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River stage: 28.33 ft. Falling
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Broadleaf and grass pests challenge lawns (07/20/14)
Several lawn owners have recently contacted me about all of the weeds growing in their lawns. In many cases they treated their lawns with herbicides earlier in the season. So, what is going on? First let's consider broadleaf weeds such as dandelions, spurge, lespedeza and clover. When we have good growing temperatures, along with lots of moisture, these weeds tend to produce lots of seed or spread by runners -- which increases the weed population in your lawn...
Now is the time to ponder a fall garden (06/22/14)
If you are a vegetable gardener, you are busy fertilizing, weeding, checking vegetable plants for insects and diseases, and harvesting that gorgeous tomato, head of cauliflower, and some radishes. And, you are looking at the potential corn crop that is coming on. Unfortunately when the corn is picked and the tomatoes play out, you will be out of fresh vegetables for your evening dinner, unless you start thinking ahead to a fall garden...
Fertilize to boost the blooms of roses, azaleas (05/25/14)
"With what and when do I fertilize roses and azaleas? Can I use the same fertilizer for both plants?" These are common questions asked by gardeners quite often, especially in the spring. Azaleas, rhododendrons I will start with azaleas (rhododendrons are included with azaleas). ...
Tips for successful container gardening (04/27/14)

The most-asked question from new gardeners is, 'How often do I water the potted plant, once a week, twice a week?' My stock answer is place your finger in the soil. When it is dry, water. When it is wet, don't. The frequency of needed water will be determined by environmental conditions...

Welcoming bluebirds to your home (03/02/14)
I don't know about you, but I would really like to see spring. The day I wrote this column the temps were in the 50s and 60s and the bluebirds were flitting about looking for lunch. When I looked at the forecast for the day this column was to be published I thought winter will be back. Bah!...
The down and dirty on Soil (02/02/14)
About this time 50 years ago, I was walking into a classroom at the University of Missouri. The class was Soils 101. This was a required course for all students in the School of Forestry. I wasn't too concerned about making a good grade. After all, we were only going to study dirt...
Now is the time to start cole crop seedlings (01/05/14)
If you are a gardener, you already can tell that the days are getting longer. You know spring is just around the corner, so it is time to start your cole crop seeds -- cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli -- inside so the starters can be ready to transplant into your garden at the end of February or early March...
Keeping the green in fresh holiday greenery (12/08/13)
When Marilyn and I had our first Christmas together in our trailer, we got a fresh Christmas tree to celebrate with. After all, a forestry student wouldn't dream of having anything but a live Christmas tree to adorn the corner of the living area. We both were pretty excited about putting it up and decorating it...
A few helpful tips for growing healthy rose bushes (11/10/13)
I don't like to write a gardening column until about a week before it is to be published for a very specific reason. I want to answer questions that are currently on the minds of Heartland gardeners. The current questions that I have been fielding are as follows: "When should I prune back my roses? How far back can I prune them?"...
Follow these steps for confident planting in autumn (10/13/13)
I have been asked the following question several times over the last few days: "Can I plant trees and shrubs in the fall, or should I wait until spring?" The nursery industry attempted to answer this question more than 20 years ago when they developed a promotion called "Fall is for Planting."...
Proper care can ensure houseplant longevity (09/22/13)
A friend of mine has some houseplants that he faithfully takes outside every spring, cares for them all spring, summer and fall, and is now thinking about again taking them inside to overwinter. It is a lot of work, but he does it because of their sentimental value. One of them belonged to his mother...
Dealing with pesky grubs (08/18/13)
The last few growing seasons have been challenging, to say the least. We have had floods, droughts, cool springs, warms springs, etc. It certainly makes it difficult for a gardener to make any plans. What is the next challenge to gardeners? During the last few years the population of Japanese beetles has increased its range throughout the Heartland. This increase in populated areas could suggest a potential of which many gardeners may not be aware...
Your garden: Spring and fall (07/21/13)
It sure is hot outside. On the other hand, I have found that "real vegetable gardeners" don't mind the climbing temperatures and humidity levels at all. They know this season will come to an end soon and they can start working on their fall garden. The first few years of my life were spent in Northwest Missouri. I watched my aunts, uncles and grandparents plant a garden in the spring and harvest in the summer. After that harvest the garden was done until next spring...
