray may not be needed.Ultimately, good tree health is more crucial for tree insect management than any other practice. Good tree management includes watering in times of drought, averting soil compaction, adding mulch ring to prevent weeds, and preventing physical damage by lawnmowers and string trimmers.
Recycled Leaves Make Inexpensive MulchRecycled Leaves Make Inexpensive Mulch
by Rhonda Ferree
Rather than bagging or removing fallen leaves, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Rhonda Ferree suggests using them in your yard.
"The tree leaves that accumulate in and around your landscape represent a valuable natural resource that can be used to provide a good source of organic matter and nutrients for use in your landscape," Ferree says. "Leaves contain 50 to 80 percent of the nutrients a plant extracts from the soil and air during the season. Therefore, leaves should be managed and used rather than bagged or burned."
Ferree says adding a 2-inch layer of leaf mulch adds approximately 150 pounds of nitrogen, 20 pounds of phosphorus, and 65 pounds of potassium per acre. Due to natural soil buffering and breakdown in most soil types, leaf mulch also has no significant effect on soil pH. Even oak leaves, which are acid (4.5 to 4.7 pH) when fresh, break down to be neutral to slightly alkaline.
According to Ferree, there are four basic ways leaves can be managed and used in the landscape.
- A light covering of leaves can be mowed. Simply leave the shredded leaves in place on the lawn. This technique is most effective when a mulching mower is used. In fact, during times of light leaf drop or if there are only a few small trees in your landscape, this technique is probably the most efficient and easiest way to manage leaf accumulation.
- Mulching is a simple and effective way to recycle leaves and improve your landscape. Leaves can be used as a mulch in vegetable gardens, flower beds and around shrubs and trees. Leaves that have been mowed or run through some other type of shredder will decompose faster and are much more likely to remain in place than unshredded leaves. Unshredded leaves also tend to mat together, which can impede water and air infiltration. Ferree uses a chipper/shredder/vacuum to pick up her leaves, which she uses instead of purchased mulch in her landscape beds.
- Leaves can be collected and worked directly into garden and flowerbed soils. A 6- to- 8-inch layer of leaves tilled into a heavy, clay soil will improve aeration and drainage. The same amount tilled into a light, sandy soil, will improve water and nutrient-holding capacity. A recommended strategy for using leaves to improve soil in vegetable gardens and annual planting beds is to collect and work them into the soil during the fall. This allows sufficient time for the leaves to decompose prior to spring planting. Adding a little general purpose fertilizer to the soil after working in the leaves will hasten their decomposition.
- Try composting your leaves. Compost is a dark, crumbly, earth-smelling form of organic matter that has gone through a natural decomposition process. If you have a garden, lawn, trees, shrubs, or even planter boxes or houseplants, you have a use for compost. For additional information composting, visit the University of Illinois Extension website.
Ferree also recommends jumping in the pile of leaves "at least once."
Benefits of Fall Core Aeration for the LawnBenefits of Fall Core Aeration for the Lawn
by Richard Hentschel
Although it's true that core aeration relieves soil compaction in the lawn, a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator says coring has several more benefits for the grass plant soil profile, microbial activity in the ground, and thatch management.
"When the soil beneath the lawn is compacted, grass roots grow poorly," says Richard Hentschel. "They stay nearer to the surface and are more readily affected by droughts. Coring allows the soil to relax and expand into the vacated core. This allows deeper roots. To encourage deeper roots, the core allows more soil oxygen into profile along with water. Both of these promote deeper rooting of your lawn grasses, which allow better disease resistance, for example."
Another benefit is the lawn's ability to remain green and actively growing during a brief drought. "If any topdressing is done with quality black dirt or using well-composted organic matter, this material will find its way into the core as well, improving the soil profile," he says. "Any kind of organic matter will also support the microbial life in the ground, improving the symbiotic relationship between the grass root system and the microbes in the soil. Research shows that if the soil is in good health with teaming microbial activity, it in turn supports good grass growth by providing critical elements to the grass plant."
According to Hentschel, core aeration can also maintain thatch levels under one-half inch.
