Posts tagged roses

Good vs. Evil: Asian lady beetles and Japanese beetles

Asian lady beetle

Asian lady beetle - a good bug (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Their names are similar and they’re from the same region of the world, so I can see why some people are still confused about Asian lady beetles and Japanese beetles.  But when it comes down to it, there’s really no comparison. The bug pictured here – the reddish/orange lady beetle, is a beneficial insect. It feeds on aphids and other plant pests and doesn’t destroy anything, though I realize some people resent their intrusion in homes in the fall. On the other hand, the copper-colored Japanese beetle, a recent foreign invader in Iowa, is known to devour at least 300 plants, including hollyhocks, roses, raspberries, linden trees and grapes. If you see your leaves turning to lace, the likely culprit is the Japanese beetle.  Japanese beetles have no known predators here, other than me. So feel free to get rid of as many as you can. As mentioned previously, the most environmentally friendly method is to knock them into a bucket of soapy water when they’re sluggish – early evening seems to be the best time. If you have other suggestions – maybe from our East Coast readers and others who have learned to cope with Japanese beetles – please add your comments below.

Japanese beetles (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Japanese beetles - not a good bug, or just plain evil? (photo/Cindy Hadish)

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Japanese beetles are back

They’re back.

Japanese beetles

Japanese beetles

I spotted the first Japanese beetle of the season yesterday on my raspberry bushes. I went to check one of my rose bushes and sure enough, there was another one, sucking the life out of a beautiful pink bud. Unfortunately, both got away.

The beauty of these copper-colored beetles belies the devastation they wreak. Adult Japanese beetles feed on more than 300 types of plants – turning leaves into lacy skeletons. As larva, the white c-shaped grubs feed on turf grass roots.

I’ve heard some people have luck with the Japanese beetle traps that can be found at garden centers. Others say the traps just lure more beetles into your yard. When I see just a couple of the bugs, I use the squish method, but as they become more numerous, I’ll try to control their numbers with soapy water.

Take a small bucket with water and dish detergent – any kind will probably work – and knock the beetles off the plants into the bucket. The beetles are more active at certain times of day and will fly off. Othertimes, they do a drop and roll, which is the best way to get them to fall into the bucket. Early evening seems to be the time when they are more sluggish and easier to catch that way. Obviously, if you are growing crops that the beetles are attacking, such as grapes (another favorite,) you’re going to need a different method of control. They also favor certain trees, but supposedly they don’t kill the trees as do pests like the emerald ash borer. I also wonder what they will ultimately do to the monarch butterfly population, as Japanese beetles devastate the monarch’s food source, milkweed.

Since they make my top 10 bad bugs list, the Japanese beetle and different control methods can be found in several posts on this blog. Just use the search box at the right to find more from city arborist Daniel Gibbons, master gardeners and others on this foreign invader.

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Getting ready for Japanese beetles

   I’ve been keeping a careful watch for Japanese beetles in my garden and enjoying my roses before the pesky beetle begins its annual invasion. The city of Cedar Rapids sent out the following today, (June 8, 2009) which made me wonder if Japanese beetles had already emerged. City arborist Daniel Gibbons, who wrote the article, assured me that he hadn’t seen any. Yet.

Japanese beetles

Japanese beetles

But, they will arrive, worse in some areas than others. If you haven’t seen this foreign invader yet, be grateful. Whether or not you have, read the following from Daniel Gibbons to learn more:

Japanese beetle has become one of the most destructive and frustrating pests for gardeners, farmers, and green industry professionals.  A transplant from Japan during the early 1900’s, Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica Newman) populations have enjoyed explosive growth across the East and Midwest.  Damage inflicted by various stages in the beetle’s life cycle can be severe to turf grasses, agricultural crops, and over 300 ornamental trees and landscape plants.  The USDA estimated in 2007 that control measures alone cost over $460 million.

Success of the non-native Japanese beetle can be primarily attributed to a lack of natural predators and a supportive climate and food source.  Although eradication is not feasible, successful management leading to reduced populations will minimize pest damage.  Those who succeed in managing Japanese beetle do so by gaining local cooperation, using an integrated approach to natural and chemical control, and by shrewdly selecting plant material when designing a garden or landscape.

Local cooperation is critical because of Japanese beetle mobility.  Despite the best efforts of one property owner, beetles from neighboring yards are usually a significant problem.  Success will increase if adjoining neighborhoods and property owners cooperate with sound management techniques.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is simply the use of multiple control techniques to reduce the comprehensive use of pesticides.  When properly used, IPM creates a healthy biotic environment in which populations of undesirable pests are reduced over time by the introduction of predatory elements, resistant plants, and targeted use of pesticides when necessary. 