Sprinklers: The pros and cons (06/23/13)
I recently had a discussion with a homeowner about some issues in her lawn. She had dead spots here and there and was wondering what was going on. I proceeded to ask her whether she was watering the lawn. Her comment was that they had an automatic sprinkler system, so watering could not possibly be an issue...
How to treat azalea leaf gall (05/26/13)
The unusual spring weather is causing all kinds of plant problems. One that has recently been brought to the attention of gardeners is azalea leaf gall. This plant disease is caused by an infection of azalea leaf and flower parts by the fungus Exobasidium vaccinii...
Protecting your lawn from pesky weeds (04/28/13)
If you have been traveling through neighborhoods this spring, I am sure you have noticed all the bright purple flowers and light green matted weeds in most of the lawns. These weeds have been the bane of many a lawn owner this spring. The purple flower weed is henbit, and the green matted weed, which has a small white flower, is chickweed. If left unchecked, they can grow vigorously and choke out wanted grass...
Cool spring allows slower plant growth (03/31/13)
I am thinking spring. Of course, I have been thinking that thought for a month now, but Mother Nature has had other ideas. Hopefully by the time this column publishes, she will have changed her mind and started warming up our spring. Gardeners have been quizzing me about how this cold "spring" will affect what has already been planted, and how will it affect the normal progression of events for the remainder of the spring, so here is my take on what will be the effects of our recent weather on normal spring activities.. ...
Enhancing the survival of new plants (03/03/13)
It might be a little early in the season to write about planting trees and shrubs, but I am getting the fever [along with a lot of other gardeners]. Although I am getting the fever, I also am thinking about the stress plants have had to endure because of the weather over the last few years...
Don't wait until spring. Reseed now. (02/03/13)
I have had several gardeners tell me that their cool season lawn (bluegrass, fescue or rye) is not looking very good. There are lots of areas where the turf is sparse. They want to know when in the spring is the best time to reseed the lawn. Most gardeners are shocked when I tell them to reseed their lawn now and not wait till spring. They think that seed will freeze and not germinate, or the birds will eat all of it...
There are several ways to help birds through the winter and enhance your birdwatching experience (01/06/13)
The recent snows and cold temperatures have prompted questions from novice bird lovers. What do I need to do to help wild birds to make it through this winter? The first part of the answer to this question results in strange looks from the novice. I tell them that most birds don't need our help to make it through the winter. God gave them the instinct and wherewithal to find food and shelter in order to survive until next spring...
BULB PLANTING 101 (12/09/12)
I had a visit the other day from Piet Stuifbergen, a native Hollander. Piet is a Dutch bulb grower and importer who lives in the Kansas City area. I am glad he stopped by, because with all of the warm weather we have been having, I forgot that now is the time to put those tulip, hyacinth, daffodil and crocus bulbs in the ground...
Go Brown to go Green: Turn fallen leaves into compost (11/11/12)
Everywhere I look, I see signs that say "Go Green." This fall I would like to change the slogan a little to "Go Brown to Go Green." Let me explain. I was in my front yard a few days ago, complaining to myself about all of the leaves that I was blowing to the woods. What a pain to rake/blow leaves two or three times each fall...
How to determine if your trees and shrubs can bounce back after stressful summer (10/14/12)
Over the last few weeks I have looked at trees and shrubs that exhibit damage resulting from the stressful summer. Samples of stressed plants are brought to me every day to look at, and telephone callers describe damage that they see on the plants in their landscape...
In-house plants help remove toxin (09/16/12)
The week of Sept. 16 through 22 has been designated as National House Plant Week. I am not sure who made the designation, but I like the idea because of all the benefits that house plants afford us. When I enter an office, mall or home and see house plants I just feel a little more at ease. They remind me of nature. I enjoy being outside and smelling fresh air...