"Homeowners hear the word 'thatch' and often think the worst," Hentschel says. "In fact, having some thatch has benefits to the lawn. Thatch acts as insulation protecting the crown of the grass plant from quick changes in the weather, such as a sudden drop in temperature. Thatch also provides a cushion from foot traffic, protecting the grass plant crown from being crushed or damaged. Coring breaks through the thatch layer opening up those opportunities for air and water movement. When the core is ejected by the machine, there is also a plug of soil that is left on the surface. That soil containing those microbes can now begin to break down the thatch layer."
Hentschel cautions that when the thatch layer is well over one-half inch in depth, using a dethatching machine will often result in the loss of the entire lawn. Coring is a way to recover the lawn without such a drastic measure. "This will not happen in one season and other management activities, such as high rates of fertilizers, should be modified."
Core aeration alone will benefit the health of the lawn, Hentschel concludes. "Combining topdressing with any re-seeding or over seeding along with regular watering for at least three weeks will really turn the lawn around. Bluegrass lawns have two peak growing cycles in our climate. The greening and rapid growing in the spring is the first one. The second flush or growth is more about the root system expanding and storing food reserves in the cooler temperatures of fall. There is still growth above ground and mowing should continue well into late fall with a sharp mower blade."
Late-Blooming BeautiesLate-Blooming Beauties
by Sandra Mason
Just as most flowers are frying or fading, late-blooming perennials take off and steal the show, says Sandra Mason, a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator.Mason shares a few late-blooming beauties to create a fantastic fall flower garden.
Fall anemones, which include an array of species (Anemone hupehensis, A. x hybrida, A. tomentosa, and A. vitifolia) are reliable late bloomers, according to Mason. Some start blooming in July and continue to bloom into November. Fall anemones prefer moist well-drained soils in a garden shaded from late-afternoon sun. They can take full sun if given plenty of moisture.
Anemones have dark green leaves with two to three inch in diameter flowers held high on delicate wiry stems. Colors range from pure white to pink or purple. Flowers may be single to semi-double or double-petaled. The cultivar Margarete has semi-double flowers of striking pink with yellow centers. At three feet tall, it's an amiable choice for backgrounds.
The 150-year-old cultivar Honorine Jobert has white single-petaled flowers offering a stunning contrast to the dark green leaves. September Charm has single rose-pink flowers. Robustissima, with mauve-pink flowers, can be too robust in a shady garden. It's best in full sun where it's not so vigorous.
Max Vogel and Serenade anemones possess similar pink flowers with yellow, globe-like centers. Both selections have bloom periods of more than two months. Their vigorous growth and strong stalks make them less susceptible to flopping. Max Vogel is about three to four feet tall with an upright, clumped habit. Serenade, at 24 inches tall, could be a good choice as a ground cover.
Asters come in a wide range of colors from white to varying shades of blue, pink, and purple in sizes from two to four feet tall, so do your homework to find the one with your desired characteristics. New England aster is the quintessential late bloomer. Late summer into fall it shows off its myriad of pink to purple flowers, often adorned with butterflies sipping nectar shoulder-to-shoulder as they enjoy each daisy-type flower.
Many asters are native to North America. Most asters prefer full sun and may need a good pinch or shearing of the stems in June to keep plants from getting too lanky. Purple Dome aster has a particularly tidy rounded habit with deep purple flowers.A few lesser known asters include Heath aster and Calico aster. Heath aster (Aster ericoides) has numerous tiny white, pink or blue flowers similar to baby's breath on three-foot tall plants.
The Calico aster (Aster lateriflorus var. horizontalis) is almost a shrub. The small white flowers with red centers are borne on many horizontal stems for a stunning midnight show.
The deep yellow flowers of Goldenrods are a sure sign of late summer. One of my favorites is Fireworks (Solidago rugose). As its name implies, the plant erupts into fireworks with tiny sunny yellow flowers on wiry arching stems. It has a shrub-like appearance with its sturdy stems and tight crown.
Many sedums show off in late summer when butterflies appreciate the buffet of pink flowers. Autumn Joy sedum is still a good choice even though it is as common as a porch light. As with many of the late-blooming sedums, Autumn Joy is a very useable height at 12 to 24 inches. Matrona and Maestro are also great cultivars. From early spring to late winter, sedums have an appealing aspect, in bloom or not.