Natural predators of Japanese beetle include microscopic nematodes (Heterorhabditis bacteriophora), naturally occurring soil bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis), and the spores of Bacillus popillae (referred to as “Milky Spore”).  The success of these and other products can be effective, but depends on adherence to application and storage directions, climatic and soil conditions, and the presence of other pesticides or chemicals which may be harmful to these living organisms.  Products such as Milky Spore will become more effective over the span of several years when the bacterium has had time to establish.

Application of pesticides may be used to reduce heavy infestations, but should be performed by competent and trained applicators.  Some chemicals may only be used by licensed pesticide applicators.  Considerations in choosing insecticides to control Japanese beetle will include application method, seasonal timing, location, type of plant material being protected, and the presence of sensitive environment features such as waterways.  Assistance in choosing the latest formulation of pesticide for a particular site may be obtained from local garden shops or government extension agencies.

Finally, avoiding plants and trees that are susceptible to Japanese beetle is the best method to reduce the pest’s impact on a particular landscape or garden.  Keeping landscape plants healthy will also increase resistance.  The following trees are specifically targeted by Japanese beetle: Linden, Birch, Norway and Japanese maple, pin oak, beech and horse-chestnut.  Trees that show resistance to the beetle include hickory, red maple, tulip poplar, dogwood, northern red oak, pine, spruce, arborvitae and hemlock.  Resistant herbaceous plant groups include: Columbine, ageratum, coreopsis, coral-bells, showy sedum, hosta, and forget-me-not.  Herbaceous plants to avoid in areas where beetle populations are high include: rose, hibiscus, evening primrose, clematis, sunflower, peony, zinnia, asparagus and morning-glory.

Despite recent challenges with Japanese beetle, thoughtful management can reduce the impact to community gardens and landscapes.  Education, cooperation and savvy IPM practices will also reduce the impact on our pocketbooks, while promoting a healthy and vibrant growing season.

More information on Japanese beetle may be obtained through the following online sources: “Managing the Japanese Beetle: A Homeowner’s Handbook”    http://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/plant_health/content/printable_version/JB3-07.indd.pdf

Iowa State University – Iowa Insect Information Notes http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/iiin/node/125

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Microclimates

Nature is amazing.

Aster in November

Aster in November

Here it is, late November in Iowa, temperatures have already dipped below freezing multiples times and some plants continue to bloom. Most are in protected areas in their own microclimate, where they enjoy temperatures a bit warmer or protection from icy winds.

Still, it’s comforting to see living things surviving this cold. My sweet alyssum is still looking sweet; lamium looks lively, malva looks marvelous, a few roses are rocking and this little aster, next to my garage is working its… umm, buns off to bloom.

It’s incredible in itself that the plant could grow- sprouting from a tiny crack in my driveway. I probably should have pulled it out, but now just enjoy the late season color it provides.

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Winterizing roses

  Every year around this time, my neighbor’s oak tree, two houses down, generously deposits a pile of  leaves in my backyard.  For that, my roses and I are grateful.  I use the oak leaves as mulch around my hybrid tea roses.  Most types of leaves don’t hold up well in the long-term, but leathery oak leaves withstand the forces of winter. My miniature roses do well under Styrofoam caps in Iowa’s coldest days and my old-fashioned roses somehow survive without any help.  The week of Thanksgiving is the usual time to prepare roses for winter in the Cedar Rapids area where my roses grow.

 

   Richard Jauron, horticulture specialist at Iowa State University Extension, offers more tips on winterizing roses below:

 

   Most hybrid tea, grandiflora, and floribunda roses require winter protection in Iowa. The low temperatures and rapid temperature changes in winter can severely injure and sometimes kill unprotected roses.

   Hilling or mounding soil over the base of each plant is an excellent way to protect hybrid tea, grandiflora, and floribunda roses.

   Begin by removing fallen leaves and other debris from around each plant. Removal of diseased plant debris will help reduce disease problems next season. Then loosely tie the canes together with twine to prevent the canes from being whipped by strong winds. Next, cover the bottom 10 to 12 inches of the rose canes with soil.