Being optimistic is a farmer's trait (08/19/12)
Marilyn and I just got back from a 2,500-mile road trip through the heart of the United States. It is dry, dry, dry. Crops are scorched if they were not irrigated. Evidence of brush and range fires was obvious in several locations. What a year. The trip was made to attend a family reunion and then to visit the other side of the family members. Many of them are farmers. They talked about how dry it is, and how the drought will affect their income for the year...
Saving your plants from dying in the heat (07/22/12)
Last year we were flooded in the spring. This year spring came early. Then Mother Nature turned off the rain spigot and turned on the summer furnace. During all of this the population of voracious Japanese beetles continued to increase and devour roots, flowers and leaves. What's a plant to do?...
Hand gardening gives time for reflection (06/24/12)
I spent last Sunday, Father's Day, working at the garden center. Since things were somewhat slow, I decided to do some weeding at the back of the property. Normally I would use a Weedeater, and then come back and spray with an all vegetation herbicide. That way I can get the job done quickly. I am not sure why, but for some reason I decided to hand pull all of the weeds...
Defending your trees from tuliptree scale (05/27/12)
Have you gone out to your car parked under a large tree and noticed that it was coated with a clear or black sticky substance? Perhaps your deck or lawn area under a large shade tree is coated with this same clear or black sticky substance. The tree is probably a tulip poplar, also called yellow poplar or tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)...
Gardening suggestions for 2012 (04/29/12)
"Is it too early to plant tomatoes yet? The weather has been so warm. I just feel like I need to get them in the ground. I know that you should probably wait until May 1 to plant them. I'm just itching to get my garden growing." I have been asked this question at least 10 times per day for the last month...
Other ways to tend your garden (04/01/12)
My wife had a great-aunt who just loved to garden. I believe gardening was more than in her blood, it was her blood. You knew she loved to garden when you saw her working in it. You see, she couldn't bend over or stoop very well. For her to accomplish the task of planting, weeding, and harvesting, she would lie down between rows and perform the task at hand...
Edible landscape: Dr. Grow explains the nature of plants that are meant to be eaten (02/29/12)
I recently received a note from a grade school buddy who I have not talked with in more than 50 years. In the note he mentioned apricot trees that were in our backyard. Those of you who know me well know that I have lots of stories about the apricot trees in the backyard...
Ask Dr. Grow: Saving early blooms from a deep freeze (02/08/12)
The warm January weather has created quite a stir among gardeners. In conversation after conversation I hear about crocuses that are blooming, fruit trees that have swelling buds and daffodils that have leaves about four inches above the soil surface...
Get an early start in planting (01/04/12)
It's the first week in January. If you're a pessimist, you are thinking the season of cold winter weather is upon us. On the other hand, if you are an optimistic gardener, you are thinking that planting season is only six weeks away. All gardeners in the Heartland know that the official planting season begins on Valentine's Day, the traditional time to plant lettuce seed...
Several nonelectronic options make good gifts for little ones (12/14/11)
We recently had a power outage in Cape Girardeau that lasted several hours. A day later I was talking with the father of a 6-year-old. Dad's comment was that his son became distraught when he realized that he couldn't play with his DS (he couldn't recharge the battery) or play a video game online or on the television screen. He was simply beside himself because there was no electronic entertainment available...
Protect your plants and trees from scale infestation (11/09/11)
One insect problem on trees and shrubs that seems to go unnoticed until it is almost too late is scale. It goes unnoticed because the signs are not always evident during the growing season. So fall and winter is a good time to check plants for scale...
Dr. Grow: Now's the time to cool your lawn (10/12/11)
A common misconception among gardeners is that the best time of the year to start improving a cool-season lawn, consisting of bluegrasses, ryes and fescues, is in the spring of the year. I suppose this idea has developed because most vegetable and agriculture crops are planted in the spring and harvested in the fall...
Dr. Grow: Battle of the Weeds (09/14/11)
In the business of gardening, there is a season for everything. Quite often you do something in one season and don't see the results of your efforts until a future season. I mention "the season for everything" because next spring, as always, a common question will go something like this. ...
