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Little Green Worms? You May Have Winter Moth Caterpillars.
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Protecting Bees From Pesticides

From: Dr. Kimberly A. Stoner
Department of Entomology
The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station

Neonicotinoids are a group of systemic insecticides related by their mode of action in the nervous system of insects. Some insecticides in this group, include imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, clothianidin, and dinotefuran, are notable for their very high level of toxicity to bees.

They have several trade names, so read the fine print under "Active Ingredients." If you decide to use them make sure the insecticide is applied only to plants that are not in bloom, with no drift to neighboring plants. Use the minimum label rate.

Neonicotinoid treatment of lawns and trees

If you chose to use the neonicotinoid imidacloprid (which is a common ingredient in some grub insecticides) on your lawn, consider other plants in the lawn that may be a resource for honey bees. These may include flowering plants such as dandelions, low growing meadow plants, and clover. Avoid applying this systemic insecticide to ornamental flowering plants, trees and shrubs.


Little Green Worms? You May Have Winter Moth Caterpillars

By Jill Kotch

I have been wrestling with winter moth caterpillars which have decimated the blossoms and foliage on a young crabapple tree. I should have written a note to myself last fall, but didn't, and so here is what is happening, and you are all most likely having similar experiences.

Operophtera brumata, which by the way is an invasive insect from Europe, emerges from the ground as an adult in late November to early December. Perhaps you have seen swarms of moths fluttering around near Thanksgiving and wondered why they were active. They are nothing to give thanks about.

Adult males and females are drab moths. The females are not able to fly as their wings are not developed enough, so they hang out on trees emitting sex pheromones until they attract males, mate, and then proceed to crawl up the tree to each lay around 150 tiny green eggs on branches and under bark crevices. The eggs turn a pinkish orange color later and are more visible. Just before hatching in the early spring, they become very dark in color.

Here is where I went wrong. You can apply dormant oil in the very late winter which will suffocate the eggs. You can also apply sticky tape physical barriers around trunks of trees known to be susceptible to the caterpillars to thwart their climb into the branches to lay their eggs. This is great unless you have a serious infestation and then the later emerged, newly mated females could climb right over their stuck sisters to deposit their eggs. Cut to late March of a warm spring or early April of a cool spring and the little green caterpillars ("loopers") hatch and then spin small silken strands by which they "balloon" down through the canopy until they wiggle through bud scales or bracts and into swollen buds to start eating. This is a very serious problem for fruit growers. No bud, no blossom, no fruit.

Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) can be safely sprayed to control all newly hatched caterpillars. The caterpillars develop into free-feeders moving from leaf to leaf in late May into June. Spinosad, or Neem can be used to control the free-feeding caterpillars. If not checked, they will drop to the ground, spin a cocoon and pupate, emerging to start the whole cycle again around the time you are carving your turkey.

Maples, oaks, crabapples and fruit trees are the usual trees affected, but these tiny green omnivorous critters will happily hit on your roses or other perennials. Mark your calendars or journals NOW so you can nip them in the bud.... before they nip your plants in the bud.

Growing Hydrangeas

by Sally Pfeifer

Hydrangeas have such a wonderful background and vast species there isn't the time or space to describe them. To choose from the hundreds of available mopheads, lacecaps, climbers and oakleafs, find a supplier with a good assortment who will help you choose the right one for your garden. Here are some of their attributes:

Hydrangea and hortensia is a genus of about 70 to 75 species of flowering plants native to southern and eastern Asia (China, Japan, Korea, Himalayas and Indonesia) and North America and South America. They can be deciduous or evergreen, though the widely cultivated types are deciduous. We are familiar with the colors from white, green, pink, and blue, violet, purple to red; the color is dependent on the soil the shrub is growing in. For pink to red flowers, the soil pH should be 6.5 to 7.5. For blue flowers, pH 5.5 and below. The whites stay white with some small changes in color.

The major breakthrough for Hydrangea macrophylla came in 1998 when a true reblooming form that flowers on both old growth and new growth was identified. What that meant was that if the old branches were destroyed, buds would still form on the new growth and bloom that season. In the past, blooms were produced on old stems only. So if they were destroyed there would be no blooms that year. This new form was patented and trademarked as ‘Endless Summer’ by Bailey Nurseries.

Hydrangea 'Endless Summer'

Hydrangea "Endless Summer" Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Cornales
Family: Hydrangeaceae
Genus: Hydrangea
Species: Macrophylla ‘Endless Summer’angea 'Endless Summer'

The blooms of hydrangea are round, lace cap, or conical panicles in shape. The plant comes in a shrub shape, as a climbing vine with woody bark, and as a tree. Hydrangeas bloom from early spring to late fall. They grow in flower heads (corymbs or panicles) at the end of the stem. In many species, the flower heads contain two types of flowers, small fertile flowers in the middle, and large, sterile bract-like flowers in a ring around the edge of each flower head.

Problems that can affect hydrangeas include: Blight and leaf spot (bacterial); Bud and flower powdery mildew, root rot, rust, Southern blight (fungal); and Ring Spots, Phyyody and Tobacco Ring Spot (viral).

Keeping the garden free of diseases and harmful insects is the best way to have healthy plants. It can be very challenging. One of best ways is to keep the garden clean of dead leaves and debris. Viral, fungal and bacterial diseases and insects hide out in these places and stay over winter to come back again. Always start tackling problems with the least harmful methodsó for the environment, animals and yourself. Choose healthy plants and varieties that are hardy. If you are still having problems, go to an established nursery and ask for help.

Enjoy your growing season.

Click on these topics for more Garden Tips

2011 Perennial Plant of the Year:
...Amsonia hubrichtii

Growing Shamrocks
Herbs part 1
Herbs part 2
Landscaping Ideas
Plan a Woodland Garden
Meet the Smallest Buddleia

Amaryllis for Next Year
Amending the Soil to Save
....a Rhododendron

Common Garden Mistakes
Deadheading for a Great Display
Dividing Perennials
Plant Nutrition and Fertilization
Propagating Ivy
Treating Insects & Diseases
Working with Perennials



Indoor Gardening
Indoor Seed Starting

Choosing Spring Bulbs
Attract More Butterflies
When Summer's Over: Take Inventory

Fall Gardening
Finishing Fall Cleanup

It's Winter, Now What?

Little Green Worms? You May Have Winter Moth Caterpillars

Changes to the Climate Zone Map

The Pleasure of the Garden
Which Color Garden Are You?

Resource: Click here to go to Deer Resistant Plants
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