   Place additional material, such as straw or leaves, over the mound of soil. A small amount of soil placed over the straw or leaves should hold these materials in place.  Prepare roses for winter after plants have been hardened by several nights of temperatures in the low to mid-twenties. Normally, this is early November in northern Iowa, mid-November in central areas, and late November in southern counties.

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Parsley, sage, (oregano) and thyme, oh, and pumpkins and roses, too

The following is from Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith:

 

 

    Dare I say that we needed the recent rain?  It is hard to imagine after the summer we endured that the ground is dry.  Just a few thoughts as we stroll through fall:

·         Today is a good day to reflect on what you really, really liked or didn’t about your garden.

·         Can’t get gardening out of your system even in winter?  Plant a windowsill garden and impress your friends with fresh seasonings all winter long.  Try Oregano, Thyme, Parsley and Sage in small individual pots, or even in one large pot.  Place the pots in a bright sunny window or under artificial light (that includes any herbs you’ve moving from outside).  Water thoroughly until the water fills the saucer then pour off the excess.  Small pots and young plants need watering more frequently; larger pots can go a week or more.  

·         Go ahead:  pick green tomatoes. Enjoy them fried or ripen them indoors at 60-65’. 

·         Do not fertilize your roses now.  Stop deadheading.  Allow rose hips to form and plants to harden off for winter.

·         Remember to remove stakes and supports from your flower beds.  Clean before storing.

·         Clean your recent pumpkin purchase by dipping  the pumpkin in a solution of four teaspoons of bleach per one gallon of water.  Allow the pumpkin to dry and cure at room temperature for one week.  Create your own masterpiece.  Store in a cool place and with some luck the pumpkin should last two months.

·         Want winter interest?  Standing stems, flower heads and seedpods will do the trick. Hosta flowers even attract birds.

·         Purchase sand, not salt for deicing. 

 

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Demonstration gardens

Linn County Master Gardener Shelby Foley describes a worthwhile trip to make in Eastern Iowa:

 

A group of Linn County Master Gardeners has developed a demonstration garden at Lowe Park, 4500 N. 10th St., Marion that serves as an outdoor, hands-on learning laboratory.  The garden consists of eleven beds and a composting station.  Master Gardeners are in the garden on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 to dusk and on Thursday mornings from 9:00 a.m. until noon all summer meeting with the public to talk gardening and answer your questions.

            From conifers to roses to vegetables, the beds offer something for everyone interested in gardening.  The herb garden features eight different types of basil, each with a unique color and taste.  Visitors are encouraged to sample them and taste a bit of Italian summer.  The birds and butterflies bed is planted with flowers and herbs to attract our winged friends.  Here a caterpillar munching on a leaf is a good thing and visitors may spot a chrysalis or two hanging on the plants.  Several beds of annuals are changed in design and color from year to year for added interest.  The other beds provide just as many interesting designs, textures and colors. 

            Meander through the gardens.  Enjoy the marvelous scents.  Hear the soft sound of the native grasses swaying in the summer breeze.    Relax by the water feature.   You will undoubtedly be intrigued by the possibility of a family gardening project. 

 

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Beetle Battle II – Japanese beetle invasion

 

     I don’t hide my disdain for the Colorado potato beetles that annually devour my potato crop, but come July, I’m battling a much more formidable foe.

    The deceptively handsome, copper-colored Japanese beetles are out in force, their voracious appetites turning foliage to lace throughout my backyard.

    As obnoxious as they are, potato beetles are at least slower moving, and thus easier to squish than the wily Japanese beetle.

    Japanese beetles have perfected the art of stop, drop and roll, and if that fails, while I’m reaching in for the death kill, they simply fly away.

    Their favorite meals appear to be grapes, hollyhocks, roses and – where we do most of our battle – raspberry bushes.

    Armed with a single gardening glove and a container for whatever raspberries they haven’t devoured, I make a trek to the bushes every evening after work.

    Early evening seems to be the time when they are less likely to fly off and are an easier target for my gloved hand.

    When one or two started appearing on the bushes in late June, this “squish” technique seemed to work, but by now, several of the beetles gather on each leaf and it’s time to move on to bigger things.

    Because raspberry patches should be a place where you or a child can readily eat whatever’s ripe, as-is, I wouldn’t use any chemical means of control. The best approach has so far been to take a small bucket of soapy water  to the bushes – I use liquid dish soap – and knock the beetles into the water.

    Plain water doesn’t quite do the trick, as the beetles can survive, swimming around, for at least several days in it.