Zoysia 101: Warm-season grass needs different care than cold-season grass (07/20/11)
I looked back through all of the gardening articles I have written and failed to see anything that I published about zoysia grass. Since I have had an increase in interest about it this year, it seems appropriate to take up the subject. Before I started this column, I tried to figure out why I had never written about this warm season grass. ...
Battling Japanese beetles (06/29/11)
Over the weekend I was looking at a list of subjects that I had discussed in previous columns. Last summer at this time the topic was Japanese beetles. Normally I don't write about the same subject within 12 months, but I felt that because of all the questions I have been fielding over the last two weeks about Japanese beetles, I should revisit the current invasion...
When soil is too wet to plant, try container gardening (05/25/11)
A common lament this spring because of all the rain is that few gardeners can get into their vegetable or flower garden to get any planting done. The soils are just too wet. In addition, about the time it looks like soils are going to dry out, it rains again...
Tribute to Mom (04/27/11)
Mother's Day is about 10 days away. I know this is to be a column about gardening, but I can't help but pay tribute to my mom this year. She is a very special lady. Unfortunately today she doesn't know me, but I think she recognizes me as someone familiar. I just pray that she is at peace in her final years...
By the numbers: Different fertilizer combinations affect how plants grow (03/30/11)
A common conversation with a vegetable gardener goes like this: "I planted tomatoes last year in my garden. They grew to be 6 feet tall. The plants looked healthy, but I only got a few tomatoes. What happened?" My response to the gardener is another question: "What kind of fertilizer did you use?"...
Fungi, plant roots are better together (03/02/11)
I was first introduced to mycorrhizae in a plant physiology class at the University of Missouri more than 45 years ago. It took me several tries before I could even spell the word. Since it was only mentioned in passing, I soon forgot about it. Now I see this word a lot in print because of the buzz about how it encourages plants to thrive...
Show some love to trees and shrubs, too (02/09/11)
I know it is early February, but I am thinking spring. Who would have thought that a gardener was thinking spring in the winter? I was recently talking with Dr. Mike Aide, professor of soils at Southeast Missouri State University, about fertilizers. ...
Seed cool-season lawns now rather than spring for best results (01/12/11)
It sure is cold outside. I know that you are going to think I am nuts when I suggest that now is the second-best time of the year to seed your cool-season lawn. Of course, the best time is in the early fall, but if you failed to get it done then, consider doing it now instead of waiting till spring...
Turn your yard into a B&B for bluebirds (12/08/10)
I live on the edge of town where there are open spaces adjacent to woodlands. As I was driving up our lane last week I was surprised to see an Eastern bluebird fly from his perch on the branch of a Bradford pear tree. I normally see them in spring, summer and early fall. This one evidently was either late or early in migrating...
Amending soil with organic matter key step in planting process (11/10/10)
For years I have been recommending that when you plant trees, shrubs, bulbs, flowers or a vegetable garden it is important to amend the soil with organic matter, either compost or peat moss. A recent article in a nursery trade journal confirmed my recommendation...
Fall planting great if done correctly (10/13/10)
"Is it OK to plant in the fall?" I was asked this question several times Saturday, so I thought the subject must be on the minds of gardeners. Yes, the fall is a great time to plant for one reason in particular: If you plant correctly, the winter rains will settle the soil around the newly planted roots. ...
When to dig, divide and plant flowering bulbs (09/22/10)
Fall is the time for planting cool season grasses, mums and trees. But from the conversations I am having with gardeners, there is also a lot of interest in planting or digging bulbs. Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of confusion as to when to plant what and when to dig up what. So I will try to give you a simple bulb timetable...
How to get your lawn green again (09/15/10)
I have been inundated with phone calls and visits from lawn owners who tell me their lawn looks worse this fall than it has in years. The conversation goes something like this:"Why does it look so bad? I watered the lawn every few days. I fertilized it faithfully. I sprayed for weeds. But now it is full of crabgrass, nutsedge, and it has large brown dead areas in it. What happened, and what can I do about it?"...
Dr. Grow: Armyworms can devastate a lawn (08/18/10)
I usually try to decide on a topic for a column about one to five days ahead of its due date. I wait because I want to hear what problems gardeners are having in their landscape. My column can then address current issues in gardening. For some reason this time I wasn't able to come up with a topic until just a few hours before my deadline...
