Garden Talk: July 3, 2008

From NGA Editors

New Variegated Tapioca

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Tropical foliage plants continue to be popular, and a new ornamental selection of the tropical food plant tapioca promises to shine in any landscape. The variegated tapioca (Manihot esculenta 'Variegata') features attractive, deeply lobed leaves and colorful petioles, making it a winner in any sunny bed, container, or border.

This heat-lover grows well as a summer annual but suffers when temperatures dip below 50 degrees F. It grows 4 to 6 feet tall and features variegated 8-inch-long yellow and green leaves with attractive red petioles or leaf stalks. Its mounded shape makes it a great backdrop or centerpiece in the landscape. If grown in a container, it can be brought indoors in winter as a houseplant.

For more information on the variegated tapioca, go to: Texas Superstar Plants.

Simple Way to Reduce Peach Brown Rot

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Brown rot fungal disease can adversely affect the health of peach trees and fruits. To reduce the need for spraying to control this disease, researchers in France tried changing some common cultural practices.

For three successive seasons, researchers reduced watering to between 27 and 38 percent of normal during the growing season. They also pruned trees to have more open canopies. They pruned out strongly growing branches in winter and spring to allow more light to penetrate to the branches. The trees with modified irrigation and pruning bore peaches that were somewhat smaller, but the fruits had significantly less brown rot compared to the control trees.

For more information on this research, go to: French National Institute for Agricultural Research.

New Deer-Control Product

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Deer browsing on shrubs, trees, flowers, and vegetables is a big problem throughout the country. Some gardeners fence out the deer, others try various taste and smell deterrents. Here’s another product to add to the arsenal of deer controls.

Deer Fortress is a nontoxic, dried blood-based repellent that’s offensive to deer but the smell is hardly noticeable to humans. It’s enclosed in a weatherproof container that protects the repellent from rain, reducing the need to reapply it. To be most effective, hang or place containers on stakes every 4 to 8 feet in the garden starting early in the season before deer find your plantings. The repellent is purported to last the entire growing season, but it's not effective in winter.

For more information on Deer Fortress, go to: Deer Fortress.

World’s Largest Daphne

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Daphnes are known for their attractive foliage and sweetly scented, white flowers. Most selections are small shrubs with densely packed leaves that grow well in a perennial flower border. But gardeners with lots of space and a yen for something different may be tempted by Daphne bholua, touted as the largest daphne in the world.

This rare evergreen daphne hails from the higher elevations of the Himalayas. It can grow up to 20 feet tall in a part shade location. Its height and openness, coupled with the fragrant, pinkish white flowers, make this an impressive plant in the landscape. In warm-winter areas it flowers from November until late winter.

Daphne bholua grows best in part sun on well-drained but moist soil, and it's hardy to USDA zone 7.

For more information on Daphne bholua, go to: Tiny Treasures Nursery.

 
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