    I’ve heard bug experts say Japanese beetles usually don’t kill anything before they end their midsummer’s rampage, but I don’t know that they’ve seen the infestation problem that my backyard seems to have.  Once the beetles ravage their favorite plants, they will move on to almost any others available. They even suck the flowers of my fragrant milkweed to nothing.

    I’m envious of the parts of the country where these beetles have not yet reached. Even areas of Cedar Rapids seem immune to the problem. If you’ve had any luck with other methods of control, please let me know.

 

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Why aren’t you outside??

 

Another cold weekend has come and gone, but this week holds promise of spring warmth (finally!) 

The following information from Horticulturist Richard Jauron of Iowa State University Extension offers tips on spring gardening chores, now that the weather might finally cooperate:

It’s hard to beat springtime in the Midwest.  Soon the browns and grays of winter will be replaced by the greens, reds and yellows of spring. While spring is an enjoyable time, there are a number of outdoor chores that need to be done to enhance our yards and gardens. Important springtime chores include applying preemergence herbicides to lawns, dividing perennials, removing mulch from strawberries, pruning roses and many others. 

Applying Preemergence Herbicide to Lawn
The key to successful control of crabgrass in lawns is the correct timing of the preemergence herbicide application. Crabgrass seeds begin to germinate when soil temperatures reach 55 to 60 F and continue to germinate over several weeks from spring into summer. If the material is applied too early, crabgrass seeds that germinate late in the season will not be controlled. Normally, preemergence herbicides should be applied in early to mid-April in southern Iowa, mid-April to May 1 in central Iowa and late April to early May in the northern portion of the state.  The timing of the preemergence herbicide application will vary somewhat from year to year because of weather conditions. However, events in nature generally occur in a natural sequence. Preemergence herbicides should be applied when the forsythia blossoms start dropping or when redbud trees reach full bloom. Crabgrass seed germination typically begins after these events. 

Dividing Perennials
Early spring is an excellent time to divide asters, mums, hostas, daylilies, garden phlox and many other perennials. Dig up the perennials in early spring just as new growth begins to appear. Divide each plant clump into sections with a sharp knife. Each division should contain several shoots and a portion of the root system. Replant the divisions immediately. Keep the newly divided perennials well watered through spring and summer. Most newly divided perennials do not bloom well until their second growing season. 

Removing Mulch from Strawberries
To reduce the chances of frost or freeze damage, leave the mulch on as long as possible. Removing the mulch in March may encourage the plants to bloom before the danger of frost is past. Temperatures of 32 F or lower may severely damage or destroy open flowers. Since the first flowers produce the largest berries, a late spring frost or freeze can drastically reduce yields.

To determine when to remove the mulch, periodically examine the strawberry plants in spring. Remove the mulch from the strawberry planting when approximately 25 percent of the plants are producing new growth. New growth will be white or yellow in color. (If possible, the winter mulch on strawberries should remain until mid-April in central Iowa.) When removing the mulch, rake the material to the aisles between rows. If there is a threat of a frost or freeze later in spring during bloom, lightly rake the mulch over the strawberry plants.

Pruning Roses
The upper portions of modern roses, such as hybrid teas, floribundas and grandilfloras, typically winterkill due to exposure to low winter temperatures and drastic temperature changes. When the winter protection is removed from these roses in early to mid-April, gardeners should prune out the dead wood. 

Pruning roses is relatively easy. Live wood is green and has plump, healthy buds. When pruned, the center of the stem (pith) should be white. Dead wood is brown, has no live buds and has a brown or gray pith. When pruning roses, make the cuts at least 1 inch below the dead, brown-colored areas. Make slanting cuts about 1/4 inch above healthy, plump, outward facing buds; the slant being in the same direction as the bud. Remove the entire cane if there is no sign of life.  Also, remove any diseased wood. 

Because of our severe winter weather, modern roses often suffer a great deal of winter injury. Normally, the primary objective is to remove all dead and diseased wood and to save as much of the live tissue as possible. If the roses overwinter well, gardeners can prune out weak, spindly canes in the center. 

After a seemingly endless winter of shoveling snow and removing ice from sidewalks and driveways, working in the garden over the next several weeks is going to be a lot of fun.

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Red hot Valentine’s Day

Roses of any color are great, but if you want to convey certain feelings on Valentine’s Day – this Thursday – or any day, following are the meanings that each of the colors symbolize:

Red: Love, passion

Yellow: Joy, friendship

Pink: Happiness, gratitude

Orange: Admiration, desire

White: Innocence, purity

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