Dr. Grow: Understanding the birds and bees of the garden (07/21/10)
There are two common laments that I have heard from gardeners over the last two months (other than "Those @#%Japanese beetles!"). The first: "My tomatoes, pole beans and squash/cucumbers/zucchini are blooming their hearts out, but they are not setting fruit. What is happening, and what can I do about it?"...
Dr. Grow: Summer issues are watering and beetles (06/23/10)
Judging from conversations with gardeners, there are two major issues affecting gardeners in Southeast Missouri at present. These issues are water -- or the lack thereof -- and Japanese beetles. I have written about both within the last year, but because of the concern, I thought I would touch on the subjects again...
Dr. Grow: Convert waste into compost (05/26/10)
There seems to be a lot of interest in composting these days. Chris Harris, features editor at the Southeast Missourian, mentioned that some of her friends are looking for information on composting and composting containers. Southeast Missouri State University just completed a new composting facility adjacent to the Charles L. Hutson Horticulture Greenhouse. And, of course, everyone is talking about going green these days. Composting is a component of this movement...
Dr. Grow: A lot of space isn't needed to start a garden, just ingenuity and planning (04/28/10)
A few months ago I received an unsigned letter from an individual who criticized my columns. The writer said all I talked about was how to kill things. I should be talking about how to grow things. I showed the letter to a friend of mine who referred to it as mild hate mail. I didn't know that a gardener could be "hated" for weeding...
Dr. Grow: Container gardens a good option for those with little space (03/31/10)
When I was growing up, plants were planted in the ground. The only time pots were used was in the greenhouse when growers were trying to get seedlings large enough to take outside so they could be transplanted. Things are a little different today. You can buy a geranium in a 12-inch pot and grow it in that same pot all summer long. I've grown tomatoes in 30-gallon pots. The tomato roots never touched a native soil...
Dr. Grow: Set up purple martin apartments before scouts arrive later this month (03/03/10)
Spring officially starts March 20. For gardeners who love feathered friends, spring actually starts when the purple martin scouts arrive. In my recollection this date has been any time from March 3 to March 24. The actual date depends on many factors, but I think late winter temperatures are the most significant factor. Therefore, I think the scouts will arrive later this year than previous...
Dr. Grow: The best ways to attract squirrels (02/10/10)
I'm writing this column with some trepidation. My last column covered the subject of squirrel-proof bird feeders. Several readers thanked me for the information. In their minds' eyes, the birdfeed they put out is for birds, not those nasty rodents that were lured into the neighborhood by some next-door do-gooder...
Dr. Grow: Start growing spring plants in winter (01/06/10)
Brrrrrrr! It's cold outside, but I feel spring in my bones. So I'm going to start my own vegetable garden and flower seeds right now in the dead of winter instead of buying plants in April and May at a garden center. In order to get started, purchase a 1020 tray and divider from your local garden center. Get ones with holes in the bottom. The holes allow excess water to drain away...
Dr. Grow: Fighting the epic battle of squirrel vs. man (12/09/09)
I have heard story after story about birders who try all sorts of methods aimed at making sure the local squirrel doesn't get into the bird feeder. There is the one where the feeder pole is greased so the squirrel can't get a grip to climb it. This method works for a day or two until the grease dries...
Mower maintenance: Give your lawn mower a good tune-up, cleaning before parking it for winter (11/11/09)
With the onset of winter it is easy to park the lawn mower after the last cutting and give a sigh of relief. You don't have to think about the lawn mower until next spring. I'd like to suggest that you give that lawn mower just a little more attention yet this fall. Efforts now may save you a lot of time next spring...
Turn organic debris such as leaves, clippings into nutrient-rich compost (10/14/09)
Have you noticed how everyone and every business is "going green" these days? I saw an ad in the newspaper about a bank that is now going green. I always thought a bank was a green business. Isn't money in the United States green? I guess that is not exactly what they meant...
Appreciating God's garden (09/16/09)
Are you always able to see the forest as you walk through a timbered area? Or do you just see the trees? Unfortunately I often am unable to see the garden because of the plants. I am so concerned about fertilizers, weed killers, plant selection, insects and diseases that I forget about the real reason to have a garden. It is a place to spend time and put everything back into perspective...
Dr. Grow: Fall fertilizing can help prevent spring weeds (08/19/09)
My traditional recommendation for fall fertilization of a cool-season lawn starts with an application of high-nitrogen fertilizer, such as a 28-0-4, in early September. You can also make this same application on warm-season lawns if you do it in late August. At this time of the year soils are often warmer than air temperatures, so the fertilizer encourages lawn grasses to produce an abundance of roots...
Dr. Grow: Japanese beetles can cause a lot of damage if not properly controlled (07/22/09)
Seventy-five percent of the questions I have received during the last three weeks from Southeast Missouri gardeners concern Japanese beetles. I have written about and discussed them at length over the last two years, but I sense more concern, anger, angst, anxiety, etc. this year among gardeners than ever before. So I thought I should revisit the subject...
Year-round design: Hollies make a good foundation for landscapes (06/24/09)
One of the first questions I ask when consulting with a landscape client is "Do you want to have evergreens as the foundation for your landscape?" The response is usually quite comical.
Dr. Grow: Always something new to learn in horticulture (06/17/09)
If you like to learn new things continually, spend some time in the field of horticulture. You never know when someone will show you something unusual or rare. That something may be in the form of a new variety that just hit the market or it may be a plant that has been around for a long time. Either way, something different can be a lot of fun...
Dr. Grow: Plants need the right amount of water (05/27/09)
Over the past few years I have written about water in the garden several times, but judging from all of the questions I have received in the last few weeks, I need to discuss it again. Water is essential for plant growth and development. Water gives plant cells volume so they stand tall. It is the medium in which chemical reactions occur within the cell, and it is a constituent in the chemical reaction that produces carbohydrates and oxygen during photosynthesis...
Dr. Grow: Soil needs microorganisms as well as nutrients (04/29/09)
I can still remember the first day my soils class met in college. The professor walked into the classroom and said, "If anyone ever uses the term dirt to refer to soils in this class, they will automatically flunk." He didn't even say hi, how are you, my name is , or anything else. He then began to talk about soils...
Dr. Grow: Preparing the soil so plants thrive instead of survive (04/01/09)
In my last column I discussed the steps needed to establish a new vegetable garden in an area that has not been used before. The activities included mixing organic matter, gypsum and possibly lime or sulfur into the soil to create the proper soil structure and pH...
Dr. Grow: Getting ready to garden (03/04/09)
I'm sitting at home listening to the howling cold wind blowing outside on this early March day. As I shiver, I keep thinking spring is just around the corner. Hopefully the wind will change direction soon and blow in the spring temperatures I am longing for...
Dr. Grow: Valentine's Day a good time to plant lettuce (02/04/09)
Until I got involved in gardening, Valentine's Day always evoked images of hearts, chocolates, Hallmark cards, a dozen roses and a sweetheart to give them to. Sorry, sweetheart, but you're going to have to share. Valentine's Day really means it's the start of vegetable gardening season because Feb. 14 you must plant lettuce seed...
Dr. Grow: Houseplants are efficient air filters (01/07/09)
Have you seen the TV commercial where the guy demonstrates an air filter that you can buy for your home or office? He talks about all of the problems with air that can be found in homes and how this filter can eliminate most of those pollutants. All you have to do is plug it into the wall, turn it on and enjoy clean filtered air. Of course there are a few maintenance activities you have to be aware of...
Dr. Grow: Help for your holiday plant (12/10/08)
Everywhere you go during the holiday season, you seem to find poinsettias. This "Christmas flower" is gaining more and more popularity as evidenced by the increasing number of new varieties on the market. You can find a color that will go with any decor...
Dr. Grow: Sunscald is a common problem for newly planted trees (11/12/08)
I have received two phone calls in the last month asking about damage to bark on trees planted within the last two years. Both situations have similar characteristics, so I thought this might be a problem common to a lot of newly planted trees in the area...
Dr. Grow: Be macho, plant pansies (10/15/08)
The American Heritage Dictionary defines a pansy as (I'm trying to be politically correct) a nonmacho male. The implication is that a pansy can't handle stress of any kind and will wilt under extreme conditions. It also states that a pansy is a flower of the genus Viola...
Sprinkling certain herbicides can ease spring gardening (08/20/08)
I know spring is several months away, but I would like to suggest a cultural practice that, if you perform it now, will make your late winter chores much easier. Each spring, gardeners ask how they can get rid of chickweed and henbet in their asparagus patch or landscape bed. ...
Unwelcome guests Japanese beetles move into the area from eastern states (07/23/08)
The buzzword (or should I say the crunch word) among gardeners right now in Southeast Missouri is Japanese beetles. Most have never seen this voracious plant-eating machine, and they are alarmed by what they see. These critters, which have been in Illinois, Indiana and Tennessee for years, are moving west in hordes and rapidly devouring individual plants...
A jolly holly bush: Southeast Missouri lies on northern edge of natural holly range (06/25/08)
In the late 1950s, Mrs. F. Leighton Meserve developed the Ilex x meserveae hybrids from the parents of Ilex rugosa (prostrate holly) and Ilex aquifolium (English holly). For her work she received the American Horticultural Society's Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Amateur Horticulture. You can see a few of these plants growing in the area today, but I think area gardeners should give these hybrids more attention...
Extra baggage: Pesky bagworms should be sprayed in late May or early June (05/28/08)
Over the last two to three months I have fielded the following question at least 30 times: "When is the time to spray for bagworms?" Because my standard answer is Memorial Day, and Memorial Day was two days ago, I thought I would explain why my standard answer is standard...
Advice for first-time gardeners (04/30/08)
The spring hot spots in a garden center are the vegetable seed and vegetable plant racks. The familiar crowd of gardeners is excited about the prospects of a new season. They can't wait to dig in the dirt. They want to get a jump on their neighbor and have the first ripe tomato...
Conserving water good for the garden and planet (04/23/08)
Today it's estimated that the average American uses about 100 gallons of water a day. And between 25 percent and 40 percent of that goes to outdoor use. But according to the Environmental Protection Agency, of all the water Americans do use, about half of it is wasted. If we were more responsible about its use and started using only what we needed, we could save more than 3 billion gallons of water every day...
Growing a garden can be tantalizing to all your senses (04/02/08)
My first impression of a garden was a row of corn, beans, potatoes and other plants next to Grandpa's house on the farm. It became my favorite destination at Grandpa's because I could get dirty without Grandma or Mom getting too mad at me. My concept of gardening was getting dirty while working (playing) in the vegetables...
A need for feed: The spring freeze last year makes fertilizer a necessity in the garden this year (02/06/08)
Joann, a cohort for more than 20 years, just got back from Florida. Her comment was, "It's spring down there. When will it get here?" I think the recent snow, coupled with this weekend's warmup, have us all in the mood for spring. Joann, the answer to your question is "Spring is just around the corner." I know my answer sounds trite, but I want to focus on this answer because of the spring we had last year...
Bird food buffet (01/09/08)
I like to look through catalogs for gardening and birding hobbyists to see if there are any new products on the market. "Why didn't I think of that?" is the thought that usually goes through my mind when I find something new. While perusing a catalog from a birding wholesaler, I found a new product that I would never have thought of in a million years: a mealworm warmer. ...
Preparing for spring tenants. (12/05/07)
As I write this column, the weather is balmy and warm. It is hard to believe that this is the last of November. Of course as they always say in the region, if you don't like the weather just wait a few days and it will change. I'm sure that when this column is published it will feel a little more like winter than it does today. Of course winter brings with it cold temperatures, snow, sleet and all of the things that keep us indoors during the bleak days of January and February...
Messy guests (11/14/07)
I've always read in magazines that the most popular hobby in America is gardening. Until recently, it never occurred to me that there would be a second- or third-most popular hobby in the U.S. After all, my livelihood revolves around gardening. Why would anyone care about the second-most popular hobby?...
Steps for newly seeded lawns (10/17/07)
After this stressful growing season, cool season lawns have suffered. Many gardeners have reseeded their cool season lawns. Each part of the process -- spreading seed and fertilizer, verticutting and watering -- had to be performed correctly so that the lawn makes a comeback...
A little autumn aid for your evergreens (09/19/07)
Because of the vagaries of our weather this year, trees and shrubs have certainly been stressed. First we had the nice warm weather in March that encouraged landscape plants to start their spring growth much earlier than normal. Then the two-week freeze that chilled the area in April played havoc with trees and shrubs. They lost their leaves, flowers crumpled, and twigs were damaged. In some cases entire plants, especially many Japanese maples, were frozen and killed...
Brown lawns lie dormant, not dead (08/22/07)
I have written about lawn seeding several times, but the subject still seems to be on the minds of many gardeners. I am writing this column Sunday. Even today I have had three individuals mention the problems they are having with their lawn. It is "dead." Or "It is so brown it is dead." Or "The only thing growing in my lawn is weeds."...
Watered down (07/25/07)
I have written several columns about watering in the past. Yet it seems that each summer, I have question after question from gardeners about watering. In fact, many gardeners inadvertently use water as a plant herbicide. Maybe I'm writing to the choir, but I am going to discuss watering again at length...
A ladylike solution (06/27/07)
When I first got started in the horticulture business more than 30 years ago, gardeners who had insect or disease problems in their garden would go to a garden center and ask for something to kill the problem organism. They wanted something out of a bottle that they could spray so that the bug or fungus would be dead in 20 minutes or less. The emphasis was on "dead."...
Help your damaged plants find new life (05/30/07)
Last month I told you to wait until at least the first of June before you made any decisions about damaged trees and shrubs in your landscape. Because it is just about that time, I thought I would let you know what my observations have been over the last month...
Enduring the cold snap (05/02/07)
In March the discussion between gardeners was about global warming. In April the discussion was about global freezing. Now the discussion is about global plant confusion. So what do we make of all of the recent weather anomalies and their effects on plants?...
Tried and true (04/04/07)
I enjoy eavesdropping on conversations of plant buyers at garden centers during the spring rush. They are always looking for a new plant variety that is shorter, taller, fatter, skinnier, less susceptible to disease, a different color, able to grow in both the shade or the sun, etc...
Surviving summer (03/07/07)
You may currently be engaged in a most gardeners' spring ritual. You purchase bare-root plants, whether they be strawberries, seedling trees from the Conservation Commission or bare-root trees and shrubs. When the plants arrive, you unwrap them, inspect them, plant them and think of how you are going keep them alive during the hot, dry summer months ahead...
Peanuts: Not just for people (02/07/07)
The peanut, an underused food source for birds, is now beginning to attract the attention of bird aficionados. Interest in the peanut has peaked because it has several advantages for both birds and for the person who feeds them. Although I am not a bird nutritionist, I understand peanuts are packed with calories in the form of carbohydrates and fats. ...
Growing grapefruit (01/21/07)
While California's citrus industry is suffering from a devastating crop freeze, Cape Girardeau resident Ken Enke had no problem producing grapefruit from his tree. Enke's grapefruit tree stands about 10 feet tall inside the building for his Cape Girardeau plumbing supply company, Winnelson Co. For the first time, four grapefruit are growing from the tree's branches...
Attracting the American Goldfinch (01/10/07)
This fall, several amateur birdwatchers asked me what happened to the goldfinches. They hadn't seen any at their feeders for a while. Now more recently, I have heard reports they are back. So where did they go? The American goldfinch, the yellow streak you often see along ecological edges between open fields and open woods, is a migratory bird that moves south in the winter and north in the summer. This general north-south migration is a response to the seasons...
Colorful landscape all year long (12/13/06)
Over the course of the last two months two shrubs have grabbed my attention. One is compact nandina, planted on the north side of the Show Me Center on the Southeast Missouri State University campus. The other one is "Firepower" nandina, found in many landscapes in the area. Both of these shrubs are varieties of Nandina domestica, otherwise known as nandina, or heavenly bamboo...
Paul Schnare
Dr. Grow